Top 3 Cash Flow Pain Points to Get Past & Get What You Want
Top 3 Cash Flow Pain Points to Get Past & Get What You Want Out of Your Business with Nicole Cooley

164: Top 3 Cash Flow Pain Points to Get Past & Get What You Want Out of Your Business with Nicole Cooley

Do you worry about cash flow in your business?

Money is a topic that comes up over and over again in my coaching practice (despite, ironically, its apparent lack of popularity on the podcast). Regardless of any reticence to talk about money or listen to information on the subject, knowing your numbers is an integral part of business, and it goes beyond just profit and loss.

That’s why I integrate money mindset and money systems into my coaching programs. Today, I’m speaking with Nicole Cooley, one of the money confidence coaches on my team, who guides you with a holistic approach that combines your numbers with your values, beliefs, and dreams.

In this episode of Time to Level Up, you’ll learn about the top three pain points for business owners when it comes to their numbers. You’ll also discover the integral impact of your priorities and knowledge on your business’s finances and why you shouldn’t fear your numbers (even if they’re worse than you thought).

What’s Covered in This Episode About Cash Flow

5:30 – Nicole introduces herself and reveals why she became a budgeting coach

7:17 – Why the “I’m not good with numbers” mindset isn’t true in almost all cases

8:29 – The pain point that can crop up once you start realizing what’s going on with your numbers

12:30 – Why bookkeeping is outsourceable but business cash flow management isn’t

14:05 – The missing piece you need in order to learn, understand, and make decisions with your business finances

15:26 – The importance of understanding your priorities and the growth opportunity or return on investment of your business expenses

20:24 – The distinction between bookkeeping and cash flow management to keep in mind

Connect with Nicole Cooley

Nicole Cooley is an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) and Certified YNAB Coach who has been coaching for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and has worked across multiple industries helping therapists, coaches, lawyers, and spa owners. Combining her corporate background with money mindset not taught in school, she helps service-based business owners analyze and understand their cash flow with a holistic approach that takes their values, beliefs, and dreams into account.

Nicole Cooley

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn

Mentioned In Top 3 Cash Flow Pain Points to Get Past & Get What You Want Out of Your Business with Nicole Cooley

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

Runway to Freedom

Andrea’s Links

Book a Call with Andrea

Quotes from the Episode

“It’s interesting that we don’t want to listen to information about [or] really even talk about money. But we want to worry about money.” – Andrea Liebross

“As a business owner, you have to be a numbers person, but it doesn’t have to be scary.” – Nicole Cooley

“Sometimes people need accountability because they just want to throw in the towel when they’re so close to seeing the results.” – Nicole Cooley

Liked this? You’ll Enjoy These Other Time to Level Up Episodes

155: What Happens When You Join Runway to Freedom?

150: The Key to Crafting Your Power Sentence to Gain Success in Life and Business

68: Four Simple Rules for Wealth Without Stress

Andrea Liebross: Welcome to the Time to Level Up Podcast. I'm your host, Andrea Liebross. Each week, I focus on the systems, strategy, and big thinking you need to CEO your business and life to the next level. Are you ready? Let's go.

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the Time to Level Up Podcast. I'm thrilled to have you back on probably what might be a cold wintry day at your house. But fear not, we are going to talk about money today and I want to share with you a little statistic.

A little statistic is that if I look at all 164 episodes of my podcast and I break them into topic categories, the ones that have the least listenership are ones about money but yet in my coaching practice, what is a topic that comes up over and over and over again? Money.

It's interesting that we don't want to listen to information about money, we don't really even want to talk about money but we want to worry about money. If you are someone who worries about money, this episode will hopefully help with that and I also hope it will help you see how I integrate money mindset and money systems into my coaching programs.

Because today, I am interviewing Nicole Cooley who is one of the money confidence coaches on my team. She also has her own business. But she is someone who really takes a holistic approach to money that combines the numbers with what you value, your beliefs, and your dreams.

She's got a background in corporate finance but she also has a background in understanding and guiding people through money mindset because she really believes, alongside what I believe, when women are confident and empowered by their finances, anything is possible.

Did I tell you when I started out coaching I called myself a possibilities coach? That plays right into it. When we are confident and empowered by our finances, anything is possible, and she, along with the other coaches in my program who work with my clients on money, shows you how to do that by using YNAB (You Need A Budget) as a system and then their expertise in the money mindset to help fuel the system to get you what you want.

Sit back, buckle up, and listen into my conversation with Nicole because I think you're going to find it extremely interesting and you may even be able to identify or relate to some of what she's saying. She might be talking about you.

Hey, my friends. Welcome back to the Time to Level Up Podcast. I am so happy you're here. Today, here's an interesting little fact I'm going to share with you. If I go back and look at all of the 50-ish episodes of my podcast that I have recorded, I have recorded at least a handful, if not more, about money.

If I do some statistics and look at the listenership of each episode, the ones that have to do with money get the least number of listens. But yet in my coaching practice, money is probably the number one topic, maybe not the number one, but it's in the top three topics that come up when we're talking about running your business, being a great business owner, how to manage your business, all the things.

So I'm going to continue, even if you don't want to listen, I'm going to continue to put out some podcasts about cash flow, money, budgeting, profit, loss, revenue, all the things, what does it all mean. Today, I wanted to bring on one of my You Need A Budget coaches.

As part of all of my coaching programs, regardless of which one you're in, there's always a component that I include that has to do with money and I'm a big advocate of a software called You Need A Budget. It’s not QuickBooks, it's not super CPA friendly, but what it does is it helps you make decisions about how to run your business based off of the numbers. It helps you know what's really going on.

I have with me today Nicole who works with some of my clients on such topics. I invited her on so we can just have a conversation about what she observes, what she thinks is most helpful, what you should know and what you shouldn't know, and all the things. So, Nicole, welcome.

Nicole Cooley: Hello. Thank you for having me.

Andrea Liebross: I'm happy you're here. We're recording this, it's 6:30 in the morning Nicole's time, it's 9:30 in the morning my time. But we both have our coffee so we're good.

Nicole Cooley: We got our coffee so we're ready to go.

Andrea Liebross: We're good. We're good. Alright, Nicole, introduce yourself. Tell the listeners who are you.

Nicole Cooley: Yeah. I'm a money coach. My background is in finance. That was my education. I spent about 10 years in the corporate world in corporate banking and insurance, and then got myself into some financial pickles in my 20s as many of us do, and I was like, “I know all the things. I have this education. How did I get myself into some of these messes?”

I sat on a path of discovery and learned more about behavioral finance, money mindset, and these pieces that you're not taught in school and I became really interested in putting together the educational pieces that we all I think should know with the behavioral piece and putting those two pieces together. That's when I became a coach.

I've coached on the personal finance side, which I love, but then in the last few years have really been doing a lot of coaching for small business owners because understanding their numbers and their cash flow is just such a big pain point. I'm also AFC certified and YNAB Certified Coach, which are just different financial coaching designations that I think are important in the industry.

Andrea Liebross: Yes. People need to know their numbers, personal and business. I think something I find is once someone does become a business owner, all of a sudden, their interest is heightened in their personal finances too. It's like that it brings awareness to the table, it's not just like going on, “Oh, there's enough money in the bank,” all of a sudden, they become more interested in that aspect too so that's very interesting.

Maybe if we could identify, what do you think the top three pain points are for business owners? What do they want to know but they don't know and is painful?

Nicole Cooley: Yeah. I think that maybe the first one is this idea that “I'm not good with numbers.” I don't believe that's true in almost all cases, it's just that you haven't had a class, you haven't been taught so how would you know? I think with the right education, and it usually just takes like a little bit, you can start to read and understand the numbers that you have, learn what they're telling you, and realize that as a business owner, you have to be a numbers person but it doesn't have to be scary.

Andrea Liebross: Yeah. It doesn't have to be scary. I hear that all the time, “I'm just not good with numbers,” and I think like, “Well, were you good riding a bike before you practiced and learned? No.” So why would you be? You got to give yourself a little grace. Then though, I'm not good with numbers thinking, now let’s say they start to get some knowledge, then all of a sudden, they start to recognize and realize what's going on and it freaks them out a little bit, sometimes but not all the time.

Then I think in order to get good at numbers, you do have to practice, we'll call it. You've got to stay on top of it. I see in my coaching practice that sometimes there's fear because now they know what they know and now there's fear to go back and keep “practicing.” What do you think practicing really looks like? What would you say?

Nicole Cooley: Yeah. I think that's a great question and I think it ties into number two which I think is a big pain point of just having messy systems in place. You do have to engage with this on a regular basis, it's not a one-and-done. I think that's a hard pill for people to swallow. They want to get in, look at their numbers, and then they're done for six months.

It's really this ongoing thing that they need to be looking at. There's not one metric that's going to answer your questions. There's not one way of looking at it. It's going to be different for everyone. I think what I try and do is teach, “Here are some different ways to look at it,” and then ultimately you have to decide, as the business owner, what's going to be right for your business. I think that feels harder than ticking a box.

There can be habits with your numbers that feel a little bit like bookkeeping and so it can feel like useless work but you have to do that in order to do the analysis is what I always say. You have to have clean data in order to make good strategic decisions off of the data, and sometimes the data is a bit of not fun work that we have to do in our business. It just is what it is.

Creating those habits to get through the not-fun part of numbers, which even I admit is there, is a really big hurdle in order to get to the part where you see why you're doing it, you can make and understand the numbers, and be able to make these strategic decisions off of them.

Andrea Liebross: Okay, I'm going to relate this to something I was talking about yesterday with some clients. We were talking about goals and someone said, “Okay, in 2024, I want to really understand my numbers and feel confident that I know what's going on.” That was the goal, it's not a great goal written. It's not written out the way I'd like it to be written out but that's a whole different podcast or topic. You can listen to a podcast on writing out SMARTER goals.

But anyway, I want to know my numbers, I want to understand it. I would call that an achievement goal but habit goals or habits are what fuel the achievements. It does have to become somewhat of a habit or a system in looking at them based on two aspects: one, a time, like you need to do it regularly, you need to set a time to do it, but you also then need to have a process that you go through. It's not like you just open up the software and it pops out at you. What are you going to do first, second, and third when you look at it? I do think that it is not a one-and-done and sometimes people wish it was. But guess what, most things in life aren't one-and-done, right?

Nicole Cooley: Yeah. I always say, “If you can get to the point where you understand that it's working and you see what it can do for you, then you can get addicted to it because it feels so good and then that helps fuel your motivation to continue it from that point.” But there is this part at first where you feel like you're just, I call it slogging through the mud, I'm like, “You're almost there.”

Because I can tell when someone's almost there and to see that turning point of where it's all going to click together and I’d be like, “Just stick with me. Keep slogging through the mud.” Sometimes people need that accountability because they just want to throw in the towel when they're so close to seeing the results.

Andrea Liebross: Right. Or they want someone else to do it.

Nicole Cooley: That's a big piece of what we teach. We can talk about the difference between YNAB and bookkeeping but I believe bookkeeping can be outsourced but when you're managing your cash flow, that cannot be because you're combining your knowledge as the business owner that only you have with the numbers that you're seeing on the screen.

If you're only relying on data that you're getting from something outsourced like bookkeeping and you're not doing the cash flow piece or you're trying to outsource that, it's not useful to you because only you know what's in your brain as the CEO of your business.

Andrea Liebross: Right. Only you know what you're thinking about spending money on or only you know, “Are you okay with the fact that you spent $5,000 on something?” The bookkeeper doesn't know that.

Nicole Cooley: Exactly. You know if it's a one-time expense, you know if you're saving up to hire a new employee, you know if you have a big order or equipment purchase around the corner that you need to be thinking about, that's all on you.

Andrea Liebross: Yeah. It totally is all on you. That's a great way to explain it because I sometimes struggle with explaining why. I say, “Go have a bookkeeper.” I'm in on the bookkeeper thing like, “Do it. You can outsource that piece. They can keep track of that. Fine.” But the cash flow management and decision-making around it, only you can do. That's so true. Alright, what do you think a third pain point is? So we've got pain point number two is?

Nicole Cooley: I’m not good with numbers.

Andrea Liebross: Number one is I'm not good with numbers.

Nicole Cooley: Yeah. The systems are messy is number two. Then I think that number three is just maybe harnessing the confidence because I feel like as a coach, I'm part teaching them how to do this but part coaching them along the process too.

I was just talking with someone yesterday and I'm like, “You know more than you think you do,” and just giving them that confidence to make, like we talked about you can't just look at one metric, you have to look at three or four, and then make an interpretation based on those if you're trying to make a decision in your business and just helping people get the confidence to do that I think is really important because there's that mindset piece of shutting down when it comes to this stuff even if you've made really good process, even if you know some of your key metrics, you can still struggle with that mindset piece so it's important to consider that as well.

Andrea Liebross: I'm sure they're asking you this too, “Can I afford to hire a new employee? Can I afford to lease an office space?” This “can I afford” thing, and I wish there was too. We, as business owners, wish there was like a little switch that went on. Yes, no. But there is no such switch.

It is looking at a compilation of three or four things to make that decision. I guess the other thing that I always think about is you can afford anything you want. It's just a matter of looking at things differently or considering that you could grow, I always think about, “What do I need to cut out so that I can afford it?” They're not considering there's growth opportunity there either.

Nicole Cooley: Yeah. Sometimes on the personal or business side, when I get in and dig through numbers, they're like, “What's going on?” I'm like, “Revenue is the issue.” You can streamline this all you want but sometimes the answer is more income. There's only so much cutting back you can do.

Sometimes I think there's a lot of relief that comes with that answer because people feel like they're doing something wrong, “I must be spending too much money. I must be this or that,” and it's like, “No, sometimes just going and making more money is the best thing you can focus on, not cutting back on your subscriptions or something,” it’s not going to move the dial as much for you.

Andrea Liebross: Right. Let's say you're outsourcing your social media and you're paying for that. I'm always like, “Does that help you? Do you like that?” They're like, “Yeah.” I'm like, “Okay, well, they're not going to cut that.” Even coaching, sometimes I often hear, “That's the biggest expense I have,” or whatever. “Okay, yeah, but what's happened since you've engaged in coaching? What's gone on? Anything good?” “Yes.” “Okay, well then maybe we shouldn't cut that.”

Nicole Cooley: I think it's putting a metric to it. It's understanding the ROI, the return on investment on those things. Is your marketing bringing you new clients? How many is it bringing you? You should be keeping an eye on that. Same with coaching, there's a little more of an intangible aspect to that. But people know, they have that gut feel if the investment has felt worth it to them or not in their business.

Andrea Liebross: Yeah. It's not always about cutting things. It's income. Let's go make some more. Let's do it.

Nicole Cooley: I think it's also about your values as a business owner or on the personal side because someone might want to be not working in the business as much and so their first priority is hiring, whereas someone else might have a totally different set of priorities and they're investing in marketing right now. I don't know. Whatever it is, you could just have totally different priorities, same business style, or same business type.

Andrea Liebross: Totally true, and which goes back to only you as the business owner knows, your bookkeeper doesn't know that. No one knows that. Only you know what your priorities are now.

I find that a lot of times when I've got a coaching client that's in the beginning stages of their business, they don't want to outsource things, they want to be doing all the things, which is fine, but then when they get to a place where no, they're profitable, things are going well, they want that freedom so they're willing to spend on it. And that's okay. I guess the whole thing is this is fun, this should be fun. Looking at your money should be fun. It should not put a pit in your stomach, which I think often it might.

Nicole Cooley: Well, and back to what you're talking about earlier, sometimes people won't get engaged in these processes over fear like what they're going to find. But I find that most of the time, when you do engage with it, even if things are worse than you thought, the fact that now you know and you can start to put a plan into place to fix it brings immediate relief to people when they lay all the cards on the table that they've been holding.

Most of the time, it's not as bad as you think first of all. Most of the time, that's what is true. But even if it's worse, they're like, “Oh, at least I know. At least I have taken that off my shoulders.”

Andrea Liebross: Yeah. There's peace of mind just knowing versus hiding or holding all your cards close like you said. Super. So number one, you can be good with numbers. Number two, if we clean up your systems, it gets a lot easier. Number three, how did you phrase it? I'm trying to remember your words and I can't remember exactly.

Nicole Cooley: You know more than you think.

Andrea Liebross: You know more than you think. Right, I was thinking you're smarter than you think you are. So you know more than you think. Okay, my friends, let's get you closer to your numbers this year. Let's help you understand. I think it's understanding, when you understand what's going on, it always feels so much better.

It doesn't have to be hard. No matter who you are, you can be good at it. Yes, you still can have a bookkeeper, you need a CPA, and all those things but you as the business owner, this is a tool to help you make decisions that align with who you want to be in your business and what you want your business to look like. This is all part of coaching and I'm happy to help with it and have Nicole helping you too. Any final parting words? One great piece of advice?

Nicole Cooley: Yeah. I think that the distinction to remember between bookkeeping and cash flow management, which YNAB is what we use for that, is bookkeeping is always looking backwards and cash flow management is looking forwards so you really need both pieces to be successful as a business owner.

Andrea Liebross: So true. The bookkeeping, the QuickBooks, it's all backwards.

Nicole Cooley: And it's needed, it's necessary.

Andrea Liebross: It's needed, right.

Nicole Cooley: But we also have to look forward and be planning and projecting what's going to happen in the future as well.

Andrea Liebross: And the future is bright. I love it. Alright, are you ready for my speed round of questions that have nothing to do with anything?

Nicole Cooley: Oh, my gosh, sure.

Andrea Liebross: It's fun. Okay, here we go. Tell me three things in your refrigerator.

Nicole Cooley: Milk, I have small children. Wine. Lots of fruit.

Andrea Liebross: Okay. Three things in your car.

Nicole Cooley: Oh, wrappers, water bottle, hand sanitizer.

Andrea Liebross: Okay, perfect. How do you want to be remembered by? If someone said, “That Nicole, she was…”

Nicole Cooley: Kind and lived up to her word.

Andrea Liebross: I love it. Alright, that's it. Look, you got through the speed round.

Nicole Cooley: Painless.

Andrea Liebross: Good. Painless. I get lots of people saying, “It's all about my kids in the car.”

Nicole Cooley: Just a hot mess is what it is.

Andrea Liebross: Sometimes when I say name three things in your car, they're like, “I don't know because I don't go back in the back seat. I don't want to know what's back there.”

Nicole Cooley: Exactly.

Andrea Liebross: Alright. Well, thank you for being here. I’m going to have a link in the show notes to all the tools we talked about because even just becoming familiar with YNAB, even if you don't want to use it, go just check out what it's all about and there are some episodes that I've recorded previously specifically about it and specifically about some of the, we'll call it, YNAB rules that you can tap into on your own or with help. I always like help.

Nicole Cooley: Yeah, awesome.

Andrea Liebross: Alright, my friends. I will see you next week. Remember, now is your time to level up. There is no reason to wait any longer.

Okay, my friends, what did you think of that? What were your biggest takeaways? Is money scary or could money be fun? I actually think money can be fun if you have a little or a lot, it still can be fun if you think about it in that way. It is a practice. “Getting good with money” is something you need to practice just like getting good at a sport or getting good at identifying patterns in your business.

But as we start 2024, I think it's really appropriate to sit back and think about what is your relationship with your money, especially in your business. If this is something that you need to work on, I want you to know that it's hard to work on it alone. It is hard to work on it alone, which is why I have this money mindset and money confidence coaching as part of my coaching program.

I don't work on my own alone. I have a money coach in my arsenal of coaches. That's why I want it to be an essential element of my coaching programs included in the investment, I just include it. If this is something you're interested in, I invite you to schedule a consult call. It is my invitation to you. I want to give you the opportunity to explore what this could do for you.

What would be different if you had a coach? If you had a business coach? If you had a money coach? If you had a Full Focus coach, which is another thing that I offer out there, what would be different? Head over to or you can go to any of my social media profiles or even to my website, that Andrea's Links takes you there too, and schedule a consult call.

Why not? If this is something you've been thinking about, I'm urging you to just bite the bullet and schedule the call and we'll figure out if this is something you need. If it's not, I'm going to be honest and I might send you on a different direction. But come, do a consult call with me. I've got a goal in February to do more consult calls than ever before in one month and I want you to be one of those people. I want you to have this money mindset that's going to take you places and show you what's possible. Okay, my friends, until next time. Remember, now is the time to level up. There's never been a better time. Let's go.

Hey, listening to podcasts is great. But you also have to do something to kick your business up a notch. You need to take some action, right? So go to and take the quiz. I guarantee you'll walk away knowing exactly what your next best step is to level up.

Take The quiz

Are you overwhelmed with business and life and think there is never enough time in the day? Are you tired of being reactive vs proactive in your business?

Learn how to show up as your best self in business.

Who else could use this? Share this post.

Who_s the Best Business and Life Coach in Indiana -

I'm Andrea Liebross.

I am the big thinking expert for high-achieving women entrepreneurs. I help these bold, ambitious women make the shift from thinking small and feeling overwhelmed in business and life to getting the clarity, confidence and freedom they crave. I believe that the secret sauce to thinking big and creating big results (that you’re worthy and capable of) has just two ingredients – solid systems and the right (big) mindset. I am the author of best seller She Thinks Big: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Guide to Moving Past the Messy Middle and Into the Extraordinary and host of the Time to Level Up podcast.