Why I'm open sourcing the financial side of my business

Profile image of Mattias Geniar

Mattias Geniar, February 05, 2020

Follow me on Twitter as @mattiasgeniar

Ever since I became independent, I’ve wanted to write about the financial aspects of running a business. And now that I’m my own boss, I get to decide those things. 🥳

From now on, I’m going to write a monthly report on my (professional) income. Where does my money come from? How much is profit? How much am I paying myself?

In other words: I’m open sourcing the financials of my business.

I’m certainly not alone in this. Perhaps the most known for doing this is Pieter Levels of Nomadlist, who now runs a business that makes > $30.000/month. And he still shares all his numbers.

First rule of employee club: don’t talk about your salary

One of the taboo’s of employee club is you don’t talk about how much you’re getting paid every month. Oh no, that’s a secret!

Heaven forbid your coworker would find out how much money you make. What if he’s earning less for the same work, would that make you feel uncomfortable? Are you worth your higher pay? Do you deserve it?

Oh no, what if he’s making more? Why aren’t you getting that same amount of money?!

Open talk about salary is taboo because in many places, it’s not fairly distributed in the first place. You guard your salary numbers out of fear of both your own and your coworkers’ reactions.

I know because I’ve been there and I’ve seen it from both sides. I’ve been the employee and the one (co-)controlling the salaries. It’s not fair and it’s a shame.

My one rebellious advice for everyone: talk about your pay with your coworkers. Your boss will hate it.

I’ll be sharing product & consultancy revenue

My income now comes primarily from these sources.

I hope to add cron.weekly sponsorships to that list soon. Who knows, maybe even podcasting revenue.

In these financial reports, I want to give high-level numbers about the gross revenue, costs and profit of each side of the business.

And as a final number, I’ll share how much I’m paying myself as a result of the net profit.

* Future consultancy clients: I don’t share names or individual assignment numbers, that’s personal between me and my client. Only the totals.

Risks & liabilities

I’ll admit I’ve been thinking a lot about potential liabilities and risks I’m facing by sharing these numbers.

What if my businesses fail month after month? What if people thought the revenue of Oh Dear or DNS Spy was much bigger than it actually is? Will I lose enterprise customers because of this?

Or what if it becomes really successful and revenue keeps growing, will I become a target? Will my friends expect me to buy the drinks every time?

But the thing is …

  1. Enterprise customers don’t read my blog, they just buy the product
  2. All of this data is open to begin with, it’s published in our yearly financial statements (obligated in Belgium)
  3. Friends don’t care about money, that’s why they’re friends

I’m just providing a more detailed breakdown of revenue vs. costs than would be available in our financial statements. My revenue is not a secret to begin with, I’ll just wield it to my advantage by sharing it voluntarily instead of secretly. 😉

A few tweaks to this website though …

Even though I’ll provide all the details, part of me is still a bit worried about the consequences.

At least for starters, I’m making the following changes to my site for all financial reports:

  1. They won’t appear in RSS, I’ll just share them on Twitter (one more reason to follow me 🚀)
  2. I’ll disable indexing in Google for those types of blogposts with a noindex HTML tag

Call me paranoid, but it’s still scary to be this open about an otherwise closely guarded secret.

Overview of published reports

I’ll keep the table here up-to-date with all financial reports. Expect the first one to arrive in a few days.

Month Gross revenue
January 2020 €2,943.00
February 2020 €3,564.25
March 2020 €5,683.40
April 2020 €4,926.00
May 2020 €5,432.00
June 2020 €6,137.81
July 2020 €5,467.00

If you’re interested in different numbers, do reach out and I’ll see what I can do.

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