Natalie Cook has a passion for supporting founders & business owners on their journey to success. She drives business growth through financial strategy development and execution. Her services include fractional CFO support, management consulting, and advisory services.
Natalie started Copper8 Strategies, LLC in 2018 working with tech start-ups doing market research, financial modeling, and venture funding preparation. Now, her offerings include serving small businesses and non-profit organizations. Prior to founding Copper8, she spent five and half years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in grant-making, focusing on tech investments within K-12 & higher education, then transitioned into the corporate world as a finance manager at Starbucks.
She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Washington Foster School of Business with a focus on entrepreneurial finance and venture capital.
Outside of the “office”, you’ll find her remodeling her fixer-upper house with her husband, building Legos or looking at bugs with her 4-year-old daughter and 1 -year-old son, and planning her post-covid travel adventure.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Natalie Cook: Copper8 Strategies provides CFO services to high-growth start-ups, small business, and non-profits with $500K+ in revenue or funding. We also provide financial business validation to founders through several avenues. Copper8 Strategies focuses creating financially viable businesses and we do this through financial strategy development, process & systems creation, and cash flow management.
I started Copper8 Strategies, LLC in 2018 working with tech start-ups doing market research, financial modeling, and venture funding preparation. Prior to founding Copper8, I spent five and half years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in grant-making, focusing on tech investments within K-12 & higher education, then transitioned into the corporate world as a finance manager at Starbucks.
I hold Master of Business Administration from the University of Washington Foster School of Business with a focus on entrepreneurial finance and venture capital.
Outside of the “office”, you’ll find me remodeling my fixer-upper house with my husband, building Legos or looking at bugs with my 4-year-old daughter and 11-month-old son, and planning my post-covid travel adventure.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Natalie Cook: #1 – Manage your cashflow and create a budget. Don’t assume that a large cash balance will keep your business going. Unexpected events happen all the time and being prepared is what will help your business survive.
#2- Know your values. Businesses are constantly evolving and growing, it’s easy to get into messy situations with people or other businesses that take you away from what you value for your business. There’s also huge financial implications for what kind of culture you want to set or where you’re going to spend your time.
#3 – Set trackable KPIs that will get managed. This is how you know if you’re on track. Cash is a great piece of your business, but if your method of success is cash in the bank you’ll miss out on other areas you can succeed.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Natalie Cook: All businesses should review profitability. A another way to think about this is how much is it costing to you make $1? Is it $0.50 or $5? If it’s $5, you want to revaluate why that is and how you can get it to under $1. You can shift this in two ways- decrease expenses or increasing prices.
I recommend business review their pricing quarterly. You don’t have to change pricing that often, but it’s a check point to make sure you’re matching the demand of the market and maintaining profitability and keeping up with economic shifts.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Natalie Cook: Good financial strategy should be a priority for all business in an out of a pandemic. If anything it has created more opportunity because business are struggling. When things are good, finances can often get deprioritized. I re-launched my business in August 2020 and I started out with the lens of the pandemic and haven’t known another way.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Natalie Cook: This isn’t directly related to the pandemic, but if I could make one shift pre-2020 for my business, it would have been to focus on 1 product offering sooner. I started out trying to do a few too many things and it took me a bit to figure that out.
Now I’m intent on doing a few things extremely well, improving my skills and the skills of my team, and then expanding.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Natalie Cook: This will continue – especially in young companies. It’s a huge cost savings to not have office space. It’s also huge savings to hire talented people where the salaries are lower. Than means an owner can hire someone for $25/hour (or less!) remotely where it may have cost $55-60/hour simply because of location.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Natalie Cook: 7-8. All my work is on a computer. I do try to do as many white boarding sessions and other non-screen time as I can during the day to limit my screens.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Natalie Cook: I have a small team, so we’re not set-up with any of the employee comms that you would see in a larger corporation. My story telling is all about showing them real world examples of the direction I want them to go. For example, we’re currently implementing Asana as a project management tool. To help me communicate how it should be set-up, I had to lay out examples of the pain points.
I was experiencing and what the end result might be like. What I did was, took a few days to think about the process we wanted to create, waiting until I had a real world – in the moment- example and then told that story to my team so they could visualize the end result we were aiming for. The 1st draft got scraped and a new format was created and implemented.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Natalie Cook: We’re at the beginning of a recession, which is always interesting to see the impacts. the combination of post-pandemic effects (think supply chain, changing in human behavior) mixed with the changes of habits from a recession is going to make for some unique challenges. The biggest challenge right now is just not knowing what’s going to come up.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Natalie Cook: I’m really watching the evolution of online marketing right now. With the increase in data security and constant algorithm changes on social media there have been negative impacts in e-commerce businesses. There’s also more and more business being run solely online with great success. I’m paying attention and curious what the next major marketing platform will be. Not only does this have impacts on the revenue for all of my clients in someway, but I’m personally very curious.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Natalie Cook: I’m not really sure this is an individual leader issue. I doubt there’s a huge change in number of good leaders vs bad. This is a macro shift in what employees want and companies are lagging to keep up. There’s so many ways that people can be successful without having to stay at the same corporation for 20+ years.
This has been changing for many years (definitely since the start of my career), but the forcing function of knowledge workings having to primarily work remotely for 2 years proved it is sustainable. Now employees expect this and large businesses are wanting employees to come back in person. It will stabilize in a year or two, but for now there will continue to be an imbalance.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Natalie Cook: I would love the superpower to communicate with anyone and have the other party and myself know exactly what each other means.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Natalie Cook: Right now I’m focused on 2 things – setting up internal systems for my business to increase efficiency and effectiveness AND preparing to send my daughter to kindergarten. Success for 2022 is getting to the end of the year and having energy left to start 2023 off with a bang
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Natalie Cook for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Natalie Cook or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.