At the Strategic Level

What is your overall strategy and vision for your business? What’s working? What’s not working? What do you think drives your profitability? What does your optimal company look like one year from now: customers, employees, office space, market share, gross revenue?

We’ll get these ideas up on a whiteboard to see exactly what we’re aiming for, what the dart board looks like. Then we map the vision to a set of goals. “Our company will make $3m in gross revenue next year.” “We will win 5 new retainer clients in Q3.” “We will achieve a 20% profit margin next year.” The goals become a foundation for creating a budget, which is a critical leadership tool.

At the Planning & Analysis Level

I establish a set of financial reports and a dashboard of metrics that show the current picture of the business. We create a projection for the year: your benchmark for measuring actual performance. My analysis will show the most (and least) profitable aspects of the business, whether your pricing is right, whether resources are well-utilized, and what sales quotas should be. We may also create a staffing model to determine how to scale the business over time.

We’ll look at the story behind the numbers – both past and future. I know that scaling is a chicken-and-the-egg phenomenon. It’s important to clarify the steps and be as proactive as possible during a growth (or decline!) period.

At the Tactical Level

I build financial models. I have tools I customize for your business, and I create the new ones you need.

If you worry about your cash balance going negative, I have a tool that will project your cash flow and ending cash balance 6+ months into the future. If you need clarity around your sales efforts, I have a model that will track your pipeline and sales vs. quota. This helps you understand what a healthy pipeline looks like so you’ll make your margin goals (or stay afloat).

They say the devil’s in the details; diving into the details reveals critical risk factors so you can navigate from a place of knowledge and power.

“We couldn’t run our business without Sarah. My partner and I ran our business for over two years on our gut instinct, and what we learned is that we have a really good gut. But at a certain point in our growth, we wanted to validate our gut instinct with solid metrics and analysis. Sarah’s work gives us peace of mind—for every business decision we make, we know exactly what the future financial implications are. This is a huge value to us as we navigate the complexities of scaling our business. I consider it a marker of our success that we get to work with Sarah Jacob, and her talent and energy are a great addition to our team.”
Zoe Dunn, Hale Advisors
“Sarah brings an uncommon clarity. As a creative, I have tons of ideas and can get easily distracted. As the founder of a global nonprofit, I have a big vision and a lot of demands on my time. Working with Sarah has been such a gift and a huge relief—she cuts through all of the noise to help me focus on what is critically important now. I originally engaged her as our CFO, but soon discovered she’s a talented writer and communicator. Her multi-talented leadership is going to be immensely valuable to our organization as we scale up in the coming year.”
Anthony Fatato, World Education Endeavor

CFO-at-large

EssJay Consulting is one person: Sarah Martha Jacob. I have not scaled my business (yet), so my clients get one-on-one partnership and hand-crafted financial analysis. 

I partner with business owners in the Hudson Valley as your guru of Finance: strategy, planning, and analysis. I offer financial leadership so you can focus on developing and running your business, and have peace of mind knowing that the financial bases are covered.

I bring clarity to the financial situation. How profitable are you? How has your profitability trended over time? What are your main revenue and cost drivers? We come up with metrics that quantify the success of the business, and then we track them against your goals.

I’m your financial sounding board. You have to make a thousand decisions every day–now you’ll know the financial implications of the big ones. My mission is to help Hudson Valley businesses thrive.

Who Are EssJay Clients?

I work with companies who are

  • tech startups who have completed a round of fundraising, OR

  • established companies generating $1m to $10m in annual revenue

  • employing 3 to 25 employees

  • run by one entrepreneur or two business partners

  • ready to get their business to the next level

I work with business owners who are

  • extremely intelligent, worldly, ambitious

  • multi-talented with broad and deep capabilities

  • motivated by a strong sense of purpose

  • driven to have a positive impact in the world

  • just nice people

“I have a background in financial services—I have the skills to do financial analysis, reporting, and strategy. But as a business owner, that’s not the best use of my precious time and energy. With Sarah, I know our financial bases are covered so I don’t have to worry about that aspect of the business. My time is best spent building relationships with clients, contacts in the industry, vendors, and employees. Sarah’s work frees me up to be able to add the most value to my business.”
Beth Bengston, Hale Advisors
“Having worked with Sarah on a number of assignments, I’ve found her to be thorough, to bring valuable critical thinking to any situation, and to reliably make it happen: done well and on time. I welcome her unique mix of crisp analytical thinking and creative ideation. She is great working inside the company as well as with clients and influentials outside our firm. I highly recommend Sarah Jacob.”
John Mallen, JMC

My clients as people are the perfect combination of smart and cool.*

*One of my policies is to only do business with people I would hang out with. 

  • Because you’re reading this, you’re probably also smart and cool. You’re probably smart enough to run P&Ls, do some financial analysis, and maybe some modeling. The question isn’t can you?, the question is should you? Is financial reporting and analysis the highest and best way to leverage your precious time, talent, and energy?

  • Unless finance is your business, the answer is no. You best serve your company by doing what you are uniquely expertly gifted at doing. It is enough to toggle between working IN the business, working ON the business, and finding new business! Focus on making your product remarkable and fostering powerful relationships.

  • Successful entrepreneurs gather people around them who are experts in their field. Up to a certain size, a company should outsource marketing, legal, human resources, finance, and accounting. Choose providers you love and can grow with. Work with people who are invested in your success, and then aim for the moon.

“I was so glad I found Sarah and was able to work with her on clarifying the financial picture for my early-stage growing business. As an entrepreneur with a small staff, there is no one else I can talk to and have the level of conversation I have with Sarah. She’s a unique person in the Hudson Valley who has institutional finance experience and yet understands the plight of the small business owner. It’s common to feel alone with these challenges, and I’m grateful for Sarah’s support and partnership.”
Jennifer Munger, CSRE
“I met Sarah after she spoke at a Hudson Valley Tech Meetup about financial goals and metrics. As an independent game developer, I have struggled with trying to keep up with the “business” side of things while developing games. Sarah helped get me back on track by setting financial goals for 2016 and keeping me focused. The results have been fantastic. Because of our goal setting, I shipped a new game months earlier than I would have with my old habits. I highly recommend EssJay!”
Christopher Garrett, ZWorkbench

What are your KPIs? (Key Performance Indicators)

How big is your pipeline, and how has it changed over time?

Quantifying your pipeline and tracking it over time can bring clarity to what is and is not working in the sales process. It also helps you predict the future.

Are you meeting your sales quota consistently?

Something as simple as identifying a sales quota, monthly or quarterly, and tracking results against that can be a great motivator.

What drives (or drains) your profitability?

Is your client mix diversified?

Are you ready?

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level and you want a powerful partner, please contact me. We’ll sit down and talk about your business, your pain points, your big questions. I’m a good listener and a great question-asker, so I’ll ask you some questions for clarity and insight. I’ll honestly assess whether I think I can help you, and whether we would be a good fit. Please email me at sarah@essjay.io and connect with me on LinkedIn.

“As County Executive Hein leads the charge for economic development in Ulster County, EssJay is one of the best tools in we have in our toolbox! When a business owner is trying to figure out how to get to the next level and I know they could benefit from strategic analysis and financial forecasting, I refer them to Sarah Jacob. The clients we have sent to Sarah come back singing her praises and thanking us for the connection. This is really gratifying! Sarah has the same mission as the County Executive: to help Hudson Valley businesses grow and thrive. I’m so glad she’s here as a resource for us.”
“I’ve worked with Sarah on a few consulting projects; her innate understanding of metrics and whole-system thinking is invaluable. Her knowledge is a real asset to the Hudson Valley; any business could benefit from engaging her.”
Ric Dragon

About EssJay

Briefly: I spent eight years in Boston’s financial industry, I jumped off the corporate cliff, I spent a year as a tango gypsy, and I’ve spent the last six years helping small businesses thrive.

Less Briefly:

2001: I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in Finance. I started my career as a Financial Analyst for Fidelity Investments in Boston; this was a classic corporate finance role. I produced multi-dimensional financial reports, implemented activity-based costing, and worked on an M&A team in Paris.

2004: I jumped over to the commercial real estate investment world, working for TA Associates Realty. I started as a Valuation Analyst, appraising hundreds of commercial properties. I became an Asset Manager and held a fiduciary responsibility for a billion-dollar portfolio of assets in three U.S. markets.

2008: I had achieved all of my career goals by the age of thirty, but they came at a high price. I quit my job and set out to travel the world, following my passion for Argentine tango wherever it would lead. After an epic journey that lasted a year and a half, along with some unexpected twists and turns, I settled in the Hudson Valley.

2010: I started EssJay Consulting because I realized, after years languishing in corporate environments, that I have the restless gritty spirit of an entrepreneur. I wanted to use my Finance background in a way that would have the most impact. Running a business takes stamina and resilience. It’s only possible with the right kind of support.

Other than my work, things that bring me joy are dancing tango, exploring the mountains of the Hudson Valley, reading, yoga-ing, documentary-making, and chilling with my wonder dog Kaya.

Email: sarah@essjay.io

LinkedIn: Sarah Martha Jacob