Managing Finances w/ Ex Pepsi Co Subs. CFO Cenk Tukel

Uncategorized Aug 14, 2020




In this week’s episode of the Impact Unltd Podcast, we sit down with ex Pepsi Co Subsidiaries CFO Cenk Tukel and talk all things managing finances. 

Cenk has made the switch from a high-pressure corporate role to running his own operation. In our discussion, he shared thoughts around topics such as:

  • How to manage your finances in times of crisis to ensure your business lasts
  • Why you need to communicate with your team about the financial picture of your business
  • What his biggest regret is from his time in the corporate world

And so much more. 

👉 To learn more about Cenk, head to:

👉 If you’d like to explore any further training, then feel free to check out our range of free courses here:


Ben Donovan  0:05 
Okay, guys, welcome to the show today. So good to have Cenk with me. Cenk is the ex CFO and board member of PepsiCo subsidiaries. And he's now got some great advice for entrepreneurs when running their finances. And so, Jake, it's our pleasure and honor to have you on the show today. And I'm looking forward to all that you have to share with us. There's going to be some great advice in here, I'm sure. Before we get started, though, Cenk, tell us a little bit about yourself - what you do, a little bit of that history just to get us up to date with what you're up to.

Cenk Tukel  0:36 
Hey Ben, thank you for you know, hosting me in your show. I really love this. And this is for entrepreneurs and online, small businesses. This is a great pleasure. I have worked with large corporations like as you said for PepsiCo subsidiaries, managing billion-dollar businesses and large teams and big numbers and nitty-gritty. But when it comes to entrepreneurship, I started five years ago. With all that experience leaving my corporate profession, and nice title and job, and jumped into the entrepreneur world, and it is so exciting. And so what I did is actually, just three years ago, I started up my business to help intrapreneurs to manage their finances, being one by myself, and plus my wife, we have a family business at the same time running online trainings as an entrepreneur, digital world, and all the ads and all that stuff. So I'm so happy to be here. And I hope, you know, we can help entrepreneurs to grow their business.

Ben Donovan  1:42 
I'm sure we can because finances are one of the more challenging aspects of entrepreneurship. The idea of starting a business is sometimes an attractive idea. We can often be sold this dream of building a business and have the freedom you desire. And then it comes to a tax bill and you know, the world turns upside down. And there are lots of challenges in managing finances for entrepreneurs. But specifically, I think today, what would be good to talk about Cenk is, you know, we're just in the midst of a bit of a crisis in the world right now. It started some time ago now, but the effects of it are still at work in the world. And you know, there will always be crises going on at different levels, and they'll always be challenges. But right now, obviously, is a big challenge for businesses financially. And so, it's a great season to learn some good lessons. And that you've recently written an article about how business owners can get through this time and really succeed financially in the midst of these challenges. So I'd love to, you know, ask you a few questions about that, dig into that. But yeah, speak to that for a minute about the article you wrote and your feelings about this season we're in and how business owners can really come through it with success.

Cenk Tukel  2:57 
Thank you, man. Ben. Yes, that article was actually mostly focused on a crisis, which the whole Corona and COVID-19 brought in. But it's not just the Coronavirus or the COVID-19 that we're dealing with. It could be any crisis and crisis triggers actions, right? And unfortunately, these actions are reactions to a crisis. So what we should be moving is from a reaction to a continuous action. What I mean with that is, without businesses, there are so many things we could do when the business is healthy and you're starting, there's no panic, nothing. And we take business as usual. The crisis comes in, now we have to react, do something differently, either because business is not doing well or either because there's an opportunity, or you feel like you have to do something because there's a crisis, right? And what I want to focus on is actually leveraging these reactions lots of people are taking for this crisis and helping you build this into your daily life. So what I mean is, take this example of crisis.

Number one, you got to survive, right? So we're talking about surviving this crisis. But we got to survive in our business. And the second thing is if it's a crisis, and if the business is not doing well, it's going to recover. The industry might not be doing well. That might be a crisis. It could be a harsh short-term recession, but this recovery piece. But the third and most important piece is the new world. With this crisis, there's going to be a new world where online businesses will be growing at a much speedier pace. And logistics will change digitally, right? Advertisers are going to make big money; invest in them because the whole world is changing, right? My parents, they're 75 years old, they never ordered anything online. Now they are, right? My parents, 75-year old. My mom, my friends, even yours and lots of people are online now, online education, everything is becoming online, the world is changing. But if you would like to, I could talk about some, like, measures that people will take against the crisis, which I believe they should be doing every day.

Ben Donovan  5:30 
Yeah, I think that's perfect, because as you said, you know, we can react to the crisis, but to be good business owners, good entrepreneurs, we don't want to just be reactive, we want to be proactive. And so if we can react to this crisis in a way that then forms these principles and you know, things that we continue to do in our business and be proactive, I think our businesses will be a lot healthier. So definitely, that would be good. And also what just to highlight what you said as well as it's a firm belief of mine too, and something I've been saying recently: The online business is about to go to the next level. And you said the same thing, people that have never bought online before are buying online. And it's going to become the new norm. I've talked about how when there were some bombings in London in the London Underground, and how people chose new routes to go to work because the underground was closed. But then when it opened again, they just kept going the new route, they didn't go back to the old way. And so there's a whole generation of people that are going to learn what it means to go online to do business, and they're never going back. So I completely agree, there's a lot of opportunities. But in the midst of that opportunity, we need to manage our finances as well. So yeah, please do dive into some tips for us to react to this crisis, but then we can be proactive coming out on the other side.

Cenk Tukel  6:44 
So then the first thing I'm going to talk about is really managing the cash flow and expenses. What I'll start with is very interesting with the subscriptions that we have. And please think of this not only for your business financials but also for your personal financial, right? It does help.

Cenk Tukel  7:07 
Now let's talk business. Okay. So the first thing we do is we go through all those subscriptions that we have, which I did, and I advise everybody else to do. There are some must-have ones like there's a core platform that I'm using that we talked about before we started this podcast. That's the must-have for me, right? I cannot give it up. I cannot drop that subscription. But I do have some nice-to-have subscriptions. And you know, measuring certain things, measuring the movements on my site, recording the visitors' movements, and making analytics out of that. I can let that go for now. It's nice to have to further improve, but I don't need that now. Right? Drop that subscription immediately. All the nice though, which are not a fundamental business, just drop that. The second thing, the subscriptions that you have, negotiate. Now, all the subscriptions that I have, I have negotiated. And without an exception, I get something. And one of them, I even got six months free. The worst-case scenario I got was a 20% discount for the next three months. That was the worst thing I got from my software as a service provider.

Ben Donovan  8:39 
Yeah. Wow. Great thoughts.

Cenk Tukel  8:42 
And does it make sense?

Ben Donovan  8:45 
It does. Yeah. Especially again, because as entrepreneurs, we love the new software, we love the new tool, and I know I'm guilty of it. I'll subscribe to things and get unsubscribed. And then it charges me for a month and I haven't used it and so, 100%, I think we could all go through what we're subscribed to. And this is like you said, it's good for a crisis, but it's also good management for anytime because there's nothing more powerful than a lean business because you know, you can grow it quicker. Yeah, this is really good stuff.

Cenk Tukel  9:16 
Now, for the personal side, let's do this for personal expenses as well. Like when I live, there's a premium digital TV subscription, and I canceled the premium channels from my subscription. That component was 50% of my monthly bill, I canceled it because I'm on to Netflix. I don't need that other extra thing, I canceled it. And I even canceled another subscription that I had with my internet provider that had some extra bonuses of space and this and that, just cancel it.

Ben Donovan  9:54 
Yeah, right. It's time to be lean.

Cenk Tukel  9:57 
And get lean. And one advice is lots of people, now a couple of things may not be very savvy negotiation and not knowing how to ask for this - discount, free period, negotiating piece.

I'll give you one simple tip. Call your bank and ask them to renew your debit cards or credit cards. It's a big headache. Don't cancel them. I'm not saying cancel them. And if they ask you "why do you want a new one?" Just say, "I lost it", right? And what will happen? All of your subscriptions will freeze, right? And then all the suppliers will start either calling you or emailing you, now you can negotiate and decide which you want to keep or draw. Does that make sense?

Ben Donovan  10:51 
Yeah, yeah, makes sense. It makes sense. I think there's a lot of providers out there that are definitely willing to negotiate. I heard recently of someone with their American Express bill wanting to get some help with that. And American Express, you know, literally they phoned them up, they said, "Is there any leeway?" We need to just some help with this. Instantly, two months, you don't have to pay anything for two months instantly. And you know how much that's going to help cash flow is just unbelievable. So I think you're right. People are too afraid to ask sometimes, but simply asking can make such a difference.

Cenk Tukel  11:22 
Worst case, you get an answer "no". But I assure you, you won't get an answer, "no". You will get something

Ben Donovan  11:30 
For sure. Yeah.

Cenk Tukel  11:31 
And even business as usual, if you ask, negotiate, ask them "Look, I'm new in the business" or "My business is not doing well and I like your services, which I'd like to continue. But I need your help.", business as usual. They will help to retain you, huh?

Ben Donovan  11:51 
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Yeah, they want to keep customers on the other side of this. So yeah, for sure. No, it's good.

Cenk Tukel  11:56 
And the other pieces, again, for like entrepreneurs, and it really depends. Now, as entrepreneurs, we might be having our own company with employees on our payroll, or we might be working with some subcontractors, independent contractors outsourcing some of our work. And I know these, you know, especially crisis are tough times where we have to be, you know, ethical and supportive of each other, protect our team and people but we also have our business. Now, one of the challenges of being an entrepreneur is you're a business owner, right?  And as every entrepreneur at the end of the day, I did want to make this a sustainable business or sell it to any investor, to private equity, get an investor and what is it they're all after - return on their investment, which is your cash flow and profitability. So, entrepreneurs, business owners should look at it this way at the same time with the responsibility of being a business owner, and you know, helping their employees' families and their contractors' families. But then if you are in a cash crunch if you're in a crisis, and if you want to make your business survive, and if you have to take drastic decisions, share these with your employees and contractors. Ask them to work for 50% less.

Ben Donovan  13:31 
Yes, communication is absolutely crucial, isn't it?

Cenk Tukel  13:36 
Exactly. And the other pieces, when the time comes, when it's the right time, things recover, business stuff does well, then you might pay them a bonus or recover some of the gaps. If it all goes well, right? We have a responsibility to keep our businesses' lives - for the bigger community, not just for our family or investors, right? For our bigger community or if our businesses grow, we can employ more people. We can have more contractors, we can pay more people for their services or products. But if you don't have a business, we don't contribute to society and the economy, you have to make our business survive.

Ben Donovan  14:24 
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think it's about that balance, isn't it? Of surviving, being honorable with your team, making the sacrifices personally that need to be made, leading by example, I think all of those things definitely need to be considered. So yeah, that's really, really good. In the article that you wrote, you mentioned as well about pivoting your messaging, your offering, which I think is really crucial. Talk to us a bit about that, how business owners can pivot in times like this.

Cenk Tukel  14:50 
Excellent question, Ben. And I'm happy that you brought it up now. This article was written at the time of Coronavirus and COVID-19, right? And you can replicate this to any current agenda that you might have, but let's focus on Coronavirus and COVID-19.

So, there are two agenda items today in this world, one of them is Coronavirus COVID-19. And the updates of recovery, vaccinations, the cure, the medication, and such. And the second agenda item is the economy. Are you going to survive? How are we going to recover and incentives, right? One of them is the risk to the issue itself. And the other one is the economic implications. So whatever you're doing, everything is gone. People are only going to focus on these two things. So let's talk about an example. If you are an entrepreneur doing online training, take this as an example. And what I would focus on the online training if it's in my capability set or something I can learn and teach others is how to negotiate with my landlord. software service providers. How can I work on my existing contracts? What happens if I default? How can I make amendments to my contracts with my landlord to reduce my land, right? Change the agenda and relate it to crisis management.

And, again, COVID-19 example, So you're doing podcasts, right? And on video shows and hosting people. You could be teaching others how to do this, right? People are at home now in the digital world, and you could come up with a message with online training, communicating. Make best use of your time while you're at home. Let this crisis be your friend rather than your enemy. Let it bring up your creativity and do this. After a crisis, let it roll and go back to whatever you were doing before if you want to.

Ben Donovan  17:19 
Yeah, definitely.

Cenk Tukel  17:21 
Pivot the message and your offering and your product.

Ben Donovan  17:27 
Yeah, definitely. I think it's absolutely key to times like this to number one, be flexible as business owners. But as you say, you know, the ability as well to clarify your message that you're trying to communicate to people, it's such a great opportunity, isn't it? So? So yeah, really, really helpful. I wonder if too, as well, just as we, obviously, I know your time is valuable, so just wrap up in a few moments. But if you could just speak to us a little bit about what you've learned transitioning obviously you were part of the team, part of the board of PepsiCo subsidiaries and then you've moved into your own business - what was that like? Obviously, as you mentioned, you imagine managing a sort of a billion-dollar team there and moving into running things on your own. What are some of the things that were transferable? What are some of the things maybe you didn't enjoy that you now do. Talk to us a bit about that.

Cenk Tukel  18:18 
There are so many things I enjoyed. And there's one thing I regret. One thing I regret is not having started what I wanted to do before I left. I left, I had the idea and started from ground zero building it after I left, right? And my first project failed. I lost big money and big time because I didn't start and test it before I left. So for an entrepreneur or want to be an entrepreneur, if you have a continuous sustainable income and employment, my personal humble opinion - start what you want to do before quitting, find a way to do it together, maybe it will be an extra headache, extra time, burden, more sleepless nights, or you know the weekend's lost, it's worth it.

Ben Donovan  19:27 
Yeah, I think you're right. I agree because there are risks at times you have to take in business. And if you are relying on the income from that business early on, you may not take those risks that are going to grow the business. So I think you know, definitely, if you have the ability to have employment, do it on the side, build it up. I think that's definitely a wise move for sure.

Cenk Tukel  19:48 
And then you define your thresholds, okay. So I'm comfortable to reduce my expenses this much and my new business on the side, they started to generate that much and you know, I am 60% there. If you're comfortable to take to this but 60% you know, then quit and get 100% focused on business. The second thing I would recommend for existing entrepreneurs and will later become entrepreneurs is what we discussed in this podcast, in this videocast. Specifically, simply control your cash. Control it. Do not focus on nice-to-haves. When you have a sustainable predictable you know, generous you know, income than spending on nice-to-have things. Before then, control your cash.

Ben Donovan  20:48 
I think that is like one of the top things of advice I think entrepreneurs need to hear especially when they start out because I know from my experience when I started to see you know, big numbers coming in each month, you know, our first business that really started to grow as a physical product business. And you know, you start to see the revenue growth and you get excited. But then, you know, cash flow, as you say can be really crunching at times. And so unless you understand that and comprehend that, it can get you into a really tight spot. So I think yeah, that alone is one of the most significant bits of advice I think entrepreneurs need to hear. So thank you for echoing that. It's good.

Cenk Tukel  21:27 
My pleasure. My pleasure, Ben. It's really great to be here and helping the entrepreneurs. I hope they find it useful. Absolutely. Sure. implementing them as soon as possible.

Ben Donovan  21:41 
Hundred percent. I know, there'll be some good actionable things in there that people can use. If they do want to sort of find out a little bit more about you, Cenk. Where can they do that? I know, obviously, you have sort of different financial services for businesses and so on. Where can people read more about you?

Cenk Tukel  21:57 
Thank you for asking. Now, the way I help online small businesses and most intrapreneurs are through my accounting firm, Tukel Inc. accounting, so they can simply go to And reach me from my website, it's very easy to contact. And what I provide actually is the expertise on all my small businesses. Not only bookkeeping, taxes, accounting, all that stuff that is a burden, overwhelming, and things that people really fear and entrepreneurs shouldn't be focused on those things. The most valuable services, really the virtual CFO service, I help online business owners going through their financials, going through their expense line, and customize to their business, give such recommendations and advice to help them improve their cash flow.

Ben Donovan  22:58 
Awesome. Sounds great. Well, we'll make sure we include a link to the website in the show notes for the podcast and also in the description on YouTube. So people will be able to get in contact with you there. And yes, thanks so much for coming on today to the show and giving us this, you know, really, really helpful advice. It's obviously timely, but it's not just timely, it's timeless too because it's gonna last, it's going to be helpful long term. So, Jim, we really appreciate you coming on today.

Cenk Tukel  23:25 
Thank you very much. It was a great pleasure, Ben.

Ben Donovan  23:28  
All right.  See you soon. Awesome. Thank you very much.


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