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Key Idea: Face The Facts

Janet Milly, CFO at Theatrical Lighting, is responsible for the banking relationships and cash flow.  Key indicators reports also known as flash reports, are required by everyone.  More...

Key Question:


Janet generates a weekly "flash" report. This provides information about sales, receivables, the current cash position and more. As the business grows, the leadership can't possibly keep everything in their heads. One business owner told us he thought that most owners with under $3 million in annual sales are pretty good at keeping numbers in their heads. But over $3 million it is too complicated.

If you are currently doing under $3 million in sales and you keep your numbers in your head, do you think it would help to create your own flash report like Janet does for David? Maybe this is a chicken-egg situation. Maybe we stay under $3 million because we think we have a handle on the financials and don't need any daily or weekly reports. No business is too small to track key numbers. We suggest that you ask your CPA to come up with a simple way for you to see on paper what is going on in your business.

Think about it

How do you know where you stand now? How often do you "weigh" in?

Clip from: Theatrical Lighting

Huntsville, Alabama: Meet David Milly.  When he was a student at University of Alabama at Huntsville, he earned money booking entertainment and dances for his school. From his first booking, Earl Scruggs Review, a country-bluegrass band (of Deliverance fame), he knew this was what he wanted to do.

To book the lighting package for the show, he engaged Luna Tech, a sole proprietor, and they struck up a friendship. By the time he graduated in 1975 they had a partnership and then they formed a corporation to protect themselves from the liability involved with manufacturing and creating pyrotechnic special effects. David was initially a 25% stockholder in the business, yet by 1981 he negotiated a buyout of just the lighting division to be on his own.  That's a story, but this one just gets better.

At that time there was no trade association for the lighting industry. In 1987 a few of the fellows started one, Theatrical Dealers Association, and David was quick to join and serve on the board. He initiated a Small Business Development Committee. Today this national association is known as ESTA or the Entertainment Services and Technology Association. 

David has also been an active member of the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau for three decades. In this episode of the show you will meet all kinds of people who love Huntsville, who love Janet and David Milly, and love the stuff of making their community a great place to live.

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Theatrical Lighting Systems

David Milly, CEP / founder

1221 Jordon Lane
P.O. Box 2646
Huntsville, AL 35804

Visit our web site:

Office: 256-533-7025

Business Classification:
Lighting Supplies

Year Founded: 1981

Face The Facts

HATTIE: All right. What are some things that you think you do right, that other people need to know about as they're growing a company?

JANET: Well, one of our basic premises is that the vendors are our support system. And we've always made sure that we've paid our bills on time. Because we get a lot of support from the vendors and they offer us help and send business our way because they know they'll get paid.

DAVID: Part of our success has been her austerity in making sure that the banks and our suppliers are paid. You know, if a manufacturer has a customer that wants to buy something, is he going to turn that lead on to a person that marginally pays their bill or somebody that always pays their bill? It's a no-brainer.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Are there numbers that you look at daily or weekly that you go, `Wow, we're going great'?

JANET: Well, we do flash reports and we all go over those numbers.

HATTIE: What's a flash report?

JANET: This is a report that tells David everything he needs to know about receivables to payables, new customers, amount of sales for last week.

DAVID: I don't take risks. I take little bitty, you know, chances, but my odds are stacked in my favor before I go borrow that $1/2 million. I know that even if the deal I'm putting together fails, I've got enough left over, I've got plenty of time to bail it out and put something else together. So I don't feel like we're taking a high risk.

HATTIE: Does this happen in bed, these discussions?

JANET: No. We try not to take it home with us.

HATTIE: OK. So when you walk out the door, you try to say, `Now you're my husband and my boyfriend and--you know, and we're not going to talk about business anymore.'

JANET: `Try' is the operating word there. Of course, we constantly talk about it is because it is--it's like our family.

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