Most CEOs and business owners I know and work with can’t stand reviewing and looking at their numbers.
“Many small businesses would rather face an angry barbarian horde than tackle their cash flow statement or price a new product.”
― Nicole Fende, How to be a Finance Rock Star
Does this statement resonate with you?
I read this quote some time ago – and it’s true for most of us!
It happens for multiple reasons; however, mostly, I hear excuses such as:
- “I just don’t understand numbers”.
- “Finances are my “weak area”.
- “It’s just the most frustrating part of running a business”.
- “I’m worried about what the numbers are going to show when we finally look into them”.
Yes, you get your books done and monthly reporting prepared, but you’re not sure what these figures and reports mean and how you can use them to run and GROW your business.
And at the same time, you realise that this approach means lost opportunities.
And it does indeed.
These problems are fixable, though, and you don’t have to just “wait and see” how your profit or cash flow will turn out at the end of the month.
Let me show you two simple steps to help you get on top of your finances and ready to drive your business forward.
Step 1: Get proactive in your business planning and forecasting process
You see, it’s not just about preparing a monthly forecast for your business.
The #1 key to understanding how these numbers are impacting your company, is to have the planning process tailored to your business needs, and your needs and goals as a CEO.
Proper forecasting process = creating a plan for your business which:
- Allows you to take a step back and understand your business;
- Ensures your operating model is profitable;
- Identifies cash flow gaps, (and opportunities!);
- Forces you to make a choice – for example, which opportunities will you pursue, or how will you decide between investing money in business development and controlling costs;
- Gets you to commit to your financial success and mastering the art of money management to grow your business.
If your forecasting process is set up right – you can get details of the profitability of your services/products, your break-even, and bottom-line profit – at a glance.
A forecast becomes your roadmap to guide you through how to operate business PROFITABLY.
You can have a dashboard prepared in a way that’s easy to follow and with KPIs that are customised for your business.
>>Because you must know your business model and numbers inside out – it’s a non-negotiable!<<
At the same time, you cannot be bogged down by checking and ensuring that you’re looking at the correct data. So have a professional team in place (whether in-house or outsourced) to prepare the reports for you.
Get your team to create weekly/monthly “snapshots” of your financials (such as KPIs, cash flow position, variances vs your forecast) so that you know straight away which areas of your business to focus on next.
Step 2: Start working on your financial habits and disciplines
One of my clients asked me once: “What should I be doing to be financially accountable in my business?”
And my advice is to start working on your financial habits and disciplines as early as you can.
This is extremely important for any founder and business owner, and particularly if you’re planning to scale in the near future.
You’ve probably been very diligent with your finances to get where you are now.
- You keep separate bank accounts for business and personal expenses, maybe even you’ve got a different bank account for your emergency fund and tax liabilities;
- You’ve been using quality cloud software that speeds up processes, administrative tasks, and helps with transparency in your business;
- You’ve got a reliable bookkeeper and/or an accountant you work with daily so that it’s not all on your shoulders.
Even if you don’t enjoy looking into your financials – you have all of the basics in place.
But now that your business has gotten bigger, you need more data and expertise to drive your organisation forward.
When I asked my clients what they believe is the most important when it comes to running solid small business operations, I received the following answers (in no particular order):
- Clear financial plan
- Strategies to ensure that there is always money in the bank (cash flow is king!)
- Support from experienced professionals
- And discipline in following all of the above.
Building financial habits and accountability rituals – will guarantee your success as a business owner!
To get you started right away, I’ve included a list of the essential weekly and monthly financial habits for a successful CEO:
➔ Track your leads, sales conversations, and conversion
➔ Review your sales forecast
➔ Review your 13-weeks cash flow forecast
➔ Review your debtors’ report and follow up with your clients
➔ PRO-TIP: Schedule 1 – 2 hrs every week (or every other week to start with) and dedicate this time solely to tracking your finances.
➔ Make sure books are closed, and your reports (incl. your key indicators) are ready at the beginning of each month
➔ Discuss company results (vs budget and/or last forecast) with your accountant/CFO and your team
➔ Set actions for the next month or quarter
➔ Update forecast and business goals for the next quarter
➔ PRO-TIP: Share the business projections with your team (essential to building your team accountability).
In addition to this, you should go in really deep into your financials every quarter. This the time to find opportunities for growth and smart cost savings.
NEXT STEPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
2023 isn’t panning out as we expected and we’re all forced to make a lot of changes in our businesses. With these two simple steps, you can make sure that your business is on the right track, regain control of finances, and start improving performance, cash flow, and profitability of your business almost immediately!