if you are a small business owner chances are you do everything. Do you want to know the secrets of how to think more like a finance director? Lyndsay Henderson shares some of her secrets:
I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the benefit a Finance Director can bring to small businesses and charities. You may wonder why a small business might need this over and above a tax accountant AND a book-keeper and you may not feel you can afford a full service.
However, thinking like a Finance Director and looking at your historic numbers and growth plans with a finance slant can help you get to the nuts and bolts of how to get your business to succeed.
- Look at your numbers. If you have a book-keeper or you are doing your own book-keeping you have data, even better if it’s in an accounting system. Look at the information and use it to see how your business is doing.
Leverage the data you have to focus on how to grow your business. Don’t be scared if they don’t tell you the story you want to hear, use this information to get to the root cause of the issue and you can turn things around. Rachel published some great tips on things to look at here.
- Have a plan
You probably have a strategy for your business, but do you have a budget? A budget is just a plan, but with numbers. It makes you accountable, it focuses your mind and it helps you grow your business. If you aren’t sure where to start, think about where you want to go in the next year and what the numbers look like – do you want to sell more, take on more staff, increase profit? Look at your numbers from previous years and work out how these have to change to meet your goals, then think about your strategy to get there.
- Be efficient and manage risk.
The easiest way for many small organisations is to improve efficient and manage risk is to implement better processes and controls. Having your processes documented makes it easier for someone else to do tasks you don’t have time for and by writing things down or asking someone else to do it, you might find that you were not doing it in the most efficient way. Having controls allows you to know the risk of fraud and error in your business are minimised as you scale up. If you want to know more, I wrote about this in more detail in here.
- Outsource or delegate.
A good Finance Director doesn’t do it all but has an overview of everything and how finance and organisational matters are being addressed. I work with specialists for book-keeping, tax and compliance but I know when to zoom in and help fix a problem.
Finally, don’t ignore cashflow. Your business plan and your historic information can help you build up a picture of what’s going to happen and can help avoid problems before they are upon you. Recent stories about Carillion have shown that no one is too big to fail so make sure you know what’s going on. Do your due diligence on new clients, invoice promptly, get a purchase order number, find out who the finance person is, consider 14-day terms or part payment upfront and chase as soon as it’s due – polite and firm. Chasing up your customers for payment isn’t a fun job but it is critical for your business to succeed.
If you want to know more but don’t have the budget for a finance director Lyndsay and Holy Brook Associates founder have created a low cost online course to help you grow your business, or some one off support can cost less than you might expect, so do get in touch with our Co-ordinating Director, Rachel Eden firstname.lastname@example.org.
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