Are you a start up, trying to minimise costs but desperately needing financial clarity? If you are thinking yes – then please read on.
A virtual CFO gives you access to the big business mentality but at a cost you can afford. They give you flexibility in running your business and they are the conduit between your bookkeeper and your tax accountant. They help you make informed small business decisions.
Here are five reason’s why we need to chat.
We ensure that your accounts are accurate.
Ok. Would a CFO at a huge corporate check your accounts. Well, no. But a small business CFO should and will make sure that the information going in is correct. I can not stress enough how important accurate accounts are. If you want to grow, you need to ensure that the data is of good quality.
Turns out as a virtual CFO I am a great sounding board. We provide sound financial guidance based on our experience in small business. We can tell you what issues to watch out for and how to resolve them.
Cash Flow Management
The biggest issue affecting small business is cash flow. We can help create cash flow models and forecasts to identify when you are going to hit a red zone. Then we can help analyse what you need to do to overcome this. What strategy should you undertake?
A virtual CFO can help you make the right decisions when it comes to technology. Moving to the cloud? Changing a Point of Sale system? Inventory update? Speak to your Virtual CFO. They will have great insight into how the whole process is going to work and save you from making costly mistkes.
You do what you do best
Chances are when you started your own business it wasn’t because you wanted to be buried under the financials. Hiring a virtual CFO frees your time off so you can concentrate on your skills and we will complement you. We can just work in the virtual space and you can focus on your core business activities.
If you want to talk about it more then get in contact and we can have a free no obligations chat and get a plan of action in place.
In today’s technological age we have access to so much data it can almost be overwhelming. All of this information adds an extra layer of noise and can often be ignored. However, this data is amazing for your business. Knowledge is power. You can use this data to inform your decision making making smarter, better understood and quick decisions for your business.
Where can you access this data? And, what sort of data should you want to collect? What can you do after you have this information?
Have you got a Point of Sale, website, accounting system?
These are all really easy ways of accessing and retrieving information about your business.
The POS will tell you customer purchasing habits, peak service times, sales trends and which employees are your best sellers. Nearly all POS systems, even old systems will have customer reports, sales information and product data. If you have a POS you should be singling out the information you need.
Google analytics is full of powerful information about your customers and your potential customers. Especially if you are selling on your website. It will tell you the traffic sources (where your customers are finding you), how long they stay on a page for, what they are putting in their basket, what photos customers are looking at and even the demographics of your visitor. Savvy social media consultants are tapping into this market and are providing accessible training on how to read your analytics. It’s brilliant information when used correctly.
Lastly, the accounting system. Your financials will give you the quantitative information and with integrated systems it can give you greater detail. The accounting system will provide you with the financial trends and data. It will demonstrate what is and isn’t working for your bottom line.
Other ideas include;
Industry associations and magazines. Often they have benchmark data that you can use.
Australian Taxation Office also releases benchmark information and other data relevant to your industry.
Customer surveys. This can be done after a purchase has been completed on your web page, use free tools such as survey monkey or even just capturing a post code once the sale is made will give you a key idea of where your demographic lives.
Social analytics. Instagram, Facebook and Linked In let you know really interesting insights. Instagram tells you when your audience is watching and what is the peak time to post and even what they are actually looking at.
Customer Relationship Management. Sales funnels, sales trends, customer profiles. This data allows you to narrow and specifically target your sales campaigns.
Loyalty programs / reward points. Who actually uses the points and what do they buy them on?
You need to consider about what type of information you want to gather. It should ideally link back to your KPI’s, strategic plan and management goals. This data you have collected allows you to measure how you are tracking in your business. You may use the data to examine entering a new market space or perhaps you will use it to determine a change to your existing product mix.
Your accountant or business partner is an invaluable asset to help you navigate the options and to analyse and identify the key trends that emerge from that data. They can help you customise a unique dashboard, they can provide worthwhile management reports to give you trend information and together partner with you to determine the next steps for your business.
Prior to starting The Digital CFO, I was the Financial Controller for an iconic winery on the Mornington Peninsula. Over time the business expanded and the information systems of the business needed to evolve to accommodate the changes.
Finding one integrated system that did everything we needed, was basically impossible. One system would perform, perhaps 80% of what was needed but it didn’t achieve all of our expectations. There was also problems in finding a system that matched front of house requirements with back office accounting needs. Not to mention how it fit with all the other requirements.
Obviously, moving to a digitally integrated business system was the right thing to do but it was time consuming, stressful and needed a lot of buy in from all the interested parties. Of which there was a lot. Pleasing all of those groups was really hard, everyone was always busy and didn’t always accept change.
Sales teams are adept at selling you a solution but when it comes to implementation, it will always fall back on the business. I am going to provide my top 5 tips from the business perspective of what you need to think about before you start your digital transformation with a point of sale.
1. Clearly map out all of the interrelated systems.
What do I mean? Let’s use a restaurant for an example. The Point of Sale is the hub of all the activity. However it is more than just taking an order. Every sale has a payment, everyone payment forms a batch, the batch is deposited into the bank and needs to be reconciled.
The sale needs to get into the accounting system.
Every sale of wine is going to create an inventory transaction.
A sale that is paid by a voucher is going to impact your deposits prepaid balance sheet account.
What about from a customer database perspective? Does your POS database integrate with your webstore? Can your web sales go through your POS? How do you know if a customer has made a web purchase or a bricks and mortar purchase?
What about your bookings and reservations system? Do you take prepaid deposits? How do they pay? How does that information get into the accounting system.
Then there are the payment gateways – apple pay, EFTPOS, Stripe, PayPal how do they connect to your accounting systems? How do you reconcile them? How do you handle the credit card fees? What merchant do you use?
A good way is to literally write down on a piece of paper everything that you do that involves a computer system and link them up. Once you have it down on paper you can see the whole system.
2. Involve the main stakeholders.
This potentially creates some issues as we all have an opinion! However as a rule you need to include;
Marketing / Web Manager
Key Front of House staff member
Receptionist / office manager / reservations staff member
A Key front of house member is essential. They are the nuts and bolts! They will have insight on what they need for what they do. They are also the person that can help get the rest of the team on board.
3. Research, research, research.
Once you have determined your needs, you need to work out what system works best. Are you inventory heavy? Are you a fine dining restaurant? Do you do a lot of complimentary orders? How do you track waste? How do build orders? What are the reports like? If you discount an item does it apply to the total order or to the line item (important for inventory). Does the end of day sales include all the discounts?
Speak to competitors you have a relationship with, get the sales people to come on site or offer a really special virtual experience. Ask them for references of integrations they have done well.
Don’t just choose one that has the marketing spell and don’t trust them when they say it integrates but is in testing mode……
4. What is the support like?
We operate in a 24/7 environment. For many businesses they are at peak on weekends. When do you think the system will go down? Most likely 1pm in the middle of service with 100 covers.
You need to make sure the support they offer meets your business needs. If the support is Monday – Friday 9-5pm it is not going to work for a hospitality business. If the support is only via an email link and you need an answer ASAP you really need to think about if that works for you.
Do they come onsite to implement or is it a virtual solution? What is the training like?
What happens if the internet fails? Can your system still work?
5. Local v International
Australia, and I will include New Zealand, have some great products on the market. The advantage of a local product is that it deals with your currencies, your tax rules (GST, WET, Excise can play havoc in your POS – Accounting integration) and the support is usually local as well. You also have the ability to talk to the developers directly and the market being domestic means you can have potential input into the product. If you are using a Canadian product, the chances are they aren’t going to modify the system for your needs because why would they?
The most important thing to remember is – if you don’t feel confident or qualified to do this – invest in the right people that can. If you are a service or product based business your point of sale is incredibly important. It is a goldmine of information for decision making. How it talks to other systems is essential. It is an expensive mistake to keep changing things around. If you don’t know how to set it up then appoint someone that can. You will save yourself in the long run.
As an accountant we love to solve your problems. They don’t even need to be financial problems. Accountants are not just good with numbers, they are usually good at business. A common misconception is that accountants are tax nerds, sure that’s one branch of accounting but don’t forget all the other avenues we can take with our accounting degree.
Strategic management accounting, business analysis and performance review is a necessary function to controlling your business and ergo, your financials.
How do you go about solving a problem?
If you have the ablility to access a Financial Controller, Business Manager or accountant should approach your problems as opportunties to learn, innovate and create solutions.
CPA Australia release a weekly podcast for free that can be accessed via iTunes or the podcast ap on your phone. These are great tools for professional development. A recent podcast addressed this very issue of problem solving hence my post today!
When you are presented with a problem in your business you can change the way you handle and solve it.
You can ask yourself the five why’s- why, why, why, why, why? This traditional technique can help map out the challenges and a path to resolution.
The second approach is to change your perspective. To relook at the problem in a different way. The following example can be considered; if you come to me and say I am not making any sales we could rephrase this as
– my customers aren’t buying enough
– my sales people aren’t selling enough
– my competitors are beating us
and in changing the narrative you have three different solutions to the lack of sales. This might be expanded to
My customers aren’t buying enough on our web store?
Is our digital strategy right?
Have we got the optimum amount of traffic?
At what point has the customer stopped committing to the sale?
What is the barrier to the sale? Credit card, internet to slow, price too high?
Now we are creating a strategy to deal with the simple question of why am I not selling enough?
If you think you have some problems I can help with then lets catch up for a virtual coffee and a chat! Solving problems is what I love to do!
Balance Sheet. You know, that other financial statement in your software you probably don’t look at. Two words that cause eyes to glaze over.
I promise you the Balance Sheet is one of the most powerful tools you own in your business.
The P&L only articulates one part of your business story. Yes, it tells you if you made a profit but not the whole narrative. The most common concern I’ve heard is “I am making a profit but we don’t have any cash!”
When you view your business through the balance sheet you develop a greater understanding of true financial position – do you have enough cash to run your business, are your assets generating enough income, are you making sales but your receivables balance is all in 90 days? What are your tax obligations? Are your debts helping you generate income to cover the repayments? I also love a good provisions account – especially an annual leave one – this will tell you if your employees are banking up leave that if they resign you are going to have to fund. Can you do it?
Andrew Codd posted on Linked In about the Balance Sheet Mindset and Cash Flow Mindset for three way thinking in your business. Successful businesses invest in not just making the quick sale but developing assets such as new systems, new products, refreshing your brand and understand how to best utilise your net assets.
Moral of the story? Equilibrium in your business is essential for achievement. If you are only looking at the P&L and wondering why you aren’t kicking goals you may need to change your mindset and develop new indicators to honestly measure success.