3 SMB Budgeting Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

3 SMB Budgeting Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) often have budget and staffing constraints – making it even more important to have accurate forecasts and budgets. Yet, SMBs tend to make small mistakes that often result in a financial loss – or worse – closing up for good. To create an accurate and solid budget that you can rely on; avoid the following three common budgeting mistakes.

1. Overestimate sales projections

Sales projections should be based on data and research; however, many SMBs pick a figure out of thin air. Instead, look at past sales, the conditions of the macro-economy and competitors to create a forecast that is realistic and relevant to your business.

2. Spreadsheet errors

As discussed in our blog post Can Excel Be Bad For Your Business?, there are plenty of companies that have suffered financial losses from Excel blunders. With as many as 90% of Excel spreadsheets being prone to errors, the easiest way to avoid mistakes is to move to the cloud. Software as a service (SaaS) systems offer remote access and the ability to collaborate among employees, which has many benefits. Not only can employees access the data from anywhere, anytime and from any device; but, employees can also collaborate and work on the document simultaneously without the risk of having multiple versions of the data.

3. Ignoring the budget

Creating a budget is of course important, but if you’re not following the budget it is not doing you any favors. It is important to continuously follow up with the budget to make sure you stay on track with your projections. The use of visual dashboards has made this much easier for finance leaders, as you can easily track expenses and compare with the set budget.

Budgeting mistakes can be detrimental for your business. Make sure you know what the common mistakes are and how to avoid them. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Harvard Business Review’s “Why Budgeting Fails” below.

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3 Things Millennials Want from Accounting Firms

3 Things Millennials Want from Accounting Firms

Bill.com recently presented results from a survey they conducted with more than 1,000 business owners on services, technology and billing. The 2017 Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey primarily focused on accounting expectations from Millennials and other cohorts as it relates to their roles as business owners.

Why Is the Focus on Millennials?

Well, as of the beginning of 2015, they are the largest cohort in the US labor force. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to figure out how and why this cohort is fundamentally different from earlier generations. Based on insights from the survey we have summarized the 3 main things millennial business owners want from accounting firms.

1. Go Paperless

Paperless is no longer an expectation, it’s the norm. Filing and storing paper is cumbersome. We live in a digital world. Electronic and cloud-based services offers access anytime, anywhere and from anywhere. 82% of respondents said they would be “very pleased” or “pleased” if their accounting firm offered paperless services.

2. Strategic Guidance

52% of millennials in the survey indicated that they need a firm that offers insight as it relates to strategy and guidance. Thus, they want services such as fractional CFO or controller services.

3. Respond in a Timely Manner

An overwhelming majority of millennials (72%) said that the most important trait of an accounting firm was to respond to their communications in a timely manner. We live in a world where businesses no longer have regular business hours. The Internet has extended the hours that businesses are operating and also changed consumers’ expectations. Consequently, millennial business owners expect prompt responses from their accounting firms.

So What?

The insights from Bill.com’s survey are not surprising. Cloud-computing is predicted to continue growing at a steady rate. Additionally, consumers continue to expect more as the digital climate continues to develop and empower consumers. Thus, the takeaway from this should be that accounting firms need to be experts on what their customers expects. The bottom line is – you want your customers to be happy – and to do so you need to make sure you are meeting their expectations. If your main customer base consists of millennials, then three things you should consider doing are going paperless, offering CFO services and oversee your processes on response time with customers.

To learn more about what millennial business owners want from their accounting firms, download the 2017 Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey special report or infographic.

Accounting Solutions for Early Stage Companies

Accounting Solutions for Early Stage Companies

The Struggle for Early Stage Companies

Early stage companies can often struggle to keep up with their day-to-day accounting requirements. This is especially true, as founders and management try to handle accounting in addition to all their other responsibilities. This challenge is compounded as business activity and business complexity increase. Accounting solutions for these types of companies vary of course depending on their industry; however, outsourcing accounting services can be beneficial in order to keep staff focused on core competencies and revenue-generating tasks.

Solution: Outsource

Nothing is more important or sensitive to your business than your financial position. That is why you should invest in both people with deep experience and an infrastructure with enterprise strength. Early stage companies can find solutions to their day-to-day accounting requirements by outsourcing the following services:

1. Transactional Requirements

This includes accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank reconciliations, payroll processing, asset tracking, etc.

2. Financial Control and Decision Making

This could be for a short term engagement to review processes, set up budgets or refine financial reports or on a continuing basis. Additionally, early stage companies can hire a consultant to act as the CFO/Controller that oversees daily activity, managing cash flow, communicating with tax advisers and presenting financial status at board meetings.

By leveraging resources and enterprise quality accounting applications, you will have the controls, confidence and focus to help drive operational improvements in your business. Companies in the early stages usually need to spend most of their attention on acquiring clients, developing business and performing their core competencies. The day-to-day accounting requirements can add to the stress of all the other challenges of being in the starting phase of growing your business. Deciding whether you should outsource or not depends, of course, on your situation and business; however, it undeniable that outsourcing services that are non-revenue generating can be extremely beneficial and valuable.

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7 Ways Technology Helps Your Nonprofit Grow

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3 SMB Budgeting Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

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Will Robots Replace Accountants?

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Engaging a Fractional CFO/Controller Service

Engaging a Fractional CFO/Controller Service

Rapid Growth Causes Increased Risk

Small to medium sized businesses that are in rapid growth also are experiencing increased financial risk as a result. Growth requires expansion of the company’s automated systems and access to additional financing to fuel the growth. Managing these financial risks may be foreign territory for the business owner and his team. The company needs a CFO to manage the bigger picture. The CFO will make sure that the systems, processes and people are in place to produce accurate financial information so that the owner of the company can make better decisions managing growth. However, many small and medium sized companies simply cannot afford to hire a full time CFO.

Fractional CFO and Controller Services are the Solutions

Fortunately, there are firms that provide fractional CFO and Controller services that are affordable. The best way for a company to identify a good service provider is to tap its network of trusted advisers, such as bankers, investors, attorneys or CPA firm. These advisers can direct their client toward a firm that provides the comprehensive accounting and financial reporting support, as well as strategic financial initiatives, that will help drive growth.

What Does the Role Entail?

Businesses who decide to engage a CFO are looking to acquire a person that can guide them with strategic initiatives, but what does that look like? In our experience, a fractional CFO can:

  • Assist companies who are preparing for an acquisition or sale and guide them through the examination phase and financial due diligence required to execute transactions
  • Provide guidance in reconciliation projects
  • Offer advice in software system reviews and recommendations
  • Review company processes and offer guidance on optimization
  • Enhance reporting setup and support

Ultimately, the role will depend on the needs of the company who is interested in engaging in controlling services. Are you interested in engaging a fractional CFO for your business, and if so, what would that role look like?

3 Ways to Drive Business Growth

3 Ways to Drive Business Growth

Being the CFO in a high growth company is challenging. Handling business responsibilities, strategies, managing people and responding to setbacks can really chew up your day. Here are 3 things I have learned from great leaders that drives business growth.

1. Empower Your Employees to Act Like Executives

By empowering employees to act as managers, you’ll free up your time to focus on your to-do list. This is a step beyond delegation. When you give trusted employees the power to make decisions, you lift the burden from your own shoulders. At the same time you fuel your staff members’ confidence in their own abilities to lead. This strategy is only successful if you let your employees what your expectations are and how they will be measured. If you have chosen the right employees, they will proudly embrace their new responsibilities and strive to exceed your expectations and drive growth.

2. Leverage Technologies That Pave The Way Toward Easy Management

Take advantage of technology solutions that integrate data and eliminate information silos that are difficult to breach. Decision making is much easier when you have a set of best-in-class applications that integrates and gives you 24/7 access to data in the office and remotely. You and your employees will spend less time struggling to generate useful data and more time analyzing your metrics. This will in turn allow you to make more informed and strategic decisions that will drive business growth.

3. Understand Your team, and Plan Around Its Strengths and Weaknesses

Every group of employees is different. Working with your employees, instead of imposing a workflow on them, will remove friction between leadership and your staff. Examine your employees and establish procedures and policies for work that allow each employee to have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. As a result, your employees will be settled and comfortable with the company culture and the personalities on your team and can focus on strategies that drive growth.

 

Do you have any tips on how to drive business growth? Feel free to share in the comment section.

 

Why Use A Fractional CFO or Controller Services?

Why Use A Fractional CFO or Controller Services?

Identify Cost Savings and Increase Efficiency

In order to stay competitive, businesses are forced to examine all aspects of their operations to identify cost savings and drive efficiencies. The companies that do this successfully will be rewarded with increased market share and improved profitability.

The challenge for small business owners is how to effectively conduct this analysis without the knowledgeable resources to do it. Typically, small business owners will try to handle the company’s finances on their own, even though accounting is not their core strength. Consequently, owners can end up with poor financial reporting that impacts their understanding of their business operations.

Specific results of accounting and financial reporting shortcomings affecting small businesses include:
  • Inability to obtain bank financing or raise equity investments
  • The financial complexity of the business has outgrown the capability of existing staff
  • A lack of financial bandwidth on a specific project such as a M&A transaction
  • Inability to respond to growth opportunities due to misunderstanding the relevant financial implications
  • Misperceptions about the origin of profitability

Most Efficient Method for Small Business Owners

For many small businesses, hiring a full time CFO or Controller is not economically viable. However, utilizing a fractional CFO or Controller service to access the financial expertise they need is affordable. On average, most small businesses (subject to size) should only spend between $15,000 and $60,000 annually for fractional services, compared to $90,000 – $120,000 annually to hire a full time CFO or Controller. Clearly, utilizing fractional CFO/Controller services makes sense for small businesses who are looking to identify cost savings and drive efficiencies.

Making the Shift: Four Secrets Behind Great Budgeting and Planning

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