Being an entrepreneur usually means having an endless to-do list, and many of them are time-sensitive tasks related to the day-to-day running of the business. It might be tempting to procrastinate chores related to long-term financial management when they don’t have hard deadlines.
While cleaning up the books and taking proactive steps to plan for the future might not seem urgent now, neglecting these tasks can have a detrimental effect on your company’s financial health over time. To stay healthy and robust, a business must continuously monitor its financial picture. A review and analysis of your business’ financial position helps you decide what to spend money on, how much to spend, and when to spend it.
Farming out this role to someone else might not be an easy solution. Many firms that offer professional financial services don’t have the bandwidth or interest to monitor the financials of their clients’ companies on a regular basis. But I’ve found that allotting even an extra 60 minutes a month to focus on core financial management tasks helps you manage this burden. Block a time for this activity on your calendar and get it done.
To help you get started, I’m sharing a calendar of activities I use for my business and the companies I advise. Taking these simple steps will allow you to seize control of your business’ financial health and put you firmly on track to have a banner year.
Analyze last year’s spending, dividing expenditures into must-have items and nice-to-have purchases.
At the beginning of each year, business owners should analyze the cash flow of the previous year to understand how and where the money was spent. Next, systematically classify all expenses into one of two categories: must-haves versus nice-to-haves. This simple activity helps the business keep track of expenses while discovering ways to cut down unnecessary costs to reduce expenses.
Tidy up the balance sheet and remove inactive clients and vendors.
Having an up-to-date and clean balance sheet helps your tax preparer plan your company’s financial future. This also makes it easier to conduct your financial planning process. Prune out and eliminate any dead assets, including those that no longer produce income. Scrub these obsolete line items from your balance sheet.
Take a deep dive into collections.
Make a list of all the entities that owe the business money. Reduce the risk of late payments or delinquency by reaching out to the overdue parties. Reference invoice numbers and cross-reference these with payments (or lack of them) to ensure the accuracy of collection amounts.
Close the previous financial year.
April marks the end of the financial year. When you reach the end of an accounting period, you need to close the books. Part of this process is preparing annual financial statements, such as the profit and loss statement and balance sheet. Get ready to meet with a certified public accountant or other financial professional to file an income tax return.
Analyze the expenses.
Number-crunching is not a favorite activity for many business owners, but it is central to the financial well-being of the business. When May rolls in, take the time to do an expense analysis to gain an understanding of the business’s operating expenses relative to revenue-generation activity. One way to do this would be to separate the variable and fixed operating overheads.
Focus on collections and cash flow.
The cash flow of a business is earned from a variety of factors. Dedicate June to managing efficient collection processes. This will improve your cash flow. For the rest of the year, implement good collections strategies and best practices to continually see improvements in your cash flow.
Do a deep review of the company’s performance during the first half of the year.
In July, evaluate the first half of the year. Review your progress to identify how you can make the best use of the market position that the business has established and decide where to take the business next.
Review all insurance policies.
Business owners often put insurance policies in a file drawer after signing them, forgetting that they need to be reviewed and restructured from time to time. This August, take the time to methodically review all insurance policies in detail to ensure that you are covered where you need to be.
Examine collection practices to improve cash flow.
September is another good time to dedicate some effort to honing efficient collection processes to help your cash flow. Implement good collections strategies and best practices to get concrete improvements.
Create a budget for the next year.
A budget is a road map for the expectation you have for your business results. In October, make a budget to estimate how much income you aim to receive next year. It is important that your budget be ambitious but still realistic.
Review the financials for year-end tax planning.
It is never too early to be proactive with your year-end tax planning, so make sure to tackle this no later than November. The number-one priority for most business owners is cash flow. That objective means tax planning is crucial – tax minimization and planning can be an extremely effectual tool to legally save on tax while improving the company’s cash flow.
Finalize the budget.
After you’ve been watching your business finances closely over the last 11 months, you are now ready to make smart decisions. December is the ideal time to finalize the budget. All departments in the company should be part of the conversation. Prompt your staff to provide opinions, insights, and expectations for the following fiscal year.