Managing any company’s financial goals is a continuous process but a lot of times a company ends up just focusing on the day-to-day running of the business. The old expression is “working on the business and not in the business” Finding time in busy schedules for reviewing a business’s financial position is not always easy; but a review helps decide what to spend, when to spend, how to spend, and how much to spend according to the funds available.
A business must monitor its finances continuously. However, one hindrance usually faced is that many professional services firms do not have the bandwidth or interest to monitor financials on a regular basis.
I know it is hard to fit it in, I have been the owner/operator of a professional services firm. There is always something to do that seems more important than updating financial reports to then analyze. I have found that blocking an extra 60 minutes a month to focus on core financial management tasks helps spread the burden. Time block the activity on your calendar and get it done.
Here is the calendar I use for my business.
Analyze last year’s spending into ‘must-have’ v/s ‘nice to have’
At the beginning of the year, business owners should analyze the cash flow of the previous year to understand how money was spent. The next step is to systematically classify all expenses in two categories – ‘must-have’ vs ‘nice-to-have’. This simple activity will help the business keep track of the expenses while realizing ways to cut down extra costs and reduce expenses.
Tidy the balance sheet and remove inactive clients and vendors
Having an up-to-date and clean balance sheet helps your tax preparer to plan your company’s financial future. In other words, a cleaned-up balance sheet makes it easier to facilitate your financial planning process. A business owner must prune out and eliminate the “dead” assets. That is, an asset that no longer produces income, and maybe obsolete, get removed from your balance sheet.
Deep dive into collections
This month make a list of all the entities that owe the business money and reduce the risk of late or non-payment, by reaching out to the concerned parties. The business owner can reference invoice numbers and cross-reference these with payments to ensure the accuracy of the collection numbers and figures.
Close the previous financial year
April marks the end of the financial year and when you reach the end of an accounting period, you need to “close the books.” This will require you to meet with a CPA or financial professional to file an income tax return every year, and prepare annual financial statements, such as a P&L.
Number-crunching is not a favorite of many business owners, but it is central to the financial well-being of the business. So when May rolls in, take time to do an expense analysis to have 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.
Collections and cash flow
The cash flow of a business is earned from a variety of factors. Dedicate June to managing efficient collection processes and in turn, making your cash flow better. Implement good collections strategies and best practices to definitely see improvements in your cash flow.
Deep review performance of the first half of the year
In July, evaluate your first half of the year. You can take this time to review your progress, 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
All too often businesses put insurance policies aside in a file drawer and overlook that items in them need to be restructured from time-to-time. This August take the time to methodically review all insurance policies to ensure that you remain on the top of your insurance game.
Collections and cash flow
September again is for dedicating to efficient collection processes and in turn, making your cash flow better. Implement good collections strategies and best practices to definitely see improvements in your cash flow.
Create a budget for next year
A budget is simply an expectation for 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 realistic.
Review financials for year-end tax planning
In November, be proactive with your year-end tax planning because it is never too early to start. The number one priority for most business owners is cash flow, so tax planning has never been more important because tax minimization and planning can be a very effectual tool to legally save on tax and improve business cash flows.
After watching business finances very closely over the last 11 months, the business owner is now ready to make the right decisions, and in December set to finalize the budget. It is important to include all departments within the company that should be part of the conversation and provide opinions, insights, and expectations for the following fiscal year.