Want to stay on top of your finances when scaling your business? Check out these tips for managing finances as a small business owner
Though it’s not as exciting as a new product launch or marketing campaign, managing finances is key to success as an emerging business. Nearly a quarter of all small businesses fold within their first two years, almost always as a result of mismanaging finances.
Even business owners with more than two years’ experience risk losing what they’ve built if they aren’t vigilant. The best way to avoid this outcome is by holding regular finance meetings with your team.
Monthly (or even daily) finance reviews help your team understand sales trends, company spending, and progress toward company goals. If you’re intent on scaling your business effectively, monthly meetings are crucial to a smooth transition.
Daily and Monthly Finance Meetings
In addition to monthly meetings with your team, you want to consider doing daily reviews on your own. A simple 30-minute review can clue you in to trends or problem areas you wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.
A great practice for daily reviews is to go over sales and order reports from the previous day, with estimated costs subtracted. This allows you to see your daily net profit, and make timely business decisions moving forward.
During your monthly meetings, there’s no need to over-complicate things–at least not at first. A simple review of your order reports and profit and loss statement will help you see which items are big sellers and which are a liability. You can also make decisions about how to reinvest your profits or pull out owner distributions.
Attention to Detail
As time goes on, work toward more thorough and precise reviews of the particulars. Once monthly finance meetings are the norm, you can dive deeper into the details of your profit and loss statement.
Eventually, you should examine each line item on your profit and loss statement, evaluate your cash reserves, budget your marketing expenses and estimate future growth. If you plan on selling your business one day, it’s especially important to trace every thread of your finances. Potential buyers will want the details of how money moves in and out of your business, along with other key statistics to help evaluate the health of the business. The more readily you can provide them with specifics, the more likely they are to move forward with the process.
One of the most crucial components of healthy habits is staying organized. Monthly meetings won’t mean much if you can’t manage time and energy effectively. Try not to let your meetings run longer than an hour, for example, or it will be hard for team members to retain information.
For remote/virtual offices, make sure team members have easy access to a meeting link to avoid any technical difficulties. Whatever information you want team members to look over, make sure they have access to it ahead of time. You want as much time and energy as possible to spend on reviewing goals and progress, not distributing and opening documents.
What follows are additional best practices when holding monthly finance meetings.
- Go through each line item on your profit and loss statement. Discuss any anomalies with your team and quickly brainstorm solutions. Use the brainstorming session to form an action list for the coming month.
- Review your balance sheet and cash flow statement. Briefly go over ways to reinvest profits or slow down the amount of cash flowing out of the business. If you’re not yet profitable, estimate when you’ll break even and then adjust this estimation every month.
- Examine miscellaneous reports to get a sense of the big picture. Which reports to examine will depend on the nature and stage of your business, but could include payroll reports, inventory reports or sales-per-unit reports. You can rotate which miscellaneous reports you examine each month–the important point is to regularly take a look at the big picture.
- Set goals and monitor progress. A ship without a direction ends up adrift, and you’ll need to carefully manage KPIs in order to create steady growth. Benchmarks inevitably need adjustment, but you’ll still want to take time each month to calibrate and make sure your team is on track. Just make sure your goals are realistic.
- Field questions and take notes. Gather feedback from your team and make a note of any consistent concerns. Team building is a two-way street, and fielding questions is a great way to draw attention to any blindspots you may have.
Whether you’re a new startup or a successful business looking to scale, regular finance meetings are necessary for stable growth. Other than making sure your business stays in the black, such meetings offer a number of additional advantages.
For one thing, monthly finance meetings help build unity among leadership. Without intentional, regular meetings, months slip by and leaders lose sight of the bigger picture. Even when things are running smoothly, monthly finance meetings still reinforce goals and point toward a unified vision.
Second, monthly finance meetings ensure that you know the ins and outs of your business (literally). Staying on top of the numbers is key to reducing your stress levels. You can help yourself sleep at night as a small business owner, and prevent any rude awakenings long before they happen.
Lastly, monthly finance meetings help increase your reaction time as a decision-maker. In the fast-paced world of ecommerce, making decisions and adjustments at the right moments is critical. With monthly finance meetings, you can maximize efficiency by reinvesting profits, or decreasing losses due to overspending.
As with all things, consistency is key. Hold your monthly finance meetings on the same day and at the same time every month, reinforce takeaways with team members, and hold leadership accountable to going over reports in advance.
Though it can be an unexciting exercise, holding monthly finance meetings with your team is one of the most important things you can do to guarantee success. Even stable businesses with multiple years in the market can quickly fold without staying on top of their numbers.
Start small and keep it simple, expanding the scope of your monthly meetings gradually over time. Monthly finance meetings will help you monitor and maintain progress, and unify your team with a clear, data-driven set of goals.
Today, many sellers use automated software to help them run these meetings effectively. SellerMobile, for example, provides KPI tracking based on historical data. The software also consolidates important business metrics from both Amazon and Walmart. You can examine product performance across multiple marketplaces and make decisions based on real-time data.