In his book, The Rebel Rules: Daring to Be Yourself in Business, author Chip Conley describes what investors look for in a management team when considering providing startup money to new businesses. He says your management team should consist of a “brain trust that includes a passionate visionary, a ‘get-your-hands-dirty’ operator, and a responsible, finance-minded executive.”
Even if you’re never going to seek venture capital money to fund your business, this tidbit of advice makes a great strategy question to consider for your business, especially if you are an entrepreneur. Do you have these three roles in your company?
The passionate visionary is a creative idea person. She has the technical knowledge that supports the service or product that will be created and offered. She sees the market need and just how to sell and position the product so that clients or consumers will want the offering.
The visionary often has more ideas than budget. The finance role can evaluate the profitability of the visionary’s ideas and prioritize the projects. The operator can execute the visionary’s ideas.
The visionary provides strategic direction for the company and keeps the market offerings fresh.
If your business is missing a visionary, you might also struggle to keep your practice full as often (but not always); the sales function could fall to the visionary. You might also find yourself getting stagnant with your service offerings and falling behind the marketplace.
The fix for a missing visionary is to develop a sales and marketing team and/or a research and development team that can serve these functions.
The operator is an action person who can execute. She gets things done. She can find and hire the right team. She is a systems builder who can develop the systems, job descriptions, procedures, and processes that makes the company unique.
The operator takes the visionary’s ideas and makes them happen. She needs the visionary’s ideas because she would rather take someone else’s ideas and work with them than create her own. She also needs the support of the finance executive to stay on budget and to focus on one project at a time or avoid hiring too many people.
A business without a good operator never gets the product to market and may also constantly be short of team members.
Responsible, Finance-minded Executive
The finance expert helps to make the dollars work for the company. She can tell us how much we need to sell and how much we can spend. She can also provide capital sources for the company via investors or loans.
The finance executive loves numbers and can help to make sure the company’s operations are profitable. She’ll work closely with the operator to make sure that the right number of people are hired at the right salary levels. She’ll work with the visionary to plan and budget for new sources of revenue and new product lines.
Without a finance executive, a company often spends more than they bring in and may not have a viable profit plan. They may also run out of cash which can cause problems with creditors and investors.
This is the role we can not only help you fill, but also help you build your financial literacy to the level that you need for the stage your company is in now and for the future.
Your Business Success Trinity
As you were reading, which role are you? Which role jumped out at you that might need shoring up in your business? You might be strong in one area and need to outsource another while keeping a strategic eye on things overall.
Take a look at each of these roles and objectively assess your business. How are all three roles being served in your company? Which ones need more development in order for your business to grow?
Getting clear on your company’s roles can very well take you to the next level of success.
Which trends impact your business the most? Which ones speak to you? Feel free to reach out to discuss any of these ideas with us.
As we welcome in a new year (and maybe a new decade depending on how you count them), it’s a perfect time to reflect on the trends that will impact us and our businesses. Here’s a list for your consideration and reflection.
Trend #1: Sustainability
Concern for the environment has made the list of many companies’ core values. The way businesses are run can have a huge impact on the environment. While we hear a lot of stories about large companies impacting sustainability, we can also do our part as small businesses. In the accounting profession, many firms have gone paperless, transitioning from staplers, paper clips, and filing cabinets to digital storage which greatly reduces their footprint.
Trend #2: The Gig Economy
Young workers often have multiple jobs instead of the 9 to 5 jobs of their parents. This means there is more flexibility than ever before when it comes to hiring and retaining young workers. They can be employees, contractors, outsourced solutions, remote, local, part-time, full time, temporary, or permanent. Sub-trends in this area include more virtual workers and many more opportunities for veterans.
Trend #3: AI – Artificial Intelligence
This trend is impacting the accounting profession in a big way via smart data entry, smart document fetching, and even smart bookkeeping. Marketing has also been impacted in a big way through online ads, customer service solutions, and marketing technology. In email, Google is finishing our sentences for us, and chat and other technologies are having fairly effective conversations via bots.
Trend #4: Stories
Storytelling is huge everywhere. People want to know:
- The story behind your business and why you do what you do
- The stories about your customers and the experience they have with you and your services
- The stories from your employers and how it is to work at your organization
Digital communication has moved from text to graphics to video as bandwidth improves. Video makes stories even easier to share. Smart companies will leverage both stories and video going forward to get their message out.
Trend #5: Diversity Expanded
The conversation is no longer about race, gender, and even sexual preference. It’s now about authenticity and being the same person at work and at home. No one is “normal.” But it takes courage to reveal our differences, especially if they are outside the “standard.” Your courage is more likely to be honored in 2020 than it has in prior years.
Trend #6: A WOW Customer Experience
We’ve moved way past the time of “infotainment,” yet the concept is parallel. As businesses, the challenge is how we can deliver an entertaining, positive, and memorable experience while producing the outcomes the client desires.
Trends #7: Drones
So far, drones have made appearances in photography, special effects at conferences, as toys, in movies, and of course, in war. I see them in use for safety reasons, going where people shouldn’t or can’t. They will become more pervasive in 2020 and there will be more rules, protocols, and court cases on their use.
Trend #8: User Interface
The move from desktop to mobile is nearly complete, with only the laggard portion of the population remaining. The move to voice is still a work in progress, and it will steadily continue to gain traction in 2020.
Trend #9: Actionable Analytics
Capturing information digitally gives businesses a huge amount of data to utilize but small businesses have barely scratched the surface of this profitable information. It’s time they started catching up, and that’s something our firm can help you with.
Trend #10: Pace of Transformation
New business models in companies like Tesla, Uber, Google, and Facebook will continue to show up at a rapid rate. The business that’s most nimble will be the one that changes the game or at least stays in it without folding.
Which trends impact your business the most? Which ones speak to you? Feel free to reach out to discuss any of these ideas with us.
If your eyes glaze over when you’re presented with financial statements for your business, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs benefit greatly when they can see their financial results in graphical and chart formats. Fathom is the perfect tool to help your numbers come alive so they can become meaningful for you.
Fathom is a company based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and founded in 2011. The product is also named Fathom and is a cloud-based software application that crunches accounting data and provides multiple views that make analysis easy. In accounting terms, we call this type of software by many names: Financial Dashboard; KPI software, where KPI stands for key performance indicators which are metrics that help you measure your business results; and Business Intelligence (BI) software.
Fathom can present your accounting data in multiple insightful views:
- KPIs – Popular KPIs are pre-loaded, plus you can create and calculate your own. Fathom handles financial KPIs like the current ratio or debt-to-equity ratio, and you can also enter non-financial data such as number of employees and customer satisfaction scores.
- KPI explorer – This display takes on a wheel shape where green is good and red indicates room for improvement.
- Profitability – This line graph shows your business’s breakeven point.
- Cash flow – This bar graph shows in red and green your cash balance fluctuations.
- Trend – This line graph allows you to see at a glance the direction account balances are moving over time.
- Goalseek – This chart allows you to perform what-if analysis, set goals and measure your progress.
You can also generate predefined or custom reports in Fathom. The reports can be scheduled as well as exported to Excel.
Fathom does require a setup process. It integrates with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Xero, and MYOB (which is popular in Australia). It’s included in the Advanced version of QuickBooks Online. The steps to set up Fathom include:
- Updating the data, which is mostly done through integration setup
- Adding your company profile
- Mapping Fathom to your Chart of Accounts, which is a very common setup step
- Selecting your KPIs, which requires some strategy work on your part
- Setting targets
- Enabling alerts if desired
There’s a lot to like about Fathom. If you feel like you’d like to start digging deeper into your business’s financial results to find opportunities for more growth and profit, then please contact us anytime.
You’ve received them—probably more than once—and every single time, they’re painful, tedious, and unsolicited. Robocalls . . . Need we say more? You can experience a robocall, or an automated telephone call delivering a recorded message, on both a personal and business phone line. From scammers scamming to political parties politicizing, these calls can get in the way of your daily business activities, stop productivity, and simply annoy the life right out of you.
Here’s how you can fight them.
Don’t Let the Robocalls In
Unfortunately, robocalls can plague all types of calls, whether it’s a cell phone, analog, or VoIP call.
First, if or when you receive a robocall, hang up. Easy enough, except, you know you will eventually get another call, and then another, and more after that. These calls keep coming . . . like cockroaches.
Put your name on the National Do Not Call Registry; it’s free! Will it sufficiently work? No, not always. Yet, taking this step is proactive and it might keep one or two callers from connecting with you.
When an unwanted call does come in, there is often an option to “press a number” that is supposed to delete your number from the robocall registry. Viewpoints are split on this idea, as some say it works and others believe it does the complete opposite of what it’s intended to do. We recommend taking your chances and pressing that number. However, if you’re on the fence, don’t worry; we have more options for you!
Try downloading a call-blocking app, such as Nomorobo or Robokiller. These are subscription apps that don’t discriminate against carriers. You can also check with your particular provider to see if they offer any special blocking option. For example, Verizon has the Caller Name ID app. Both iPhones and Androids have built-in call-blocking features, while Samsung has a “Smart Call” feature to squash this issue.
You can limit your cell phone calls to “contacts only” by setting the “Do Not Disturb” feature on your smart phone, but is this a realistic option for business owners who often need to take calls from people not yet in their contacts?
Again, try contacting your service provider to see what options they offer. You may also consider purchasing a call-blocking device. Some of the call-blocking devices on the market can block up to 5000 numbers, such as the CPR V5000, which is available for less than $90.
A little trickier to fight, contact your Internet provider to see if they have a service to stop robocalls coming in via VoIP. With some clever searching, you may find an innovative blocking option online. Though, if you find a compatible match, it could be costly. Always report the unwanted call to the Federal Trade Commission.
Stop the Robocall Madness Now
The truth: Robocalls are becoming more frequent each year thanks to the double-edged sword that is the Internet. These calls show no sign of stopping. If you want them to end, you need to take action—and right now!
A great way to make a wonderful start to 2020 is to wrap up 2019 feeling organized and on top of the world. Here’s a checklist of items that you can start on now to make your year-end close go smoother than ever before. And don’t worry if you don’t know how to do some of these tasks – that’s what we’re here for.
- Catch up on your books, especially if you do them only once a year. By doing it now, you’ll be able to get into your accountant faster this time of year and they will appreciate getting the work done ahead of their crunch time.
- Catch up on bank reconciliations in case they are not up to date. Don’t forget your savings accounts, PayPal, and any other cash equivalents. Void any old uncleared checks if needed.
- Review unpaid invoices in accounts receivable and get aggressive about collecting them, especially if you are a cash basis tax payer. Clean up any items that are incorrect so that the account reconciles.
- Write off any invoices that are no longer collectible.
- Ask employees and vendors to update their addresses in your payroll system so that W-2s and 1099s will reflect the correct addresses.
- Collect any W-9s that you don’t already have on file for contractors that will receive a 1099 form from you.
- Collect workers compensation proof of insurance certificates from contractors so you won’t have to pay workers comp on payments you have made to them.
- Collect sales tax exemption certificates from any vendor who has not paid sales tax.
- Decide if you’ll pay employee bonuses prior to year-end.
- Review employee PTO and vacation time and reset or rollover the days in your payroll system.
- After the final payroll runs, contact your payroll software company to make any W-2 adjustments necessary for things like health insurance.
- Set the date to take inventory, and once you have, make adjustments to your books as necessary.
- Write off any inventory that is unsalable. If possible, sell scrap inventory or other waste components.
- Prepare a fixed assets register, calculate depreciation, and make book adjustments as needed.
- Record all bills due through year-end, and reconcile your accounts payable balance to these open bills.
- Make loan adjustments to reflect interest and principal allocations.
- Perform account analysis on all other balance sheet accounts to make sure all balances are correct and current.
- Make any additional accrual entries needed, or if you’re a cash basis taxpayer, make those adjustments as needed.
- Get an idea of what your profit number will be. Choose whether you want to maximize deductions to save on taxes or whether to want to reflect more income. Decide what you can defer into 2020 or what you want to have as part of your 2019 results.
- Match all transactions with their corresponding documents – receipts, bills, packing slips, etc. – to make sure you have the paper trail you need.
- Download your bank statements and store them in a safe place.
- Download any payroll reports and store them in a safe place.
- Scan in paper documents so that they’re stored electronically.
- File any important papers such as new leases, asset purchases, employee hiring contracts and other business contracts.
- Prepare a budget for 2020 and enter it into your accounting system.
- Take a look at the 2020 calendar to determine which holidays you’ll close and give employees a copy.
- Review your product and service prices if this is the time of year you do that and make any changes you decide on.
- Update your payroll system for any new unemployment insurance percentages received in a letter each year.
- Update the mileage deduction rate if that rate has changed at the beginning of the year.
- Set a time with your accountant to go over 2019 results and get ideas on how to meet your financial goals in 2020.
- Review the metrics you’ve been using in 2019 and decide on the list of metrics and corresponding values that will take you through 2020.
- Celebrate the new year; it’s a wonderful time to gain perspective and be hopeful about the upcoming year.
Start 2020 with a bang and this year-end checklist, and feel free to reach out if we can help with anything.