My hands were clammy, and my knees were trembling while I anxiously awaited my name to be called from the upscale lobby area. I knew this would be the moment that would either make or break the next move in my career. I was at the point in the interview stage of meeting with the big enchilada, this was the interview that could send all the previous interviews down the drain. I was meeting with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the one all the way at the top of the food chain.
Looking back ten years later after I landed that job and landing several more going through a similarly grueling process, I have learned the CFO was a role I would come to know rather well. In fact, I have come to know the CEO, COO, CIO, HR, legal, administrative and yes CFO roles from the inside out. Welcome to being the owner of your business. You wear all these hats plus more – all at the same time. Talk about grueling!
We as entrepreneurs can quickly assess the situation and say no way, I am not qualified enough to be a CFO – I don’t have an accounting degree, I don’t have the tools needed, I don’t even know what my tax return is stating. It can indeed be overwhelming; however, the moment you put on your CFO hat is the moment your business ship will head in the direction you desire. You are the best captain your company could hire to be in the CFO seat, and here’s why – you know your business better than anyone else. You understand the service and/or products you’re selling, you know the process (or lack of process) like the back of your hands, and you are the one individual that has the biggest investment in the business which is your time and money.
Every journey has a starting point and accepting the CFO position of your business is no different. Equipping yourself with a toolkit is critical to make heads or tails of the situation.
Tool 1: Bank account solely for business use only
Treating your business funds separate (rather than a hobby business funded by your personal checking account) will provide simplicity and transparency. For example, when you run into CVS to purchase paper for your office printer using your business debit card– you will know this was 99.9% a business expense. Rather being on your personal card, you will have to remember to keep that mile-long receipt and circle your paper among band-aids and milk. (Note: You do need to still keep your receipts for your purchases to substantiate your purchases in either method – the point is if it’s on the business card it is 9 times out of 10 for a business use.)
Tool 2: Accounting tools – this could include a notepad, Excel template, or accounting software.
Your decision on this should be centered around which tool you will actually use. Paying for a tool doesn’t mean you will necessarily use it. In the case of CVS, you would show on 7/28/2019 (Date) $8.74 (Amount) CVS (Vendor) “Office Supplies” (Account Code). At the end of the period you need to be able to review all of your “Office Supplies” expenses to understand the expenses (what and how much) you have incurred. This type of journal needs to be maintained for income (money in) and expenses (money out related to doing business). I have included an Excel template that can be used, and you can grab it here. The financial information included is an example to show income less expenses equates to total profit (the most important number on the page).
Tool 3: Calendar – Schedule a time at least monthly to review the income and expenses of your business.
Make sure this is a standing appointment on your calendar and you won’t be rushed or interrupted during this appointment. *Imagine closed door to the CFO’s office * This is where the magic happens of you wearing your CFO hat. You will be able to use the information obtained through your accounting tools to understand what money has been received and spent, and more importantly if it was value-added.
For example, if you spent $300 this month on Facebook ads, did you receive any leads from this marketing investment? Or if you spent $8.74 each week at CVS for printer paper, could buy in bulk, cheaper from another vendor?
You need to have the space on your calendar to be creative and to do the analytical review of your financial history to make critical decisions for your company. Remember, the sole purpose of having your business is to make profit.
I regularly have business owners ask when they need to hire an accountant. If you own a business and you’re planning for this business to grow and be fruitful, now is the time to hire an accountant. Tax planning is absolutely key for you to ensure you’re capturing the data needed for your annual tax return but also to ensure you aren’t overpaying Uncle Sam. By giving yourself time before the end of the year, you’ll be better able to understand how you’ll be impacted taxwise from your business and be prepared in the event you’ll owe taxes. It’s also critical you understand exactly what your tax return is stating – be sure through your interview process with your accountant that he/she takes the time to explain your tax return in detail prior to filing.
Numbers and math can be overwhelming, but you’re a warrior. Your passion coupled with your business is called to do great things.
Take ownership in your company, take ownership in your profits, and take ownership in your future!
And don’t forget to grab the finance spreadsheet. It’s a great place to start!
Kellie Vincent is a CPA located in McKinney, TX who assists small business owners take control of their profits and future. Kellie specializes in preparing tax returns and providing financial analytical information to entrepreneurs in order to take their business to the next level. Kellie is the wife to Tres of 16 years and mom to three boys (Hunter, Tyler, and Keller). During her down time, Kellie enjoys traveling, reading and being outdoors. You can find out more about Kellie’s services at Kellie Vincent CPA.