Making Accounting Work for Your Business by Brian Hayes
Brian Hayes joined NOW CFO as a consultant in 2014 and quickly became a partner in the firm. He was instrumental in opening new markets in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. He then became a Regional Partner in the Salt Lake City, Utah office with responsibilities managing offices in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. In May 2021, he was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of NOW CFO and manages all accounting and finance functions for NOW CFO and its offices nationwide.
Hayes has worked in multiple industries, providing accounting and financial leadership. He started in the structural fumigation industry where he was responsible for financial and operational management in San Diego, California. He moved to Utah in 2012 and shortly thereafter, started his own accounting firm and was quickly hired by a client to become their controller and operations manager. His influence was key in helping to negotiate a large purchase and merger of a fruit processing facility in Brazil. During this time, he completed his education.
His experience includes price modeling, inventory management, nonprofit accounting, land development, construction accounting, cash-flow management, financial statement preparation, as well as managing and growing businesses through mentorship and sales leadership.
He attended Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs and obtained his Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting and his MBA in Finance.
Four Accounting Criteria
These four criteria help you make sure your accounting data is useful. It needs to be:
These aren’t always perfectly able to coexist. If it takes too long to get accurate information, it’s no longer timely. If information isn’t accurate, there’s no way to gain insights from it to help your business. Relevant information that isn’t timely is of no use in the present. And if you can get irrelevant information quickly, it’s equally useless.
In order to increase the chances of your accounting data meeting these four criteria, you can do a few things.
Get Expert Help
The first thing is to get expert help. Accounting departments are often seen as cost centers instead of value generators. NOW CFO is made up of nothing but accountants. They’re focused on getting valuable information to the right people to help in their businesses.
One way they provide value is by generating financial reports that track important things, such as major revenue items. They can also monitor the cost of goods sold and other expenses so you know what everything costs. It’s easy to get lost in too much data on a chart of accounts. Accountants can clean up your reports to help you only see relevant costs.
Look for the best talent available for your accounting and finance teams. If you don’t have enough work for a full-time employee, consider outsourcing your accounting.
Automate Your Accounting and Inventory
QuickBooks, Xero, and other accounting software help you automate financial processes and eliminate human error. Fishbowl integrates with these solutions to further automate your business by automatically updating your accounting records when you engage in transactions involving inventory.
In QuickBooks, you can import:
- Bank account data
- Credit card data
- And much more
Then you’ll be able to automate payments and other transactions. You can also create automated reports to look at budgets and actuaries or custom reports in QuickBooks.
Fishbowl’s barcode scanning functionality enables you to track by lot number, serial number, location, and more. Plus, its auto reorder points let you automatically order items when they start to get low on your shelves. And improved warehouse organization speeds up order fulfillment and other processes.
Document Your Processes
Document management automation enables you to retrieve crucial data whenever you need it. Audits and other time-sensitive situations necessitate immediate access to financial documents.
Make sure you have your accounting processes and procedures written down in case anything happens to the individual(s) responsible for creating them. These processes you should document include:
- Internal controls
- Month-end close
- Financial reporting
- Board reports if you have a board of directors
- Audit preparation
- Budgeting process
- Metrics and KPIs
Create a Budget
It’s easy to think that budgeting is a waste of time because too many unpredictable things come up in your business. But it’s still a good idea to create a budget so that you can measure your progress over time and find ways to improve.
There are a few different approaches to budgeting in your business:
- Metrics-driven budget to hit sales and revenue numbers
- Historical-driven budget comparing previous years
- Contract-driven budget to meet long-term obligations
- Market-based budget for various locations and clients
- Department-based budget to contribute to the overall company
Budgets don’t have to be stagnant. It’s a good idea to revise them when conditions change dramatically, like with the pandemic. Depending on the type of business you have, you may want to review your budget each month.
Use Cash-Flow Forecasting
Budgets generally follow accounting practices, while cash-flow forecasting is more of a management tool. It helps you plan ways to turn cash into more cash down the line, such as by purchasing inventory, holding it for a time, and eventually selling it at a profit.
Even if a project makes sense according to a budget, you may end up with a shortfall in your cash flow if you don’t plan your monetary resources wisely. Cash is king, so you don’t want to run out when you need it most. You can forecast 13 weeks, four weeks, or even daily if cash is tight. Excel spreadsheets can easily hold your cash-flow forecasting.
Develop a Cadence
Be sure everything gets done in a timely manner by developing a healthy cadence. It’s a good idea to have a structured plan in place to obtain the right accounting information and make it available to your teams. Small businesses often push bookkeeping to the end of the month, but that information would be more valuable if the accounting team tracked it more regularly.
Have financial meetings with your accountant(s) at least once a month stay apprised of changes in your financial position.
Experiment with KPIs
Each business has different KPIs that they need to measure. Leading indicators help you know what to expect going into a new week, month, or year. NOW CFO is able to incorporate data from all of its internal systems to help with organizing efforts and making the most of its resources. This has been a game changer.
If you can improve things about yourself and your business by just 1 percent every day, you will see dramatic improvements over time.