Monday, October 6, 2008

Financial Management Basics- Create a Calendar

Whew! I'm always relieved when "end of month" processing is completed. Just like you, CFO (& bookkeeper) isn't my favorite role as an entrepreneur!

Anytime you create a system to get things done, you improve operating efficiency. Yet so many firms have no real processes related to financial tasks. As always- I encourage you to connect to your calendar! In this case, it's a separate financial calendar, showing all planned activities related to financial management.

The calendar isn't date dependent, rather, think of a blank calendar and week 1, week 2, etc. That way you don't have to think about the actual 1st or last day of any month. You can create one calendar that works for every month. For example, you might review preliminary bills the end of the third week of any month. You might plan to mail invoices on the first or last Friday of any month.

Below I've listed some of the events that might be on a financial calendar to give you a head start when you consider what works for your practice.

To bring money in:
  • Timekeeping 100% up to date (daily, please)
  • Review retainers and trust account balances
  • Preliminary review of invoice / replenishment requests
  • Current invoices/ replenishment requests mailed
  • Accounts Receivable Review
  • Collections activities; level 1 (eg. letters, notes), level 2 (eg. phone calls), collections level 3 (eg. offer to negotiate payment)
To meet obligations:
  • Pay bills
  • Pay/ deposit estimated taxes
  • Payroll
  • Payroll taxes
  • Payroll deposits
  • Payroll tax deposits
To ensure you're on track to achieve your goals:
  • Cash flow projections
  • Managment reporting review (profitability, trends, projections, actual vs. expected, etc.)
And because it fits nicely here and should be systematic:
  • Data backup and storage
Additionally, you need standards related to how soon you send engagement letters and retainer requests once a new client is on board. Your first interactions with money set the tone for the engagement. Be professional, be consistent with your requests, and you're more likely to be paid on time.

Getting organized will ensure your financial processes run smoothly and predictably. AND- it makes it easier for you to deal with an accountant, financial planner, etc., once you outsource the function.

Create a financial calendar and use it this month. By the end of the year, you'll have a system that makes it easy for you to perform your CFO role effectively, and with less stress.