What role does the owner play in business operations? In many cases, the answer is “anything and everything.” This is especially true when it comes to small business owners. In an effort to keep costs low and operations lean, owners commonly take on multiple jobs within their business.
An OnPay survey of over 1000 small businesses found that 41% of owners and managers handle accounting and finance themselves with another 30% using in-house staff to do their accounting. In many ways, this makes sense. Small business owners are often savvy, resourceful, and personally invested in the financial performance of their companies. However, complex business accounting demands a certain skillset and base of knowledge to manage properly.
More importantly, most business owners and managers have a hefty stack of responsibilities on their shoulders. The attention to detail and process that financial management demands is a tall order for owners who regularly meet with clients, marketing teams, and investors, all while overseeing daily operations.
QuickBooks Online is the most popular business accounting platform available today, and for good reason. It is a powerful tool developed by Intuit that helps businesses capture and track large amounts of financial data, process payroll, and produce configurable reports in real time. QBO also supports useful software integrations that can help businesses automate complicated reporting processes.
Intuit does an incredible job marketing QuickBooks Online to small business owners, touting its features, integrations, and ease of use. And although I agree it is easy to get started in QBO, it really takes a background in accounting to get the most out of the platform. There are even some accounting professionals who don’t have a firm grasp of everything it can do. As a result of QBO’s marketing and popularity, many owners and managers wade into this feature-rich platform and get stuck.
I bring this up because it represents a common problem with the accounting solutions that some businesses attempt. There is no easy, fast, or purely automatic solution for something as data rich and consequential as business accounting. Additionally, there is simply no substitute for the accounting knowledge needed to interpret the data into actionable insights.
Attentive business owners follow a cyclical process of assessment, adjustment, and reassessment. This process is applied to strategy, pricing, staffing, and all other aspects of their operation. Sometimes the hardest part of running a business is honestly assessing one’s own role and responsibilities within the organization. But owners and managers should not shy away from the personal performance review. You need to be able to answer the question: Am I spending my time wisely?
When small teams are stretched too thin, people spend time working outside their areas of proficiency and comfort. For owners and operators in particular, this time represents a lot of wasted opportunity for growth. Although they are the most qualified to set goals and develop strategies for their business, owners aren’t always the best suited to collect, organize, and interpret large amounts of financial data.
Business owners and managers have a responsibility to develop and refine strategy while fostering valuable client and partner relationships. Those business owners who choose to act as their own financial managers must tackle a three-fold challenge:
Understandably, many business operators do not have a full view of their financial performance metrics. In many cases small business accounting consists of the bare minimum needed to file taxes. By contrast, companies that employ or contract seasoned accounting specialists are able to produce financial reports that are current and thorough.
They are able to break down their profitability by client, service, assigned leads, or any other variable they wish to analyze. This kind of granular analysis offers clear solutions for questions of pricing, staffing, purchasing, and any other function of your business. Perhaps even more valuable, an ace financial manager will help connect the data to your unique business goals and offer pathways to success, supported by relevant metrics.
If you manage a business and want more out of your financial management, it may be time to fire yourself from the accounting role. As your business grows, demands on your time will only increase. You can reclaim the time you spend on financial management and gain access to a greater level of financial awareness with help from an accounting specialist.
Don’t settle for a financial management provider who doesn’t care about your business goals. Whether you hire a full time accountant or work with a contractor on a part time basis, that person or team should be deeply curious about your business. Ask them specific questions about how they plan to help you achieve your goals. If they aren’t willing to engage in the conversation and offer specific solutions, you might be wasting your time.
I would also steer away from anyone who acts like they know it all. For any service or expertise they offer, ask for examples. An accounting partner who is transparent about what they can do for your business will be far more valuable than one who promises more than they can deliver.
Advantage Insights finds success with each client because we tailor our services to their unique needs. We offer deep accounting expertise and regular communication to fine tune our approach as business needs evolve.
Our financial management services offer clients a significant amount of time they would otherwise spend on accounting tasks. In addition, the reports and insights they receive are far more potent and useful for strategic planning.
If you own or operate a business, you have an opportunity to make a critical assessment of your own financial management performance. Advantage Insights offers a free consultation to help you understand our service options and the difference they could make for your business. Contact us to learn more.