Accounting is a process of sorting financial data. Through sorting the data, the accounting process creates products. The products are reports. These reports are useful to the management team, business owners and shareholders or investors. The reports also play a pretty vital role in helping your accountant file your taxes.
The funny thing about money is that it’s an artificially limited resource controlled by The Federal Reserve. The Fed tries to manipulate our economy by changing the amount of money in circulation, the money supply. It’s not a precious metal or non renewable resource and it’s not backed by gold. It’s printed on a machine. Most transactions these days aren’t even done in printed cash, they happen through bits and bytes and binary codes going from one bank server to another.
You don’t need to do a lot of digging to determine whether or not your business is doing well. You can feel it by just observing the day to day operations. When you’re able to pay all your bills, pay yourself and your employees and you have money left over in your business, it’s pretty obvious that things are going pretty swimmingly.
But instead of flying by the seat of your pants or letting your socials statistics determine the health of your company, let’s observe some factors that will allow actually you to determine the health of your business. There are a variety of measurements to choose from. They range from simple observations to more complex ratios.
How awesome would it be to be able to predict how much money you think your small business or freelance practice will earn each month, quarter or year? Pretty awesome, right? You're thinking, "But Paco, my business is totally seasonal. There is no way I can predict it." And my response is, "You can. But have to be willing to look at other data points you might not have been looking at before and change your ways." In other words, if what you've been doing hasn't been working, you should change your methods.
Lately I’ve been working with a lot of small businesses that are growing rapidly. It’s awesome to watch this unfold, but one thing I’m learning quickly is growth comes has a cost. Whether you’re selling products, providing a service or manufacturing something, in order to grow, you need to invest in the business.
As I’m sure you’re painfully aware, business doesn’t happen in a neat timeline. Cash flow timing issues are very real. For example, there’s the furniture designer who is bringing on more staff, expanding to be a bigger storefront and signing new accounts. There’s the retailer who needs to make a purchase from the manufacturing company and the larger order comes at the best price. And then there’s wedding photographer who needs to pay her tax bill during the slow season. A line of credit may be an option to help bridge the gap.
I've worked in financial service since I was in college. In fact, my very first job was as a collections agent for a big, evil bank. For four hours a day, five days a week, I'd sit in a call center in suburban Southern California with a fugly headset on, connected to an automatic dialer. I would speak to people who were past due (bank speak for late on making a payment) on their auto loans. The majority of the time the person on the other end of the line just spaced and forgot to make their payment.
The bank had entire department dedicated to closing the gap between revenue that was owed to them (AKA receivables) and cash. The gap is entirely created because of how, when or if a customer will pay their bill or invoice. As a small business owner, you probably experience the drawbacks of this gap like not being able to pay your vendors or yourself or your other bills. But there are things you can do to help minimize the gap. This is called managing your cash inflow.
Wealth, in the traditional, economic sense is all about owning shit that's valuable and leveraging it. Yes, of course, there are many definitions of wealth, like having the luxury of time or having fulfilling relationships, but I'm talking pure economics here. Ultimately, owning valuable things allows you to sell, rent or lend the value in exchange for resources, like money.
Wealth is having more resources than you need for the present and future. And having more than what you need helps quell any anxiety you might have about the relative present and the future.
One of the most frequent financial struggles that people talk to me or email me about is having trouble being "fiscally responsible".
When it comes to doing the things one ought to do with their money, according to what I've learned from the industry and society at large, we fall short in a few common ways. Most people have trouble saving when you know you should save, curbing spending on bull shit that you don't need and understanding how the financial markets and economics. I get it. I make weird choices too. A lot of us do it because we're emotional creatures that act on our feelings.
A balance transfer is when you pay off a higher interest credit card with a lower interest credit card. You're transferring the balance from one credit card to another. A lot people use this strategy with their personal finances to get out of credit card debt. Credit card companies will often advertise balance transfer deals where no interest will be charged for a certain period of time. For example 0% interest (APR) on balance transfers for 12 months. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? It can be, but there are some things you should know before making the transfer.
If you work for yourself or dream of working for yourself, I'm sure one of the motivating factors is to make a profit. Making a profit can depend on a lot of different factors. Some of those factors are outside of your control like the market and the competition. You can move the needle on other factors like leadership, management, location and the number of locations. But one of the most important factors that have a direct impact on your profit is pricing. Pricing is how much you charge for your service.