Here are a few things you should do as a small business owner to stay on top of your finances.
If you’re running a small business, it can be easy to try and put everything into day-to-day operations. After all, that extra capital can often go a long way in helping your business grow. Alexander Lowry, a professor and director of the master of science in financial analysis program at Gordon College, said small business owners shouldn’t overlook their own role in the company and should compensate themselves accordingly. You want to ensure that your business and personal finances are in good shape.
In addition to paying yourself, it’s important to set aside money and look into growth opportunities. This can allow your business to thrive and move in a healthy financial direction. Edgar Collado, chief financial officer of Tobias Financial Advisors, said business owners should always keep an eye on the future.
Loans can be scary. They can lead to worrying about the financial repercussions that accompany failure. However, without the influx of capital you obtain from loans, you may face substantial challenges when trying to purchase equipment or grow your team. You can also use loan proceeds to boost your cash flow and thus face fewer issues paying employees and suppliers on time.
As your company grows, you may want to purchase more commercial real estate, acquire additional insurance policies and take out more loans to facilitate all these pursuits. With poor business credit, getting approval for all these transactions and acquisitions can be more difficult. To keep good credit, pay off all your debt funding as soon as possible. For example, don’t let your business credit cards run a balance for more than a few weeks. Likewise, don’t take out loans with interest rates that you can’t afford. Only seek funding that you can quickly and easily repay.
Every business owner has a client that is consistently late on its invoices and payments. Managing small business finances also means managing cash flow to ensure your business is operating at a healthy level on a day-to-day basis. If you’re struggling to collect from certain customers or clients, it may be time to get creative with how you bill them.
If you have trouble saving for your quarterly estimated tax payments, make it a monthly payment instead, said Michele Etzel, owner of Bayside Accounting Services. That way, you can treat tax payments like any other monthly operating expense.
This is an obvious practice, but a very important one. Do your best to set aside time each day or month to review and monitor your books, even if you’re working with a bookkeeper. It will allow you to become more familiar with the finances of your business, but also provide you with a window into potential financial crime.
“Do not neglect bank reconciliations and spending some time each month on reviewing outstanding invoices,” said Terence Channon, principal for NewLead LLC. “Failing to do this, especially if a bookkeeper is involved, opens up the business to wasteful spending or even embezzlement.”
Measuring expenditures and return on investment can give you a clear picture of what investments make sense and which may not be worth continuing. Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, said small business owners should be wary of where they spend their money.
“Focus on the ROI that comes with each of your expenditures,” she said. “Not doing this means that you can lose money on irrelevant or bad spending bets. Know where you are spending your hard-earned dollars and how that investment is paying off. If it isn’t paying off, cut back and spend a bit more on the initiatives that do work for you and your business.”
Establishing internal financial protocols, even if it’s as simple as dedicating set time to review and update financial information, can go a long way in protecting the financial health of your business. Keeping up with your finances can help you mitigate fraud or risk.
“As a small business, we are often strapped for time, money and have vastly inferior technological capabilities, but it shouldn’t prevent any small business owner from implementing some sort of internal control,” Collado said. “This is especially important if you have employees. Weak internal controls can lead to employee fraud or theft, and can potentially get you into legal problems if you or an employee are not abiding by certain laws.”
There will always be business issues that need to be addressed today, but when it comes to your finances, you need to plan for the future. “If you’re not looking five to 10 years ahead, you are behind the competition,” said Tina Gosnold, founder of QuickBooks specialist firm Set Free Bookkeeping.
Alfredo Gaxiola has worked on numerous IRS problem cases and has successfully settled with the IRS to release liens on houses, bank accounts and wages and, if needed, setting a payment installment plan that is not burdensome for the client. He has conducted appeals before the U.S. Tax Court and obtained favorable resolutions in reducing the tax debt of his clients. Mr. Gaxiola served as Treasurer of Camara de Empresarios Latinos, one of the largest and strongest Hispanic organizations in the city of Houston. He has conducted financial and accounting seminars for the Houston Small Business Development Corporation, as well.
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