You can’t make good decisions when your numbers are crap

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You can’t make good decisions when your numbers are crap

By Anna MaskerIn standard16th June, 2016


From the silence on the other end of the phone, I knew I had lost them. 


I had spilled my guts and had broken every rule of sales in the process. I cringe now thinking how I tried to convince the business owner on the other end of the line why having a strong advisory/finance team in place was a good investment…  it’s just not my style. 


What I should have said to get my point across was, “You can’t make good decisions if your numbers are crap!”


The fact is that I really didn’t care if they worked with us…  or their CPA …  Or another reputable firm– “but for goodness sake,” I felt like saying, “just get SOMEONE competent  in to help you!”


I forgot to put myself in their shoes for a moment and got myself all caught up in the glories of predictive budgets,  foresight, actionable information and, (*sigh*) cash flow that is under control.  I was standing on my soapbox.


When I finally stopped talking, I could basically hear their next words before they even left their lips– “how much is this thing gonna cost?”


And… I couldn’t blame them.


All they could see were dollar signs flying out of my mouth, not the value I was trying to communicate. I didn’t slow down enough to tell them a few things that I take for granted, but maybe they didn’t even know.


So for those business owners who I spoke to this week, I apologize.  I got ahead of you.  There IS value in hiring a good financial and advisory team.


Here’s what I should have said…


You have dollars that unlock even greater dollars in your business.  I see SO MUCH potential in certain companies that they have no idea what a goldmine they are sitting on.  And like a mine, you have to invest time and money to uncover those strains of gold if you know where to look.  A good financial team can help you uncover and mine the gold through their analysis and experience. 


Information is the springboard for growth.  You have a ton of data floating around your business.  A strong advisory and financial team can harness that information into meaningful metrics and KPIs so that you can focus and grow your business with less effort. 


You cannot make good decisions when your numbers are crap.  You may not know how damaging it is not having a good handle on your numbers.  If you consider knowing your sales and bank balance numbers as having a “handle” on your numbers I can guarantee you are leaving money on the table somehow…whether that is missed opportunities to increase the profitability or cash flow of your existing business or earning more with less effort.


At some point, it’s going to become a credibility thing.  When your numbers are crap, someone from the outside, whether a banker, an investor or a buyer is going to look at those numbers and they are going to think “this guy/gal has no clue what is going on.”  You lose the chance at the loan, or the investment or bargaining power when you are at the negotiating table.  Sometimes it means life or death to a business.


You need to be the woodpecker.   A woodpecker doesn’t get the ants in the tree by a peck here and there. It works on making a hole by pounding away at the same spot over and over again.  A good finance team helps you have that same focus. Find the right spot (issue)  drill on it (metrics), beat it into submission, reap the rewards, and move on to the next one.


So I have to apologize Mr./Mrs. Business Owner.  I got ahead of you.  It’s only because I see the potential of your business and I want to see you succeed.  So I’ll step off my soapbox and let you ponder your decision of where you want to spend your dollars.  I know finance and accounting isn’t as sexy and exciting as some of the other areas where you can spend your  limited funds.  


Yes, you can invest in a new salesperson because they’ll bring in new business, but if no one is there to tell you that you are losing money on every deal they are bringing in, you may be digging yourself into a deeper hole than you know.


Yes, you can invest in a new marketing campaign, but who is going to measure the ROI of the spend or help you know who are your most profitable customers to target?


Yes, you can invest in a new CRM system or operating system, but while you are focused on that, who is going to make sure you have enough funds to cover your upcoming tax liability, or payroll for that matter?


There are so many ways that a strong advisory and financial team can pay for itself it’s hard to list them all.  We are amazed how simple things that we know can make a huge impact on our clients’ businesses from Day 1– from helping increase revenue, to controlling cash, or guiding clients into focusing their efforts.


So I’m packing up my soapbox and going home.  And, while I do that; go ahead Mr./Mrs. Business Owner and ponder the investment.  There is strength in numbers.  Get a good finance team.  Your bottom line will thank you for it.

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