As a business owner, it’s never been more important to have a good grasp on your finances.
For many businesses, priorities have changed, customer behaviours have mutated and revenue streams have had to evolve and pivot in order to create a viable business model.
To track, monitor and drive your financial performance in this new business world, it’s increasingly important to have a handle on your key financial reports and metrics.
Getting to grips with your financial reports
Whereas in the past, extra cash in the business may have been seen as a surplus that needed to be spent on something, recent years have shown us that having these reserves is vitally important for the survival and long-term health of businesses.
To truly be in control of this cash, it’s vital that you can dip into your accounts, financial reports and dashboards and ‘see the genuine story’ behind your financial position.
So, what are the key reports to focus on? Let’s take a look:
- Budget – your budget is the financial plan that’s tied in with your strategic plan. In essence, the budget is your approximation of the money it will take to attain your key strategic goals, and the revenue (income) and profits you hope to make during this period. It’s a benchmark you can use to measure your actuals (historic numbers) against, allowing you to see the variances, gaps and missed targets over a given period.
- Cashflow Statement – a cashflow statement shows the flow of money into and out of your business. Understanding these cash inflows and outflows in detail allows you to manage this ongoing process, allowing you to aim for a ‘positive cashflow position’ – where inflows outweigh outflows. In this ideal positive scenario, you have enough liquid cash in the business to cover your costs, fund your operations and generate a profit.
- Cashflow Forecast – forecasting allows you to take your historic cash numbers and project them forward in time. As such, you can see where the cashflow holes may appear weeks, or even months, in advance – and that gives you time to take action, whether it’s increasing your income stream, reducing your underlying costs, chasing up unpaid invoices (aged debt) or going to lenders for additional funding.
- Balance Sheet – the balance sheet shows you the company’s assets, liabilities and equity at a given point in time. In a nutshell, it’s a snapshot of what the business owns (your assets), what you owe to other people (your liabilities) and what money and profits you currently have invested in the company (your equity). The balance sheet is useful for seeing what stock and equipment the business owns, how much debt (liabilities) you’ve worked up and what the company is actually worth – all incredibly useful information to have at your fingertips when making big business decisions.
- Profit & Loss – your profit and loss report (P&L) Your P&L gives you an overview of the company’s revenues, costs and expenses over a given historic period of time. Whereas the balance sheet is a snapshot, your P&L is more like a moving video. It shows you how your finances are progressing by demonstrating how revenue is coming in and costs/expenses are going out (rather than cash coming in and going out, as you see in your cashflow statement and cashflow forecasts).
Talk to us about accounting and financial reporting for your business
We’ll run you through the key reports in your accounting software, and can help you track performance, take action and prepare your company for surviving the new business normal.
Once you’ve sold your business and have received the funds from the sale, you’re then faced with a big question: what happens next?
After guiding the helm of your company, it will be tough to let go. But if the circumstances are right, there’s no reason why exiting the business should be a sad occasion. You’ve built a stable business and personal legacy. You’ve employed a team of talented people and helped them drive their careers. And you’ve brought your products and/or services to a satisfied and loyal customer base.
So, how will you now focus your time and effort? Let’s look at your options…
Retire and live out the entrepreneur’s dream
After many years of hard work, worries and stress, the thought of a business-free lifestyle may well be appealing. But retirement isn’t for everyone. If you have thrived on the pressure, challenges and excitement of being the captain of your business ship, retiring may seem like a step away from the action.
On the flipside, the allure of a more relaxed lifestyle may be strong. With the proceeds from your sale, you should be in a position to make you, your family and those around you very comfortable. It may be that the entrepreneur’s dream of building a business, selling up and retiring to a hot climate is your idea of perfection.
Stay involved in the business
Even though you don’t own the business anymore, it doesn’t mean you have to step away completely from the company. You could remain involved in the business in some capacity, allowing you to ‘keep your hand in’ and support the future course of the business.
For example, you could become:
- A joint partner in the business – you could sell a part share in the business and work as a joint partner with your new investor. This allows you to free up some capital, while maintaining an element of control and influence.
- An external adviser or consultant – you could advise the new owner and their board as an outside adviser. After all, who knows this business better than you? Becoming a consultant could well be an astute move and keeps you in the loop with the future path of the business – while charging out a consultancy fee as an added benefit.
- A non-executive director (NED) – you could join the board as a NED and use your personal experience to help guide and support the new owner and their board. If that’s the route you choose, it’s a good idea to retain some shares in the business, so you have a vested interest in the company’s performance and your own share value.
- An informal adviser to your family – if you’re handing the business down to the next generation of your family, they will almost certainly want your advice. You’ve been through the ups and downs of setting up the business, so you’re in the best position to give your family the guidance and tips they need to run a smooth operation.
Set up a new business
With so much experience behind you, it could be that you’re itching to start the whole business cycle again. If you’ve got the ideas, the capital and the motivation to start another new business, this can be a new and rewarding challenge to get your teeth into.
First time around, you’ll have been a little green and less aware of the many pitfalls of founding a new business. You’re now better prepared and more knowledgeable about what’s required from a founder and business leader. We learn plenty from our mistakes, so you’re in a great position to return to the business cycle again with a new idea.
As with any new businesses venture:
- Make sure you have a detailed breakdown of your business idea
- Write an in-depth business plan that maps out your journey
- Ensure you have the funding to get this idea off the ground
- Be prepared for a period of hard work and lower income before the company takes off.
Do your bit for charity and your community
We all have interests and causes that are close to our heart, so supporting charities and community projects in these areas is a great way to use your money for long-term good.
Donating money to your chosen charity or social enterprise is also a triple whammy:
- You get to provide funding to causes that are close to your heart
- You can be philanthropic and help people who are in challenging situations
- You get the positive impact of tax breaks for donating to charity.
You also have the option of putting your own time into working with these charitable causes. You can use your expertise and experience to guide them, help with fundraising or provide hands-on support at events, community projects or lobbying the Government for greater support.
The end of the road, or a new chapter?
Once the business is sold and you close your office door for the last time, you take a step into the unknown. But with so many varied and valuable options to choose from, your life post-exit need never be boring or predictable.
The potential is there for an exciting new venture, or the pleasure of relaxing in the sunshine by the pool. It’s up to you to define the next chapter in your life and your business career.
If you’re thinking about exiting your business, please do get in touch. We’ll help you plan your exit strategy, add value pre-sale and choose the best options for your personal future.
Talk to us about your next step.
Ascentant Accountancy are based in Derby (01332 981920, email@example.com) and Ripley, Derbyshire (01773 424009, Ripley@ascentant.co.uk), call us to see how we can assist.