EA - How to Leverage Financial Mistakes to Build Your Small Business

How to Leverage Financial Mistakes to Build Your Small Business

It doesn’t matter if your startup efforts are home-based in the basement or if you’ve been in business for years, money management can be a concern for all business owners. Dealing with cash flow, expenses, and billing can be a challenge. In some cases, certain financial mistakes can be enough to force a company to close its doors.

Maybe you’ve identified financial mistakes that have affected your company. Or, there is a possibility that mistakes have slipped by undetected. Either way, it is essential that you have a good accounting system to help you stay on track. Just because financial missteps happen, doesn’t mean that it will be the closing chapter for your business efforts. Instead, these mistakes can often be used to identify weak points in your system, helping you strengthen your business strategy for the future.

Transparency is Key for Success

The most important thing that you need to do is to maintain transparency with your reporting and accounting practices. If a mistake happens, it might be tempting to “brush it under the rug” because you are embarrassed that you didn’t get it right. But we are all human, which means that mistakes happen. Instead of spending your time focusing on the problem, look at the overall picture and identify areas of improvement.

Transparency is the best thing you can do to keep your company moving forward. When you are consistent with financial tracking and reporting, then you can always get a good feel for the current positioning of your company. These details can be used to influence your business decisions, helping to propel your company forward in the future.

So, every business owner needs to look at the foundation of wise financial tracking: do you have a good accounting software and system to maintain transparency with every transaction that moves through your accounts? Creating this system is essential so you can leverage your mistakes for your advantage.

Turning Financial Mistakes into Advantages

How do you put this principle into action? It can be difficult to see where you can make changes after a mistake so that the situation is a positive support for your company. Here are a few examples to help you create the mindset of learning from your mistakes:

  • Cash Flow Complications: When the overhead costs and bills come due, you need to be sure that there is enough money in the bank to cover these expenses. The truth is that most business owners experience challenges with operating capital. Regardless of the size of your business, cash flow is something that needs to be addressed and prioritized. All it takes is one big client who is late with a payment to result in a situation where you need to get creative to come up with cash for payroll or an upcoming tax bill. If you encounter cash flow issues, then it means you aren’t being careful enough in your project estimates. Rework your business plan so that you are more conservative with the monthly estimates. Also, make sure you always have at least 3 months of operating expenses in an emergency savings account.
  • Lack of Diversification: Do you have all your eggs in one basket? Without client diversification, you could be facing issues if the industry shifts. Don’t allow your cash flow to be dependent on a single client. This mistake could leave you in a pinch, but it is also a good motivation to change your processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future. Going forward, be deliberate about reaching out to new, potential clients before the other contracts end. You need to be sure that you have enough in the pipeline to stay busy, even when things change with your current workload.
  • Skipping Project Milestones: When you have a lot of cash tied into one client or customer, you might make the mistake of waiting for a lump sum payment at the end of the project. Unfortunately, payment delays and schedule slippage could result in late payments, which will have a domino effect on other aspects of your business. Learn from your mistake: Instead of aiming for one big payment at the end of the project, set up projects with milestones and incremental invoicing to ensure that the cash flow is still coming through.
  • Business Growth Happens Too Quickly: It doesn’t sound like a bad thing to have your business growing so quickly that you can’t keep up. But, if important details are overlooked, then it could show your company in poor light in the industry. There is a fine balance to ensure that you are keeping up with the growth without leveraging yourself too quickly. For example, not only do you need to ensure you have the inventory to keep up with an increase in product demand, but you also need to be careful to avoid leveraging up the overhead expenses if your cash flow can’t handle it yet. Always be conservative in your forecasts and be careful to manage expansion according to the timeline that your business can carry.
  • Not Following Through on Outstanding Invoices: Consistency with follow-through is essential when it is time to collect payments from your customers. If you aren’t diligent with touching base about the outstanding payments, then it’s likely you won’t receive timely payments. Avoid these financial mistakes by committing to a good accounting system going forward. Organization, consistency, and the right software program can help you identify the outstanding payments so you can be sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
  • Competing on Price: If sales are slow, then it might be tempting to lower your prices so you can bring in more customers. Unfortunately, many business owners find that it’s a race to the bottom if you are only competing on price. Slashing the price of your products or services is only a temporary fix to bring in immediate cash flow. But this decision harms your profit margins, which means you will have less cash to work with for business growth in the future. If you’ve made this mistake, then it is time to redefine your marketing and branding strategy. It is essential you differentiate in the industry based on value for the customers. People will be willing to pay more money if they can see the benefits that will be gained from your product or service.
  • Data Entry Inaccuracies: There is always the risk of mistakes happening on the project. Whether an employee entered a few inaccuracies on the transactions in the accounting software, or someone overlooked a transaction altogether, it can have an impact on the accuracy of your reports. When inaccuracies happen, it means you are making decisions using wrong information. As a result, it could harm your cash flow, potentially resulting in late fees and legal ramifications if payments are missed. This problem can be solved by creating a system of checks and balances. In the future, you can rest assured knowing that nothing is overlooked when you are consistent with monthly reconciliations.

How to Handle the Situation When Mistakes Happen

What is your automatic response when a mistake is discovered in your business? Some people get upset; while other people want to ignore the problem. Before another mistake happens in the future, it is smart to evaluate how you will handle the situation going forward.

Failing fast is key when mistakes happen. Don’t let yourself get so caught up in the moment that you have a hard time moving forward. If money was lost, then view the situation as “tuition” for the education that you learned. Allow yourself to learn from the mistake so you can implement changes that will move your company forward in the right direction. A few small changes can be put into operation, making it possible to avoid running into the same mistake again in the future.

Tapping into Professional Services

The most common reason why financial mistakes happen is that business owners fail to utilize professional services that are available. Even though it might seem smart to save a little cash with a DIY approach, you could be facing a loss of thousands of dollars in the future with a big mistake. It’s worth the expense to bring in an industry professional so you can avoid some of the most common errors in the industry.

One great example is in the accounting industry. As a small business owner, you might try a do-it-yourself approach for tax preparation and filing. But you need to consider the hours and hours that will be required so you can figure out the tax forms and understand the best way to leverage your deductions. Plus, it is likely you could be missing out on thousands of dollars in tax write-offs because you didn’t understand the law. If a mistake is made, then you could be facing fines and fees from the IRS.

Instead, spending a little money for ongoing accounting services can be invaluable to help you avoid the common mistakes made by small business owners. If you are looking for financial support for your company, then Easier Accounting. Is here to assist. Call us at (888) 620-0770.

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