Having run my business for almost a decade, I'm all too aware of the frustrations involved with keeping your incomings and outgoings in order. It might feel overwhelming in the beginning, but financial management is critical to both the day-to-day management of the business and broader strategic planning.

Fortunately, over the years, I have found ways to make it easier. Here are a few of the things I've learned.

Keep the paperwork under control

One of the first things I learned as CEO was to keep paperwork off my work station and under control. Invoices and receipts are dealt with straight away and imported into cloud-based accounting software (there are loads of options). By keeping our data online and up to date in almost real time, we are able to make decisions about the business based on accurate financial information. For example, we can quickly spot areas where we are spending too much and address them.

Choose your advisors wisely

Now that you can send and verify documents online, it doesn't matter if your accountant's in London or Zanzibar. Accordingly, it's much easier to pick professionals who know their stuff and can understand your business, as opposed to those that are just down the road. Even better if they embrace digital tools. But the most important factor in choosing an accountant is finding someone who will offer genuine advice: your accountant should be spotting opportunities to make your business more efficient and actively advising on how to structure your business for the best tax outcomes.  

Create processes (and then more processes)

It doesn't matter what size your business is - there should be a process in place for everything. Receipt management needs a process; bank reconciliation needs a process; invoice payment needs a process; spending needs a process. Take the time to get these processes in order and then write them down with full instructions so that they can be relayed to staff and future recruits. This means that everyone who handles your finances does it in the same way, which gives you confidence that your accounts are accurate.

Stick to your deadlines

You can't be expected to make decisions about your company's future if you only have historical data to work with. Set clear deadlines for tasks, make sure the people accountable stick to them and use software to keep on top of them, too. At TopLine, I insist that all management accounts are done within 14 days of month-end. If these aren't completed in good time, your financial data becomes inaccurate. We also pay all supplier invoices ahead of deadline.

Chase the money

When a client is a day late on paying an invoice, we act as though our children are going to starve as a result. We phone, we email, we pester, we offer alternative methods of payment. That way, our clients don't get into the habit of paying late: they can pay their other suppliers 60 days after invoice, but they know that it's too much hassle to try and pull that nonsense with us. This is good for cash flow, which is good for business.

Of course, every business is different, but these are some basic principles to keep in mind. Provided you do so and pay attention to your money, you won't go far wrong.

For more information visit www.toplinecomms.com