The CFO'S Perspective

How CFOs Plan and Prepare for Worst-Case Scenarios

The current economic climate, combined with the fact that September is National Preparedness Month, has many of us thinking about how we can prepare for possible threats and business disruptions. This kind of strategic planning allows a business to approach a worst-case scenario with a growth mindset instead of fear – increasing the likelihood that your business will come out of a crisis stronger for having gone through it.

During a worst-case scenario, leadership must decide whether the organization will make the necessary adjustments needed to continue with business as usual or change how the company will operate. And while the conversation will undoubtedly include operational and capacity considerations, it is primarily a discussion about financial capabilities.

Topics: CFO Planning Analysis Cash Flow Risk Management CFO Responsibilities Change Management Strategy

Accounts Receivables: Getting Paid

Accounts receivables are a hot topic for business owners because they are the primary driver of cash flowing into the company. Unfortunately, in the US 39% of invoices are paid late and 52% of businesses have been asked by clients to extend their payment terms. This creates a difficult situation for business owners because late payments not only hurt cash flow management but may also serve as an early warning sign that payment is not coming.

Typically, the longer invoices remain outstanding the less likely they are to be paid. When invoices cannot be collected on, they become bad debt and are written off, erasing the revenue they would have generated for the hardworking businesses that earned them. Bad debt hurts short-term cash flow and long-term profitability. In fact, every year an average of 4% of accounts receivable are written off as bad debt, which equates to $400,000 in lost revenue for a company with $10M in sales annually.

So, what can you do to reduce your accounts receivables problems?

Topics: Accounting Planning Cash Flow Accounts Receivable

Financial Projections for Startups – A How-To Guide

Financial projections are a critical component of a sound business plan. These projections (or “financial forecasts”) are used externally to obtain funding as well as internally to create a strategic growth roadmap with key milestones.

At the core of these projections are logical assumptions for revenue, COGS (cost of goods sold), SG&A (sales, general, and administrative) expenses, capital investments, and cash flow that serve as building blocks for the final figures that result. Because your financial projections rely on these pillars, it is crucial to find a balance with these inputs. Being too conservative or too aggressive with your assumptions will skew the resulting projections, damaging their overall credibility. The goal is to inspire confidence externally as well as internally while maintaining high ethical standards, which requires a balanced approach toward creating assumptions for financial projections.

Use existing financial information, even if it is limited by the newness of your business, to justify these assumptions and inform your financial forecasting process. Your resulting financial projections should include a P&L statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, capitalization table, and strategic investment plan.

Topics: Funding Planning Financial Projections Financial Reports Forecasting Financing

Vendor Management – Pay Now or Pay Later?

Effective cash flow management requires careful control of both money coming in and going out. While practices like shortening payment terms, offering variable pricing, and pursuing collections can increase the timeliness and amount of money coming in, delaying payments to vendors can slow cash outflows, providing the float needed to sustain operations during difficult times.

In an article about re-opening your business, Jeff Dunn explains succinctly, “Determine which vendors are critical to your day-to-day operations and pay them as timely as possible; which are important but can be paid slowly; and which are not important going forward that will be paid when able.”

How do you decide who to pay now and who to pay later, and how do you abide by vendor management best practices while doing both? This quick guide will help you answer those questions to improve your cash flow position right away.

Topics: Planning Cash Flow Expenses Strategy COVID-19

Business Continuity Planning and Risk Management

One of your most important tasks as a business leader and manager is mitigating risk. Understanding what kind of risk exists, planning for the impact of this risk, and executing continuity plans to keep the organization operational during a disruption is of paramount importance. The earlier risk can be identified, assessed, managed, and integrated into strategic planning, the better.

Typically, this burden falls on the C-Suite, but leaders at all levels should be included in the planning stage to ensure buy-in across the company. According to CFO Magazine, CFOs have seen risk management fall under their umbrella more over the last decade. They explain,

“The CFO’s role has expanded in recent years, perhaps most notably in the area of risk management. Finance chiefs frequently took charge of assessing and guarding against risk during the financial crisis, and as the economy has slowly recovered, few have relinquished the task. More than half of the finance executives responding to CFO’s latest Deep Dive Survey say their responsibility for risk management has increased.”

Not much has changed in the years since, with CFOs taking more ownership of risk than ever before, whether they want to spearhead this role or not.

While it is easy to task an individual with overseeing risk management, ideally, it should not roll up to a single person. An emphasis on risk mitigation should be ingrained across the organization with alignment and compliance at every level. CFOs leading the charge can get their organizations on board to share the responsibility by taking a four-step approach to business continuity planning.

Topics: Planning Risk Management Transition