Oliver Deacon is a Chartered Accountant and former finance director at Microsoft in Seattle. In this blog he shares his advice on getting your finance processes in place from day one.
Why get your finance processes right at startup stage?
We’re thrilled to have Oliver Deacon contributing to the blog this time! Oliver is a Chartered Accountant and former finance director at Microsoft in Seattle. Now based in the North East, Oliver uses his knowledge and skills as an innovation coach to help finance directors implement the latest technology in their teams. This gives them valuable time back to focus on their business.
Oliver is a Blu Sky client, so he’s also been kind enough to include some information on how Blu Sky helped him as a startup, and continues to support him as the business expands.
If you’re in the midst of forming or growing a startup, you’ll know all to well that you’re currently doing everything. Which is why it’s so important to get all the help you can to sort your finance processes. It’s such an integral part of every business after all.
It’s at this point that you should ask yourself, “Is managing my startup’s finance processes the most valuable use of my time?”. And I think you already know that the answer is no.
As a Chartered Account and a former finance director myself, I could manage my own finances. But I want to spend my time doing the activities that are going to be most valuable to my business. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include accounting.
I’ve had the pleasure of having Blu Sky as my accountants for the last year or so and they really align with my desire to use tech to automate as many of my finance processes as possible.
But enough about that (for now). Here are some of the questions that a lot of us have at startup stage, and some of the solutions that you might want to explore.
Question 1: What will save me the most time?
I can tell you from experience that using the right tools and technology saves you a lot of time. As business owners, we all seem to need more of that! With finances, it’s all about automating as much as you can with the right app stack.
The issue is that there are so many bits of information that, as a business owner, you’re responsible for organising. Day to day there’s a lot to sort out, and that’s without submitting tax calculations, legal documents, and the list goes on.
The good news is that tech can do (most of) it for you, so you can concentrate on doing the real money-making work.
When I started up I had low revenue, so Blu Sky helped me find products that suited my budget. They started with the outcomes I was looking for, then helped me use technology to build the processes I would need.
They set everything up in Xero accounting software for me and are the ones who keep my accounts up to date. Every day I’m so glad that it’s someone else making sure my numbers land in the right place. And because it’s all done digitally, I can login any time and see my numbers in real time.
Quick tip: Blu Sky’s new Startup Club has just launched so go and take a look if you want to save time, get your startup’s finance processes sorted from the word go, and set your business up the right way!
Question 2: Have I got enough cash?
Have you heard the saying, “revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is reality”? I definitely agree with it. Because if you don’t have enough cash in the bank then you can’t keep operating, it’s as simple as that.
Cash is always king, and especially in the current environment, you don’t want to run out of it. So how can you quickly and easily see how much cash is in your business?
By using tech! Yes, there’s a pattern emerging here. As well as being a fantastic piece of standalone accounting software, Xero integrates with several cash flow forecasting apps to give you live insights into your past, current and future cash flow. There are business owners everywhere spending hours a month doing this, when you just don’t need to because an app can do it for you.
When you have this kind of information, you can make well-informed business decisions.
Quick tip: Blu Sky helped me to choose the cash flow forecasting software that was the best option for what I need. I use Futrli, but there are others such as Float that are just as good. It all depends on your specific business needs so consider what these are first.
- Float is best for short term, operational cashflow forecasting, 3 to 12 months.
- Futrli is best for monthly three way forecasts, spanning 12-60 months
Question 3: How can financial tools support my future business growth?
You’re not going to be a startup business forever, and I can’t overstate what a difference it makes to have your finance processes in place when you come to scale.
The fact that you already have the financial tech to support your expanding business gives you peace of mind that you’ve got all the financial information you need at your fingertips.
Using Xero, you can simplify your sales invoicing, manage employee payroll and help with automating a sales feed from another platform or payment gateway. You can also link it to Receipt Bank which means you can forward invoices to a single email address and they’re (usually automatically) in your accounts the next day. All of this is amazing at startup stage, but becomes even more invaluable as the company gets bigger.
Working with a team like Blu Sky means you know you’ve got experts looking out for your numbers. It’s a real relief knowing things are happening the right way day to day, and longer term.
Quick tip: The beauty of using cloud tech means it adapts to your business’s changing needs as you grow. And while a team like Blu Sky manage all of your financial processes for you, you’ve still got full transparency of your numbers as and when you need them.
Here at Blu Sky we love Xero - we're even a Xero Platinum Partner. But enough about that! Jon, our co-founder shares six top tips to maximise Xero for your business!
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