It might seem like an odd time to be thinking about your financial health, but why not make the most of this opportunity to take stock of your current position and plan for a post-lockdown world.
The words ‘health check’ conjure up images of stern-faced medical professionals asking difficult questions. But if coronavirus has taught us anything it is that prevention is better than cure – so if there is anything about your business that you are not sure about, now is your chance to sort it out.
There are of course many other reasons why you might benefit from a financial check-up. Perhaps you are thinking of selling up or buying another business – or more likely your personal circumstances have changed and you need help with a mortgage or other debt repayments.
Up-to-date accounts are the starting point for any business health check. These figures will tell you whether or not you are heading in the right direction and may offer some pointers to how you could improve your cash generation.
They will also tell you whether the information you are working from is accurate. For example, if you were not distinguishing between one-off payments and daily payments you could be working off the wrong numbers and not giving yourself a full picture of your incomings and outgoings.
We have all heard the saying ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but cash flow is king’. Making sales might feel good, but if you are not making money it is all for nothing. More businesses fail because of the absence of proper cash flow forecasts and business plans than the inability to grow their revenues.
A financial health check can also help you identify costs that can be removed, from the obvious (such as advertising spend) to the less obvious, such as the data bundles on company mobiles. With so many businesses not trading at the moment, even the smallest expense can add up.
A health check can also encourage you to think about projections for your business and future turnover rather than just the next quarter – a process that is often overlooked when you are busy and have half a dozen urgent tasks to complete.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In large organisations the chief finance officer or finance director will be responsible for monitoring the financial health of the business, but for smaller enterprises your accountant should be able to review your operations and offer advice on where improvements can be made.
You must also be prepared to hear things you might not want to. An impartial observer may conclude that your business model is sound but that the culture of the business could be better or that your management is good overall but could be improved in some areas.
Many health checks will ask questions about ‘soft’ issues such as your leadership style, how you recruit staff and your approach to training and professional development. View these questions as an opportunity to improve and you will get a lot more out of the process. Don’t be a busy fool!