With research into Australian small business failures revealing that 90% of small business failures occurring as a result of a lack of key management skills, it pays small business owners and entrepreneurs to develop a core set of key management skills on which they can draw. Developing strong financial management skills is one of the core skills essential for the management and growth of any small business and entrepreneurs should learn to master these skills to ensure their ongoing viability and success.
Many entrepreneurs abdicate responsibility for the financial management of their business to their accountants.This is a rookie mistake. As the business owner you must take responsibility and accountability for the management of your finances. For the planning, for the ongoing management and monitoring of the financial aspects of your business performance.
You are also responsible for learning to read and thoroughly understand the key financial reports. Work with your accountant to learn how to read each of the reports and to look for indicators as to your business's financial health.
Financial planning and in particular forecasting is vital especially when it comes to managing capital and liquidity, because any shortfall for either will lead to the early demise of your business. You need to be continually looking ahead to determine your upcoming financial situation and to asses what needs to be done to meet those financial commitments.
Accounting System Management
The first core requirement is the ability to maintain an accounting system that is compliant with current taxation requirements, such as MYOB or Quickbooks. These systems provide a raft of automated processes including the delivery of key financial documents such as Balance Sheets, Income and Expense Statements and Cash Flow forecasts.
You need to be able to understand each business transaction and translate and record the details of each transaction into the accounting system. This information can then be used to generate your financial reports, and can also be used as the basis for your taxation returns.
Estimating and Pricing
Incorrectly estimating jobs or pricing your goods and services can be disastrous for your business. If you consistently charge less than it costs you to do the job, you will quickly run out of cash. While if you prices are too high you may just price yourself out of the market. Building your skills in estimating and pricing is paramount to the success of your operation and you should make yourself familiar with the various pricing models and learn to apply the model most appropriate to your situation.
Taxation rules and regulations are a huge, constantly changing body of work, and it is best left to the experts in the field. However, that does not mean you don't have to build your own basic to intermediate body of knowledge. You need this to work effectively with your financial and taxation advisors. You need to know how to ask pertinent questions about the cause and effect of particular decisions and how they are declared for tax purposes, so that you can make informed tax management decisions.
You don't have to be a fully qualified bookkeeper or accountant, but it certainly pays to know and understand the accounts and financial elements of your enterprise. Work with your accountant and tax specialists to determine the most appropriate solutions in your particular situation but don't abdicate responsibility. Make sure you have them mentor your financial management skills along the way.