Examining the Companies Finance

By: Jayson Cardwell

This is a continuation of Part I, an article about examining the health of your company. This is the second part of a three part series we have already covered cash, marketing, sales, and quality. In this portion we'll discuss your assets, liabilities, strategy, and your team.

(V)Assets

It's time to take a look at your assets, current assets (those expected to be used in a year or less) need to be re-examined quarterly, fixed assets (those over a year) should be dealt with at a minimum annually, semi-annually if you have the time and you purchase a fair share of fixed assets within a year. What you want to look for here is the return on assets. How are your assets contributing to making a profit? If they are not or if the number is lower then the industry average you may have to consider purchasing new assets. Check each fixed asset against its accumulated depreciation, is its useful life nearly depleted? Your accountant made an assumption for how long that particular asset would be useful, chances are that asset may still be able to provide years of production to come, so this is not a rule of thumb, but simply a way of determining whether a course of action needs to take place.

Included in your assets are your receivables. Review your credit policy; examine your customers and clients. Is your bad-debt expense too high? Are you allocating too much write-off? This is the second biggest cancer to cash flow (sales is number one, if you don't make a sale, you have no cash, period). Re-examine who you extend credit to, do they continuously pay late? If you have a large quantity of write-offs it may be time to consider collections, or factoring (selling your receivables at a discount).

(VI)Liabilities

This section is really fairly simple. You want to watch your debt load carefully. Too much means too high interest expense, and too low could mean you're not expanding your company, a sign of stagnation. Watch you current ratio, and the quick ratios. They're a good gauge of your use of cash, and receivables collection.

(VII)Strategy

Every year at the beginning of the fiscal year you should be meeting with key member of your team to discuss strategy for the year ahead. This should actually be the final meeting about strategy setting as it should have been started six months ago. Everything from day one of the fiscal year on should be monitoring your strategic implementations.

It's time to review your goals, short-term, intermediate, and long term strategies. Where is your company headed, and where does it sit compared to your competitors. It's a great time to break out SWOT and begin reviewing. Is your company headed in the right direction? Where are your products in their life cycles? Do you need to add a line, diversify your business, and acquire a competitor or a business in another market? Or is it time to get bought out?

(VIII)Your Team

Your support staff is a crucial part of your business. Do not neglect them. They need to be led, nurtured, reviewed, given direction, given vision, and in some cases let go. Firing is difficult and letting an employee go could lead to a legal battle. Do not let this affect the decision to release an employee because they fail to meet standards, expectation, and code of conduct. Morale can be weakened by a "bad apple" why let them spoil your bunch.

Take the time to review each staff member, or at least key members and allow managers to review others. Motivation to work harder, smarter, and more creatively doesn't always get solved by waving more green in front of them. Some employees desire different incentives, take the time to get to know what makes them tick, you may find that a key staff member may want to take half-days on Friday as an incentive, and you had planned to offer them an equity position. You may save yourself some money.

Also consider nurturing their gifts and talents, look into professional development. Seminars, books, tools, courses, training, and certifications can lead to a better staff. Pour into them, and they'll pour into your company.

Finance
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