Why Vision Is Vital for Business Success

A good vision parallels and drives a company’s values, purpose, and mission

Any business owner knows the importance of consistent performance, efficiency, and steady growth. But just as important as these considerations is your business’s vision. Without a clearly defined vision, teams won’t be aligned around a common goal. You may not know what the future looks like. And purpose can get lost in the everyday shuffle.

Why is a vision statement so vital? And where do you begin? Here’s much of what you need to know about creating and sharing your vision.

Why your vision is important

A vision identifies your purpose, aligns the team on a collective goal, and helps you define future success. Without knowing where you’re headed, it will be challenging to set short-term (and long-term) goals that keep your business growing.

Creating a vision also helps you and the team nail down why you’re doing what you’re doing. Implementing one builds motivation, providing a core for what every single goal and desired outcome should be working towards. But remember—the vision statement shouldn’t include a detailed road map, nor every step that will make that vision come to life. A vision is the dream itself.

A clearly defined vision inspires, motivates, grounds, and unifies.

Defining your purpose

Your business vision identifies your why, your future, and why it matters.

Important questions to ask when creating your vision: What’s the purpose of the business and its products or services? What inspired you to start it in this industry? What problem does your business address? What are the future aspirations of the organization? Where do you envision the entity in three, five, and 10 years?

Make a list of the key values of your business and of the team members. Close your eyes and examine the mental picture that comes to mind for your future. What does success look like?

Thinking through these questions gets you on the right track to creating a clear vision that outlines where you’re going and why.

Aligning the team

Once you’ve set your vision, align your team. A clear vision means that all team members are 100 percent on the same page. They know where the business is going and how their role fits into the bigger picture.

Even better, involve your team members when you’re coming up with the vision statement. What do they view as their purpose? What do they find most important about the business? What does their picture of the future look like, both individually and as a team? Gathering this information opens a discussion about the company, and also where each group fits within the overall goals.

When hiring new team members, look for candidates who value the same ideas as your company. Share the vision with them in interviews and ask them how they approach their work—what their “why” is for what they’re doing.

Bringing your vision into hiring and recruiting helps you assemble a group of like-minded individuals who will be committed to your cause.

Communicating the vision

Next is finding a way to communicate your vision, both internally and externally. Engage the help of a writer and designer. Incorporate images on your website, newsletters, and marketing materials to better tell your story and share your purpose.

Every company communication and meeting should keep the vision in mind. The answer to the question “What are we working towards?” should govern decision-making sessions and strategy decisions. It will help you identify which areas to focus on the most within business operations.

A vision statement identifies the purpose of your business and where it’s headed. Involve your team members in nailing down the vision so that everyone is aligned. Make sure all materials and decisions keep this idea in mind, creating consistency for your audiences.

Helping you define your vision and align your team is part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), which Provident CPAs incorporates into its business growth and profit management services. The EOS helps you strengthen your purpose and ensure that every team member is on board. The EOS model outlines Six Key Components of any business: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Processes, and Traction.

Contact the team at Provident CPA & Business Advisors to get started with improving your processes. We begin with a 90-minute meeting, which gives your leadership team an overview of the EOS model.

How Keeping Score Can Crush Poor Performance

Learn why keeping track of the numbers with scorecards will keep you on the path to growth

If your team is suffering from poor or dwindling performance, there may be a simple solution that just takes a little planning. Create a scorecard for your business so you can track the numbers and use them to monitor and improve performance.

How do you start? Nail down the core processes for your organization, involve each department and team member in planning and start holding everyone accountable with tangible measurement strategies.

These tips will help you focus your scorecards and implement a strategy that works for everyone.

Know how to define your measurables

While each aspect of the business, and each department, should be tracked and measured, don’t include too many numbers in the scorecards. With too much going on, metrics won’t be decipherable or valuable.

Focus on a handful of measurements. What are the few core processes and goals of your business? Start there.

Don’t overcomplicate the process. Measure actual indicators of performance, including revenue, new customers, customer satisfaction, marketing wins, and response times, just to name a few examples. Nail down benchmarks for each task and area of operations so that it’s clear when something or someone isn’t up to par.

Involve team members in planning

Keep in mind that some employees may be stressed out or anxious when they’re faced with analyzing their work metrics, or knowing that you’ll be examining them. Instead of improving motivation and performance, it could have the opposite effect.

To address this problem, involve workers in creating scorecards. Ask for their feedback about how they currently measure their performance or productivity. Take their answers seriously and come up with metrics that work for both their concerns and those of the company. Stay open and in communication about scorecards.

Workers will start to see how effective measurements are in improving their performance and the business’s success. When goals are set in numbers, outcomes are more transparent and attainable.

Create different scorecards for each team

Depending on the size of your business and the number of teams within it, it’s smart to create scorecards for each department. Start by thinking about what is driving the performance of each group. What work can be measured? Which outcomes are most important in this department to drive growth for the entire business?

Within every department, further outline scorecards for each team or each individual on the team, as applicable. Employees should have factual knowledge about what they’re working toward.

For example, consider a customer service team. Create a target for employees answering phone calls within a certain number of rings, or one limiting hold times, and give that goal a numbered rating. Anyone falling behind that goal, or making a customer wait more than two minutes, will receive a lower score for that interaction. Set numbered goals based on these measurements for each day, week, and month.

This helps individuals, teams, and the business track what’s actually happening. Metrics help you determine weak points. Identify areas or employees that need additional training and support, strengthening the team as a whole and filling in any gaps in productivity.

Improve accountability

Scorecards help you improve accountability for teams and individuals. By setting clear expectations, workers can reach goals, measure performance, and succeed. Numbers provide much-needed clarity to keep employees motivated and working toward the company’s collective vision and the path to growth. Deadlines, work completion rates, and time tracking are vital efficiency metrics for each employee and team.

Accountability requires that metrics are tracked on a regular, ongoing basis. This improves the likelihood that everyone will deliver consistently—and only then will performance keep moving forward.

Even if employees are keeping their own scorecard, their manager needs to host regular check-ins so that each worker has someone to hold them accountable. According to Gallup data, employees who believe that their supervisor holds them responsible for their performance are 2.5 times more likely to be engaged in their position.

Accountability motivates people. And motivation helps drive the business to continued growth.

These suggestions will help you create and launch scorecards across your business. Bringing in the actual numbers on performance and efficiency will help you monitor success and reach objectives as a team.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) is employed by the team at Provident CPA & Business Advisors. We help clients implement the EOS model, keeping teams on track and in alignment with the brand’s vision.

Get in touch with Provident today to learn more about our growth and profit-improvement services.

The Liberating Effect of Setting Time-Based Targets

The word deadline can cause stress and panic. But when a business masters the time-based target, teams unleash their potential to improve productivity and performance.

Many entrepreneurs know that they must create SMART goals: those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Details must be clearly defined and attainable so that a goal is anything but vague. Otherwise, teams won’t be aligned and desired outcomes simply won’t be realized.

Making sure that goals are measurable and timely means that your team is setting a realistic deadline for each task or milestone, as well as the project as a whole. Even though deadlines can sometimes feel overwhelming, they actually free your mind and hone your focus to hit your targets. Here’s how.

Improve productivity

Without deadlines, projects can feel more overwhelming, impacting motivation. If there’s no end date, how much should be completed each day? What’s driving workers toward staying on task instead of procrastinating? A deadline can also be viewed as a challenge for a team member, which can inspire creativity and innovation.

Clearly defined deadlines and milestones help you better plan out what needs to be done and when. Otherwise, there will be too much freedom. It also helps to include deadlines for small steps within the timeline to keep momentum along the way.

Monitor progress

Milestones help you and the team monitor progress, which is especially crucial for long-term projects or initiatives. For example, hold a weekly check-in meeting to track and discuss where the project is currently and what’s left to be done. Just like checklists help us manage our thoughts and to-dos each day, milestones keep us focused on where we are and where we need to go.

Even top talent needs feedback and encouragement, and regular check-ins will provide that. These meetings also give the team deadlines to work toward throughout the week—they’ll want to be able to show something they’ve accomplished.

Hold the team accountable

Deadlines enable you to hold individuals accountable. When targets aren’t being met, it’s crucial to find out why and address the problem. If there are no end dates to projects—or milestones within them—it’s challenging even to identify the problem, much less nail down the cause.

With more information about where teams fall short, you can learn where you need to put your attention. You may discover the need to work closely with one particular employee who needs some extra guidance to stay on track.

While actual penalties aren’t always necessary or effective ways to motivate employees, it’s worth noting that you can still acknowledge how something could have gone better when a deadline isn’t met. And, of course, consistently missed deadlines call for a more serious conversation.

Generate better data

When you set measurable goals for your business, you’re giving yourself the ability to collect better data. This information can be used to make better business decisions based on facts and results. Milestones support consistency, which is another requirement for continually meeting goals.

For example, one measurable goal may be to grow your customer base by a certain number every month. Teams can check in to see which months have met this goal and which haven’t. What changed in the marketing strategy that could have made an impact? Was a new campaign launched that increased customer engagement?

Compare this measurable outcome to a vague goal where a company “wants to increase customer loyalty.” Without having clear milestones in the timeline, it’s just not possible to gather data that will lead to the results you want.

Be strategic and prioritize

Keep in mind that it’s not enough to start setting deadlines for each project without assessing what’s realistic for each milestone or goal. You have to be strategic in setting target dates.

Start by prioritizing tasks. When you sit down to create deadlines, you’re forced to think about what has to be done first so that the rest of the project can continue. Focus on only the most essential milestones here—don’t get too detailed in priorities; otherwise, you’ll have too many deadlines in your timeline.

Acknowledge accomplishments

Tracking deadlines for each milestone means that you and the team can celebrate when a task is completed on target. Make sure to acknowledge wins, not just failures. Reward workers for staying on track and working hard to meet a goal. Share positive changes in business data with the team and keep them involved in the continued planning and strategizing process.

The professionals at Provident CPA & Business Advisors work with a range of business owners to improve productivity and sustain long-term growth. We help implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) model, which helps entrepreneurs learn how to build the foundation of a successful business. Get in touch with Provident to learn more.

Who Is the “Right” Person for the Job?

Learn how to get the right person in the right seat with the accountability chart and “GWC”

Putting the right person in the right seat is one of the biggest challenges to overcome when you want to grow your business. Each individual on the team must be motivated, committed, and in alignment with the company’s vision—and they also must be assigned to the right role and have clarity about their responsibilities.

But how do you find that “right” person for each business position? And how do you clarify roles for the organization?

Start by creating an accountability chart and integrate the concept of “GWC:” uncover who gets it, wants it, and has the capacity to do it.

The accountability chart

When it’s unclear who is responsible for what within your organization, or when goals aren’t being met and time is being wasted, create an accountability chart.

This chart indicates the responsibilities of each employee, providing clarity about where each person fits within the organization. Without clearly delineating which worker owns each area, problems are often left unsolved.

First, define the major functions of your business. What makes your organization move? Then, assign each person to each role so that they own that function. Instead of getting caught up on job titles, focus on who’s accountable for what tasks and responsibilities. Don’t let ego get in the way of operations; focus on collectively reaching for goals and achieving what’s best for the business.

The accountability chart helps you compartmentalize who is doing what. You and your team will also better understand where one process ends, and another begins. This supports organizational clarity because knowing who’s accountable helps each problem get solved quickly—which, in turn, helps your business become more efficient.

Using the GWC to find the right people

Now that you understand the benefits of an accountability chart, how do you know where to put which people? Merely creating the chart doesn’t mean that the right individuals are assigned to the proper functions. You need to find out if your people “GWC” the role: Get it, Want it, and have the Capacity to do it.

Get it: The right person just “gets” it. This means fully understanding the role and its responsibilities, and how the position fits into the large organizational structure.

Want it: Some people love what they do, and it’s obvious. The right person will genuinely desire the position.

Capacity to do it: Capacity refers not just to skills and experience but to both the physical and emotional abilities to perform the responsibilities of the role. The right person must be willing and able to meet the requirements of the job.

All three elements of GWC must be present for the right person to sit in the right seat.

Tips for hiring the right people

When hiring new employees, keep these tips in mind to make sure you’re finding the right people for your organization.

1. Clearly define and clarify the role

You won’t get the right candidates applying or interviewing for the job unless you and your team have clearly defined the role. This helps you narrow down exactly what the most critical skillsets are for this person to have.

2. New hires must align with company values

Match up hires with the company culture and values. This involves asking questions that center around your values and mission. Tell candidates about a typical day at work, and ask them if they’re comfortable with that kind of environment. Ask them why they want to work for a business like yours and what their ideal workplace looks like.

3. Be open to hiring externally

It’s always tempting for companies to hire internal candidates for open positions. This often simply makes sense. It can save time and money on the recruiting and hiring process, and motivating internal employees to find their perfect fit within the company should always be encouraged.

However, this is not always the right way to go, and many companies end up with the wrong person for the job because they wanted to support current employees. Be open to interviewing external candidates, too.

4. Follow your instincts

The right person for the job may not fit into a specific box defined by skills and experience. In interviews, follow your instincts about a candidate. Don’t get hung up on checking off a list of qualifications on a resume. Instead, also consider whether their drive, personality, and commitment match up with the job’s needs that are defined on the accountability chart.

When you can create a clear accountability chart and use GWC to make sure the right person is in the right seat, your organization will be far likelier to fill positions effectively.

The team at Provident CPA & Business Advisors assists entrepreneurs and business owners with growth and development plans. Get in touch today to learn about how we help implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).

How to Practice the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle is a way for businesses to optimize business performance and maximize growth. Here’s how you can apply it to your operations

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, helps entrepreneurs have a better grasp of how to grow their business. The 80/20 Rule is commonly applied across industries, including sports, risk determination in healthcare, personal finance, engineering, computer science, and many more.

While the modern principle was first developed by an economist and related to the distribution of land and wealth, entrepreneurs who can understand how it shapes performance will see major improvements in areas like valuable customer acquisition, time management, and cost-efficiency.

Pareto Principle explained

The Pareto Principle generally has to do with cause and effect and follows that 80 percent of outcomes originate from just 20 percent of causes. The concept is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first applied the principle to land ownership at the end of the 19th Century. He found that 80 percent of land in Italy was actually owned by just 20 percent of the population, and his theory proved to be accurate in other regions as well.

But Pareto also applied his theory to other areas, including gardening. He noticed that 80 percent of his peas came from just 20 percent of the pea pods.

Another theorist, Dr. Joseph Juran, started to apply the theory to business productivity in the 1940s. He posited that 20 percent of production problems caused 80 percent of product defects.

In other industries, the 80/20 theory works similarly. For example, in sports and fitness, the application of the principle has theorized that 20 percent of exercises or training efforts produce 80 percent of the results and impacts.

So how does the principle apply to modern businesses?

The Pareto Principle and sales

It’s commonly thought that in business, 20 percent of your customers represent 80 percent of your sales. This means that certain customers are far more valuable than others. Once small business owners understand this, they can make improvements to their business plan by:

  • Focusing more time on the most valuable customers
  • Identifying traits of the 20 percent
  • Recognizing specific behaviors from the 20 percent that indicate an intent to buy
  • Bringing in new clients with those identified traits

It’s important to note that this principle does not mean that your other customers aren’t as important as the 20 percent. It just helps you know where to focus your attention to help you increase revenue and sustain business growth.

Time management

Another way to improve your business with the 80/20 Rule is by using it to improve time management. Think about all of the small tasks you do throughout the day that keep your business functioning, but that don’t directly contribute to increasing revenue. You have to do paperwork or run errands or enter data. These tasks are necessary, but they are not part of the 20 percent of what you do with your time that brings in 80 percent of your revenue.

It’s easy for entrepreneurs to want to do everything themselves instead of delegating. But focusing your energy on things like sales, business growth, marketing, and obtaining new valuable clients is a much more valuable use of your time.

Try hiring an assistant or contractor for everyday activities like administrative tasks, writing marketing copy, or even home maintenance chores like laundry that take away from your focus on your business. Remember that just 20 percent of the things you do with your time contribute to 80 percent of revenue.

Business cost management

The Pareto Principle can also be applied to cost management for your business. It would follow that 20 percent of costs are responsible for 80 percent of revenue. This can help you avoid counterproductive spending and help you improve your budget and cash flow. But it can also help you understand how big of an impact it would have to cut costs that contribute to a large portion of sales.

This is a similar idea to the concepts that 20 percent of customers and 20 percent of time spent are directly contributing to 80 percent of sales. The principle can be applied to other areas of the business as well, like marketing efforts or the value of individual sales team members.

The 80/20 Rule is still implemented by business owners across industries to help them plan for where to invest money, energy, and focus for optimal growth.

When you need assistance creating a sustainable business plan, the team at Provident CPA & Business Advisors can help. We provide growth and profit improvement services for businesses and incorporate the tools of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) to help align teams and increase productivity. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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Understanding USPs for Your Business

When you know how to identify and communicate unique selling propositions (USPs), you’re on your way to growth

Your unique traits are what make your business stand out from competitors. These traits are also known as your unique selling propositions (USPs) for your products and services, and they need to be communicated to consumers convincingly and engagingly. USPs aren’t just words in your mission statement—they need to be characteristics that drive and differentiate your brand.

Without nailing down USPs, your marketing efforts may feel ineffective and trajectory stagnant. With all the competition that the digital age has brought, it’s more important than ever to keep the message fresh to stand out online.

Clearly defined and well-communicated USPs are at the heart of a successful business plan—keeping people interested in what your products and services provide.

Defining your USPs

Start by asking yourself what makes your business different. Of course, you’ll have a lot of similarities with competitors, but your USPs should be totally unique to you. Ask: What makes you special for your ideal audience? What motivates the behavior of your audience? What do they really care about? Why would they care about your product or service? Your offerings should solve a specific problem for your customer base, so start there.

Research what your closest competitors are listing as their USPs. What’s working for them? How focused are they on the customer experience? How do your products differ from theirs? What services do you provide that they don’t? One pro tip for creating USPs is to focus your ideas around one specific area of the market, instead of trying to compete with every brand that’s slightly related to your industry. In some industries where products are virtually the same, a USP may be the level of service your business provides in conjunction with that product. In others, the essential product or service offered is truly unique.

Also, start researching the USPs of brands that aren’t necessarily competitors, but are successful in communicating and delivering on their distinguishing characteristics.

Another way to get ideas is to talk to your customers directly. Ask for feedback about what they really liked about working with you and what they believe makes you stand out from other brands—or doesn’t. Schedule interviews and phone calls to better understand the customer experience. This also gives you an opportunity to add testimonials to your website that highlight your USPs.

Make sure that whatever USPs you come up with are true based on your track record, and that they are realistic about what you can and do deliver.

How to communicate your USPs

Once you have well-defined USPs, it’s time to start communicating them effectively. Think about how you can integrate them into your company’s mission and vision, and create an “About” page description that includes your USPs. You can even list them out as bullet points and further explain each one.

Make sure you can communicate your unique traits in a succinct, clear manner. Keep it simple and easily digestible. Create a sort of elevator pitch that you can easily send to customers. You can even clearly and directly state that these values and deliverables are your USPs. Headings on a website may read “How we’re different” or “What sets us apart,” for example.

It’s also useful to view your USPs as promises you’re making to your customers. On your social media accounts, website, email communications, videos, and advertisements, make sure that you’re making your promises clear about what clients can expect when working with you—and why they should.

Finally, your team should be aligned on your USPs so that the entire business has these priorities at the forefront of all that they do. Just like your mission and vision drive the team toward goals, USPs should influence the way your company interacts with customers and delivers.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) is a toolset to foster growth in your business and align your team around a specific set of goals that support your company’s vision. This system is made specifically for small business owners and provides a holistic approach to strengthen your enterprise.

At Provident CPA & Business Advisors, we use EOS to help our clients formulate a realistic plan to create a durable growth trajectory. With the right tools and principles, you’ll be able to better connect with and grow your client base. Get in touch with the Provident team today to get started.

Get a Grip: Why You Need Traction to Grow

Traction is the difference between spinning your wheels and getting your business on the road to success. Learn how these methods of gaining control can supercharge business growth and focus.

To grow your business, you have to guide it consistently and carefully. Business success is not about luck. It’s about you harnessing the tools you have to push your vision forward.

Traction is crucial in growing and sustaining your business. To increase revenue and customers, teams must be aligned, and all parts of the company must be contributing to moving the overall machinery forward toward your vision.

So what is business traction, exactly, and how can you create it?

What do we mean by traction?

Think of traction in the literal sense, with the tires on your car. Without traction, nothing is making your vehicle move forward. When you hit the gas, your wheels just spin, meaning you’re expending energy but not getting anywhere.

Don’t just spin your wheels in business, wasting energy that’s not leading you to reach your goals or to grow. Traction is your ability to make nearly every decision and action count in the long run. It’s about taking control of the business and being deliberate. You can only fill the gap between vision and execution with traction.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) allows you to gain traction in all of your business’s moving parts. This means creating a team that holds each other accountable, is disciplined, communicates well, and executes actions and steps that move you forward. Making these changes may be a little uncomfortable at first, but recognize that temporary discomfort is a requirement for growth.

How do you create traction?

Let’s break down these moving parts.

1. Creating an accountable team

The vision and goals you’ve created won’t be realized unless everyone is on board and acts consistently to reach those goals. This requires accountability for all personnel, including (and especially) leadership. Set up clear tactics to holding each other accountable for plans, strategies, and methods that have been put in place.

Methods of accountability include checking in with team members to ensure deadlines are being met, steps are being executed, and every decision made aligns with the company’s mission and vision for the future.

2. Building a disciplined team

These methods then contribute to a more disciplined team overall. A sense of direction will be made clear for everyone when it can be defined in big-picture terms. Explain how each role fits into that big picture.

If something is not serving the overall goal, it should be reevaluated to see if it’s still a relevant process or task. This creates more efficiency and leads to more growth opportunities.

3. Communicating more effectively

A big issue that can develop quickly on any team is poor communication. When this happens, resentment builds, trust lessens, and all that discipline and accountability go out the window. The three factors must work in conjunction with one another.

Make communication a priority within your team. Promote honesty and openness, and give employees at all levels a chance to voice their opinions and contribute to the strategy. Ask for feedback and change your approach accordingly. Update your recruiting practices so that you’re focusing on hiring team members who are a good fit with the company’s values.

How does traction promote business growth?

When your teams are aligned, and they’re holding each other accountable to reach goals and stay in line with the company’s vision, traction is created, which then shifts into the key elements that lead to growth. These key elements are revenue growth and better lead generation and customer retention strategies. Without traction, you won’t be able to handle or execute these important elements of growth.

With traction and momentum created by an aligned team, your business can contribute to and properly manage increased revenue, more customers, and more repeat customers. These are all crucial elements for long-term growth, and they’re realized by creating and meeting specific goals, in addition to measuring success.

Well-defined goals and a clear vision both attract investors for new companies and help more established companies to remain stable and sustainable. Progress toward these goals must be measured regularly to help improve strategies for optimal success.

Metrics to track include things like sales numbers, churn rate, customer retention rate, customer lifetime value, and customer feedback. Employee response time is also a significant factor to be aware of to improve customer service.

It’s time to bring discipline and accountability to your team to execute your vision better and create a sustainable, growing business.

Provident CPA & Business Advisors implements EOS with our clients to help you improve the six key components of your business: vision, people, data, issues, process, and traction. We help you solve big problems for good and create plans that will promote growth and profit improvement. Get in touch with our team to get started.

Core Competencies for Optimized Cash Flow

The ability to optimize cash flow is a priceless asset to any business, especially for those looking to grow. But optimization depends on building a cash management culture where every team member can contribute.

Cash flow optimization is a relatively simple concept. To be successful, a business must generate more cash than it expends. However, the details of optimization are more complicated than that, and any small business owner knows that it’s much easier said than done. Expenses continue to build, and cash-consuming day-to-day tasks take up valuable resources that could be spent on growing the business.

It’s not just the responsibility of the person in charge. To implement an effective cash-flow system, the entire team needs to be aware of the best strategies to increase available resources and profits. This is especially challenging when not all team members are particularly financially savvy, so systems must be put in place to keep the culture focused on optimization.

Below are some core competencies for optimized cash flow, and they apply to each level of the business—not just its leaders.

Setting up quality reporting and analysis

When fostering a cash management culture within your business, your team needs a reporting tool that’s both accessible to everyone and can generate useful reports on cash-flow data. This information is crucial for allowing you to forecast the future in any reliable way.

As a report from Deloitte suggests, your cash flow reporting system should involve connecting your income and cash-flow statements to metrics on your balance sheet, including things like days inventory on-hand or days payables outstanding. Also, evaluate payments for debts and other expenses and include everything in your reporting method so that you have a full picture.

One model to implement is known as financial planning and analysis (FP&A), which is used by businesses to provide visibility into where the company has been, where it is currently, and where things are headed. FP&A asks: What patterns exist with both incoming and outgoing assets and receivables? How can these factors become aligned with working capital? What trouble spots currently exist, including things like late payments?

Once all of these factors have been identified, it’s crucial to continue to monitor these baseline metrics to see what changes. The data analysis will then lead to more successful actions and decision-making to optimize cash flow.

Making sure your payment terms are aligned

One big problem that many entrepreneurs face is allowing vendors or creditors to receive payments within different periods than the customers who are paying the business. For example, vendors receive payment within 30 days, while clients are paying you within 45. This can create problems with cash flow because you can run out of funds to pay your bills on time.

Create a company policy that all payables and receivables are aligned in their payment terms. It will save a lot of headaches for your team and the effort of tracking down funds.

Checking around for the lowest prices

A great way to engage team members in cash-flow planning and problem-solving is to assign someone with expertise about vendors and suppliers in a given industry to find lower-cost suppliers. While the quality of services should be a top priority, it’s possible and likely that you’re not getting the best deal out there, and changing suppliers may not impact quality.

Lowering expenses is an effective strategy to improve cash flow, so start by brainstorming areas where you could save money, however small.

Not relying on snail mail

Another way to optimize cash flow is to stop using snail mail to send your invoices. Many electronic tools allow you to send and receive funds, speeding up the entire billing process substantially. There are also vendor management platforms you and your team could use that offer vendor portals, where invoices are uploaded, and electronic transactions are managed. Sometimes these systems are automated, meaning transactions can happen much faster, if not instantly.

Aligning your funding and expenses

Every business has both short-term and long-term expenses. But each of these need to be aligned with actual sources of funding (both short- and long-term), so that the two match and you can ensure that the cash needed to handle obligations is accessible.

Part of managing a small business is making sure that cash flow is optimized, leading to sustainability and long-term growth. These core competencies will help you and the entire team stay aligned on how to improve cash flow now and long into the future.

When you need assistance implementing procedures and systems to grow your business, the team at Provident CPA & Business Advisors can help. We also assist with tax minimization strategies and deploy the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) for any industry or business model. The EOS helps align teams under a straightforward, achievable vision. Contact us today to get started.