The Rearview Mirror for Looking Ahead: Know Yourself to Grow Yourself

rear view mirror

“Why do you accountants always focus on the rearview mirror?”

This question was posed to me during a small business workshop I was conducting. Read on to see how I answered it. But first some context:

I do workshops for small businesses frequently, to share more deeply about my Fractional CFO framework and approach. I share how business changes with growth that generally comes in 1’s and 3’s. (In other words, growth from $100,000 – 300,000, or $1m to $3m, or $10m to 30m.) In this particular workshop, I had been discussing the weekly scorecard and how to improve the accuracy of the company’s numbers using a solid financial close process. I also encouraged tracking many other data points like new customers, new web sign-ups, sales by segment, gross margin, inventory turnover, production and direct labor efficiency, etc. I was rattling on about how these metrics need to be on your dashboard and the importance of not judging your performance on the metrics of other people. I emphasized that their business is not your business. However, your business can always perform better. If you want to jump in 3’s, you first have to know your business well.

That’s about when I received this great, and understandable question. At first glance, CFOs do appear to look at the past a lot. The rearview mirror is important, and we do have to have accurate data; it’s essential to know where you are and where you’ve been. If you don’t it’s hard to get to where you want to go.

I ride my bicycle for my workout four times per week in the summer logging about 100 miles per week.  My bike is equipped with lights so cars can see me and I have a mirror that attaches to the handlebar.  The other day, when I was riding on some incredible roads we have here in Central NY, I was looking in my mirror, which is small and was so dirty that it wasn’t useful.  Using the mirror is safer than turning my head, but the visibility with the mirror was terrible. Trying to focus on the images in the mirror, I almost rode off the road. (I recently bought a radar tool that beeps when there’s a car behind me. Much safer.)

But ironically, a good CFO uses the rearview mirror but doesn’t focus on it. We shouldn’t look in the rearview mirror too often.  We do need to see what’s behind us if it poses danger – like a car for a bicyclist. But we shouldn’t constantly be looking in the mirror to see where we’ve been. We need to keep our eyes focused on the road ahead. 

The job of a CFO is to help a business look ahead. Yes, we focus on getting the monthly financials closed and the reporting package published, but those are tools for our main priority of helping the business deliver on its mission. Reasons come first, results come second. We try to make things better for the future.

To do this well means that a lot of my time is spent trying to help businesses improve processes. Consistent improvements over time often lead to impressive results. Companies that stay stuck in their ways tend to stagnate. Small businesses that are nimble tend to grow and flourish.

In Robert Greenleaf’s book, The Servant Leader, he shares how the servant leads from the back with empathy and compassion. They see the struggle of others and bring clarity and solutions. I’ve seen the suffering of many small businesses over the last 30+ years – and I have been there myself, so I have a desire to help turn that around. Having solid processes and taking a regular, but not obsessive, look in the rearview mirror helps me do that.

The other service that is very helpful to a CFO is to know the valuation of a business. Click here to learn more about our valuation service.

What is the next thing that you need to do to get ahead? Do you need to shift your perspective from the rearview mirror to the road in front of you? I’d be happy to help. Contact me!

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

The Two Things a CEO Must Know

A recent CFO survey shows that although inflation concerns have decreased some, it continues to rank as a high concern for business owners – as it should.

During one period of time when inflation seemed out of control at 9%, Biz Equity, the company that provides the backbone to my business valuation program, published a white paper discussing the effects of inflation on business valuation. Although inflation does have a tendency to cool down, the long-term effects of a large bump in inflation are significant. We sometimes never return to the pre-high levels.

If you are a business owner, this whitepaper is worth the read. We all know inflation affects our long-term purchasing power and that we need to continually increase income to counteract increasing costs. Inflation also degrades the value of our business. Over time, the effects on valuation are dramatic.

The trick is to ensure that your business outpaces inflation with profit and growth so that you keep building value. For example, for 2022, a successful business would have needed to grow by 10% just to keep pace with inflation rates.

The first step in being more intentional about staying ahead of inflation is to know your numbers. This is a frequent topic with me because it is so important. Your business is your biggest asset and you need to know the facts. I am a huge proponent of a weekly scorecard to track key data and measure how your company performed the previous week compared to last year and to plan. Using a review like this, we can easily see ways to improve in key areas.

The second step is to perform a business valuation report. It is a great way to get an overview of what your business could bring if you wanted to sell it today.

If you are properly prepared, we can complete a valuation in about an hour. The BizEquity platform works great to perform a low-cost, accurate business valuation using strategic technology and a large database of business valuations. They are world’s only patented and the largest provider of business valuations, having valued 33,466,715 private businesses globally.

The frequent self-monitoring I recommend in knowing your numbers helps you improve performance, be proactive, and focus on the key factors that are moving the valuation needle, so these steps actually work in tandem.

Research shows that self-monitoring improves progress. Yes, you can blame external circumstances such as who is in office, what the interest rates are, or how the economy currently stands for the success or failure of your business. But that’s not the truth. Many businesses still survive (or even thrive) when external conditions are less-than-ideal. The value of your business is directly proportional to how well your company works. And how well your company works is directly proportional to the effectiveness of the systems you have in place.

So be courageous and self-monitor frequently. Become comfortable taking a hard look at your performance. Set high standards for yourself and your business. Know your daily/weekly/monthly numbers as well as what your business is worth.

No one may have told you that as a business owner, your role as CFO is the most important (or working closely with a qualified CFO.) But without understanding your numbers and valuation, you don’t understand a major portion of how your business runs and its health for the long term. And as a leader, that’s YOUR responsibility. Your team and the market is depending on it.

Contact me to schedule a valuation or a review of your numbers.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Keep the Bathtub Full: Understand Your Numbers

Most business owners went into business to do what they love and do what they are good at –  and they hoped to make a living and improve the business’s value while doing it.  Most started their careers as employees, so they tend to carry an employee mindset vs. that of an owner, entrepreneur, or CEO.  As a result, some business owners have created a high-stress job for themselves, not a business.

Successful business owners create a vision of the business and think like a CEO.  Smaller business owners may wear several hats, but in order to become a better CEO, they must strive to delegate responsibility and create sustainable processes to deliver customer value consistently. Employee vs. CEO.  There is a big difference.  The successful business owner also understands their numbers – the balance sheet, the cash flow drivers, and the income statement as well as their overall performance scorecard. 

I’ve had many business owners tell me over the years tell me “I am not an accountant.”  True, but you ARE a business owner and you need to understand your numbers!  That means learning how to read and understand financial reports such as balance sheets and income statements and understand how they relate.  You need to understand your working capital needs and cash flow drivers.  Most business owners know how to read a P&L, yet have no idea where their cash is going. They wonder, “How can we be tight on cash when business is booming and sales numbers are growing?”

It is a common perception that reading and understanding financial statements is difficult.  Some of the problem is that many of the system-generated reports of many ERP systems are too detailed and difficult to read.  But also, business owners haven’t invested the time to learn how to read financial statements and interpret what the numbers mean.  I find it generally makes sense to simplify.

It reminds me of the bathtub illustration I learned from a banking CFO back in my KPMG days, used to explain the bank’s cash flow statement.  He said, “Cash is like a bathtub of water.  Cash comes in through the faucet and goes out through the drain.  The trick is to understand the flows in and out and keep the tub full of water.”

One way to gain confidence is to review your financial reports regularly.  Develop a weekly scorecard and review your financial statements with your controller or accounting team monthly.  Notice trends in key areas like new customers, sales, average transaction value, gross margin, cash flow turnover, and operational efficiencies. What are the financials telling you?  Are you increasing your company’s valuation or are you just sustaining a high-stress job? 

Spending time on this will help you avoid “reaction” mode (daily firefighting) and allow you to work more in “ready” mode. Ready mode is working on needle-moving activities, the kind that will truly grow your business in all the right ways.

If you spend time with your numbers, you will get better at understanding them. In addition to studying your reports, take a course. Read blog posts like these.  Prepare or update your business valuation.  Get people on your team that know financial stuff well and can help YOU understand it.  Trust me, everything you apply time to, you get better at.

Contact me for additional help!

Four Things to Regularly Assess in Your Business


One of the skills an experienced big mountain backcountry skier practices is testing the snowpack for avalanche risk. “I think it looks good,” won’t cut it. We have to pull out the shovel and test the pack to ensure we can venture down in a safe way. Otherwise, we risk life-threatening conditions and danger. “Where’d he go?”

It’s similar when it comes to your business. You can glide along thinking “I think it looks good,” but without regular testing and evaluating of the conditions, you can end up in an avalanche of trouble. So I encourage my clients to take the time to regularly assess and evaluate their business. Natural times for this include quarter-end and year-end, but you can even do monthly evaluations to some degree.

At regular intervals, I like to pause, reflect, and delve into data to evaluate the progress of the businesses I serve. I like to look at goals that were set at the beginning of the year (such as sales growth and EBITDA margin growth) and the list of initiatives and projects we’d hoped to have well underway. We face the facts and compare our expectations with reality.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of self-assurance, saying, “I think it looks good! This is a great year so far! We’ve been busier than ever.” But we also need to honestly assess four crucial elements to support or adapt our hopes that we are indeed, in good shape.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you assess your business.

Your Team

Just as they say in sports, “You are only as strong as your weakest player,” the same applies to business. Here are some questions we ask regularly:

  • Are there any individuals on the team holding our business back?
  • Are we as leaders unintentionally becoming a hindrance?
  • Which team members (including those in leadership) need coaching to improve their performance?
  • Are there any team members (including those in leadership) that need to be promoted, or conversely, helped into another career?
  • Do all team members possess the necessary skills, resources, and attitudes to help us achieve victory in our industry?

Your Strategies

  • Has the competitive landscape shifted, demanding adjustments and recalibrations on our part?
  • What strategies have worked for us?
  • Which strategies should be changed (or even eliminated?)

Your Financials

It is astonishing how often struggling companies and overwhelmed owners have financials that are in disarray. Transactions are delayed, balance sheet accounts lack accuracy, and cost-of-sales accounts fluctuate without any apparent reason. Inaccurate data produces unreliable results. These questions will help:

  • Are we consistently following a monthly close procedure?
  • Is our staff able to keep our transactions and records current?
  • Are our receivable days increasing?
  • Are inventory turns slowing down?
  • Did we gain or lose significant customers?
  • Are our cost of goods sold numbers slipping?
  • Is the average selling price (ASP) increasing?
  • Are we able to make decisions on accurate and up-to-date numbers?

By measuring these primary financial drivers, we gain valuable insights into our business’s performance.

Your Projections

  • Are we on track with our projections? If not, what do we need to change? (It might be uncomfortable to do this, but you are better off dealing with accurate results for goals set.)
  • What changes would help our current situation align better with our goals?

Embrace these moments of reflection, evaluation, and adjustment. By examining our team, our strategies, our financials, and our projections, we can set ourselves up for a stronger future.

At Verbeck Associates, we can help with these evaluations. For example, we produce CFO reports for our clients, providing them with a comprehensive financial story that aids in decision-making. Contact me if I can help you in this evaluation process!

From Controller to CFO: Nurturing a Financial Leader


Learning how to mentor a controller to think more like a CFO is an important investment for any organization that wants to grow and succeed. As a fractional CFO, I have worked with many accounting managers and controllers over the years, in different industries and in different stages of their careers. One of the most common challenges I’ve found accounting managers and controllers to have is developing a strategic and forward-looking mindset that is more in line with that of a CFO. Many controllers are highly competent in financial reporting and compliance, but may struggle in applying that understanding to the bigger picture, and could benefit from improving their ability to make strategic decisions that impact the future of the company.

I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to mentor a controller toward more of a CFO mindset is to work closely with them on a regular basis, using the following strategies:

  • Educate them on the role of a CFO. Many controllers do not fully understand the breadth of responsibility and decision-making that comes with being a CFO. I typically start by explaining the differences between the roles, expanding their understanding of the context, and why a more strategic mindset is necessary.
  • Collaborate on strategic projects. Working together on a project that requires strategic thinking (such as an acquisition or expansion) and involving the controller in the due diligence process and financial modeling can be an effective way to expose them to the strategic thinking required of a CFO.
  • Provide feedback and coaching. As the controller works on strategic projects, it’s important to provide regular feedback and coaching. This can include constructive criticism of their thought process, suggestions on how to approach problems, and guidance on how to present their ideas to senior leadership.
  • Encourage continuous learning. It’s important for a controller to stay current with trends in finance and business. The skills that got them here won’t get them to the next level automatically. We need to encourage financial professionals to continually improve by attending webinars, conferences, and other professional development opportunities that can broaden their knowledge and exposure to different industries.

What if a controller isn’t interested in changing their mindset? Here are a few things to consider to encourage them to grow in this area.

  • Our fast-paced world is constantly moving forward. New technologies are automating work that used to require a completely human touch. To stay relevant and employable, all financial professionals should be willing to adapt and grow.
  • The role of a controller has historically been to “look at the rearview mirror” while a CFO tends to “look out the windshield.” There’s nothing wrong with a role that evaluates and processes the past – it is needed. But to refuse to also learn to look forward can reduce the opportunities a controller is given to contribute to leadership decisions.
  • A controller may discover that they enjoy the increased opportunity for responsibility in other roles. This can be a pleasant surprise, and help them consider other positions that will improve their career trajectory.

What do I do if I’m the controller?

If you are in a controller position and want to grow in this area, reach out to your CFO or a CFO you can trust and ask to shadow them. Offer to take them to lunch to learn more about their mindset and ask them to mentor you. If you don’t have a CFO to chat with, you can contact me and we can develop a plan for some professional development mentoring to help get you to the next level.

Fourth and Final – Finishing Strong

Football four

It’s the fourth quarter and your team has the ball on the 10-yard line. The score is tied with two minutes to go. Football is particularly exciting (or nerve-wracking) as the game winds down and the score is close. What happens in that last quarter determines who wins the game.

The fourth quarter of your business is similar, and we are cruising fast to the end of the year.  In this fourth-and-final quarter, there are four things you should do to help your business win, stay strong, and enjoy success.

Get Your Team Energized to Finish the Year Strong and Be Ready for 2023

With most of my clients, I am wrapping up the quarterly meetings.  In these meetings, we are looking at the numbers to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding key goals and approaches.  I generally find that the team is around 70% aligned. We use the opportunity to increase that percentage by having an in-depth discussion of the historical results and looking at the rest of this year and going into 2023 to align the teams’ vision and long-term strategies. Knowing exactly where you are can give you motivation and energy for what needs to happen next.

Ensure a Solid Q3 Close

If you’ve established effective processes and routines, your accounting staff should be keeping up with the necessary tasks to ensure you have accurate numbers and information for future decisions. If not, focus on getting these procedures polished (with assigned task checklists ) and getting your staff on board completing them efficiently and effectively EVERY month.

Get Your Short-term Targets in Focus

What are you hoping to see happen in your business during the fourth quarter? Write down these short-term goals and initiatives, narrowing them to be specific, measurable, and fitting for your team.

Start the Budget Process

2023 will be here soon so you’ll need to have your budget in place to ensure an effective transition. It may be a simple matter of copying and tweaking this year’s budget. Or, you may have to revamp if some areas of your growth or scaling did not match your expectations. What are the big initiatives and capital needs next year? Develop your planned organizational chart and get input from your staff for their needs to support their roles for the upcoming year. Start formulating your sales targets now so you can solidify them in November. Consider cost-cutting measures or redirection of funds to more effective endeavors such as product development or marketing for next year.

Bonus Task

I find it interesting the statistic that 98% of business owners don’t know how much their business is worth.  Their business is their most valuable asset, yet most have no idea of its value until they decide it’s time to sell.  I know a couple of owners who recently transitioned from their business and the offers they received were substantially less than they anticipated. In addition, knowing the current value of your business makes it easier to intentionally increase it over time with well-informed decisions.

I suggest all business owners do a business valuation every few years. If you haven’t done this in the last couple of years, arrange to do one this year. Our valuation process is inexpensive and efficient, and you’ll be amazed at how the information helps you as you head into 2023 and beyond.

How to Increase Your Cash Flow

cash flow

Business owners face many challenges today – cash flow being one of the most challenging. Attracting and retaining top talent, marketing strategy and establishing a strong brand, business growth, time management and delegation, and communication are also on owners’ minds. But from a financial perspective, cash flow is often the biggest problem owners face today. This is a result of the timing of performing services, invoicing the customer, receiving payment from the customer, paying vendors and employees, and managing operating expenses. Most businesses need to be more profitable and need to improve cash flow to do all these things well. That goal gets especially complicated if certain seasons are slower than most – like summer.

Monthly revenue fluctuations can cause havoc in forecasting your results and cash flow. But since a steady cash flow is a vital part of a healthy business, there are steps you can take to increase it no matter what the season.

How to Increase Your Cash Flow

  • Work your accounts receivable. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Make some phone calls to speed up collections. Consider reducing credit terms offered. If accounts receivable are a significant portion of your balance sheet, measure and graph days sales outstanding (DSO) monthly. DSO is calculated as follows: accounts receivable ÷ (credit sales ÷ days in the period). I generally like to use 3 months of sales ÷ 90 days to calculate average daily sales divided into accounts receivable.
  • Reduce your inventory levels. The number of days on hand is the number of days it takes from inventory purchase to sales (i.e. how long product sits in the warehouse.) The lower the days, the more frequent the turnover and better cash flow. Measure monthly and look to reduce the days on hand. Lower inventory balances do increase stockout risk so you do need to be careful reducing inventory too much.
  • Push accounts payable. Can you negotiate longer terms or quick pay discounts? Remember the value of a quick pay discount is very substantial if you have adequate working capital.
  • Increase profitability. This isn’t always easy, but look at low-margin products and focus on operational efficiency. Sometimes tasks and projects take your team’s time because you give them time. If I give you 30 days to clean your house, it will take 30 days. If I give you six hours, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll get done in six hours.
  • Put a line of credit in place. This helps provide a safety net when needed, especially during slow periods.
  • Consider creating a cash flow contingency fund. The next time you are in a more profitable season, set aside funds that can help with cash flow in the slower seasons.
  • Stay on top of records! I create a rolling 13-Week Cash Flow worksheet for all my clients, update it weekly, and develop strategies for asset velocity (accounts receivable, inventory, accounts payable) and profit enhancement.
  • Practice good budgeting and planning. A realistic budget, and plans that take slower seasons into consideration, is a huge help in leveling out cash flow concerns.

Which of these steps do you need to focus on most? If you don’t have the time to do these things yourself, it may be time for a fractional CFO. Contact me today for a free initial consultation.

Second Half Baby – Let’s Go!

half time

It’s that time of year again – the first half of 2022 is already over. We’re at half-time, just like in a football game. This is when the coach takes the team to the locker room to examine how they’ve performed so far, give some leadership inspiration, and reinforce the plan to regroup and outperform the other team in Q3 and Q4.

In a similar way, I just wrapped up Q2 reviews with a couple of my clients, and I tell you it’s eye-opening.  It’s an opportunity to increase performance with a solid plan and to make adjustments as necessary based on more realistic and better data now available to us.

Here’s the simple process I use for a mid-year review:

  • Do a solid close for June and get the reporting package completed asap.  I like to close the books in 2-5 days. 
  • Lay out monthly income statements for the last 18 months on a spreadsheet.  Format to print on one page.
  • Breakout revenue in COGS (Cost of Goods & Services) by significant business segment.
  • Develop a revised monthly sales plan if your sales results differ significantly from your initial budget for this year.  Solidify the plan and lock it down.
  • Examine your org chart with actual monthly data by department. For some businesses, this is easy – for others it is cumbersome.
  • Re-forecast your operating expenses based on current levels aligned with the next six months’ expectations.
  • Develop a 2nd Half Year Business Plan (2HYBP) – one page with monthly summary income statements.
  • Make necessary changes to the personnel plan – review all accountabilities and ensure all are aligned with the revised plan.
  • Review and communicate the plan with the team.
  • Review at least monthly.

This process becomes easier if you have a rolling forecast versus a static budget  – meaning as one month completes another month is added to the forecast. I use a rolling forecast for all of my clients.

I have a client in the professional services consulting business that lost a large customer in May. The sales plan needed to change significantly because of this loss. The team developed a revised sales plan; if they achieve it, they will be strategically much stronger.  Difficult changes were necessary, but with brief stutter-step, they were nimble enough to make the change.

You can do this too. You can’t always control what clients and customers will decide. But YOU are in charge of running your organization with a best-practice approach. This habit positions you to handle storms and be ready for potential new business. I can help. Contact me!

Quarterly Review: Review. Reframe. Realign. Rekindle.

The first quarter just ended. It’s time to check in to see how your performance is tracking compared to your goals. Do you need to rethink any goals or realign any projects? Are you on track with your financial forecast and the large projects you laid out last fall in anticipation of the new year?

Things constantly change, and we are facing new challenges already this year. Inflation. Interest rate increases. Global conflict impacts. Supply chain issues. Attracting and retaining talented staff. There’s likely something going on in your company that isn’t coming together in quite the way you expected. (If that’s not the case, keep up the good work!)

For many, a quarterly review provides the opportunity to discern what needs to change to get back on track. It could be the plan itself. Maybe it’s too ambitious given current challenges. Then again, maybe it’s not a big enough stretch! Or it could be the approach to daily work and decisions that needs changing. Are the processes and expectations set up in a way to encourage movement toward the goals?

Schedule a time to take a deep dive with your team to review, reframe, and rekindle what the goals and priorities should be over the next quarter. This meeting is also a good time to realign all team members to the common goal, if necessary. (Doing this quarterly helps everyone stay on the same page.)

Here are some questions you can use at your meeting:


  • What went well last quarter?
  • What didn’t go so well last quarter?
  • How are we tracking with our revenue, margin, and net income goals?
  • Are one-year and three-year goals still on target?
  • Did we finish any Q1 goals? If so, celebrate! If not, determine why not.


  • Are our current projects aligned with our long-term goals?
  • Overall, are we on track with our mission?
  • What goals are too ambitious that we can modify while still stretching ourselves?


  • Are all team members on board with the mission of the company?
  • Do all team members understand our upcoming quarter’s goals?
  • Are we working in a collaborative way (not silos) to accomplish goals that benefit the entire company?


  • Are we tired? What do we need to do to refresh ourselves and the team?
  • What haven’t we celebrated that we need to?
  • Have team members had the opportunity to personally speak about the company goals so they can be part of the goal-setting process?

Let me give you some real-life examples.

Kicking Myself into Gear

I do my own reviews, and I find that when my goals have slipped, it’s generally because my focus has slipped.

For example: in the first quarter of this year, I had set three prime goals for one of my clients. I misjudged the amount of time the projects would require, and I had to push like crazy in March to make the deadlines. It was a scramble, and honestly, I rushed more than I should have in order to get them done. Lack of focus/misjudgment of time in January and February caused the buildup in March. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I dug deep, focused on meeting shorter, bite-sized, biweekly milestones, and got two of the projects done. (We were able to push the third to Q2.)

The Big 3

For another client, we publish quarterly “Big 3” goals, breaking each one into smaller tasks for visibility and accountability. This really helps the team know where they are at and stay motivated.

Beefing Up Accountability

I’m also seeing many goals and projects slip with some clients. Their intentions are good, but there is a lack of accountability for unmet goals. For those clients, I help them strengthen accountability structures/policies and build in some “intolerance” for continued deadline slips. (My CPA upbringing plays into this – deadlines were unbending.)

You can see that there isn’t a “one size fits all” with quarterly reviews. The important thing is to DO THEM so you can review, reframe, realign and rekindle enthusiasm for your organization’s goals and dreams.

How CEOs Can Transform Financial Stress into Success


CEOs and business owners are under a tremendous amount of stress these days. Even if the business is profitable and has decent cash flow, leaders face uncertainties such as supply chain issues, inflation, difficulty finding staff, the potential of rising interest rates, the pressure of the board of directors to perform better and corporate taxes.

It is said that the bigger your business, the bigger your problems. But effective leaders can handle the challenges, if they are prepared. The key is to notice potential problems early enough to let you develop a plan and be ready to execute early to avoid or soften the impact. For many business owners and CEOs, forward-looking financial reports can really help.

Here are a few tools I use to help CEOs and business owners reduce the stress load caused by the financial side of their business:

  1. A weekly cash flow forecast process that lays out incoming and outgoing cash activity on a weekly basis
  2. A weekly scorecard to get early detection of upcoming issues
  3. Systems and processes that produce consistently accurate financial results

I’ve discussed the weekly cash flow process in the past and can’t emphasize enough the importance of this tool – it’s one of the best tools to see and predict cash sources and uses and spot any problems in advance. Many of us are used to running our companies using monthly financial statements. While they contain valuable information, the numbers tend to come out too late and are based on accrual accounting. Using the 13-week cash flow forecast, we can see more granular changes more quickly on a cash basis. This gives the company and the team a weekly view of results and time to mitigate any cash crunch.

The weekly scorecard tracks key performance stats and leading indicators that help spot areas of concern in advance. With data compiled and reviewed weekly, these leading indicators can signal if some things are heading off the rails. For example, a scorecard can provide early detection for margin erosion or an indictive problem with the warehouse causing customer service issues.

Having solid back-room processes that produce up-to-date, accurate, and reliable data consistently, reduces stress. If leaders are unsure if the numbers are accurate, it’s harder to make wise, data-based decisions. If they can’t rely on the financial system, they are operating a business while wearing blindfolds.

In my turnaround work, most companies I work with do not have solid financial statements and certainly aren’t producing them in a timely way. Leadership can’t rely on the data, and they waste time when they try to figure it out.

Even with tools and processes in place, issues and difficulties will arise. You should expect that. One of my associates does her bookkeeping for business AND personal life every Friday. She self-admits that number-crunching isn’t her core strength, but staying disciplined with this routine helps her spot challenges and make adjustments as needed before they become major issues. She’s learned to be less discouraged about finding an error and celebrate the fact that staying faithful to her system helps her course-correct before a major source of stress develops.

Things happen, but the better prepared we are, the better we can handle the situation. Use these CFO tools consistently. Just like getting a medical physical helps you ensure systems are functioning and indicates where to make corrections, CFO tools like these help you examine and encourage that your business is running optimally. And that means far less stress for you.