The basic outline for the financial management and control of a business includes the following planning and operating model; requires board oversight
- Sufficiently realistic capitalization
- Well defined organization with identified responsibilities and authority
- Comprehensive business plan
- Annual budget with goals and accountability
- Auditable checks and balances
Financial management and control in a small business is particularly important due to the business size not generally providing staff sufficient for preferred checks and balances through separation of authority controls. The development of a comprehensive business plan, a detailed annual budget, and an organization with defined responsibilities and authorizations, form the basis for an integrated financial business model for small or large businesses.
The best business model to effect maximum business financial management and control will still require continuous monitoring and updating due to changing events and opportunities. The best test of the control effectiveness of the model is through the use of regular management reporting, external independent auditors, supported by a diverse and independent board of directors.
The following five sections are from David Peffer an accomplished Senior Executive, Accountant, and Consultant with more than 30 years of success in a variety of manufacturing industries. Leveraging extensive global experience with rapid growth management and strategy, David is a valuable asset for companies seeking guidance on turnaround, expansion, and cost improvement. His broad areas of expertise include strategic planning, M&A, capital acquisition, cash flow management, stakeholder relations, change management, and business re-engineering.
Checks and Balances
Capitalization includes the working capital, operational and growth cash requirements of the business for the business plan period. Additionally, planned equipment and other capital purchases need to be identified.
The organization structure should be clearly developed covering the key functional managers’ responsibilities. Job position descriptions are then developed in detail. These should include the specific responsibilities and authority, including limits, for each position. It is important that there be a full understanding and sign-off by the manager.
A three-year comprehensive business plan, covering each of the functional areas, is an integrated “road map” into the strategy, goals and objectives for the business. The financial section includes the Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Statement of Cash Flows for each of the three years. The Sales, Marketing and all Operations portions of the plan flow together in support of the financials. These plans are prepared to include specific goals with strategy and assigned accountability. Each functional section must be an integral part of the overall business plan. It must add up from the base to arrive at the stated overall business goals.
The business plan objectives are addressed through implementation of the following recommended plan sections:
- Business and Management Overview
- Strengths & Weaknesses
- New Markets/Businesses
- Action Steps
- Financial Statements & Key Ratios
- Sales & Income Growth
- Incentive Plans
- Employee Additions
- Capital Additions
- Financing Schedule
- Profit Growth Plan
- Source & Use of Cash
- Break- Even Points by Product
The annual budget is prepared in support of the initial year of the business plan, projected by month to include:
- Income Statement
- Operating Cash Flows
- Sales/Production Volume
- Break-Even Points by Product
- Balance Sheet
- Key Ratios
Key functional managers are expected to report monthly by explaining positive and negative budget variances, with actions being instituted for shortfalls as well as to benefit from new opportunities. The budget is static for the year. It is therefore recommended that each quarter a 12 month “rolling forecast” be developed to include actual results to date and a revised forward forecast, not limited to the current fiscal year. This then becomes a “living document”.
Daily /weekly Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for each key manager’s function is designed, together with each manager, to provide a quick actionable update on the current performance against budget goals. Immediate action may then to be implemented.
Checks and Balances
Financial checks and balances, built into job position descriptions for expenditure approval authority, provide an initial level of management control. Separation of authority can provide significant safeguards. This should be supported by an internal or external financial audit function, depending on the size and complexity of the business. Financial and non-financial risk in all areas of the business should be an integral part of the audit function.
Lastly, written procedures, coupled with ongoing training, must be in place to define control procedures and position authorizations. The procedures are then tested through periodic audits.