The biggest aspect of financial empowerment my business clients struggle with is simply getting started.
That is: logging into their accounting software (Xero, MYOB, etc.) and leaning into the idea of owning the data that’s right there in front of them.
(And when I say ‘owning’, this means owning the organisation of it as well as the story that’s hidden in plain sight: income, expenses, opportunities, risks, the whole kit and kaboodle.)
Whether we realise it or not, many have the view that these platforms are there just to make it easier to communicate with their accountant (and subsequently, the ATO).
Well reality check: YOU are the one paying the subscription to store the data - as well as paying your accountant and bookkeeper to maintain and access the data - so don’t you think it should be serving YOU first?
BUT I think I see the problem here. And this may sting a little.
If you believe that these systems are for someone else’s benefit, it’s easier to tell yourself that keeping them organised and simple is someone else’s problem. Not yours.
And I say that with a heck of a lot of love.
What I want business owners to realise is the enormous potential hidden in this software. Having this information structured in a way that is elegantly simple TO YOU puts a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. When it comes time to consider whether to save, spend, invest, diversify or grow, the data to support that decision making is ready and waiting to guide the way forward.
Which brings us back to that original hurdle: diving in and getting that ball rolling.
As an accountant-turned-financial-mentor, I’ve created the space to talk about all the uncomfortable feelings that can come up around finances (the ones you don’t feel confident airing in front of your accountant).
Whatever your feelings are - shame, fear, inadequacy - you’re in the safest space possible here to step back and see them for what they are. Acknowledge the gaps in your confidence rather than ignoring them.
Now that you’ve been honest with yourself, I’d invite you to come at this whole financial data thing from a completely different angle, one that we all can relate to - and more importantly, make progress from as a starting point.
We’ve all had those days where some part of our home environment - the kitchen, the shed, heck the whole dang house - can feel like it’s completely exploded out of control:
(Psst. feels the same kinda frustrating when you log in to Xero, right?)
So you set aside an hour - or a day - to pull everything out, lie it out on the floor and start putting things back together again with a clear goal in mind: to reset this space so it’s tidy, functional and easy to work in. Music’s on in the background, the coffee machine is warmed up, and you commit yourself to the process.
You don’t need a degree. It’s not rocket science. You just need to be left alone for long enough to pull it all apart and put it back together again properly. With that in mind you get stuck in. You’re already imagining how much relief you’ll feel once you can fully utilise this space with ease once more.
Newsflash: getting your finances in order can happen in the EXACT same way.
You don’t need to be an accountant or a bookkeeper to get your financial data in order.
What you do need is:
The easiest way to start is to log in and see what triggers your ‘that can’t be right’ alarm (trust me: the amount of clients I’ve worked with who’ve made this EXACT comment during a session is mindblowing). Start exploring your latest Profit & Loss Statement or your Balance Sheet. This is the best way to get the lay of the land today OR see if there’s a mismatch between your data and your business in real life.
Tech Tip: most things inside these reports are clickable - if you see something that looks like a red flag, you can usually click into it and dive deeper.
This initial detective work will inevitably guide you to the first corner of your financial data that needs a good clean out. You may find yourself jumping back and forth between a few different sections, so it may also be beneficial to have these different areas open in separate tabs in your browser (i.e. having your Chart of Accounts, Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet all open in separate tabs). Just be sure to save and refresh as you move between them.
Tech Tip: open links in a new tab if this stops you from feeling like you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. For Macs, hold Command and click the link. For Windows PC, hold Ctrl and click the link.
It may also help to have a spreadsheet or Google Sheet open too, for jotting down notes like categories and subcategories you’d ideally like to create.
If you have left Xero or MYOB unattended for a while, you may not get everything ‘done’ in the time you allow. BUT you will have overcome that initial desire to slam the laptop shut and run a mile. AND you’ll no doubt have a bunch of questions for your bookkeeper.
I would highly recommend sitting with them for a debrief once you’ve explored the current state of your financial data. To their credit, they use this software daily so it’s highly likely they may be able to make tweaks and implement bulk changes faster than you (side note: I can almost guarantee they’ll be relieved to get some direction and input from you, as this conversation may uncover some aspects they may not have been 100% certain of themselves).
Anything they can’t answer would be best sent off to your accountant for clarity. If they respond to anything you ask with a ‘oh you don’t need to worry about that’...
… friend, you should probably schedule a meeting.
I can’t tell you how many ‘financial fires’ I’ve had to put out over the years. And soooo many of them could have been minimised - if not completely prevented - if the pile of ‘things you don’t need to worry about’ wasn’t left to smoulder away. Address these things early with your accountant. At the very least, you want a clear and coherent reason as to why there is an aspect of your financial record keeping that does not warrant your attention.
It’s 100% completely 👏 totally 👏 understandably 👏 fine if you don’t want to start this task alone.
In fact, I have a Financial Hour of Power that you can book which is perfect for THIS exact situation. Rather than cramming all your concerns into a brief chat with your accountant (and feeling like lightning round on a game show) we can spend a full hour together, creating the space you need to raise the questions YOU want answered.
All you need to do is book a Discovery Call first, just to check I’m a good fit for what you need, as well as set an agenda for our Power Hour. Click here to get started - I can’t wait to see you there! https://lizjarvis.youcanbook.me/)
|Disclaimer: These are yuck and boring but unfortunately a legal requirement for professionals in my industry. So just a reminder, the information contained here is general in nature and you should seek financial and business advice tailored to your own personal circumstances. Which, by no small coincidence, I can help you out with. Head over to my website and book a free 30 minute chat with me: https://betterbusinessdecisions.com.au/