If you’re the sort of person who keeps tech at arms length (which I totally understand) you may have not heard about ChatGPT. But then, given the broad application across industries this AI tool is experiencing, it’s highly unlikely this is the first you’re hearing of it.
Since experiencing the tech boom in the accounting space, I’ve learned that you’re better off embracing change and riding the wave rather than trying to ignore it. So when planning for my marketing content this month, my ghost writer / social media manager / fellow tech nerd Meredith Paige and I decided to see if ChatGPT could assist us.
This month’s topic: the importance of understanding one’s balance sheet.
Coming into tax time, I thought this would be a great topic for my business clients who have been holding their financial data at a similar distance.
The results? Interesting, but not in the ways I initially expected.
We began with a prompt to indicate my tone of voice, my audience and what I wanted the article to contain:
The first response to this was far too ‘girl boss’ for my liking. So after playing around with prompts regarding tone of voice, we generated an article that was, to be fair, about 85% ready. Or so I thought.
The more I read it, the more I wanted to embellish, then simplify, then reword. At first this article had seemed quite accurate, and it had done good justice to the prompts we had given it.
But after much back and forth with Meredith & I applying our brains to it, it still just didn’t sit right with me. And as the email chain grew longer, I suddenly realised that I had unknowingly run straight into the point I find myself making almost every day:
You can’t rely on automations to think on your behalf.
When I asked ChatGPT where it draws its responses to prompts from, this was its response:
So it’s learning from what other people have written, researched, published and outlined, and then couched that knowledge in my tone of voice. That is not the same as me expressing my own ideas, in my own tone of voice.
Business accounting has become grossly overcomplicated post-tech boom. Where previously, business owners could interpret their own ‘story’ through practical ledgers and manual spreadsheets, we all now feel hopelessly disconnected from data that is meant to be about us in the first place. (This all done with the idea that it’s making our bookkeeping ‘simpler and easier’ - I beg to differ, but that’s a rant for another day).
I see so much of this in modern business accounting: entrepreneurs struggling to reverse engineer automations within Xero, MYOB, etc. to fit their own story, and wondering why it doesn’t feel quite ‘right’. That invaluable owner's intuition is still tugging at our sleeve saying “there’s something still missing!”
Trying to figure out your financial data through automated reconciliations and default workflows does not equal having a clear understanding of the story of your own business. But guess what CAN help you get a clear understanding of your business today?
Funny how things come full circle.
It’s ironic that I had to relearn this lesson about automation whilst writing an article about balance sheets, but the universe works in mysterious ways (c’mon, you didn’t think I was gonna let you off without some financial woo-woo, did you?)
Thanks to some thought starters courtesy of ChatGPT, here is what I believe all businesses should know about them:
You should be able to look at every single line item on your balance sheet and know what it refers to. If there’s something in there that is unfamiliar, perhaps you don’t recognise or understand it, that’s no cause for panic! But that’s exactly where you need to start asking questions of your bookkeeper or accountant (and don’t let the conversation wrap up until you can explain it back to them!)
Never forget that these are YOUR financial statements. They’re designed to give an elegantly simple summary of your business, so you have the right to question and understand them. 💪
The idea of diving headfirst into your financial data before booking in a long chat with your accountant might be a bit much for you right now. So let’s take it one step at a time together - book a free introductory chat with me at a time that works for you, and I can support you with a game plan for mastering this aspect of your financial data:
|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/