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October, 2010
Visit my new blog "Creating Above-market Value"

6 Principles to Make Your Financial Statements Make Sense?

Business success is measured in terms of producing predictable and consistent profitability? Profit is the result of Revenue exceeding Expenses. All you need is to sell a product or service at a price greater than the cost of designing, producing, marketing, selling, delivering and servicing that product or service every day, day-in and day-out. This sounds pretty straightforward doesn't it! Financial statements such as the Income (P/L), Balance Sheet and Cash Flow are commonly used to record the financial dealings of your company for the most recent accounting period. Providing they are prepared accurately do they make sense and can they help you managed the company toward predictable and consistent success in the current and future accounting periods?

If you have the right number at the bottom of the P/L then you might not care what the other numbers mean or if they make sense – until the next reporting period when the wrong number appears and you can’t figure out what went wrong. Even a good Profit number should be understood so that you are sure that the right business practices are in use. In addiiton, that you are not just experiencing a positive anomaly or windfall that could become a nightmare when the correction occurs in the next period.

Here are six principles used by successful companies that you can apply to manage your financial process more effectively and therefore increase the effectiveness in managing your company.

  • Define P/L Components and Assign them to Key Management
    • Identify the variable cost factors of your business that influence your bottom line.
    • Establish either absolute numbers or ratios (i.e. a function of sales level, labor hours, etc.) that must be observed for each component.
    • Establish the data collection and review cycle for each component.
    • Assign responsibility and accountability for the P/L component to a key manager (see example below).
  • Budget compliance
    • Good financial management is based upon operating with a budget prepared to support a revenue forecast or production plan.
    • Adjustments to budget (down or up) can be made as the actual forecast is realized.
  • Observing cutoffs
    • Cutoffs for all paperwork insure the timely processing of critical transactions that affect the financial record keeping of the business.
    • Missing accouinting cycle cutoffs (processing invoices, submitting timecards, recording material receipts, recording work-in-process) can result in over or under stating performance in a financial period that will adversely affect your ability to make appropriate decisions for the business.
  • Accurate Coding of Transactions
    • Not only do transactions need to be processed timely but they need to be coded correctly to make sure that the activity is recorded and applied to the right activity so tht it can be managed by the right management group.
  • Timely and Predictable Review Cycles
    • Monthly reviews that occur infrequently or on inconsistent dates of the month will erode the financial discipline that needs to be placed on the financial process on a daily basis.
    • Enforce a regular review cycle complete with follow up on corrective actions.
  • Take Corrective Action
    • Effective financial management is not a static or passive activity.
    • A proactive attitude toward processing feedback from P/L components (i.e. inventory levels, labor efficiency, commissions or discounts) during the period will often allow you to take action to offset an unexpected event and minimize or avoid an impact on your current period financial performance.

Using your financial reporting system to effectively manage your company requires that you adopt core disciplines that must be reinforced on a regular basis. Daily business activity will provide many opportunities to “bend” the rules and make exceptions. The adoption of a strong financial management policy by key managers and line supervisors will make the difference in how effectively your core financial discipline is complied with. As the owner, CEO or senior decision maker it is your leadership job to ensure that this discipline becomes a corner stone attitude in your company culture.

Mike Brice
Phone: (206)226-1617

Feature Article

This month's feature article appears in the and was origianlly published in and was authored by Chia-Li Chien. I found the subject of improtance as it is primary consulting focus. I think you will find the folllowing summary of interest.

Over the years, I have seen many successful business owners create value in their businesses and for themselves by focusing on mission-critical activities. However, not every business owner is trained to recognize what will boost the value of their company.

A Business Value Drivers Study, designed to help small businesses make effective decisions in creating value in their businesses for the owners and society. found that most business owners, regardless of their current success, are:

  • Not aware of untapped growth or value creation potential
  • Settling for less-than-ideal results in the current environment
  • Limiting risk-taking in their leadership role

Based on our study, the majority of the participants need to take the following steps to create value in their business:

  • Get more training or information.
    • Intellectual properties have been overlooked and are limited to uses that generate more profit.
    • The most important asset in a business is its people. Not everyone views people as an asset; therefore, businesses fail to approach them as such.
    • Technology is moving fast and is hard to keep up with, let alone leverage.
  • Create more challenge.
    • Redefine their mission and vision to take the business to the next level.
    • Increase standards. That means raise the bar and measure performance against higher standards.
    • Change the task. Approach things differently, such as creating a new customer base, packaging new products or services, or even considering geographic expansion.
  • Harness more drive.
    • Revisit and realign passion. Drive is about passion--the internal force that moves us forward. Increase risks. There is no business growth unless the owner takes some risks.
    • Identify risk. Which risk presents the strongest likelihood of success and growth in both value and revenue?

Management Resources
Leadership: Sustainability initiatives can't be driven through an organization the way other changes can. They have three distinct stages, and each requires different organizational capabilities and leadership competencies.
The Change Leadership That Sustainability Demands

Culture: In the event of a product safety problem, product makers should be prepared to defend themselves. Raising awareness among employees is essential to the process
Creating a Culture of Risk Avoidance

Value: Regulation is situation-specific, while values guide people and businesses about what do do in any situation.
Why Values Trump Rules and Regulation

Sales Promotion: If you’re planning to run a promotion, read this first.
Tried a Groupon Campaign Yet? Don’t.

Innovation: Everyone who has ever sat beating their head against a computer screen (or staring at a blank sheet of paper) waiting for inspiration has wondered the same thing — where do ideas come from and how can I get my hands on some? Note; A very cleaver presentation!
Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

Inside Sales: Inside sales means selling over the telephone, and that’s difficult if you keep making the same dumb mistakes.
Top 10 Dumb Mistakes Inside Sales Reps Make

Winning: In the era of "Think Win-Win" and "Start with No" what are 5 actions that you can take to win in any business situation.
5 Ways to Win in Any Business Situation

Capital Formation: Learn from the experience of an online company raising capital.
5 Tips for Raising Angel Financing

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