Launching Your Business with Eyes Wide Open

Launching your own business can be a thrilling adventure, bringing your passions, talents and skill sets together with the vision of doing something great. One of the keys to building a successful business is looking at it from all angles and starting with a plan. A critical component of that plan is the numbers, and many new business owners would rather look at the exciting parts of entrepreneurship (freedom, ability to pursue their passion, making boat-loads of money for themselves and not someone else) instead of diving in and really knowing their numbers.

That’s where we come in. Here’s how The Minerva Group helped one solopreneur launch her dream business.

When we first met our client, Sue, she was working full time for a large tech company. To them she was just a number, and she went to work every day feeling unmotivated and underutilized.

Her passion was photography. On weekends she photographed weddings and loved the interaction with people and producing something that would be meaningful and lasting to them. Her dream was to do this full time, but she didn’t know where to start. The Minerva Group partnered with Sue to provide her with the tools and know-how to help her make that dream a reality.

First, we helped her get a clear picture of her current financial situation by looking at the books she had kept for her photography side-gig. This enabled us to:

  • project the income she needed to transition into her own business,
  • set expectations for the return on investment,
  • establish goals for building her savings, and
  • plan the timing.

Armed with real numbers, Sue could finally see clearly that she could make her dream happen.

Next, we looked at strategies to move Sue towards full time. These included attending bridal shows to meet wedding planners and make herself and her services known within the wedding industry. This networking provided sources of referrals from which she was able to branch out and build her clientele. We recommended a substantial increase in her prices, helped her identify unique venues for her work beyond the ones she had traditionally used, and helped her expand her offerings to clients by adding videography.

Within the space of two years – and with a lot of hard work – she moved into her business full time and has never looked back. From January through September the previous year to the same period over the current year, she experienced growth at a rate of 132%! The demand for Sue’s business has grown to the point that she now employs several additional photographers.

The Minerva Group helps business owners take a 360-degree look at their business, starting with the numbers and then building out a realistic strategy for growth. Do you have a passion for building a business? Take our online assessment, the Minerva 360 Blueprint® and get a clearer understanding of your own  picture so you can take the right actions towards growth.

Clean up Your Financials and Your Image

You likely started your business based on something you’re passionate about, something at which you excel, or both. But as all business owners know, there’s much more to a successful business than passion and talent. Financials are, of course, a major component. Another is how you and your business are perceived by clients and prospects.

Have you ever thought about how your financial practices may affect your credibility?

Owners of small businesses are often guilty of trying to do too much on their own. This may be an effort to keep costs down, or perhaps unrealistic expectations of being able to keep all the balls in the air with not enough arms to juggle them.

That was the situation when a small business owner hired The Minerva Group to handle his company’s accounting and help with management aspects of the business. The owner had developed a successful business that required significant travel. Clients typically reimbursed some of his travel expenses but he’d been unable to keep up with billing them for those expenses and was not even paying himself. It’s understandable – he didn’t start the business so that he could do the accounting. But with each passing month, his credibility suffered as disorder within the business became apparent to clients – some of whom began to lose confidence in the company.

This business owner knew the situation had to change and The Minerva Group helped him turn things around.

Financials were brought up to date and cash flow issues were addressed. Appropriate insurance was obtained for the business. Employee records were standardized. And the hefty sum of two years’ worth of reimbursable expenses was recovered entirely! Invoicing for these expenses is now done on a regular basis.

With this financial turn-around, the business took on a new image. Timely invoicing created not only better business practices but also the perception of greater professionalism. Our position as an objective buffer between the client and business owner served to turn the focus to the unique services he offers and portray him as the expert he is, rather than a jack-of-all-trades.

The bolstered image of professionalism not only increased the credibility of this business in the eyes of his multi-million dollar clients but created the impression of a larger company. And the changes in his business have freed up this savvy entrepreneur to invest his time and energy where it belongs – in pursuing his passions and talents and running his company.

If your financial records are deteriorating, your credibility may be suffering, too. Contact us to discuss cleaning up your financials, and perhaps your image as well!

Setting KPIs for growth

Establish Your Key Performance Indicators for 2019

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a metric used to evaluate and demonstrate whether, and how effectively, a business is achieving key business objectives over time. KPIs can be used at different levels to measure success in any area – from overarching, big picture goals to progress on specific departmental responsibilities or projects.

KPIs exist not only to provide metrics but to inspire action. They serve as tools – communication, accountability and navigational tools – that can direct your business towards positive change and help increase productivity. To do so, the KPIs you adopt must be relevant to your specific business and accurately reflect its performance.

A strategy for formulating and defining KPIs starts with basic questions.

  • What are our organizational objectives/desired outcomes?
  • Why do they matter?
  • How do we plan to achieve them?
  • How can we measure our progress?
  • Who is responsible for the outcome?
  • What is the time frame for achieving the objective?
  • How can/do we influence the outcome?
  • What are the indicators that we’ve achieved our objective?
  • How often will our progress be reviewed?
  • With whom should the resulting information be shared?

A KPI should be specific in defining the objective it addresses. It should clearly state how you will measure performance, and the information it returns should be succinct. Implementation of KPIs is an iterative and dynamic process that includes input and feedback from your leadership team and key employees. As facts unfold, you’ll gain greater insight into which business processes need to be measured and can adjust the types of KPIs you need accordingly. Over time, you’ll be able to tweak the particulars of your KPIs and refine how they are measured so that the information they return is of optimal value in guiding change.

Although every industry needs KPIs specific to their objectives and activities, there are KPIs that apply across the board. Every business needs performance metrics for:

  • Cash flow
  • Gross profit margin
  • Revenue increase
  • Inventory turns
  • A/R average days to pay
  • Budget variance
  • Overall productivity of the company

Businesses must monitor the big picture in the midst of attending to all of the details. KPIs assist with both. They can reveal the need for long-term change while providing information that will assist the owner and management team in making quicker and more accurate short-term decisions.

Identifying and formulating KPIs specific to your business, then interpreting and implementing the resultant information can be a time-consuming and seemingly daunting task. The Minerva Group uses our decades of experience in both accounting and business management to help business owners create KPIs that are in line with their growth goals. We’d be honored to partner with you develop your KPIs for 2019 and make it your most prosperous year so far.

Avoiding the Financial Pitfalls of a Startup

Startups are exciting, and the work is fast-paced! For good reason, everything you do is likely focused on what you know and do best – and not always on your finances. Many entrepreneurs are experts at the products or services they are offering, but need some help when it comes to running a successful business.

It’s easy for the financial component of your business to get away from you quickly and it’s often why new businesses fail. Since funds are not there to hire a staff member dedicated to managing the finances, or there’s a “we’ll get to that later” mentality, things can fall by the wayside – fast.

Here are some common financial and accounting issues new companies face:

  • Bookkeeping has not been done consistently, sometimes not at all.
  • Income taxes have not been paid on time, even after two or three years in business.
  • Payroll taxes have not been paid.
  • Appropriate payroll tax forms have not been obtained from employees or contractors.
  • Expense, credit card and loan record keeping is incomplete.
  • Appropriate bank accounts are not set up.
  • Bank and credit card statements may not be reconciled regularly.
  • Personal and business finances are intermingled.

For some industries, like those in construction for example, there are additional issues that are common including how to correctly differentiate between contractors and employees, job costing issues, and handling payment, record keeping, and tax reporting accordingly.

Perhaps you see your own business in one of these scenarios and here’s what we can do to help:

  • You haven’t been maintaining your books. You have multiple spreadsheets to manage income and expenses or your Quickbooks hasn’t been updated in a long time; bank account and credit cards haven’t been reconciled, loan balances are off, you have several piles of receipts and you just don’t know where to start. We’ll dig in and sort through whatever records you do have and set up or update QuickBooks. We’ll reconcile old bank and credit card statements, determine loan balances, and give you a clean and manageable bookkeeping system.
  • Your income and payroll taxes are lagging. The penalties and fees are starting to add up because you didn’t know which reports needed to be filed and when payments were due. The State and the IRS are sending you notices that seem very threatening, but they’re not very clear about what they want you to do. Do you just pay the amount on the notice or could you owe less because they need a report first? We’ve brought income and payroll taxes up to date even when years behind, ensuring that correct forms are on file, and working with the IRS to abate some of the penalties that had been incurred.
  • Your business and personal finances are intermingled. This situation happens often with startups, and it can be a challenge to set up bank accounts appropriate to the business so personal and business finances remain separate. We’ve helped companies get their business and personal accounts differentiated so your reporting is seamless.

The Minerva Group has over 25 years’ experience dealing with challenges like these. Just as important, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to realize your finances have gotten out of control. Your financial success is our business, and we are ready to help you tackle your toughest accounting obstacles so you can focus on growth! Give us a call or contact us to learn how we can help you.

Get Clear About Your Business Growth with The Minerva 360 Blueprint™

We’re not your average accountants.

You probably had that same thought when you first heard our company name, The Minerva Group. Back in 2011, we set out to build a company that would serve business owners in the places they were most vulnerable – their financials. We did so by creating a level of trust that only comes from responsive service, attention to detail, and timely, accurate information.

This is what we’ve done for the last 7 years, and as our business continues to grow, we continue to expand our service offerings to best meet the needs of our clients.

Who are our clients? Small to mid-size business owners who live and breathe their businesses. These are the passionate people who have the best ideas, run with them, and want to keep growing. These are also the people who simply don’t have time to review their books, prepare their taxes, and understand their financials.

We understand this conundrum and have asked our clients what else we can do to support them in their growth efforts.

And thus, the Minerva 360 Blueprint™ was born!

The Minerva 360 Blueprint is all about keeping your business momentum going . . . and growing! It’s a fast-track program designed to help business owners gain a comprehensive understanding of their financial position and its implications for growth. Specific tools for improving profitability are built in, as are tools to help you:

  • Say yes to the most profitable opportunities
  • Identify financial gaps and uncover areas to grow
  • Take a deep dive into what’s working and what’s not
  • Optimize your processes
  • Make more informed decisions about your business
  • Understand how your leadership style effects your entire business

The Minerva 360 Blueprint is designed for companies with revenues of $1M to $10M and begins with “discovery process” where we identify your company’s most urgent needs as it relates to your overall financial picture. From there, we help the owner develop a clear vision for where and how the company can grow, and pinpoint which areas may need some work.

We do this by performing an in-depth financial assessment of the health of your company, using your past financials as our guide.

From that information, we’ll develop the 360-degree overview, including:

  • Comprehensive review of financial statements
  • Written analysis of gaps and opportunities in financials
  • Written summary of key items to be addressed
  • Initial tools enabling the owner to take immediate action

And, true to form, we take it a step further.

Part of the 360 Blueprint includes Minerva’s Energy Leadership Index (ELI) certification. This index sets us apart by equipping us with the ability to take a holistic look at the business and its owner in ways that help to better understand your goals and motivation. It provides unique tools to assess leadership capabilities, perceptions and attitudes, to implement changes quickly, help owners become more efficient and effective decision makers, and map out Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to achieve more rapid growth.

Upon the completion of the 360 Blueprint, we continue to help in a variety of roles – from keeping your books clean and up to date, to developing and implementing a detailed, strategic Blueprint for growth, and helping you achieve your vision by acting as an accountability partner.

The Minerva 360 Blueprint was created with the business owner’s comprehensive success as its objective. It provides business owners with one-on-one support – focused on your business, your financial picture, and your growth objectives. You’ll also get customized financial and leadership tools that are essential for taking your company to the next level.

To get started take the Minerva 360 Blueprint Quiz. We’ll email you a personalized assessment and recommendations and offer a complimentary follow-up phone call during which we will dive into your results in even greater detail. Click here to set up your call. Regardless of your next steps, taking the quiz can provide you with valuable insights about you and your business. Take the short quiz now!

About The Minerva Group

Our team of bookkeepers, QuickBooks experts, and Accountants make sure your books and taxes are accurate and up to date. Even if you think your books are in disrepair, give us the challenge. We are experts at getting them in tip-top shape.

But we don’t stop there, because our passion is supporting business stability and growth. Beyond general accounting services, we work with growing companies to help them get to the next level. We do this by partnering with business owners in a one-to-one, advisory setting – helping them make better strategic decisions by using financial statements as the guide.

Does Bookkeeping Keep You from Working On Your Business?

We hear it time and again from business owners.

“I need to keep my arms around my business, so it’s important that I do the bookkeeping myself to make sure I’m on top of how my business is doing.”

We get it. The same argument could probably be made (and you probably made it) when you first opened your doors for business. You did everything – that is, until everything was no longer getting done. Things started slipping through the cracks or they were not being delivered according to your high-quality standards.

So, you hired an assistant, or a laborer, or a “do-er” of some sort who was no longer you.

That gave you the flexibility to work on the higher-level things or perhaps get more business in the door. And, so is true when you think about hiring a bookkeeper.

While the basic accounting is easy to do, it takes you away from working on your business. Meanwhile, your accounting and tax planning has likely become more complicated over the years you’ve been in business.

I read recently how the CEO of meal delivery company out of Miami ran his company for five years without a bookkeeper before hiring one just three months ago. The bookkeeper found expenses and assets that were co-mingled, duplicate records of employee purchases, and other common mistakes. Fortunately, she was able to clean everything up and get them back on track. This allowed the CEO to get “out of the weeds” and look at his business from a higher level so that he could make process improvements that impacted the company’s bottom line – much more so than he could’ve done had he been working on the books.

The truth is, you’re probably not being as strategic as you could be if you’re always in the weeds. Outsourcing bookkeeping services is widely available in today’s marketplace. Hiring the right one is of utmost importance.

Back in 2011, we set out to build a company that would serve business owners in the places they were most vulnerable – their financials. The Minerva Group has done just that by creating a level of trust that only comes from consistently responsive service, attention to detail, and providing timely, accurate information to our clients.

We work with companies whose revenues are between $500K – $10M. We work with business owners who live and breathe their businesses but desire to get out of the weeds so they can be more strategic about growing their companies. That’s where we can help. We’d welcome a chance to talk with you to see if we’re a good fit.

Contact us here.

Getting to Your Profit Plan by Understanding Your Financial Statements

Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, is the starring entrepreneur of the hit CNBC show, The Profit. If you’ve ever watched the show, you likely enjoy the entertainment value it affords as Lemonis invests his own money in small businesses that are struggling.

Lemonis goes through a vetting process before making an investment in a business. That process includes understanding the company’s people, products and processes, as well as getting a look behind the curtains at the company’s financials.

What strikes me more than anything about this process is how, more often than not, the business owners on the show are clueless about their financials.

Sometimes the owner is savvy enough to have an accountant who has put the financial statements together, however, rarely is the business owner able to flawlessly navigate their way through the statements.

One of the main reasons why understanding your company’s financials is so important is that it allows you to do one of the most important things for your business, and that is, to create a profit plan. You don’t need to become an accountant or a CPA to read a financial statement, but you do need to keep tabs on the numbers in order to run your company and achieve your profit plan.

The Minerva Group can help by showing you how to navigate your way through your financial statements.

Imagine having the ability to collect more cash each year. The secret to doing this might just be hidden in your financial statements. Uncovering those hidden treasures could help you:

  • Improve your cash flow
  • Borrow less
  • Invest in new equipment
  • Hire staff to help grow your sales

There’s really no shame in not understanding how to read a financial statement. The real missed opportunity is not doing something about it.

We are experts at helping business owners get a handle on their financial statements so they can build a profit plan that gets results. We do this by performing an in-depth financial assessment of the health of your company, using your past financials as our guide or creating financial statements based on your books.

We also help in a variety of roles – from keeping your books clean and up to date and preparing and filing your taxes, to developing and implementing a detailed, strategic blueprint for growth. We take it a step further by acting as your accountability partner, helping you achieve your profit plan for the company.

We’d welcome the opportunity to connect with you and help you get a handle on your financials. Contact us today to learn more.