PODCAST EPISODE 185: Three Big Accounting Mistakes That Can Take Your Business Down

EPISODE SUMMARY

Isn’t money the engine for your business? Van Haas, CEO of Accountix Solutions joins Paul Adams for a discussion on how to protect your ‘ship’ from sinking beginning with accounting. While many managers overlook or defer to an accountant to handle the numbers and bookkeeping, without recurring reviews, you won’t have total control of your business and profitability. Find out how to use the numbers from the accounting office to better run your business, in this week’s episode.

WHAT WAS COVERED

  • 00:00 – Show Starts
  • 00:35 – Cory Intros Show
  • 1:22 – Interview Begins
  • 2:12 – Van’s background
  • 4:26 – Why small business’ have huge losses incurred
  • 7:20 – How to begin using internal controls
  • 12:56 – Examples of inefficient accounting practices
  • 19:30 – A Message From Sound Financial Group (Commercial)
  • 20:30 – Back from Commercial
  • 20:40 – How you should do the financial monthly review
  • 27:40 – Why budgeting is important as a business owner
  • 28:52 – How to connect with Accountix
  • 30:48 – Show ends, thank you for listening.

TWEETABLES

LINKS

Accountix Home Page

Van’s Email: Van@Accountix.co

Curious what you can accomplish with our help? Schedule a free 15-minute meeting with us! sfgwa.com/scheduling

Sound Financial Group’s Website for a Financial Inquiry Call – Info@sfgwa.com (Inquiry in the subject)

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Your Business Your Wealth on Facebook

Sound Financial Group on LinkedIn

Paul Adams on LinkedIn

Cory Shepherd on LinkedIn

Cape Not Required (Cory’s Book)

Sound Financial Advice (Paul’s Book)

Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself

Mike Michalowicz’s Book – Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America

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MUSIC CREDITS

Contains a sample of “King” by Zayde Wølf courtesy of Lyric House.

Full Episode Transcription


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Cory Shepherd  0:34

Hello and welcome to your business your wealth. I am Corey Shepherd co host and president of sound Financial Group and I’m excited to bring you a special interview that Paul did with a friend of the firm, Van Haas, CEO and founder of accountants. Now this is an important episode for any business, but especially every business that’s been growing fast that’s because as we grow fast our level of systems and structures might not grow as fast as our revenue. And then is going to talk about some of the accounting systems and controls you can implement to help avoid various leaks that can sprout from a balance sheet, some of them even fraudulent. So, enjoy this special conversation with Paul and van.


Paul Adams  1:22

Well, it’s so good to have all of you here today. And I am excited about today’s episode because of course left me unsupervised. I’m now doing your business, your wealth by myself. And I’ve brought in a friend van Haas from account x, who runs a bookkeeping and accounting company where small business owners have the opportunity to outsource that accounting need and he’s going to talk with us a little bit about the things that can go on in the accounting side of your business that can sink your ship van, welcome to your business, your wealth.


Unknown Speaker  1:57

Hey, thanks a lot, Paul.


Paul Adams  1:58

So I want to start off Maybe just give our audience just a little bit of background on you, your business, and all all of that good stuff. And then I cannot wait to jump into some of the things that you sent over ahead of this call.


Unknown Speaker  2:12

Sorry about. Thanks. Thanks again for having me. And yeah, so I started account x in 2015, actually was March 2015. So just about five years ago. And prior to that, I had a consulting practice, where I did a lot of financial management with with small businesses. So we looked at cost management, we looked at profitability and how to improve the business. Think about it sort of like an outsourced CFO got it. And over the years, I was frustrated by the lack of information that could get out of the system. A lot of small businesses just lacked good financials to run their businesses. So if they had bad financials, I had a hard time doing doing what I wanted to do to help coach them. So in You know, 2014 2015 is when this idea of accounting was born. And it was all about, Hey, why don’t we take instead of just looking at the financials after they’re done, why don’t we help actually prepare them. And so that’s when we started working with small business owners and small businesses to do all the bookkeeping they need, but then it actually goes a little bit higher. So we go from bookkeeping to you know, maybe what an internal accountant might do to a controller to a CFO level. So it’s this whole suite of services that I call it, an accounting department. It feels very much like an accounting department. So we help small businesses, make sure they have good numbers and help them use those numbers.


Paul Adams  3:45

Now, I, I’ve got to say as you could hear that and hear it like, Okay, this is somebody that can do what my internal bookkeeper does, and it that would be a yes, and because in a second here, we’re going to look at this document is that over, and it’s a amazing to me, because I think people don’t talk about this, they don’t talk about it because it’s embarrassing. They don’t talk about it because people feel personally violated. But business owners every single day, are losing money to these kinds of accounting mistakes and internal fraud that occurs. So if you can just kind of walk through this first one really jumped out at me that the actual losses incurred by small business are twice as large as those with over 100 employees. Why is that?


Unknown Speaker  4:37

You know, the statistics right below that, can you tell that story and 42% of the cases in small businesses are caused by lack of internal controls? And, and you know, that’s that’s a an accounting term, but essentially, it means that there are no no processes in place, or fewer processes in place to split duties. have extra reviews on those on those numbers to control who and how checks are cut and how vendors are entered into the system or how customers are entered into the accounting system. So controls mean, there’s layers of protection in place so that there isn’t just one person or very small group of people that have full control of everything. And when you think about it, that the fact that a large, large over 100 employee companies have a loss of about 100,000, whereas smaller companies under 100 employees that have less less revenue and dollars flowing through have the median loss of 200,000. So double the larger companies.


Paul Adams  5:47

Wow. And when we get down here, it’s it looks like the risks are actually a bit different for the smaller employers versus the larger employers is that because of the larger capacity to institute those controls.


Unknown Speaker  6:04

Yeah, I think so I would guess that you know, the the easiest ways to steal money are also some of the ones that are probably easiest to prevent. But the reality is most small businesses have no controls whatsoever even on those easy ways. So you see there the the second one down billing, and then from there check in payment tampering expense reimbursements skimming cash on hand. Those are all the all areas that that you know, are pretty easy to steal money if there are no controls.


Paul Adams  6:36

Yep, yep, I can see that. Well. So let’s talk a little bit. We’ve got a little kind of a alarm, if you will, or the canary in the coal mine is this conversation of we are small businesses. Most of our listeners who are business owners are seeing this and could be wondering like, okay, so that we got this internal controls thing. What are some of the basic things that people can do to like right now after listening to this, maybe their hearts beating a little faster for some of them listening 200,000 might be half their profitability for the year. So what do they do today to start putting in maybe some of those internal controls?


Unknown Speaker  7:21

Yeah, I think that the biggest thing is to not put trust in one person. And I think that that, you know, time and time again, I see when I talk with small business owners, they really hate the financial side of the business. They hate the accounting it’s looked at because it’s kind of a pain. There’s a lot of work involved in it, a lot of processing work, it’s just, it’s not fun and exciting like sales or you know, working on the thing that they love, and I get that. But what what happens time and time again, is you get one trusted employee, or trusted contractor as it might be. That person over time slowly gains the trust and therefore gets the keys to the castle. And I can’t tell you how often we come in and look at a company and the ownership, owners managers have zero access to the accounting system. Wow, zero access to the accounting system, all they might see is an occasional p&l or balance sheet. Well, that’s not enough, you know that you would never be able to tell if someone’s stealing money from you just by looking at an occasional p&l balance sheet


Paul Adams  8:31

that so that, by the way, is so key. You could never find the fraud for a p&l and balance sheet and yet, that’s where most business owners are reviewing monthly.


Unknown Speaker  8:42

Yes, most most business owners just review that as it stands, and maybe they ask questions to the bookkeeper. Maybe right. This is even fewer people that might even ask a question to a bookkeeper or the accounting department, but they still don’t have the access just to drill down one layer deep into the p&l, which, as we will probably get into a little bit later can can potentially solve some of this, some of this chance of fraud. So the biggest thing is don’t have one trusted employee that’s doing everything. You have to think about these. There’s high risk areas, and it’s things that are super common, like cutting checks. You can’t have someone who can enter a bill into the system and create a vendor and cut the check without anybody knowing.


Paul Adams  9:29

So are you and I want to be totally clear, you’re saying that for our listeners who’ve had that key employee who’s been their bookkeeper for like, 10 plus years, and that bookkeeper has those kind of controls, even though maybe there’s been no fraud today. Have you seen those people for lack of a better way of saying just turn later in life?


Unknown Speaker  9:49

I think that’s probably it’s probably most common that that happens. Because when you look at the numbers and you look at this, the studies that have come out, usually it’s an employee who’s been there a long time and something bad happens in their life. And the financial difficulty is usually really high up on that list where someone has has a financial difficulty and somehow they managed to, to tell themselves, it’s okay. And it usually starts small, and then it builds. And, you know, people, for the most part, I believe, are good. You know, most people want to do do good. And there’s a lot of ethics experiments that have been out there that sort of proved that that most people want to do the right thing. But when they’re faced with difficulties, and they have an opportunity, that’s a recipe for potential fraud.


Paul Adams  10:43

Well, and so that’s a big one. So one, you’re not immune just because the person that’s on your accounting side doing but rather, they could just run into life circumstance that creates a bit of rationale in their head and you may not find out about it for quite a while, in fact, small businesses you mentioned go longer without discovering it than big businesses do also.


Unknown Speaker  11:07

That’s right. Yeah. So the the, the length of time and the total dollar of the loss is longer than the larger businesses.


Paul Adams  11:17

So if if we go away from some of the the threats that exist and talk a little bit about what it’s like for somebody scaling a business, so somebody growing or has intentions to grow relatively rapidly, does a similar issue happen where organizations outstrip maybe the capacity of their existing bookkeeper?


Unknown Speaker  11:40

I think so. I think that that does does happen. Oftentimes, what I see is, is, you know, it’s a startup, right? The business starts and they’re kind of scrappy, right? And they’re piecing things together. And at first, you know, maybe piecing together an accounting solution works. It’s a little bit inefficient, but you know, it works. But what tends to happen with small businesses across the board, not just in the financial area is these patch together processes, they just keep, they keep growing right as the business scales, so to these patch together systems, and it doesn’t, it doesn’t happen very often where the business reimagines the whole thing, you know, how do we actually how should we be doing this? And in the accounting side, it oftentimes is the case that this patch together system isn’t providing any value, it’s not providing good numbers. It’s costing a lot of money, because it’s very inefficient. And you know, maybe it was a part time person, but two or three full time people and business owners thinking, Well, why in the world is this taking so long? And why can’t I get good numbers out of it? And it’s because it’s just it’s, it’s inefficient? And and, you know, it’s been, there hasn’t been a real strategic mindset in in, in developing how that accounting department runs.


Paul Adams  12:55

Yeah, I totally get that. What are some examples of People attempting to grow and scale that accounting department to keep up with whatever good things they’re doing in other parts of their business, where you’ve seen those inefficiencies develop, or just the lack of awareness of what’s going on behind this great China wall of accounting. That’s so scary to me.


Unknown Speaker  13:21

Yeah, there might be there might be a couple different different ways that are things that I’ve seen. One is that the accounting is just too simple. So when you’re small and you’re doing it really inexpensively there’s, I always say there’s multiple ways to do accounting, quote, unquote, correct. But you lose detail. So you know, if you want the you if you want the accounting to be correct, and have the detail and there’s there’s technical terms for all of that, but just think about it as being really accurate, timed properly so that you can get information from those numbers. The analytics are good. It takes a lot of extra work. So it’s kind of exponential. There’s there’s a And I think that there’s a breakeven point of value where, you know, you could go all the way to the United States gap, gap financials. That’s what all the big fortune 500 companies are required to do as gap level financials. It’s a rule book, essentially, of how you do accounting. and small businesses don’t need to get to that level of accounting. I call it maybe gap light or accrual light accounting is a really good value point. It costs you know, more than than then these real basic books, but you’re trying to strike that balance and how do we get the best bang for the buck? So we get all that all the information we want. So a lot of times when the business is scaling, you start to need more, you know, business owner needs more dials, needs more. Controls, as they’re flying, they’re playing it gets a little more complex. You know, they’re not they’re not flying a Cessna anymore. They’re flying you know, maybe a turbo proper You know, to engine plane or something like that jet, and they need more, they need more controls because they no longer can just feel everything. say they have to measure it right. And in order to measure you have to have good accounting and have these good numbers coming out. So that’s, that’s the first one lack of lack of ability to get really good numbers from the system they’ve created. And then the other one, I think, is more of a people problem, where maybe the person that they’ve hired or people that they’ve hired just don’t have the right skill sets. I often, you know, a lot of our clients are the ones that they don’t really need a full time person or they don’t really need two full time people or three full time people. They need kind of pieces of all these people, you know, and they need a little bit of a bookkeeper, a little bit of accountant, a little bit of a controller, a little bit of CFO and, and and that that mix changes as the company scales. So Unless you’re ready to hire and fire and spend a lot of time in your accounting department, it’s really hard to do that on your own to to hire the right people, because you’re, you’re constantly either underpaying them, or you’re overpaying them, depending on where you’re at in the business cycle, where what their skill sets are. So a lot of times I see, you know, high, high profit margin businesses, and they’ve got some, you know, maybe a controller, or almost a CFO level person who’s doing basic bookkeeping. Mm hmm. Well, geez, you’re paying a healthy six figure salary benefits and all these things for something that’s, that’s, you know, should be much less expensive. But they’re getting the high end work. That’s good. It’s just a really expensive solution. Or what I see even more commonly is the flip of that. You have a real basic, you know, they give it to the admin assistant to do QuickBooks. Right. I hear that all the time. And and, you know, the real basic QuickBooks and admin assistant can do But you very quickly get outside of a skill set or you know that they don’t have the skills of a true accountant or controller or a CFO. So very quickly, they get overwhelmed by any kind of complexity. They make make mistakes in the books, they can’t give good advice, they can’t help the business owner interpret the numbers. And that is really the whole point. And


Paul Adams  17:23

so using an outsourced solution can create that internal scale. So maybe someone’s got a bookkeeper now and they feel like they’re starting outstrip them. That’s the time for them to engage a firm like yours is as they start broaching beyond the capacity of one person. It doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship with an outside firm like yours that they got to let that person go. Correct. They can integrate that additional knowledge in with that current trusted personnel.


Unknown Speaker  17:52

Yeah, depends on where they’re at in the cycle. If they’re scaling and they need people. A lot of times those those folks are easily repurposed. Or, or you know, they have almost too much work as it stands. So they can all of a sudden be a lot of you do need boots on the ground inside of the company. So you need someone who can do some of the accounting, support, work and help coach people and get things and figure out problems. So that person is usually a really good fit for that. And then there’s always a backlog of projects, I always, you know, hear that they’re, they’re usually really good at at doing that kind of that back office work that seems to never end. So a lot of times we see the the person who used to be doing it, just change changes roles. Sometimes, you know, there is that case where the business owner just sort of tired of doing it. Maybe it’s an employee that’s just not performing well. And they decide to, you know, not continue on with that relationship. But it’s probably I would say it’s more common that the person is is repurposed, a little bit shifted and becomes, you know, a much better value to the world. ization as well because they can then focus on what, what what they’re their most effective at?


Paul Adams  19:07

well with that what we’re going to do is get a short message in from sound Financial Group. And when we come back then I want to talk to you a little bit about what it is people can do. We’re recording this in the midst of COVID-19. So what can people do to take what is probably very close scrutiny of their current financials and make that a disciplined practice going forward after the recovery? We’ll be right back. Paul Adams here at sound Financial Group. Are you curious what you can accomplish with our help? You’re here enjoying the show? Our philosophy is helping you increase your effectiveness with money. And now we have a way to help you take another step on your financial journey. We have designed a financial inquiry call for you and the thousands of other listeners of your business your wealth. This is a complimentary 15 minute conversation where one of our team members will ask you some key questions. understand your concerns, and if appropriate schedule a time for further conversation with an advisor. If you look at the episode description, you’ll see a link to schedule a call at a time this least invasive for you. And even if now’s not the right time for us to work together, we’ll point you toward resources to help you in your financial journey. We always look forward to connecting with our listeners, and we look forward to talking with you soon. Welcome back to your business your wealth. We are here with Dan Haas, founder of account x and we’re going to get into what I think is the most important part of this episode, which is how should you do the monthly Financial Review now van in your many years past, I was somebody who looked at the Financial Review of okay I paid the employees paid the rent, and I’ve got some money left do I want to take it out or not? And the only thing that had to be pay attention to my finances was the was one month many years ago, I think most business owners have had this happen, where all of a sudden we’d had one of our best months ever. And then my bookkeeper said, six weeks later, they said, Well, you, you can’t do that extra $50,000 investment. This is all my personal investment status. What do you mean, I can’t do that. So we can’t deploy that much of the business right now. And it was the realization that all these things that I had invested in in the business had drained our best and most profitable month ever. And it was only that time forward that I start saying, Okay, this has got to be a regular practice with my money. So what should I think what’s happening from what you said earlier is most business owners are looking at a p&l for the month, a p&l year to date, and a balance sheet and that’s it. What should they be doing for that monthly? j? I’m assuming it should be at least monthly. The finance meeting in the business


Unknown Speaker  21:59

Yeah, I think Monthly at a minimum.


Paul Adams  22:01

Okay, and what should they be doing? in that? Who do you think should be in that meeting? What kind of topics should they cover?


Unknown Speaker  22:09

Yeah, that’s great. And I think that that is, you know, business owners do nothing else from this talk it would be to start having that meeting. I think that those monthly reviews, and it’s not just all about accounting, right, it’s going to be looking at performance. And, you know, you can read books and watch, you know, watch videos on this all day long, right? It’s all about figuring out what your metrics should be. What metrics matter to you. So what dials what dashboards Do you need, and you know, a dashboard can simply be a number. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and I actually try to try to push people to go really simple. Let’s look at a handful of numbers and make them simple numbers that you understand, but they need to be important to your business. So Look at those every month. profit, right can can be one of those. And that’s that’s something every business owner understands at the bottom of the p&l is the profit number. So So, you know, have these metrics that you want to look at every, every month, look at those metrics. And then more importantly, you need to ask yourself some questions while you’re looking at that. So one you need to target. People call it a budget forecasts, you know, a projection, whatever the case may be, I think it’s a really good practice for every business owner to go through that process at least once a year to think about that year and think about what they want to accomplish and what does that look like in terms of


Paul Adams  23:41

numbers? So budgeting both revenue and expenses by the month at a time.


Unknown Speaker  23:47

Correct? Yeah. And you know, the first time you do it, it doesn’t have to be perfect, right? This this is something that you’re not submitting this to investors probably, you know, this is it’s okay if you’re wrong. But the simple act of just going through that exercise. Same thing with the monthly review, the simple act of go through the exercise highlights many, many, many other things right? As you’re looking at each line and really critically thinking about that line, you start to think well what’s in that? You know, what’s in that line item? What’s in and why are we saying that it’s going to grow this much or shrink this much? And those questions that you ask yourself have huge implications for for growth and for being successful. So project you know, budget, however you want to call it, you want to look ahead and by month, call out how much revenue Do you think we’re going to increase you know, by by product line or by service line, you know, however you can best and easiest split out your revenue, and then you want to look at your core costs. So those are people call them direct costs or cost of goods sold. It’s it’s oftentimes missed in small businesses. Sometimes they don’t even see that section on the p&l, but that’s a middle section of the p&l. And out of that comes gross profit. And to me, that’s probably one of the most important numbers that every business owner needs to have service businesses, product businesses, there’s no difference because everybody has core direct costs. And think of it as you know, if you’re, if you’re a tire shop and you’re selling tires, the cost of the tire goes in that middle area. If you’re a service business, and you have employees out in the field, their labor goes in that middle section. It’s it’s, you know, your core costs associated with making money, what do you have leftover, and then everything else is basically think of it as overhead. Those two metrics are very, very important to start to get to know. And if you have that projected out, every month, you’re going to see well how did we do and if you’re constantly missing on a metric, well, you probably forecasted wrong, you know, and that’s something you can tweak and adjust. And by by doing this every single month you’re going to get better and better and better at it. And once you’re pretty good at it, well, then you get even more efficient out of out of those meetings or more value out of the meetings, because now you know, when you missed, it’s not simply just because we did it wrong. It’s because well, what’s going on?


Paul Adams  26:16

And that’s something underneath that enterprise is causing. Yeah,


Unknown Speaker  26:21

yeah, yep. So So when you’re when you’re looking at the did we did we miss it? Or make it that question? Both? Both if you’re doing really well, or if you’re doing really poorly, or, you know, hit or miss is an important conversation, will it you know, if it’s revenue and you went above? Why? What can we Let’s repeat that, you know, what did we do different? And same thing with with costs? Well, you know, direct costs were a little bit higher. Well, why? Well, you know, I think we hired you know, remember, we hired this, you know, this one person that we thought was really skilled we paid a little extra, we paid a premium. So we think it’s gonna, you know, work itself out as we grow over time. In the next couple of months, Oh, great, you know, you have a reason and you’re thinking it through. And and you see the impact of well, actually hiring that more expensive person, maybe that wasn’t a good idea, or maybe it worked out really well over the next few months. But it really gets us thinking about what actions are we making, and how do those contribute to the financial performance? Just like you said, you were surprised by the investments you made, because you’re making those investment decisions one at a time. And I see it all the time. Business owners reuse that same Yes, that same 10% growth the three or four times my


Paul Adams  27:34

as my mom puts it, everybody spins that tax refund four times before it lands in their mailbox.


Unknown Speaker  27:39

Exactly.


Paul Adams  27:41

So one thing I want to share with our audience is that we’re talking about some big strategic things that can happen from having this consistent financial media but by getting granular like this, I just want to share with you guys something that Corey and I’ve noticed. I will tell you despite the fact that we’ve now been doing this monthly financial meeting for years and years Years and years with the level of granularity that van is talking about where it’s here’s what we budgeted for the month, here’s what actually happened. And with that, we will still find a $200 a month subscription, that we’ve been paying for four months that we stopped using, that we’ve found, like Wait, how much are we buying for, you know, whatever vendor and finding cheaper solutions or finding discounts and that may sound small use of the founders time. But what it’s doing is it’s training the rest of the team is I or Cory get more granular. It’s training the rest of the team to be more granular every day of the week watching out for the concerns that we have as owners. And so you’re simultaneously training your leadership team on the accounting side to better watch for the things that you’re really going to care about. So vam as we wrap up today, what like what’s the best way for somebody to get ahold of you and accounting if they want to have further conversation? On this exact topic.


Unknown Speaker  29:03

Yeah, I mean, we’re on no the social media out there, but the email or go to the website, fill out a contact form and we’ll contact you but my email address is probably the best van at accounting Co. So be like Victor am at accounting CEO, and I’d be happy to spend a few minutes with with anybody even if it’s just a question or, you know, if you want an infographic about this about fraud, I would add just one quick bonus to having these monthly reviews is just by having the monthly review by the business owner or executive looking at their financials. They’re reducing the potential fraud by about 50%. Wow. So by holding this this meeting, diving into the details, having access to those financials, just that alone, you could decrease the number of cases and the total dollar impact if fraud occurs,


Paul Adams  29:58

that what a great gift to the audience. In terms of being able to bring that to just some clear, concise value that they can walk away with, then I appreciate you taking the time for everybody watching. Don’t hesitate, you can check down below us in the description of the video, you’re gonna find all Vance contact information, how you can listen to more episodes of your business, your wealth. And as always, van, thank you for being here. And for all of you. We hope that this has been a contribution to you being able to design and build a good life. Hey guys, so glad you could tune in and watch that video. I want to remind you to subscribe, be sure to hit the notification bell so you can get the latest piece of financial knowledge we release. And don’t forget, go to Amazon get a copy of sound financial advice. Why? Because it’ll make you better looking and smarter.


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