Keep the books, or pay someone else to do it

That is a famous line in Philip Campbell’s book,  “Never Run Out of Cash.”  (www.neverrunoutofcash.com)  Philip equates keeping the books in a small business to doing the dishes at home.  If you let them pile up, bad things happen.

So yeah, I had been letting things slide while devoting 110% of my time to product development, customer support, and marketing.  Not to mention building the SurvivalWare “team” – the core of the company’s creativity.  Its DNA in more ways than one.

Things seem to be going really well.  We’ve got a major franchise customer(Alphagraphics www.alphagraphics.com) who has adopted SurvivivalWare as a system standard.  After January 1, all franchisees will have to report their numbers in SurvivalWare in order to be in compliance with their franchise agreements.   It has been a real boon to their field support staff – a tool to understand how their franchisees are doing compared to everybody else – to identify problems early, and spread best practices.

AlphaGraphics

Separately, we have had total strangers buy SurvivalWare right off the website without needing assistance to make the buying decision, or in getting started.  This is happening even before the website makeover due for completion in January, not to mention the “How to” videos, and the “ramp up” in PPC advertising still to come.  All very encouraging.

The release of SurvivalWare Pro in January should really extend the usefulness of SurvivalWare .  It allows consultants and power users to customize dashboards, KPIs, and reports for clients.  The Report Customizer could turn out to be the killer app that puts SurvivalWare on the map.

So, back to this whole “keep the books up-to-date” thing.  I recently paid the price for doing a sloppy job.  First, I bounced a check about a month ago.  It was totally preventable.  I took money out a few days earlier than I should have.  Luckily the bank covered it, so I didn’t have the embarrassment of re-assuring a vendor or employee.

The good news is that I am finally doing something about it.  I’ve contracted with OSI Business Services to do my book-keeping and accounting on an out-sourced basis.  We’ve had two conference calls and have started the process.  What is so good about them (besides ganging up on you on the conference calls to make sure things get done), is that they make all the processes so efficient.  Most of the transactions will be automated – bill paying, receipt of bank and credit card statements, etc.  I may upgrade my shopping cart software so that the website sales are entered into QuickBooks automatically.

And they will do a cash reconciliation for me DAILY.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

So think how embarrassing it was for me to sit down with the SurvivalWare Cash Planner yesterday morning, while everyone slept, and I paid my penance for neglectful record keeping.  I was setting up a file for a first cut at a cash requirements analysis for next year.  The last one I did was in September to get me through to the end of the year.  This is when I assembled my “team” and made commitments to them through the end of the year.  And sure enough it worked.  I was able to set aside worrying about cash for three months, confident that I had a workable plan.

There are a ton of things I want to do in the coming year, and I need to phase things in very carefully due to cash contraints and the uncertainty associated with new product introductions and new marketing initiatives.

So anyway, the opening screen wants me to enter my current cash balance.  And I realize I don’t actually know what it is.  At least I finally had online banking set up due to prodding by OSI.  So I checked the balance online, and the last 15 to 20 days of transactions to see if I could determine how many checks had been written but not cashed.  Note:  all this would be totally un-necessary of I had been keeping the books up to date.  Like I said, I’m paying my penance.  Also, if you find yourself in a similar circumstance, maybe I can help you claw your way out.

The next step is to go through the stack of bills and enter each one into SurvivalWare, including the intended pay date.  I entered all the payroll and sub-contract plans for the next four months.  I entered the OSI fees, and other significant payments.

Then I printed out a check register for the last three months to look at the pattern of regular payments.  This is where it gets really embarrassing.  I noticed a check to the Company Corporation for $410 in November.  I get a bill from them once a year, usually in August I think.  I always pay them late because I figure what a racket they have – they help me set up a Delaware Corporation for about $250 years ago, and then prey on my fear of tax filings to to charge me a “Corporate Registrar” fee year after year after year.  So you can imagine how I felt when I saw another check to them for $410 in December.  I just assumed it was still due because I always pay it late.

As an entrepreneur – and especially one who knows the importance of cash, good record-keeping, and purports to be an expert on cash flow planning – I committed an unforgivable sin.  It is only by ‘fessing up to it in public that I can begin my recovery.  If I were Japanese, I would commit hari kari.  I have besmirched the cash flow brotherhood.  I grovel in your presence for forgiveness.  I’ll have to figure out some public act of contrition.

I wonder if they’ll send it back, or whether they’ll just credit my account.

Anyway, I intend to chronicle the switchover to OSI Business Services over the next few weeks, and also how I am using SurvivalWare and some elbow grease to cope with everything during the transition.  It is too early to say I recommend them – but so far I have been really impressed with OSI Business Services.  If you can’t wait, call Bill Gerber at 1-888-858-9919, and tell him Rusty sent you.  www.osibusinessservices.com

OSI Business Services, Inc.

Coming Up Next

How to do a cash requirements analysis with the SurvivalWare Cash Planner.  I’m putting Luhring SurvivalWare on the equivalent of the Facebook Diet.  I lost 15 pounds on the Facebook diet by simply posting my weight on Facebook for everyone to see every day.  Then I refined it into the SurvivalWare Diet by counting calories, tracking exercise, and keeping good records.  Plus doing the proper analysis.  And I lost another 20 pounds.  Ok, 17 1/2.   The last 30 days have been tough.

Likewise I am going to post on this blog the progress Luhring SurvivalWare makes in cleaning up its act and eating its own dog food.

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One Response

  1. Hey good stuff! I’m glad entrepreneurs are starting to see the benefits of having someone else help them keep their books inline. Welcome back into the cash flow brotherhood. 😉

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