I am not a Financial Planning & Analysis guru, far from it. However, I owned my own business for 12 years, which through that time I played CFO out of necessity until we could afford one. I understand the role and the dilemma.
Budgeting and Planning are the lifeblood of any business, at least to grow a healthy business. We grew a $400k business to $30m and there was no way we could have done that without proper FP&A.
The power of budgeting is just the start to building a strong business. The budget is the meat of the planning process. The forecasting and what if scenarios are the potatoes and bread.
We operated without a budget for the first five years, it was a disaster. We were relatively small but had no idea our cash flow projections and it was a retail business, where inventory was necessary but also over buying would be the end of the business.
It was probably around 2010 and we were using QuickBooks when we made our first real budget. To my knowledge there were no budgeting tools, you could enter a budget into QuickBooks to have a budget to actuals but that’s where it ended.
Having a fairly untested finance degree I knew my way around spreadsheets. I had built some models in my first job out of college so building a budget and applying assumptions for what-if scenarios wasn’t tough. I actually thought the more complex the spreadsheet the cooler I was, which is probably half true. However, the more complex the spreadsheet meant how much harder it was to adjust and add more granular details.
But, this is what we had and in the end we probably had 10-15 linked complex spreadsheets driving a forecast and modeling. One for payroll, one for buying, one for fixed assets, etc. We built our business around these spreadsheets, QuickBooks was merely a financial reporting tool that we used so our accountant could do our taxes, the spreadsheets were the lifeblood.
The very idea that we built a complex system using spreadsheets was what drew me to Centage. There is no reason that a tool shouldn’t be able to replace all those interconnected spreadsheets and thus is the drive I have to make FP&A easy for people like me, back there building clunky spreadsheets and tracking down a circular reference that broke everything.
While I have just started, I am excited at the first three months and the progress of transforming the company and team to drive to a mission of to make Financial Planning & Analysis easier through awesome software and service.
I look forward to sharing more insights into the company, the industry, and my thoughts on leadership.