Grow up

When you first start a company, everything is informal. Employees’ email addresses have their first name but no last name, because the likelihood of there being two Sophies in a team of four is minuscule; ideas get discussed and decisions made on the fly by whoever is in the room at any given moment; company culture is whatever first couple of people make it to be.

And that’s fine – at first.

But as you grow, this approach will stop working. And while it’s natural to be resistant to the idea of implementing (growth-stage-appropriate, of course) processes, doing so really can be freeing. Getting intentional about your company culture and putting a structure in place that will protect it helps ensure you don’t wake up one day with a nightmare of a company; knowing that some people are properly in charge of certain decisions helps with accountability and transparency; and when you put last names in people’s emails, you can hire another Sophie.

The finance equivalents of this early operational adulthood are things like implementing basic forecasting processes (so that you can get a grip on where the company is headed financially), cash collection processes (to ensure that your revenue actually hits your bank account), or expense policies (so that people feel empowered to get reimbursed for that business trip and disempowered to buy a Rolex watch on the company), among other things.

Getting these things in place is, undoubtedly, a bit of extra work. But once it’s all set up, it usually both frees up time (it’s better to sit down and write a two-page expense policy once than to answer 100 individual questions each month), and of course helps with the big picture – it’s hard to plan for next year’s revenue without a forecast.

So if you’re at a stage where first-name-only email addresses will soon no longer do, it’s time to grow up financially as well. It will set you free.

Love and cash flow,

Jana

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