Your business is your livelihood. So much depends on its success.Badge of a fractional CFO Super Hero

As accountants and trusted advisors, we’re used to receiving panicked calls from business owners faced with an unexpected situation that threatens their livelihood. We’ve heard the concern in their voices and the relief when we can help.

In this article, we’ll look at four common problems that can have devastating effects on your business. Our goal is to make you aware, and to share a solution if you find yourself faced with any of these four situations. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom! We’re confident that our Fractional CFO services can shield your business and preserve your peace of mind.

4 Common Business Accounting Problems

1. Key Finance Personnel Turnover

comic book rendering of a relationship breakdown: two men in a disagreement

A key person you rely on for the successful operation of your business may retire. We frequently hear from our clients that their bookkeeper, controller, or accountant wants to retire or is moving on. Sometimes, when it’s an unexpected departure due to illness, or even death, there’s little or no time to replace them.

This is a stressful situation. Frankly, most businesses do not have a contingency plan in place to cope with an absent controller or bookkeeper. Surprisingly many accounting firms do not have the internal resources to assist.

In this scenario, business owners are left in the lurch wondering…

  • Who will manage your back-end accounting and bookkeeping?
  • Who will ensure invoices are issued and paid?
  • Who will process payroll and calculate employee commissions?
  • Who will take care of HST remittance payments?
  • Who will prepare the required monthly financials for the bank?

One solution is to outsource your controller and bookkeeping duties to a trained team under the supervision of a fractional CFO. This smart strategy also frees up the business owner’s time to focus on front line growth, knowing that the back office and finances are in professional hands with experienced CPA’s and tax specialists.

At Stern Cohen, we call our outsourced fractional CFO and bookkeeping services: Stern Cohen FIT. FIT stands for Finance Team. We were one of the first mid-sized accounting firms in Toronto to develop and promote this essential service. You can learn more about FIT on this link.

2. Lack of Financial Intelligence

Do you ever lie awake at night thinking about the financial health of your business?Illustration of a woman business owner thinking "I need a CPA!"

  • Are you wondering if you’re missing out on advantageous tax planning opportunities?
  • Have you worried that your business might not be tax compliant and that penalties and interest will be costly?
  • Do you wonder why you haven’t heard from your accountant in a while or only at year-end? Hmm, does this mean everything is ok or that they’re just preoccupied (and not with your needs!)
  • If your business has grown and is still growing, do you have the right accounting team to support you OR are you still working with the same traditional CPA firm that doesn’t have the specialty expertise you need and is also not able to provide you with the attention you require as you grow?
  • Are you looking for ways to cut costs and increase your profitability, but you just don’t know where to start?

Having an experienced, trusted finance team with a fractional CFO who is looking out for you on a regular basis will provide you with reassurance, value and sleep. Fractional CFO’s should be CPA’s committed to your success, not just traditional accounting compliance and CRA deadlines. A good fractional CFO will be checking in with you on monthly or quarterly, not just at year-end.

3. Inability to Scale Fast

Illustration of a business owner in front of a city backdropWhile it seems like a good problem to have, rapid growth or winning a major contract can be problematic if you don’t have robust financial management processes in place to manage windfalls. Without the right back-end accounting, tracking and procurement support to scale, you might crash and burn just when you’re about to fly. Meanwhile, you need to focus on service delivery more than ever, not the finance function. So who can you trust for support?

By outsourcing non-core functions like CFO, accounting, tax and bookkeeping, business owners can free up valuable time and resources to focus on strategic initiatives and revenue generation. This allows for greater innovation and agility.

Look to experts like Stern Cohen for your finance functions when you need to adapt quickly. Why spend the time and money to hire, train and monitor when you can partner with a capable specialist team and leverage our Stern Cohen FIT solution.

4. Outdated Accounting Systems (Failure to Modernize)

illustration of Super Hero Fractional CFO Laura Gay, CPAFor most business owners, the pandemic was a frightening wake up call. It forced an overnight reliance on remote and online business transactions. This seismic shift included product and service evolution, pivoting to new markets, and switching to e-commerce sales and payment solutions. It was a lot to consider and manage and it occurred without warning!

While business owners had to focus on new lines of business and more, at the same time they were forced to accept they could no longer operate their business with an outdated back-end accounting model. Their location and paper-based accounting, payment and bookkeeping processes were obsolete overnight. For many, the sudden change to remote work required them to replace their old, legacy systems. The problem was they they didn’t have anyone who could guide them and provide the expertise to make these changes.

At Stern Cohen, we can provide you with a fractional CFO, bookkeeper, and a cloud accounting technologist to migrate you to updated, secure cloud systems. Reach out to us for a smooth migration and a ton of efficiencies when you’re ready to modernize.

Learn more about Fractional CFO services

Check out our Q&A section below for a bit of background on this topic including some guidance on fees and hourly rates.

Contact us if you’re ready to safeguard and improve your business as well as save time and money!

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to inform readers in general terms. It is not intended to provide any tax or business advice. Please consult your Stern Cohen advisor if you have any questions about your unique situation. While we have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, we accept no liability for errors or omissions.