How to win friends and influence investors (and lenders)

January 18, 2012

One of your highest priorities in growing a successful business is to instill confidence and credibility in the minds of your existing (and potential) lenders and investors.

They are your lifeline to the capital you need to win in business.

You (and your CFO) have to be strategic in your thinking to accomplish that goal.confidence in your accounting

One of the most effective ways to pull that off is to turn your monthly financial reporting process into a killer marketing tool. A tool that helps instill confidence in the minds of the people invested in your financial success.

Monthly financial reporting (with a twist)

Almost every lender or investor wants (or requires) you to provide them regular financial information.

So why just plop some boring and less than insightful financial statements on them every now and then?

Use that opportunity every month to foster a unique and lasting relationship. It’s the perfect opportunity to plant the seeds of credibility and trust.

I do that with what I call the Monthly Confidence Package.

When you take a look at the example I have you will see why it is so unique and effective.

It will force you (and your CFO) to think more strategically about the accounting and financial reporting side of your business.

Here is what is included in the Monthly Confidence Package example:

A short memo that answers the question "What happened last month"

  1. An interactive cash flow dashboard. You can mouse over the months on the left and the dashboard changes to show you the cash flow drivers for each period. (Try it)!
  2. Actual results for the 5 to 7 key drivers of financial performance
  3. Current month and year-to-date results vs. budget and prior year
  4. Side-by-side view of actual and projected monthly results down to the cash flow level

Each section of the Monthly Confidence Package is strategic and has a specific purpose.

Summary of each section

Section 1: A short memo that answers the question "What happened last month"

A one page memo is a powerful way to simplify and summarize your financial results for the month. Imagine the person receiving the package is asking themselves "I wonder how the month turned out? I wonder where their financial results are headed"? The job of the summary memo is to very quickly answer those two questions for them. That’s why the memo comes first in the package.

Section 2: An interactive cash flow dashboard

I have found it very helpful to create a cash flow dashboard so the reader can see almost instantly what’s going on with the cash flow (and the various drivers of cash flow). Lenders, investors and Board of Directors love it. I don’t include it in every Confidence package I create for clients but in certain businesses it can be very helpful.

Section 3: Actual results for the 5 to 7 key drivers of financial performance

 

You provide real insight for the user/reader of your monthly financial reporting package when you laser in on the handful of key drivers of your financial performance. It promotes a deeper understanding of your business. It makes the reader smarter about how your business generates results. It helps them more easily understand the levers in your business that have the most impact on your financial performance.

Section 4: Current month and year-to-date results vs. budget and prior year

 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to provide financial statements that only have one column (for a single month or a single year-to-date period). The reader (investor, lender, etc.) wants to know how the results compare to your plan. They want to know if the company is doing better than last year. They want to know if you are on the right track.

Section 4: Side-by-side view of actual and projected monthly results down to the cash flow level

Something magical happens when a person sees monthly financial results side-by-side. Seeing actual and projected results side-by-side provides amazing clarity. Trends jump off the page at them. Projected income statements, balance sheets, and cash flows provide insight into the direction your business is headed.

Monthly insight beats boring financials

It helps you and your management team look good.

It demonstrates you have your accounting and financial house in order.

It helps you develop a relationship with the financial community that is deep and strong (and long lasting).

Making their life easier pays big dividends

It also makes their life easier as they go about the process of evaluating you as a customer. Remember, most lenders and investors take the basic financial statements you provide and load it into some sort of financial analysis tool in order to make them more insightful.

That requires work and time on their part. When you provide a more insightful and relevant monthly financial reporting package to them they get even better information without having to do the extra work.

That gets their attention. You stand out as a smarter company than the other customers they deal with every day.

Take a look at the example Monthly Confidence Package and you will see how powerful a tool it can be for you every month.

Confidence and credibility

Remember, it’s all about creating confidence and credibility in their minds.

Your future is riding on the capital they can make available to you.

Philip Campbell’s Blog is dedicated to helping you get the accounting and financial side of your business under control.

Topics: Featured, Business Best Practices, Management, Accounting & Finance, Content Type

Philip Campbell

Consultant, Author

Philip Campbell is a CPA, consultant, and author of the book A Quick Start Guide to Financial Forecasting: Discover the Secret to Driving Growth, Profitability, and Cash Flow Higher. This new book provides a straightforward, easy-to-understand guide to one of the most powerful financial tools in business: a reliable financial forecast. He is also the author of the book Never Run Out of Cash: The 10 Cash Flow Rules You Can’t Afford to Ignore. The book is a step-by-step guide for business owners and managers who want to better understand and manage their cash flow. Since 1990, Philip has served as a financial officer in a number of growing companies with revenues ranging from $5,000,000 million to over $1,000,000,000. He has been involved in the acquisition or sale of 33 companies (and counting) as well as an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Philip loves helping entrepreneurs and business owners think strategically about the financial side of their business. His consulting work is focused on providing the financial insights that leaders need to increase profits, improve cash flow, and enjoy the fruits of financial success in business. What really sets Philip apart from the average financial person you meet is his passion and excitement about helping entrepreneurs and CEOs take control of their cash flow. In fact, early on in his career, he focused and “preached” so much about the importance of cash flow that people now call him CASH. Philip is the founder of Financial Rhythm, a website devoted to people who are serious about creating financial health, wealth, and freedom in their business. If you're an entrepreneur or business owner, Financial Rhythm is a place to get simple, actionable strategies for creating a financial future that is bigger and brighter than your past. Philip lives in Austin, Texas. You can email Philip at pcampbell@pdq.net.
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