While keeping a firm grasp of the company financials was never something he enjoyed, for James Uffindell, founder and CEO of Bounty Network, it is something he’s learnt to take seriously.
As someone who runs a number of businesses, I’m naturally focused on making things happen – hiring staff, securing deals, generating ideas, and delivering for my customers.
Like most entrepreneurs, my passion for making my ideas a reality is what gets me up in the morning. Fussing over numbers – the ‘bean counter’ approach – at first struck me as a bit of a turn-off. Ultimately however, putting solid financial information in place has undoubtedly been the best decision I’ve made for my businesses.
Let me put my story into context: I am very keen on fusing business with social advancement and have developed a number of ventures to this end. In 1999, I launched Oxbridge Applications, an educational consultancy that has so far advised over 50,000 Cambridge and Oxford University applicants. In 2009, I took the next step, launching Bright Network, a careers community for the best and brightest students from all backgrounds.
Whilst these businesses have proven to be successful, the global economic crisis proved to be a ‘light bulb moment’ for me – I really needed to keep up with the financial metrics. Cash flow was becoming challenging as despite strong sales, clients were taking their time to pay. I also confess to not knowing at that point which products were the most profitable overall – services that seemed to be bringing in a lot of cash also were burning through our overheads.
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At this point I went straight to our accountants and together we formulated a plan of action. The introduction of monthly management accounts, including P&L statements, lists of debtors and creditors and a few other items soon paid massive dividends. I now have a much clearer idea of exactly where my businesses are, along with a more rigorous approach to financial metrics that has propelled me towards my latest venture.
I am really optimistic about the future for all of my businesses, but with Bounty Network I know that I have a firm grasp of all financial aspects from day one.
Whilst the intricacies of finance are far from glamorous, getting a grip on your accounts is hugely important – it can be the difference between life and death in business. From start-ups to big businesses, it pays to be meticulous when it comes to financial information – something the Lehmans and Greeces of this world can attest to. Ultimately I would encourage any budding entrepreneurs to know their numbers. Put simply, bean counting makes your business stronger.