The Four-M Framework
A Financial Process by a Financial Agency
Introduction: Your Business Lacks a Process
I’m sure by now you’ve heard or been advised that you need to know it, and deep down inside you know you should know it. What is it that I’m talking about? Your numbers. I understand that knowing your numbers is more arduous than the word arduous. But, if you want to grow your business in a smart, methodical way that will put more money in your pocket, enable you to run it and not the other way around, and achieve a higher level of success, then you should follow a process that makes it easy for you, saves you time, and creates more value than it costs.
You know it is important to dive into the financial aspect of your business. But not knowing where to begin, or what steps you should take first can be a little overwhelming. Also, once you have good data, what are you supposed to do with it? How much time should you put into knowing your numbers and learning from your financials? Accounting is repetitive and tedious, and it can be frustrating even for those with experience. You should be able to have access to the information you need when you want it, so that you can continue to expand your company.
My guess is that most business owners are not afraid of hard work, and that some may even enjoy the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Owners have overcome major obstacles or personal weaknesses to support their endeavor. Some have left a well-paying job, others have missed out on vacation time with the family, still many have pinched their relationship with their kids and spouse. Without a clear direction or path, no matter how large the task, growing your business and your profit can feel like an enormous task.
How can you keep working and wondering if what you’re doing is right? How do you make choices and decisions that will affect your livelihood, then not spend every evening tossing and turning in your bed wondering if those decisions were based on accurate assumptions? How long can you keep going on like that?
As if you were fighting the resistance, there are a lot things that can get in your way. For instance, bad bookkeepers that do more harm than good, or if you are lucky, they don’t do anything at all other than cost you money. Accountants that won’t return your phone calls, irregular reporting from errors and inconsistencies, and software systems that oversell on their promises, are all problems that certainly don’t help your objective. Exhausted, you are left with an unclear path to fix the problem that has to be dealt with.
It can be frustrating as an accountant; so bookkeeping must be very frustrating for somebody that is not an accountant. It is a complex task to create a printout of metrics from raw data in a timely manner. The task is daunting and the task may be daunting and arduous, which would be a huge waste of time. Time most owners don’t have, especially when they are thinking about keeping the work flowing through the door.
Flip it around for a moment, and consider what it would mean for you to have consistent, useful financial information? What are the possibilities for your company, and what could you do with the additional revenue? For instance, you might begin to keep more of what you earn through effective tax projections and planning. You could predict cash flow constraints and anticipate future cash requirements like tax payments, bonuses, and year-end payroll. Plus, you could make estimates and projections about your bottom line when you add a new truck or tech. You would be in control of your money, and you would be able to operate your company like a true business leader.
It helps to follow a process, and the Four-M Framework is not just a blueprint or a series of steps, it is a process, it is a habit, it is an integral part of how you operate your business. Cycling through Money, Management, Metrics and Maintenance is a recurring process. I imagine that each “M” is a layer, and that the Four-M Framework is built like a pyramid. Each level is supported by the one beneath, and each process is equally important to the next. With your money at the top, the most important part of the process is protecting and growing your wealth.
The 4M Framework is a financial process that you can use in your business to routinely keep you on task to accurately capture accounting data, turn it into meaningful information, base sound judgement on, and strategically minimize tax so you can create real wealth that will support you and your family.
What makes High Velocity Accounting different from other accounting and bookkeeping firms?
We only work with contractors in the HVAC and plumbing industries. We work with industry software; we are Housecall Pro and Service Titan pros, as much as we are QuickBooks pros. We get the technology, but we will also understand tax, and the tax world that you live in. We are a financial agency dedicated to supporting you in your dream.
Here’s how you get involved:
- Learn how a financial process can help your business.
- Integrate the systems and processes to automate your accounting.
- Manage your company and increase your profit.
It also helps when you are supported in your progress. Like an accountability partner, we work with you along the way to help you make accurate projections about your taxes, your cashflow and your wealth.
Understanding the Four-M Procedures:
Checkout the four major components, how they work together, and see why they are important to profitability. Much like an airplane has its own systems that help it fly safely, your business could benefit by relying on a system to help you operate a little more scientifically. Before earning my CPA license, I became a licensed pilot and aircraft mechanic. I really like airplanes, and there are many similarities between running a business and flying an airplane. So, to keep your business from crashing into the ground let’s learn what the 4M Framework is, and how you can implement in your business.
Flying around the sky in an airplane that I know hasn’t been maintained would be foolish, and just as an airplane requires maintenance, so does your business. Maintenance in business is accounting. The tools, the tech stack, and the process that you follow are all part of maintaining your accounting system. Capturing raw data from multiple sources, reconciling separate accounting records to each other to eliminate errors, and maintaining an audit proof accounting system for your company, are all the working pieces of your accounting system. Day to day accounting includes maintaining accounts receivables, and cash transactions. Weekly accounting is for reviewing accounts payable, inventory, and payroll. Then, monthly accounting for account reconciliations, closing entries, and timing adjustments. The goal is to create accurate, reliable, meaningful, and relevant financial information for your review.
The proof is in the pudding, and this is your time to review how well you did. While cash in the bank is important, your scorecard, the summary of your efforts, tell you how well your plan is coming together. Goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), account balances, change over time. But only measurements and comparisons that come from accurate financial accounting can help you identify problem areas. Start by assembling a dashboard to review your top five numbers. The numbers will let you know if there are opportunities for increasing prices. Or, for example, by reviewing your gross margins, you may identify a need to negotiate terms or prices with a major supplier or vendor. Either way you see it, the right metrics will help gauge the results of your efforts.
Finally, this is your opportunity to step back, sit tall, and get the big picture of your business. This is your opportunity to work on your business, instead of working in it. Here, you can take the time to see what is and is not working. Perhaps, briefly review what you could do less of or more of in your business; and use stop or start strategies to continue doing what is working and less of what isn’t. Decide when and where to move resources so they are in their right spots. It is important to use the financial information along with your vision to create goals, long-term plans, decide when to make course corrections, measure risk vs return, build business strategies along with tax plans and tax projections to maximize the growth of your company and make more money.
Along with wealth creation, there is an equal need for wealth protection. Strategic tax reduction based on effective tax projections and long-term tax planning will go a long way towards keeping and generating real wealth for you and your family. Cash flow management is also a highly overlooked, but extremely important aspect of running and operating your business. The ability to project cashflows three to six months in advance can go along way to confident decision making.
That’s the outline of the process, but there is one more piece to the puzzle, accountability: It really is the fifth component. It is the glue that helps the user keep on task. Having an accountability partner is great to bounce ideas off, and to learn from. I recall having an accountability group that helped keep me focused and my priorities in check. I tend to have a lot of ideas, and it is hard for me to stay focused. But, just as my group helped me, we also join and support you in your business, and more importantly in your success.
Succeeding with the Four-M Framework, and what that looks like:
If you don’t use a financial process, you might consider what that would look like. I often hear that sleepless nights are towards the top of the list. Contractors don’t want to worry about dealing with the government. But, there is also the feeling of being unorganized, not having cash flow expectations, and worrying about surprise tax bills. Losing out on cash from undeposited or uncollected funds, wondering if the loan payment went through, and determining how much working capital you require to operate the business are all additional stressors that you don’t need. But, what about the inability to react to and take advantage of government stimulus packages during hard times. Are you prepared for another downturn?
Building a business is tough, and it’s hard for a small company to succeed. The owner is wearing all the hats, and he or she knows that all the great work and amazing customer service he or she does, isn’t always enough to fill the bank account. To build wealth, and to be a successful business owner you have to be diligent, and you have to be consistent. Because there is already enough to worry about, it helps to follow a full proof accounting process to help you get and stay in control of your business finances. Being able to sleep comfortable knowing you’re making wise business decisions goes along way in the future of your success.