Many people ask me how I came up with the idea of business forecasting tool for SMEs. I saw a need for a tool designed to walk you through the process of gathering the right information to track and manipulate the drivers and KPIs that help a small business grow. The result was CashMAX, a tool that helps you plan, set strategies and manage budgets.
As an accountant and business advisor – and a business owner myself – I observed that not enough SME entrepreneurs really understand their businesses. They are not properly on top of their cashflow, the issues around GST, Tax, Debtors and Creditors and a whole heap of other things that allow a small business to become a big business – or even grow to BE a business rather than just a job for the owner.
One of the most important, but least understood aspects of business is making money, what needs to be done to generate cash, and how to manipulate the crucial relationship between the timing of profit and cash.
Of course you have the option of using spreadsheets and all the alternatives out there for what we do; but they are prone to human error. They require a lot of manual input, calculation of formulas and so on. In fact you either need to be an accountant or pay one to extract the right information for your business.
We started off building CashMAX Forecaster as a tool to assist us working with our clients. From there it took on a life of its own. Over time we built into the tool every circumstance we experienced over hundreds of businesses, developing more ways to look at different parts of their business.
Once we involved our clients we realised we needed to make people accountable – so we made it internet based. This allowed our clients and their managers to be actively involved in establishing their budgets. They could set budgets based on what would then become their KPIs. The result was that we could now hold them accountable for these KPIs. They were no longer some number established by accountants somewhere away from the real business and the people working in it. They were the numbers, the KPIs that they had set based on their own input.
For our clients it has taken their understanding of their businesses to a whole new level. They have a far more comprehensive view of their business and its drivers. They have better information for basing their business decisions on as well. And their management team feel more involved and have more clarity about their roles and responsibilities in the business.
It’s been a lot of work, and a lot of refining and developing based on years of experience and practical testing with hundreds of clients. We’re pretty excited with where it is right now, and it will keep on growing. It’s a powerful business forecasting and management tool for SMEs created out of a real synergy of knowledge, needs and skills between accountants and business owners.