Creating a sound accounting environment is like building a house. You want to ensure that your structure is solid, that your contents are protected, and that it can weather any storm. This approach is very similar to starting a company. You want to create a protective environment because you know that what you are creating is unique and you’re in it for the long-haul. The road to success can take years, so investing early in your infrastructure can save you time and money down the road.

Just like building a house, you need a set of plans to help guide you along the way. Take the time to focus on what financial information you need to be able to make business decisions. For example, if you are trying to attract more capital and investors to help fund your business, you’ll need real-time reports showing that your finances are stable through your research and development phase. Many organizations require significant investment to get off the ground; you don’t want to spend days pulling the data together when you should be focused on your development timeline for your service or product. In addition, consider the set-up of your accounting department in order to provide you enough visibility into the data without getting lost in the weeds. A well thought out accounting system can help your business grow.

Every well-constructed building needs a strong cornerstone. It is the support for the rest of your structure. The same can be said for your accounting system. By safeguarding your assets with well-designed workflows and controls, the integrity of your data will be strong. This can be especially true if you are dealing with sensitive information that should have limited visibility to users. Or if you plan to one day take your company public, you might be faced with daunting regulatory standards and practices. In all instances, internal controls come into play well in advance of that initial public offering. The stronger the foundation, the easier it will be to build upon.

Once your foundation is set, construction can begin. Start by laying the groundwork for building your financial systems. This includes designing a chart of accounts tailored to your business, implementing a robust accounting software system, and hiring and training a team of professionals. Depending on your industry, there might be many accounting nuances and you should build your team with those specific skill-sets in mind. Your accounting department needs to capture and report the company’s financial activities and doing it without a dedicated team of accounting resources could impact cash flow as your company scales.

Just beneath the roof are the workings of your house. From an aerial view, this accounting “roof” is a dashboard which can display metrics regarding the financial health of your organization. At a moment’s notice, a dashboard allows you the ability to drill-down into the details of your business, as needed.

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This content was originally posted here.