Photo by David Tran on Unsplash

Timing Matters: If Not Now, Then When?

By Shane Bender, Founder Bender CFO Services

In his book “Lead With a Story“, Paul Smith tells of the Fayetteville High School Basketball team that was not expected to do anything great. The team was made up of juniors.  In the last half of the season, the team started to win games closely at the end. The Bulldogs started playing well together and the momentum took them to the playoffs. During the playoffs, their success continued and they started to win games by double-digit margins. They started to believe they could have a shot at the state title.

The state title matchup was a real David and Goliath matchup and almost straight out of the movie “Hoosiers”.  The game was very close and when to double overtime. With 15 seconds left in the game, the Fayetteville Bulldogs had the ball and the coach called a timeout. Their star player had not made many mistakes so this point guard was to hold the ball until the clock ran down to 5 seconds and then he would start the play. The mistake was that he let his defender get too close for too long without passing and they lost possession. The other team’s star player drove down to the basket and was fouled and he made his free throws. The Fayetteville Bulldogs had gotten so close but they lost.

At the end of the game, one of the players was being interviewed about the game and he nonchalantly said, “No big deal. We are all juniors. We’ll be back next year and win it for sure.”  This is the kind of advice parents say to a child after a bitter loss and the whole team started repeating this mantra within hours of the game.

The next year the whole starting lineup was back and they were seniors. They were heavily favored and the team to beat. They won every game in the regular season and were the number 1 seed in the tournament. Unfortunately, in the first round the Bulldogs lost to a team they were heavily favored to beat. They had lost their chance. The seniors would be graduating.  They would never get another chance to play in the state finals again.

I don’t tell you this story to depress you but to motivate you. When I first heard the story, it did make me sad but it is true. There is not always another chance. Opportunities are lost all the time. The competition and the economy changes. The finances of a company change and we all get older.

Are you waiting for your finances get better or your business gets bigger to take control of your business finances?  Are you waiting for some big breakthrough to finally take you to the next level?  Are you waiting until you have more time to think strategically, enhance your marketing and business development efforts, or launch a new client?

Do you know where are today financially?  Do have up-to-date billing, accounting, and financial reports and understand your cash situation today as compared to previous month, quarter, or year.

If so, then do you know where you are going financially?  Do you understand your revenue and expense trends and how that will translate into profits and ultimately cash flow?  With this information, you are armed with getting a better understanding of your tax liabilities. You can better plan for investments, new products, or hiring.

Thirdly, do you know how to get to your destination more quickly? Have you built in at least one new habit in your organization to instill discipline?  Have you looked at using consistency and automation to build the systems needed to scale and grow?  I know this is not the easiest thing to do as it requires change management many times. But sometimes just one small habit change can create a domino effect of other opportunities and improvements that are hard to see but are essential for being competitive and grow.

Finally, do you have a system to keep yourself accountable, to assess your progress toward your financial goals, and to adjust when necessary?  Do you have a rolling forecast with a dashboard to quickly assess how you are tracking?  Have you scheduled time on your calendar to do this monthly and quarterly?

Don’t feel bad if you have not accomplished some or most of what I mentioned above?  It is very common which is one of the main reasons I went into business providing these kinds of services. Although, we can’t fret over the past or what should have done; we can only look at how we are going to improve going forward. It can start with just one thing. In the story above, you see how there is not always the next time. Sometimes, it requires you to take control of the situation now like you won’t have another chance.

Think about your future business in 10 years. It is hard to really know this far ahead but just think about it. You have a successful business that is growing and making a significant impact in the lives of your customers, employees, and the economy. You have built a scalable business that does not require you to keep it running. You are influencing others but have time for your family, hobbies, spiritual life, and other dreams. What if you can look back to this moment that changed everything? It was then that you became more intentional.  It kind of reminds me of the first “Back to the Future” when Marty McFly came back from being in 1955 and his father was now a successful author and his mom was trim and healthy. It all went back to the moment in time in 1955 when his father faced his fears and made changes. I know this is a movie but we know a moment in time can make a difference in the future.

I heard Zig Ziglar say once, “Do you believe in the next week you can do something to make your life worse?”  If you believe this, then the opposite is true, you can do something in the next week, month, year, and 10 years to make your life better.

No matter if you are a startup business, a small growing business, you work in a business, or even if you work at a nonprofit, you can start today to improve your business financial situation.  Don’t miss the opportunity.