In this article, I’m sharing a monthly finance meeting agenda that Nathan Hirsch and I have been using for 5+ years while scaling our businesses.
When you’re starting and growing a business from the ground up, knowing your finances is critical to finding success.
Statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that approximately 20% of new businesses go out of business within the first 2 years.
One of the top reasons, according to Investopedia, that these new companies go out of business so fast is too little financing which is a result of not properly managing your finances as a startup business owner.
Even if you’ve made it past the 2 year mark and your business is operating smoothly, there’s always a chance that you can run into financial problems. When you lose sight of your financials, your business can quickly make a turn for the worst.
In order to avoid financial problems, I highly recommend holding monthly finance meetings with your leadership team. These monthly finance meetings will ensure that you:
- Understand how your sales are trending
- Know where money is being spent
- Can see where and when you may need to cut spending
- Are on the same page as a team and working towards the same goals
With our monthly finance meeting agenda, you’ll be able to efficiently hold these meetings and gain a stronger understanding of your finances.
If you’re at all serious about the profitability of your business, you’ll start having these meetings and you’ll hold your leadership team accountable for understanding the numbers so they can make smart decisions based off of the books as well.
How Our Monthly Finance Meeting Agenda Has Evolved
As some of you may know, Nathan Hirsch and I have been business partners and entrepreneurs for the past 10 years together. We met in college where we started our first business together selling products on the rapidly growing Amazon Marketplace.
While running and growing that first business, Portlight, we had daily financial reports that we would review together to see how the business was performing. These daily reports were sales and orders reports from the previous day with estimated costs subtracted so we could see what our daily net profit was. This helped us to make smart decisions for increasing sales and profits of the business.
On a monthly basis, we’d meet together to go over the performance of the business. Being fully transparent, the first few years of reviewing our monthly numbers was by no means advanced. In the very early days, we probably were even behind on our monthly bookkeeping because we were so focused on just growing our sales and the team. But we didn’t let that last for too long.
Eventually, we had monthly reports that we could review together to see how the business was performing. In addition to the standard Profit and Loss Statement, we had Order Reports so we could see where we were making the most sales from and which items were losing the most money for the business.
These monthly finance meetings soon turned into a key part of growing the business. As we saw how much money we made each month in net profits, we’d then decide how we wanted to reinvest that money back into the business and how much we wanted to pull out of the business in owner distributions.
These early days didn’t lead to the advanced monthly finance meeting agenda that we have today, but it helped to pave the road so we could make our way there.
With our next business, FreeeUp, we were even more focused on the finances of the business. We made sure early on that we had daily, weekly, and monthly data that we could review together in order to hit the profitability goals that we had set for the business.
As we ran FreeeUp for 4 years (before it was acquired in 2019 by The HOTH), we further developed our monthly finance meeting agenda so that we were looking at more and more financial data each month.
From diving deep into each line item on our Profit and Loss Statement to analyzing our cash reserves to budgeting for marketing expenses to estimating future growth for the business, we were steadfast in understanding our finances.
Looking back on the 4 years that we ran FreeeUp, a big reason that we were able to sell the business in 2019 was due to the strong focus that we had on our financials. When we were approached by sellers, they wanted to see the financials of the business along with other key statistics so they could see the true value and health of the company. We had data for them quickly which helped to move the conversations along and which eventually helped lead to the sale of the business.
Today, after speaking with hundreds of online business owners and learning from the value of our experiences, we run EcomBalance to help entrepreneurs and businesses in the eCommerce space better understand their numbers so they can make smarter decisions for faster growth.
We saw how impactful it can be to have your bookkeeping organized so we set out on a mission to help 1,000+ businesses in the eCommerce space get a better hold on their bookkeeping.
Monthly Finance Meeting Agenda
Your monthly finance meeting agenda doesn’t need to be anything out of this world, but it should be organized and contained to 1 hour of meeting time.
If you’re a remote team, make sure that you have a Zoom meeting link (or other virtual meeting link) inside the monthly invitation so that it’s easy for the entire team to join and be on time. Ask your team to arrive 5 minutes early so that you can get started right on time.
If you’re a team that meets in person, the same rules go. Make sure that everyone is ready 5 minutes early and have any links to the books that everyone will need easily accessible.
Below is an agenda that you can build off of as you start having these monthly finance meetings:
Monthly Finance Meeting Agenda
- Open the Profit and Loss Statement and review together as a team. Go through each line item for your sales and expenses stopping for discussion on ones that merit it. For example, if your sales have fallen by 10% over last month, that would warrant a discussion as to why it happened and how, as a team, you’re going to get it to bounce back. Another example, if you spent more than usual on marketing in the month, discuss how you plan for that spend to turn into sales or if you need to cut it for the following month. By the end of this P and L discussion, everyone should have a clear action list that you want to achieve as a team for the next month.
- Open the Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement. Review together as a team looking at your cash situation and determining how much runway you have for the business. If you’re already profitable and cash is regularly flowing into the business, discuss how you want to reinvest that money into further growing the business and how much you want to withdraw to the owners of the business. If you’re not making money yet and cash is flowing out each month, discuss how to slow down the amount of cash going out and when you estimate you’ll reach break even.
- Open other reports that you’ve had made for the business and review. This could be employee payroll reports, product specific eCommerce reports, profitability per unit reports, sales per unit reports, expense breakdowns, inventory, and other reports that are important to you understanding your business. Get a full picture of your business with these remaining reports and discuss any changes you want to make for the next month.
- Review the financial goals you set for the quarter and for the year. Open your quarterly and yearly financial goals and review them as a leadership team. Benchmark where you are today in comparison to your goals and make adjustments as needed. Businesses tend to move in up and down patterns…the goals you set at the start of the year or quarter are bound to need adjustments as the business goes through different growth cycles. Be honest with each other and make changes where they’re needed so that your goals are realistic and you can see how your business may perform over the next quarter and year.
- Make notes to share with the team. Take a few minutes to jot down any specific notes that you want to share with the rest of the team to give them insights into the financial performance of the business. You may also assign this task to someone on the leadership team as you start the meeting so that it takes less time and you can all simply approve and give feedback once you reach this part of the meeting.
- Go over final topics of discussion: Each month, there will be specific financial discussions that you’ll want to have with your leadership team. Take the time at the end of the financial review to go through any topics that anyone has. Take notes and set up action items for anything that requires attention after the meeting.
As we said above, stick to the 1 hour rule. This means that you aim to finish the meeting (no matter what) within 1 hour of starting. If you started the meeting at 10:00 am, closing thoughts happen at 10:59 am and you move on with the rest of your day. Assign someone on the team to be responsible for watching the clock and pushing the conversation along as the hour goes by. This will help to keep you efficient and make sure that you hit on every topic before the end of the hour.
Feel free to customize this monthly finance meeting agenda however you want. This is what we’ve found to be successful so far, but we’re always making changes as we see best fit for our business.
Why Should You Hold This Meeting Each Month?
Scaling a business means knowing your finances left and right.
If someone were to come to you and ask you about your profit margins, where your sales are coming from, and what your largest monthly expense is, you should be able to answer them with ease.
There are many moving parts to starting and scaling a business, but finances must be one of the top focuses if you want to succeed in the long run.
Here’s 3 reasons why you should highly consider holding these finance meetings each month:
1. Time to review financial goals with partners: Without a set time each month to review your finances, months could quickly slip by. Put it in your calendars and make sure that you stick to it each month. As a leadership team, you’ll be better off and it will reserve time where all you talk about is the finances of the business.
2. Better clarity of your numbers: As we’ve already noted, understanding your numbers is key to starting and scaling a successful business. Holding these monthly finance meetings will push you to better understand your numbers, across the board. From sales to expenses to cash on hand to inventory to profits, you’ll know your business better and will be able to really understand what’s going on each month.
3. Able to make better business decisions: With stronger clarity, you’ll also gain a stronger ability to make smart decisions for growing your business. If you have a meeting and realize that you have extra profits that could be reinvested, you’ll find a smart way to invest and you’ll create more growth. Similarly, if you notice one month that you’re overspending in one area, you can make a smart decision to cut it for the next month if it’s not absolutely necessary.
Think about it this way…Could you sacrifice 1 hour each month to become more informed about your company’s financials? If your goal is to scale your business and create more profitability, this should be a no-brainer.
As you consider using the monthly finance meeting agenda that we’ve provided, keep these final tips in mind.
Tip #1: Do it the same time each month and don’t let it slide
Choose a time with your leadership team and get it on your calendars as a recurring event. We recommend doing it in the 2nd or 3rd week of each month, depending on when you receive your monthly books. If your books are usually done within the first week of the month, use the 2nd week as your time to meet. If they tend to arrive in the 2nd week, use the 3rd week.
Tip #2: Share key takeaways with your team
Your monthly finance meeting shouldn’t be confined to your leadership team. After you and your leadership team review the finances for the month, bullet point some highlights that you can take back to the team.
This could be sales figures that you want to celebrate, poor profit margins that you want to work on as a team, or net profit figures to show how well the company is doing.
You can utilize takeaways from your monthly finance meetings to motivate your team and push them in the best direction for the business. See how they connect?
Tip #3: Hold each other accountable to reviewing the books before meeting
This is extremely important. Make sure that you and your leadership team have the same expectations for each other. Everyone should have already reviewed the past month’s books prior to attending the monthly finance meeting.
Set a reminder if you need to for the first few, but everyone that’s attending should be coming to the meeting with a good understanding of the books and what they want to discuss. Don’t let this slip by the wayside…it will waste time at the meeting and will lead to less efficient financial reviews.
Tip #4: As your business grows, include top leaders in the business
When you first start these monthly finance meetings, they may only include you and your business partners. That’s okay and very natural as your business is growing and still in its early stages.
Once you start to hire other full time employees in leadership positions (Chief Marketing Officer, CFO, COO, etc.), make sure that you include them in these monthly finance meetings. Their input will be invaluable for the rest of the company and it will be important that they understand how the company is performing each month so they can make adjustments in their roles.
Tip #5: Make adjustments to your books with the help of your bookkeeper so you have the best possible view of your numbers each month
Your books shouldn’t look the same for too long. At each monthly finance meeting, have a bullet point where you and the team look at the line items of the books and determine if there are any changes that would benefit you reading the books each month.
Similarly, as your business grows, discuss if there are other reports or metrics that would be helpful to know each month. Maybe it’s reports on your best selling items, or your profit margins per product, or a payroll breakdown showing how much each person is costing per month. The more financial data, the better. It will create further understanding of your business so you can make smart decisions as a business owner.
Knowing your finances at a deep level is CORE to your ability to run your business.
Invest the time with your team to fully understand your monthly finances and you’ll see the rewards come back to your business.
Use the monthly finance meeting agenda that we’ve provided in this article to kickstart your monthly finance meetings.
If you have any questions about how to look at your financial reports or which ones may be the most helpful for your business, reach out to us at any time.