Welcome to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship podcast, the show for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to get inspired to step outside of your comfort zone, expand it to your purpose and grow your business in a big way. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski, a globetrotter CFO, whose mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers, to grow their impact and their income. Let’s dive in.
Hello, my friends. Today, I’m so excited to share this episode of the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship podcast with you because we are going to clear up a lot of confusion that I see related to finance people. I get the question all the time, “Well, what’s the difference between a CFO and a CPA and a tax accountant and a bookkeeper and a financial advisor? Aren’t they all the same thing?” I’m actually going to throw one more in there as well, a financial coach. Are they all the same thing? No, my friends, 100%. They are not the same thing. So when I first got the Chief Financial Officer title behind my name, I was telling people what I do and my family and friends, “I’m a CFO.” And I got some blank stares, so then I say, “Chief Financial Officer.” And still the blank stare. Nobody knew exactly what I meant.
And so maybe some people were like, “Oh, okay. So you’re a bookkeeper?” “Not exactly.” “Oh, so you do taxes?” “Not really.” “Oh, okay. You can tell me how to invest my money.” “Still not quite right.” So I want to break down for you today, the different finance professionals that you may have in your life, in your business, and what the difference between each of them is so that you know all the different people that need to comprise your finance team. Because there’s nothing worse than thinking that you need one thing when in actuality, you really need another. And this can lead to bringing the wrong person onto your team, hiring the wrong consultant and expecting a certain result and getting something totally different. So you’ve wasted money, you’ve wasted time and you still really haven’t got what you need in your business.
So, I’m going to break it down for you. And I’ve always thought of this as four different finance professionals, but I’m just going to throw a curve ball in here and I’m going to say there’s five. There are five different finance professionals that you may need in your life or business, and I’m going to break them all down for you so that if you’re looking for somebody, you know the right questions to ask, you know the right thing to call them, so you’re going to get the right person on the other end of the phone or the Zoom call or the meeting or whatever it is, and you’re going to get the results that you want. Okay, so let’s do it. Five finance pros, all of these different people will make up your finance team for your business and for your life.
All right, let’s do it. Number one, your bookkeeper. So your bookkeeper is your QuickBooks Online expert or whatever accounting system you use. They are the person that manages the daily transactions in your business. Maybe they are entering your bills, maybe they’re invoicing your clients. They should definitely be reconciling your bank accounts. And that simply just means making sure that your accounting system has the same numbers as your bank statement, so making sure that everything is exactly right and also making sure all of your expenses and revenue are coded to the right categories. So like I said, they probably know QuickBooks Online or another software like the back of their hand. They are in the line item detail. So the questions to ask your bookkeeper as you are looking for somebody is how often are they reviewing transactions? How often do they reconcile your bank accounts? Do they reconcile all of your accounts like credit cards as well? Are they an expert in any one particular software? So those are things that you definitely want your bookkeeper to know.
Do they run reports for you? Can they generate a balance sheet or a profit and loss statement for you? Those are things as you’re looking for a bookkeeper, you want to make sure they know those things. If you have inventory in your business, you want to make sure they understand how to do the bookkeeping for inventory. It can be a little bit complicated and tricky, so you want to make sure that they know what they’re doing there. If you have sales taxes that you have to pay, if you’re selling products, the goods of some sorts in different states, you want to make sure that they understand how to account for sales taxes as well. Okay, so they are like your very, very detail-oriented person. Soft skills that you want for a bookkeeper are detail oriented. You want this person to want to reconcile your accounts down to the penny, right? Like good enough is not really good enough for a bookkeeper. So that attention to detail and that timeliness for your bookkeeper is crucial.
Okay. The second person is your accountant. So your accountant is your tax guru. This person is probably a CPA, in fact, we probably want them to be a CPA. A Certified Professional Accountant has regular ongoing professional education requirements. So they are constantly staying up to date on new tax laws, on new accounting procedures, and you want that person to know what’s going on in terms of taxes. So this person ideally is looking at your numbers throughout the year and helping you with a tax strategy to make sure you are minimizing your tax liability, you’re not paying more taxes than you need to, everything in your books is the correct way for tax purposes. And they’re the person that’s going to tell you your estimated payments throughout the year, how much should you be paying to the IRS every single quarter.
They also file your taxes. That piece is pretty important. Your accountant, your CPA, they’re one and the same. This person is filing your taxes, probably for your personal as well as your business. And often, they can help recommend the appropriate tax structure for your business. For example, my CPA was the one that recommended that we transition to an S Corp, and they helped me file all of the paperwork to register as an S Corp. And I honestly would not have known how to do that if not for them, and I would not have known when the right time to do that would be, if not for them. So they know all about the ins and outs of taxes. So as you’re looking for an accountant, you want to make sure that they are a CPA, that they have experience with your type of business.
Again, there are some funky nuances when it comes to inventory for your business. If you have a bunch of employees and contractors, you want to make sure that they understand your business specifically and your industry so that they can make the best recommendations in terms of taxes for you. I really have found it so valuable in my own business to have a tax accountant, to have my CPA looking at my numbers throughout the year. Because what if something massive changes and your business grows 200%, and you’re still paying the same amount of taxes that you were before for your estimated payments. Well, you’re probably going to come up short at year-end and owe a whole bunch of money. So I like my CPA to stay in tune with where my business is throughout the year, so that I always know that I’m never going to be surprised with a tax bill, that I’m saving enough money for my taxes and that just everything is going smoothly throughout the year.
The last thing that any business owner wants is a surprise when it comes to their numbers. There is no worse feeling. So just to give you a little example, there was a time when I did my own taxes and I can’t believe it. I thought, “Well, hey, I know numbers, I know what I’m doing here.” No, don’t do that. Because I didn’t have a CPA looking at my numbers throughout the year, and I think there were some changes in the tax laws, I was very surprised with a five figure tax bill at the end of the year, and that was the worst. I had set aside some money, but I don’t think I had sat aside all of it. This was in the very early, early, early days of my business when I had the business and my nine to five for part of the year and we had moved and there was a lot going on.
So, I really recommend starting from day one, include this money into your budget, into your profit plan so that you are never surprised by your taxes. Okay, so that is number two. Number three, the third finance person… Remember number one was bookkeeper, two is your tax accountant or your CPA, number three is your CFO, Chief Financial Officer. So now that is me. That is what I do. That is what my team does for our clients. So what is your CFO? What exactly do they do? Your CFO is really your business finance expert. So we are going to review your numbers and draw insights and trends from those numbers, giving you better information, more information, more strategic insights, so you can make better decisions for your business. So we basically take what the bookkeeper does, we run the reports and then we analyze those numbers, so they turn into a story for your business.
I could call this a storyteller, that maybe seems a little bit of a stretch. But we’re storyteller, we tell stories with your numbers. And so that’s exactly what we do. So when you have a question in your business like, can I afford to join the high-end mastermind next year? Or, how do I reach my million-dollar annual revenue goal? Or, how do I know which revenue stream is the most profitable? Or, where am I spending too much money? That is what your CFO does. Our one and only interest is providing more insight into your business so you can achieve whatever your goals are. So we are not interested in making money in the stock market. We are not interested in serving the IRS or whatever it is. We want to make sure your numbers are working for you. So we help give you that 30,000 foot view. We turn those numbers into a story to help make your business strong and sustainable. So, that is the CFO.
Now, if you are looking for a CFO, you really want to make sure that they understand your business and your industry, because the tyre shop down the street is going to be looking at different metrics than say a digital course creator, or than a graphic design agency. So, you want to make sure that they really understand your goals and help you create a path to get there. So, I will say that in our company, we also help leaders create this vision, sort of financial vision you could say for your business. So we help you map out your revenue and your expenses and your net income and your cash flow into the future.
So, this is a huge thing that any good CFO should really be helping you with, casting that larger vision and creating a path to achieve your goals when it comes to the numbers. Because you can’t make it to your destination if you don’t really have a path to get there, right? Will just be walking in circles and a very roundabout way rather than going the direct path, and so that’s what we really help you do. So, that is your CFO, you want to make sure that person has a big picture view and probably has experience maybe with some other companies similar to yours so that they can bring some of that knowledge in. And they’re going to be very detail-oriented because there are numbers people, of course, but in the same sense, you need that person who is a visionary and can see the forest through the trees, and understand both the detail and the big picture. So, that’s your CFO. That was number three.
You hear me talk all the time about how important it is to know your numbers as a business owner, but you may be thinking, “Well, how in the world do I do that? Where do I even begin?” So I have a free resource for you. The Profit Playbook is an amazing template that you spend about 15 minutes getting it all set up, and you can literally see into the future of your business revenue, expenses, cashflow just like a crystal ball. It is a huge resource that will absolutely help you create a roadmap to reach your goals in your business. It is for free over at 100degreesconsulting.com/profit.
So I promised five, right? So number four is your financial advisor. The fourth finance pro that is on your finance team in your business, in your life is your financial advisor. So this person really advises you on how and where to invest your money, sometimes personal, maybe business, maybe you’re thinking about a 401(k) or an IRA, or you’re debating between putting your money in a bond or an index fund. Your financial advisor is your go-to girl for this type of work, and they’re often a Certified Financial Planner, a CFP. You really want to ensure that they are a fiduciary, that is one question you absolutely need to ask them in that initial conversation. You want to make sure they’re a fiduciary. What does that big annoying, complicated money word mean? Fiduciary. That basically means they’re not selling you anything. They’re not trying to sell their own funds. They’re not trying to sell their own products. All they’re doing is advising you and they have no stake in the game, right?
So, they are not going to make any money if you choose to put your funds in Vanguard, or they’re not going to make any money if you choose to invest your money a certain way, they’re not going to make any money. You pay a flat fee for them to advise you on the best way to invest, so they’re not making money based on your choices there. So that part is super important. They also help you with risk management. So ensuring that you are insured properly for your home, your car, your business, any other assets that you might have, making sure that you are protected. This is one thing that I obviously have known about, but it’s something that I had never really made a priority in my business and in my life until this past year. It was really a goal of mine to up-level my own financial management for my business and my family.
And so this year, my husband and I hired a financial advisor, because we really wanted that big picture strategy that encompassed every single piece of our life. And it’s really interesting because the way that they started with us was sort of assessing our risk, and they did a huge, huge, deep dive into all of our insurance coverage and our car insurance, our home owner’s insurance, our health insurance, insurance that I had on my business to make sure that we were adequately protected. And guess what? We weren’t. We had some major gaps specifically in our car insurance and you know what? Car insurance is one of those things that… I’m certainly no expert so do not… This is not expert advice, but car insurance is one of those things that for us, we just set up when we bought our cars, we’re the type of people that buy a new car and then drive it for a decade until it dies.
So we probably, initially set up the car insurance when we bought the cars over 10 years ago and never really changed our coverage. We had moved states, we just hadn’t changed anything. And we were severely undercovered. And so at first, I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is so boring. I want to get to the fun stuff where we’re talking about investments and real estate and all this other cool stuff.” But, it was very eye-opening that wealth building, and true solid financial management is also mitigating risk. So if you have not done this yet for yourself, your life, your business, I strongly encourage you to seek out a financial advisor and it does not have to be expensive, but again, setting the right measures in place right now to ensure number one, your business is sustainable, but also that you’ve got the longevity in your personal wealth as well.
So that was number four, your financial advisor. So quick recap, number one, your bookkeeper, number two, your accountant, number three, your CFO and number four, your financial advisor. Now, one that I’m adding to this list is number five, a financial coach. Now, a financial coach is different than any of the other four that we’ve talked about right now. And a financial coach is somebody that can help you either in your business or your personal finances, achieve your goals through a combination of some practical advice. Maybe if one of your goals is to pay off debt in your personal life, your financial coach can help you set up a plan to actually do this. But they can also coach you through some of the mindset pieces, and maybe some of the blocks that you have, and maybe some belief systems that you have had about money since childhood. They can help coach you through that as well.
So, it’s really this interesting combination of the more abstract mindset piece, as well as the practical get stuff done piece. And so that’s number five, your financial coach. So I personally do not have a financial coach and I have not hired a financial coach. I know financial coaches, but I don’t have one in my own life. So I’ve never had to really interview one before, but I think it’s a really, really interesting role to have on your finance team, especially if you’ve got mindset issues. If you’ve got major money blocks or some really big, big goals that you need someone to kind of hold your hand and walk you through, a financial coach might be the person that you need on your finance team.
So, let’s recap. So, there’s five different people that you may need in your business on your finance team. Your bookkeeper, they’re in the day-to-day, they line item detail, they are your detail-oriented, accounting system, QuickBooks Online guru. Your tax accountant, which is a CPA. They’re the ones that know the IRS like the back of their hand. Number three, your CFO. This is the person that is helping strategize with you on how to achieve your goals in your business and help you create that future financial vision for your business and understand your numbers, tell the story of your numbers. Number four is your financial advisor. They are helping you build wealth and mitigate risk and invest your money and grow. And number five is your financial coach, and they’re helping you really, really tackle some of the maybe mindset blocks that you have around money and create a plan to achieve your goals.
So, I would love to know where are the gaps in your business, in your life? Do you feel like, “Oh, man, I didn’t even realize these were different people. And now I know why my bookkeeper is not helping me achieve my million-dollar annual revenue goal.” Well, that’s why, your bookkeeper is not your CFO. Or maybe you’re like, “Oh yeah, I have a financial advisor, and they’re telling me where to invest my money and my asset allocation and all those big fancy words, but why can’t they tell me where I’m spending too much money in my business?” Well, because they’re not a CFO, right?
So if you’ve ever worked with one of these professionals before and thought, “I’m really not getting what I want out of them. Aren’t they a numbers person? Maybe they’re just bad at their job. Maybe I just need to change people, maybe but also maybe not.” So just remember, there are four/five very distinct finance numbers people that you might need in your business. So, if you want to explore a little bit more, I created a fun quiz to help you figure out which finance pro you need in your business to help your business soar.
So if you head on over to 100degreesconsulting.com/financeprofessionals, there is a link there to go take a quiz and you can find out which finance pro you really need in your business. You may know after listening to this like, “Oh my goodness, I need somebody in the details. I absolutely need a bookkeeper.” You may know, but I would really be interested to hear where are the gaps? Who’s the next person that you are going to hire in your business to help you with your numbers?
So if you’re listening to this episode, snap a screenshot on your phone and tag me over on Instagram @stephanie.skry and let me know, who’s the next finance person you are going to hire in your business. Send me a DM on Instagram @stephanie.skry and I would love to hear. I’ll talk to you soon, friends.
Thanks for listening to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship podcast. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100degreesconsulting.com/podcast. Make sure to snap a screenshot on your phone of this episode and tag me on Instagram @stephanie.skry and I’ll be sure to share. Thanks for being here friends, and I’ll see you next time.