The ACL Room at Capital Factory was filled with empowered female business owners on Friday, gathered for a roundtable discussion about financials for companies at every stage. The conversation was led by Lynn Atchison, former CFO at Spredfast and HomeAway and champion of women entrepreneurs. Lynn offered tips from the trenches about her experience in early and late stage companies, including how to avoid common pitfalls for when it comes to your financials and common roadblocks to growth.
Here are some key takeaways from Friday’s lunch:
1. Don’t be Afraid
“Most people look at financials and accounting and think, ‘I don’t like math, math doesn’t like me, this is scary to me,’…I suggest we just change the way we think about learning about it…think of it like learning to be fluent in a new language.” – Lynn Atchison
The best way to tackle a fear or aversion to mathematics and business financials is to face it head-on. Make sure to ask questions! Ask your CPA to help you clarify elements of reporting that might be frustrating to you, go to as many informational sessions as you can. As you ask questions, you’ll gradually learn the language, and become more fluent and more comfortable with the materials you need to be successful.
2. Understand Why Accounting is Important
“This is the vital housekeeping that is important to running a business.” – Lynn Atchison
Not only is maintaining accurate financial statements crucial to running your business, but it is also important for compliance purposes. “This is one of those things where the downside of not doing it along the way is greater than expending a little bit of effort from the very beginning,” says Lynn. Keep your financial statements! This allows you to track everything you need for the IRS. No matter the size of your business, making this task imperative from the beginning will pay off in the long run.
Beyond the operational and compliance benefits of keeping and maintaining your financial statements, it’s a great fundraising tool. Current and future investors will want to understand estimates and projections for your company. On top of that, having the financial literacy necessary to speak to these projections can put investors at ease and make an impact on your bottom line.
3. Gather Your Financial Information
“Gathering solid financial information allows women business owners at any stage to not just survive- but to optimize.” – Lynn Atchison
Financial information can help you run your business. Often, especially in early-stage startups, we pull together our financial information when we need it. This huge effort is daunting, especially if you’re trying to raise money. Instead, treat the necessary task of gathering financial data like its a spot exercise, something you can do every single day, every week, and every month. Suddenly, you’ll have trending information that you can use to make more accurate projections and more informed decisions along the way, not only helping you run your business, but optimize it.
Thank you to all of the entrepreneurial women that joined us for the October Roundtable. Stay tuned for more information on the next one!
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Lynn Atchison was CFO at Spredfast, Inc. from February 2017 until October 1, 2018, when the company executed a successful exit – being sold to Vista Equity and merged into Lithium. During this time Spredfast executed a strategy to improve operational efficiency while also continuing to grow in the ever-changing social management software market.
Lynn also served as the CFO of HomeAway, Inc. (AWAY) from August 2006 until March of 2016. During her tenure, the business grew from about $10 million in revenue to over $500 million. She was responsible for managing all financial aspects of the company. She has over 30 years of finance and operations experience, including expertise in financial management and reporting, securities filings, facilities management, and legal and human resources. She was instrumental in the sale of the company to Expedia in 2016.
Women@Austin is an organization creating trusted connections that advance and empower successful women entrepreneurs. Our mission is to accelerate women entrepreneurs in Central Texas so that they can have greater economic and community impact – a goal we’re actively working towards by equipping women entrepreneurs with what they need to be successful.
Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, vcfo.