I’m Gila Halleli, your startup financial matters expert. If you were wondering what the “CPA (US)(ISR)” by my name is, that stands for “Certified Public Accountant (United States)(Israel). That is, I’ve been legally certified as an accountant in both the US and Israel. Or, as I like to say, I’m a certified nerd in both countries. 🙂 How much of a nerd? Well, you see all those lovely pictures on my site? All drawn by me. In Excel.
Another piece of proof? I love what I do. I’ve been working as an accountant now for 21 years. Today I’m employed as the CFO (chief financial officer) of a company. That is a particularly fancy type of accountant. Over the last 21 years, I’ve worked in audit, US tax return preparation, small business accounting and corporate accounting, taxation, legal and operations, complete with a solid dose of bookkeeping and payroll preparation mixed in. All accounting jobs, some fancier than others. Between these positions, I’ve learned a fair amount. More importantly, I’ve learned how and where to find and/or learn the stuff I don’t know.
So that is me. And now, allow me to introduce my website. (Say “hello”, CFO Secrets!)
In the interests of full disclosure (because, accountants are like lawyers in our penchant for disclosure) here is what CFO Secrets is not intended to do:
- Share with you my fantabulous tips which will allow you and your company to increase earnings by 300%! In a week!
- Totally revolutionize your business strategy through the power of positive thinking and a masterful handshake.
- Totally DISRUPT the accounting, operations and administration fields. Or increase synergy. In anything.
(May I digress for a moment? No wait, sorry, may I disrupt this post? Is the word “disrupt” not horribly, horribly overused? And most frequently by irritating people? Yes? You agree? You hate it too? That’s wonderful!)
I’m not here to disrupt accounting. It doesn’t require disruption. Just a wee bit of translation into layman’s terms. And that is what CFO Secrets and I are here to do: provide you with simple instructions and guidance on how to manage the financial, operations and administrations elements of your business even when you aren’t large enough to have an in house finance person. For example, that might include:
- How to use a cash-based budget to track and control cash
- Tricks to ensuring a smooth sales cycle
- How to manage the payroll cycle and work effectively with a payroll controller
- How to manage and work with your accountant and your legal counsel effectively and efficiently
- How to read the financial statements your accountant just made you sign
- And knowing what “fully-diluted, as-converted equity” is.
No excitement, no flash and no bullsh*t. Because, honestly finance, operations and admin are more about keeping things chugging along smoothly (and quietly) than making noise.
If you will take another look at the list of things this website will be doing, you will note that I refer to your payroll controller, accountant and legal counsel. My goal is not to replace them. By the time you finish reading the website and/or I finish writing it (whichever comes first), you will not be expected to be able to pump out a Black & Scholes valuation of your ESOP plan, or even be able to do your own bookkeeping. However I do hope that you will know enough to be able to provide your auditors with the information they need for them to do the Black & Scholes valuation and your bookkeeper with your materials in good order so that she or he can get your books sorted. By the way, doing so should not only get you better service, it may also save you money.
I suspect that there may be some of you that are only interested in finance if it is cool, say, areas such as valuations and IPO’s and venture capital and the like. I get it. I like learning about those areas too. That is accounting and finance all dressed up in a red, slinky gown and all sexy and hip. Every time I go to lectures about this stuff I think “Yeah, that’s me! An ACCOUNTANT! We do cool, fancy stuff! Accountants boring? Hello!!!! LOOK AT THIS RED, SLINKY GOWN I’M ROCKING!” And then the lecture wraps up and I go back to work and I remember, well, no, that’s not really me. My job is to keep the company humming along. Making sure that the cash is managed, that contracts are reviewed, that invoices are issued and collected, that suppliers and employees are paid and that I don’t strangle the VP R&D, even though he frequently deserves it. Stuff like that.
But you know what? It’s not really you either.
Sure, you may need to do a valuation someday, in particular if you have an ESOP plan. And maybe, MAYBE, you will go through an IPO. But the reality? You probably won’t.* But all that useful, everyday operations stuff I listed above? If you have your own business, you probably sooo need to know that. Yes, you (hopefully) have an accountant. But it is your signature that’s going on those financial statements they are writing up for you. And it is you who is running the day to day operations. If you overlook a contract and don’t invoice one of your clients for six months, Mr. Accountant sitting in his office far away isn’t going to know to do so because he isn’t there.
So let’s get down to business, shall we? To borrow a work management tip I learned from Natasha Perkins, my very first boss at my very first accounting job (junior auditor at Arthur Andersen) I shall start at the beginning and work to the end. However, seeing how this website is intended to be for your benefit and not mine (I already know this stuff) please feel free to contact me with any questions or subjects you would find helpful and where possible, I will digress for a minute and respond. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
*For those of you who are convinced that you are on the IPO track, may I remind you that knowing how to manage your company’s finances so that you don’t burn through all of your cash in the first six months and shut down is kinda a prerequisite for getting to a stage where NASDAQ will let you list by them. Just a thought for you to ponder….
Questions? I can be reached at email@example.com.