The Four Pillars of a Financial System

Every business has, whether by intention or default, a financial system. In a “default” financial system, the movement of money just…happens. Bills might be tracked on a notepad, customer invoices are saved on a spreadsheet, and the accounting is just something the tax preparer does with the bank statements at the end of the year, wholly unaffiliated with anything else going on in the business. The chaos that results from these default systems leads to owners out-of-the-loop on their own companies’ financials, and has caused the shuttering of more than one small business.
Building a solid business financial system requires focus, planning, and four crucial pillars: software, workers, processes, and product.


An accounting software is necessary for a solid financial system, but does not have to be pricey nor extravagant. It is easy for SMBs to rack up hundreds in monthly subscriptions by trying to find a software, or combination of softwares, that will automate every aspect of their business. Though automation has come a long way, it is inevitable that some work will have to be done by a human.
It is most important to find a software that meets the needs of the business while simultaneously producing accurate financial reports. Choosing a software is too long a process to cover here, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Does this program meet double-entry accounting standards?
  • Does it save me time, or create more effort?
  • Will one software cover everything, or will other softwares be needed? Can they be successfully integrated?
  • Can everyone working in this program learn to use it accurately and effectively?
  • Will everyone working in this program use it?

As you can see, those utilizing the system are as important as the system itself.


In speaking of workers, I am not referencing general employees but rather all those, internal and external, who are operating in the space of the business’s financial system. This could include the business owner, a W-2 admin, a tax preparer, or an outsourced consultant. In developing the system, practical considerations have to be made regarding the ability and willingness of those expected to work within it. One software might be flashier than another, but too complicated to learn alongside keeping up with other work duties. Or, a business owner might be interested in highly granular data regarding their supplies inventory, but it would be impractical to ask for a daily count of individual nails.

Like other aspects of the system, the workers may shift from time to time. A business who relied on an in-house admin to fulfill bookkeeping tasks may choose to outsource those duties as they grow, or to find a CPA who can better meet their needs as a scaling operation, versus a smaller “mom and pop” shop. Regardless of who currently performs the work, it is important that everyone’s tasks are clearly outlined and delineated. This is where processes come into play.


Documented processes are vital to any business operation, and financial operations are no exception. It is important to have processes well-recorded not only to ensure that things run smoothly, but also to protect the company’s fiscal assets. A messy financial structure is one that is vulnerable to embezzlement and mismanagement of funds. In developing processes, consider the following:

  • What individual is responsible for which tasks? Are duties separated to prevent misbehavior? (For example, requiring a second approval to add a new vendor to the bill-pay system.)
  • Which tasks are dependent on each other?
  • What are the deadlines for each task, and how do they affect subsequent dependent tasks? (For example, what if reimbursement receipts aren’t submitted prior to the payroll run?)
  • How can natural consequences be utilized in order to ensure that tasks are met with accuracy and timeliness? (Ex. If reimbursement receipts are not submitted on-time, they will not be paid out until the next payroll run.)

If the workers are utilizing the software appropriately, and are following processes, you will receive a timely and accurate financial product.


The financial documents resulting from your system’s work are your product. As we’ve previously discussed, this shouldn’t be just your end-of-year Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statement for tax filing. You should receive and analyze financials on, at minimum, a monthly balance. Reviewing the financials while they are fresh allows you to make timelier and more relevant business decisions. Beyond the standard financials, developing KPIs, and the appropriate reports with which to track them, is crucial as well. One company facing cash-flow issues might want to examine Average Days to Pay on customers, as well as their monthly Statement of Cash-Flows. Another company might want to review profitability within one division of their organization. Much like the rest of the financial system, this product can also evolve over time.

Developing a financial system can be a daunting task, but help is available. If you would like better structure within your financial system, but aren’t sure where to start, contact us for a free consultation.