Spring is in the air, and so is the smell of money. That’s the aroma of cold, hard, cash getting deposited into your bank account. Sunshine + warmth = increased beer sales. Spring time also means spring cleaning, raking up the leaves from last fall and clearing out all the junk that has piled up in that space above your garage. Spring cleaning is good for the soul, and it’s good for your brewery finances, too. In today’s article we’ll cover three spring cleaning to-dos for your brewery so that you keep your financial information tidy.
- Clean up and organize your corporate documents: Distribution agreements, licenses and organizational docs.
- Take a full physical inventory. When’s the last time you really counted raw materials? How about all that packaging material? We both know it’s been far too long.
- Review the balance sheet. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men…evil lurks on your balance sheet. Conduct this review to purge the financial evil.
Financial spring cleaning basics
It feels good to clean up. Disorder causes distraction and confusion. Keeping your financial information clean and organized helps you stay focused and fiscally fit. As with any cleanup, you’ll need to throw things away. Old documents pile up, create clutter, and need to be disposed of. Confused about what to keep and what to throw away? Use the document retention guide here. Out with the old and in with the new. Hire a shredding company and clean out all those old invoices, reports and bank statements.
If you’re like most breweries, you have corporate records stashed everywhere. Some are tacked to the wall, others are in your desk drawer or saved on your laptop. Corporate records are important because they show the world you are a big-boy or big-girl company. They demonstrate that you have the proper licenses, filings and legal standing to operate your brewery. Corporate records are critical to maintain your “corporate” status and the liability protections this provides. Examples of corporate records include:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Stock certificates
- Stock ledger recording each stock issuance or transfer
- Minutes of meetings of the directors
- Corporate seal
If you don’t have the time or patience to locate and organize your corporate records consider hiring an attorney to do it for you. They won’t be cheap, but they will make sure all the necessary docs exist and are properly filled out. Corporate docs are super important to preserve the ‘corporate veil’ and protect you from liability. If you plan on borrowing money, banks need to see this information. If you plan on bringing on an investor, or eventually selling, investors / buyers will insist on complete and accurate corporate docs.
If you want to do it yourself, use this checklist as a guide to get started. Spring is a great time to locate, organize and clean up those corporate documents.
Take a physical inventory
You can fool the others, but you can’t fool me. You haven’t taken a real inventory in years. Probably never is more like it. No fooling, it’s time to bite the bullet and conduct a full physical count of your raw materials, packaging and finished goods inventory. Counting inventory can be difficult, time consuming and unproductive. But these things only happen when you do it the wrong way.
Use this process to count inventory the right way. You’ll find it takes less time and will get you the results you want: accurate inventory on the books. Everyone wins. Spring is a great time to clean up your inventory. Use the process, and make it count.
Review the balance sheet
I know you love the income statement. It has all that information about sales growth and profits. But Spring is the time for some balance sheet lovin’. Your balance sheet reports on your assets, liabilities and equity. It shows what you own, what you owe, and the net worth of your brewery. Unfortunately, the balance sheet is often riddled with financial mistakes. Assets may be listed on the balance sheet that don’t exist any longer. Lost kegs anyone? How about that old inventory you haven’t written off yet? Prepaid expense is another hiding spot for balance sheet errors. Items get booked here and never removed. Prepaid hops or prepaid insurance are common items that get stuck in here.
Need some guidance on how to get started with the balance sheet cleanup? Check out the article here for ideas.
Wrap up + action items
Spring is the perfect time for a financial cleanup. Start with a purge of your old financial records. Throwing things away feels good. Use the document retention guide to identify what can be tossed out. Hire a shredding company to do the dirty work. Next, do a full physical count of your inventory. You wouldn’t dream of brewing beer with inaccurate ingredients, don’t operate your brewery with incorrect inventory records. Finish the spring clean-up with a review of your balance sheet. Lots of financial mistakes get stuck here and need to be scrubbed clean. Sunshine = increased sales. It also = a great time for a financial spring cleanup.
Kary Shumway is the founder of Beer Business Finance and Craft Brewery Finance, online resources for beer industry professionals. Shumway has worked in the beer industry for more than 20 years as a certified public accountant, chief financial officer for a beer distributor, and currently as CFO for Wormtown Brewery in Worcester, Mass. Craft Brewery Finance publishes a weekly beer industry finance newsletter, offers guide books on topics such as cash flow planning and basic budgeting, and an online course to improve taproom profits. The newsletter with a free four-week trial, industry guides and resources are all available at www.CraftBreweryFinance.com.