If you’re in the planning stages of business development, or you’ve just launched and the OPEN sign is out there, understanding the basics of business finance will enable you to plan for success with greater confidence.

You may know your business and have the passion and ambition to become an entrepreneur, but if you don’t understand business finance, how will you define short- and long-term objectives? How will you add value to your start-up? How will you grow to profitability faster?

If you don’t know, here are some suggestions:

1. Don’t make it all about money

Of course, a sustainable business must support its own weight, but if the only reason you work at your company is to earn money, your business will soon become just another job, and it may not last long-term. Your passion should have a purpose that generates enthusiasm and endurance – the real reason you’ve chosen the entrepreneurial path.

2. Use technology to manage costs

You may not need to rent an office if you use online collaboration software and VoIP services, like Skype, that connect you to anyone around the globe.

3. Learn accounting basics

If you don’t know a debit from a credit, take a course, read a book, ask a friend. Learn how to track money – in, through, and out of your business. As your company grows, you’ll probably hand off bookkeeping, accounting and tax payments to the company CFO while you focus on growing your business. However, don’t just hand off the finances and hope for the best. Keep a close eye on company finances as you start out and as you grow.

4. Create and adopt a business plan1 

Put it in writing. Potential investors and lenders will insist you put it in writing. By creating a business plan, you define the direction of your fledgling enterprise, charting a course before you open the doors.

5. Consult with a small business specialist at your company’s bank

Many banks that service the needs of start-ups and growing companies have small business professionals on staff. Banks want your company’s business, and they know if they help you in the early stages, chances are you’ll remain a loyal customer as your business grows. Contact your bank and talk to a small business consultant about everything from financing to how the local market stacks up. The right banking advice can help you streamline financials preparation and tax filings, improve cash flow, and lower collection costs. Talk to your banker about business services and tools that can increase productivity right out of the gate.

6. Develop a realistic budget2 

You’ll have many questions when you’re starting out. How much will it cost to launch your new business? What will you need to purchase? Will you advertise? Where and how much? Will you need business liability insurance coverage? Special equipment? A street-side location? Create a budget that accounts for everything from raw materials to paper clips and track your expenses each month to understand where the money goes, and how you may be able to keep more of it.

7. Outsource professional services

Legal and accounting services may be expensive, but before you roll the dice on a new business venture, the advice you get from professionals can save you money down the road. You probably don’t need an attorney, an accountant, or a CFO on staff when you’re just starting out, but you do need legal, accounting and banking advice. Outsource these service needs by hiring an accountant on an “as-needed” basis, contacting a small business attorney for advice on incorporation options and risk exposure, and a business banker to get the most from your company’s bank.

Starting and growing a business can be exciting and extremely satisfying as you take greater control of your life and success. But don’t start off on the wrong foot. Talk to people in the industry. Talk with business associates. Join the Chamber of Commerce – network to learn how to reach business success faster. Preparation will pay off in the long run.

1.    Click here for information from the SBA on about how to write a business plan.

2.    Click here for an article on creating a budget.