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Becoming a CFO: How Sharon Norris Conquered Money Flow

Sharon Norris never expected to handle money flow at her family’s business full-time.

She’d been working with her mother-in-law at Empire State Associates, a manufacturers rep in the plumbing and heating industry in upstate New York. Her mother-in-law had been handling the bookkeeping and accounting for the small business for over 40 years. When her mother-in-law passed away in February 2020, Sharon stepped the role full-time. 

It wasn’t her area of study. It wasn’t a position she necessarily wanted. She had to learn from the ground up.

I was already working with Empire State Associates when Sharon took on the bookkeeping role. Our focus became giving Sharon the peace of mind to step confidently into her expanded position. 

In three years, Sharon went from part-time bookkeeper to full-time CFO. Now, she’s in complete control of the company’s money flow and business finances, and spearheads changes to help the business grow. 

Conquering Money Flow and Learning to Speak Bookkeeping

When Sharon and I started working together, there were a few tears. Learning the nuances of bookkeeping can be stressful. We met three to four times each week for a year, reviewing financial terms and technology, maintaining the books, and attending financial meetings together. 

Over time, we tightened up the company’s expenses — and were even able to give Empire State Associates employees bonuses during COVID. We also implemented technology that helps salespeople track mileage digitally. 

And even today, I’m here to give Sharon support. We attend meetings with the company’s CPA together to ensure we’re all on the same page. Sharon has the company’s money flow under control — but having someone in your corner never hurts!

Moving From Manual to Digital

When Sharon took over her role, tracking expenses relied on printed receipts and snail mail. We found a way to cut out the middleman — or in this case, the mailman. 

We moved the company’s mileage tracking to an app that makes it easier for employees to report travel. But the biggest transformation came after adding a cloud-based filing cabinet to their tech stack. This software allows employees to report all expenses digitally, including uploading receipts. It’s even audit-compliant! 

These tools helped take the company fully digital, saving them time and money. Finding hidden pockets of time to focus on revenue-generating work instead of details is always a win!

Systems, Systems, Systems

Systematizing as many processes as possible is the key to maintaining a sustainable business. As Sharon became confident in her bookkeeping role, we moved on to new challenges. Next up? Standard operating procedures (SOPs). 

Compiling SOPs is a daunting but necessary undertaking. Employees will get sick or take a vacation. Having an outline of what they do and how they do it can make all the difference between stressing or sending employees off to rest with confidence. 

Having SOPs in place ensures Sharon and her co-workers can expect the right outcomes no matter who steps in to complete a task. 

How Conquering Money Flow Impacts Confidence

Sharon stepped into her role during a difficult time personally and for the company. Our goal was to figure out where the company was and what would take it — and Sharon — to the next level. 

Remember those weekly meetings? They’re a thing of the past. 

We meet monthly now, and the calls are very different. Sharon has already reconciled the books, and we just review the numbers. At the end of the year, she’s ready to hand off the information with ease. 

We’re able to focus on shoring up other aspects of the business. Sharon shifted many of their processes online, systematized their operations, and freed up time to work on creating SOPs. 

The best part? Sharon feels the difference — she’s in a good place.

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