Author: EricBBigham , Last Modified, 2017-10-08 Deep Down from the album EXILE by ROLLINGEXILE
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God bless technology.
For the past two weeks I have written over 180 articles, most of which were just tests for a blogging application or content management system (CMS) I'm developing.
The CMS supports and is integrated within OnMyBubble.com a "Social Network" website that I started developing in April 2017. It has steadily grown and we are now being received in over thirty eight countries globally, according to Google Analytics.
Unfortunately I still only have around 100 members, most of whom hail from my extended Irish family I must admit, who were really recruited as "so called Beta Testers", but I shall refrain from the "B" word as we are mostly professionals on this site. So on that front at least, I am most definitely underwhelmed as I thought, when I commenced the journey, that social networks were supposed to be popular.
Of course like any start up OnMyBubble.com is still in the "Discovery" phase, that is essentially a phase all start ups must inherently pass through if they are to survive and thrive. It is a stage where the "business" really isn't one at all! Rather the real job of a start up of course isn't to do business, it is to search for and discover who exactly its customers are or hopefully will be.
Reviewing my progress, or lack of it perhaps, yesterday I reflected on my early (Year 2000) dot com experiences. I was a newly qualified accountant then, and had recently been put in charge of building and leading a 15 man finance team for PCCW UK Internet Services Division, PCCW are the Hong Kong equivalent of BT in the UK.
Startups have a certain quality about them, they have a capability to consume cash like paper literally put into an open flame. I have a couple of theories about the reasons for this, it mostly stems from the fact that many of the hires are not actually entrepreneurial minded at all, as one might expect them to be.
Hires that are not part of the revenue and equity share program will be there for salary and that is potentially a danger. On one occasion I was building the Fixed asset register, I hired an accountant to work for my team, he diligently gathered the mass of un-filed purchase orders and invoices that were strewn from pillar to post with zero filing when we arrived at the premises, over a time we managed to create the necessary purchase order logging and invoice posting systems.
I installed the necessary accounting software and set upon the task of reconciling every last shred of an exhaustive paper trail so that I could tie back all expenditure to a fixed asset register that in turn tied purchase documentation back to physical assets.
It was a matter of some urgency at the time in fact because we occupied a large sprawling office park near Chiswick which presented ample opportunity for thieves to walk in and walk out carrying Plasma screens, lighting equipment, chairs, desks, PCs and Blackberries to name but a few of the items that appeared to grow legs and scram.
Our site comprised six television studios and in no time at all we managed to document a list of no less than 12,000 fixed assets that were not previously accounted for. In fact my "Fixed Asset Accountant" was so determined to get to the bottom of the conundrum, on occasions he would have engineers open equipment that was comprised or built from several parts that had different serial numbers and different invoices associate with them, if we couldn't find the asset but had the invoice it formed part of the Insurance claim we made to recover lost funds.
I believe after the exercise we recovered in the region of £ 3.5 Million in unclaimed VAT alone.
But more importantly we had created a cost conscious environment of financial control. Engineers no longer picked up the phone to a supplier to order software or hardware without first taking the time to check if there was a budget for it. We created a Purchase Request Log. If an engineer wanted to make a purchase, they would open a PO Request. A PO request this would be recorded on the system and automatically reduce the Unspent Proportion of their budget. We created designated budget holders. We recognised the risk in slowing down the build roll out of the site, but things had spiralled so far out of control it was necessary to put the breaks on. We needed a process of accountability, or Mr Li would soon deplete his investment fund with little to show for it. On on occasion I came across an invoice for ฃ250,000, it appeared to be for scheduling software. We were not formally auditing internally as such just doing smart housekeeping. My Fixed Asset Accountant, as we titled the role would by tagging assets physically inspect that they in fact existed. This is a basic internal control procedure adhered to by all smart companies, without which the organisation would soon become rife with criminally generated orders and spend, for no value to the business. I was told the scheduling software was never actually used, apparently a few days after it was purchased another scheduler was purchased that did a better job, and the software was now defunct.
It is this precise waste that would not get made if the hires had so called SKIN in the GAME
Once we eventually reconciled the beast, we started to make sense of it all, as we were likely to need this bad boy to recoup VAT and Capital Allowances for the Corporate Tax Return. I'm talking literally millions of pounds in capital expenditure here, just beasetSo what's the point? I hear you ask. Well its just that his start up had achieved well not very much in 18 months and had a cash burn rate that could bankrupt a small country.
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