Have you ever wondered what drives the leaders of today? On the recent episode of ROI’s Into the Corner Office Podcast hosted by Brandt Handley, we had the pleasure of delving into the life and career of Jason Kruger, the president and founder of Signature Analytics. Jason’s perspective on business and accounting is changing the way owners operate, guiding them to better productivity, profitability, and smarter business decisions.
The Foundation of Business: Understanding Numbers
Jason’s narrative isn’t just about a singular focus on numbers. It’s about the combination of experience, personal values, exposure, and an undying passion for business.
In Jason’s Words:
A Hands-on Start in Public Accounting
It’s true, the beginnings in public accounting felt like drinking from a fire hose. Fresh out of college, you’re plunged into the intricate world of accounting. To compare it to a trade seems apt; it’s a craft that demands both proficiency and patience. But mastering this trade is only part of the challenge. Being a professional extends beyond just honing technical skills—it involves cultivating effective communication, timeliness, and the adeptness to achieve desired results.
The initial years are a steep learning curve. However, with the right guidance, I quickly transitioned from a neophyte to someone capable of mentoring newcomers. Approximately two years into my journey, I began to manage fresh graduates, fostering their development and ensuring the success of our shared engagements. This managerial role also meant collaborating closely with seniors, including the audit manager and partners.
Early Management Challenges
Managing people in a professional setting was a novel experience. While my past roles, like officiating basketball games, taught me the importance of managing expectations, dynamics, and outcomes, corporate management had its unique challenges. Effective communication became the linchpin of my managerial approach. It’s vital to offer guidance and oversight but equally crucial to empower team members, allowing them room to succeed, and occasionally, falter. This balance ensures they grow without compromising the engagement’s success.
The 2008 Decision: Leaving Deloitte & Founding Signature Analytics
Leaving Deloitte during the 2008 economic downturn might’ve seemed audacious to many. The global economic landscape was in turmoil, but my resolution was unwavering. With supportive circumstances at home and an entrepreneurial fire within, I knew it was the right time. The initial news of Lehman Brothers’ collapse was shocking, but with no revenue or employees yet, I felt I could only ascend from that point.
The core motivation for establishing Signature Analytics was clear. My time at Deloitte had shown me a glaring gap in the mid-market sector. Many of these companies viewed accounting as just a routine, overlooking its potential as a tool for strategic insight. They had a vague idea of their overall margins but lacked a detailed understanding, limiting their ability to make informed decisions. Many were still reliant on basic bookkeeping, and inadequately prepared for interactions with banks or investors.
Introducing Signature Analytics
At its heart, Signature Analytics is all about value enhancement. Unlike traditional services from firms like Deloitte, we focus on augmenting a client’s accounting and finance functions. We assess their teams, refine their processes, and bolster their technological and reporting capabilities. Our goal is to transform accounting from a mundane task into a strategic asset, equipping companies with timely insights that inform decision-making.
For the mid-market, our solutions have been game-changing, blending thoroughness with scalability, and providing them with the top-tier expertise they deserve.
Efficient Accounting for Middle Market Companies
The hallmark of an efficient accounting process lies in a system that is both robust and streamlined, providing accurate and timely information. For mid-market companies, which often have more complex needs than smaller businesses but lack the resources of large enterprises, achieving this can be particularly challenging. Here are a few key markers of an efficient process:
Peace of Mind for the Business Owner: One of the most telling signs is the comfort and confidence the owner feels about their financial situation. They shouldn’t be worried about imminent financial obligations like payroll or doubt the liquidity and cash flow status.
Consistent and ARTful Reporting: The financial reports a business owner receives should be Accurate, Relevant, and Timely (ART). This ensures they can make informed decisions.
Rigorous Internal Processes: Closing the books consistently, maintaining detailed supporting schedules, and ensuring oversight of payments are integral components.
Effective Team Support: A robust lower-level team, managed and supervised properly, ensures smooth operational flow. This also involves processes for invoicing and payments that optimize cash flow.
Cash is King: Jason’s emphasis on cash flow underscores its paramount importance. Effective management of cash flow enables reinvestment and data-driven decision-making.
Metrics for Profitability
Gross Margin: A fundamental metric, the gross margin is the difference between sales and the cost of goods sold. Understanding this margin, especially in the context of the industry, provides insights into profitability.
Expense Management: Keeping a close watch on expenses can lead to substantial savings. Tech stack costs, for example, can spiral out of control. An audit of these costs can reveal wastages and areas of renegotiation.
Jason’s leadership journey reveals insights valuable for any aspiring leader:
Humble Leadership: Recognizing that one doesn’t need to be the smartest in the room, but rather, needs to surround themselves with expertise.
Holistic Business Understanding: A CEO doesn’t need to be an expert in every business function, but they need to grasp each aspect. This knowledge ensures they can effectively guide and manage their teams, even if those teams have deeper expertise in their respective fields.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Some invaluable advice for those eyeing the corner office or looking to become entrepreneurs:
Full Commitment: Business owners have to have full commitment to achieve success. Those who dabble or try to juggle multiple ventures often find it challenging to succeed in any.
Willpower is Essential: Even when the results aren’t immediately visible, determination and a long-term vision can lead to eventual success. Willpower can propel individuals a long way.
Continuous Learning: CEOs or business leaders don’t need to be experts in every field, but they should possess a basic understanding of all aspects of their business, from finance to marketing. Hiring experts is essential, but having foundational knowledge enables better decision-making.
Expertise is a Game-Changer: Signature Analytics brings expertise to the table, helping CEOs understand their numbers better.
Jason’s journey from Deloitte to starting his company, Signature Analytics, underscores the importance of adaptability, commitment, and continuous learning. Whether you’re aiming for the corner office or striving to be a successful entrepreneur, understanding every facet of your business, communicating effectively, and surrounding yourself with the right people who have the right expertise are critical components of success. It’s not about being the smartest in the room but being the most dedicated, adaptable, and knowledgeable.
Learn More About Signature Analytics
Outsourcing accounting services can provide businesses with a cost-effective and flexible solution to managing their financial operations. With Signature Analytics, businesses can access a full-service accounting team that can provide expert advice, improved accuracy and compliance, and increased focus on core business functions.
Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your business thrive.