For this week’s edition of FinanciElle “Statements” I had the opportunity to interview Manjit Minhas, Co-Founder and CEO of Minhas Breweries, Wineries, and Distillery and Dragon on CBC’s Dragon’s Den.
Paolina: What has been your hardest experience dealing with your business and finance and what did you learn?
I started in business when I was 19 and had an engineering background so I was thrown into the finance side and not taught anything about it, I didn’t know any of the terminology or how to read financial statements. We also started the business with only $10K so I had to learn about negotiating payment terms and how all the pieces worked – from how our product was made to shipping costs and taxes, it was a steep learning curve.
What I did, and what I recommend others do, to understand the basics, is hire an accountant and a bookkeeper, which I learned were two entirely different things. I hired them to teach me how to do the work and build a solid understanding of the numbers. For the first two years, I worked with them to understand how accounting worked and where to put revenue, expenses, what’s amortization, etc. and to understand the accounting differences between the USA and Canada. Doing this really helped me learn a lot and I still oversee the finance and accounting.
Paolina: What advice do you wish you had gotten about finance when you were first starting your business?
I wish someone had told me to take some basic accounting classes, especially since I was still in university when I started, where to go to find information about things like tax law changes – you can Google it but there’s so much out there it would have been nice to know exactly where to go, and how important being able to read a balance sheet is and all the nuances. Especially when you’re a private company that’s not required to be audited, it’s important to do regular financial health checks, that way you can catch things before they become a problem.
Nobody talks about what’s considered the “boring” stuff, finance and accounting, but it’s very important. Too often, when businesses are starting out, they think making an investment in this area is just an extra expense but it’s not.
Paolina: What topics would you want to learn more about when it comes to finance and your business and why?
I’m constantly learning and staying on top of tax implications in the business especially. I would like to learn more about international finance and its impact on the Canadian business – tax structures, dealing with income and expenses brought back to Canada, tax changes. You have to plan for the impacts so you need to be aware of their implications on spending. It’s pointless to make money if you don’t understand how it’s coming in and where it’s going.