Gold coins are depicting as taking root and growing up from the ground.
Automation, forecasting & other strategies to promote healthy growth

The trajectory of a business is seldom linear. There are stages of growth, plateaus and sometimes declines. Scaling a propane business, particularly its financial operations, can be a make-or-break endeavor. I have seen many organizations struggle with the growing pains associated with expansion. The financial infrastructure that supported a business in its infancy or during its early growth phase often becomes insufficient as the scale of operations expands. To mitigate these growing pains, companies must proactively scale their financial operations to ensure the business remains agile, healthy and poised for continued growth.

Automating Financial Processes

The first step in scaling your financial operations is to reduce the manual workload through automation. As the volume of transactions increases, manual processing becomes untenable, error-prone and a bottleneck to growth. Implementing financial software solutions for tasks, such as financial reporting, invoicing, payroll, accounts payable/receivable, credit card processing and bookkeeping can drastically improve efficiency. Automation also offers real-time financial data, enabling better decision making.

Integrating Systems

Financial operations do not exist in a vacuum. They intersect with nearly every other aspect of a business. Therefore, ensuring that your financial systems integrate seamlessly with other business operations, such as purchasing, inventory management, sales and customer relations is vital.


Integrated systems provide a comprehensive view of the company’s health and can highlight areas that require attention as you grow.

Enhancing Financial Reporting

As a propane company grows, so does the complexity of its financial reporting needs. More detailed and frequent reports are required to adequately manage the business.

Operating out of multiple locations, with different departments and various product and service offerings requires the scaling of financial operations. This involves developing a reporting system that can manage these different segments and meet the associated demands. This may require advanced analytics and business intelligence tools that can provide insights beyond the basic financial statements.

Strengthening Internal Controls

Growing businesses often face increased financial risks, including fraud, compliance issues and mismanagement of resources. Strengthening internal controls is essential to mitigating these risks.

This could include implementing separation of duties, regular financial audits and establishing clear financial policies and procedures. To remain effective, these controls must evolve as the business grows.

Forecasting & Planning

Financial forecasting and planning become more critical as a propane business grows. Scalability means anticipating future financial needs and challenges. This includes understanding cash flow cycles, capital investment needs and financial risk management. Accurate forecasting allows for better strategic decisions and helps avoid the perils of undercapitalization.

Developing Talent & Teams

The financial team that worked for a 10-person, two-truck propane company may not have the skills or capacity to manage a 100-person company. Scaling financial operations may require bringing in more specialized talent, such as certified public accountants or financial analysts, and building out teams with diverse financial expertise. Investing in continuous training and professional development is also crucial to keeping your financial team sharp and efficient.

Managing Cash Flow

Cash is king. A pivitol challenge for a growing business is managing cash flow. It’s essential to establish stringent credit control and efficient inventory management to ensure that the business can fund its day-to-day operations without unnecessary borrowing.

This might also mean renegotiating payment terms with suppliers and customers to better align with your cash flow cycle.

Rethinking Financing Strategies

As a business grows, its financing needs to evolve. A scalable financial operation will require a proactive approach to financing.

This may involve diversifying your sources of funding, restructuring debt or planning for equity raises in a way that aligns with your growth trajectory and capital needs.

Regulatory Compliance

Scaling businesses can quickly outgrow their initial legal and regulatory frameworks. It is imperative to have robust processes in place to ensure ongoing compliance with tax laws and financial regulations.

If you have done business in a new state, have you registered to do business there? Are there sales tax compliance implications? Non-compliance can result in fines, legal challenges and damage to your business’s reputation.

Embracing Flexibility

Lastly, financial operations in a growing business must remain flexible, open to reassessing and overhauling systems, processes and teams. A flexible financial operation can pivot when necessary, responding to shifts in market conditions, competitive pressures or internal changes.

Scaling financial operations is an intricate part of business growth. It requires foresight, flexibility and a willingness to invest in systems, people and processes. The effort put into scaling your propane company’s financial operations effectively will pay dividends in the form of smoother expansion, better decision making and the avoidance of those painful growth-related issues that can derail an otherwise thriving business. Remember, scaling is not just about growing bigger — it’s about growing smarter.

Marty Kirshner leads the Energy Practice Group at Gray, Gray & Gray LLP, a business consulting and accounting firm that serves the energy industry. He can be reached at 781-407-0300 or


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