While we all have to keep our monthly books up to date for tax and other compliance reporting purposes, your accounting efforts should never stop there. Your books hold a wealth of data that you can use to run your business better. Below, we outline five reports your business should never be without.
Budget-to-Actual Profit and Loss Statement
Hopefully, you’ve already seen how powerful the Profit and Loss Statement is. We can take it to a deeper level, though, by adding in budget comparison. With this upgrade, you can now plan your way toward the sales and profit figures you want. As a result, you’ll know every month whether you’re on track, ahead of the game, or need to hustle to close the gap next month.
Most accounting systems allow you to enter monthly budget numbers for your sales and expense accounts. Imagine that this is the financial equivalent of Google Maps, and your business is a cross-country journey. You will be able to see where there is construction and traffic so that you can adjust your route to one more favorable. You can also see where there are cool opportunities ahead and plan accordingly to take advantage of them. Remember: your numbers tell a story.
Actual-to-Prior-Year Profit and Loss Statement
An actual-to-prior-year P&L Statement is an easy report to generate, so long as you have at least two years’ worth of information in your accounting system. This report allows you to compare your business’s results for this year alongside last year’s. Are you ahead? Behind? Have new products and services? New employees? New expenses?
With this comparison, you can take action based on how you would like your business to perform this year versus last year. Unfortunately, while this report is readily available, few companies study it to glean the insights available. Make sure you’re one of them and spend some time analyzing the data in this report.
Sales by Item, Customer, or Division (or All Three)
Inside every business’s sales information is a treasure trove of possibility. Where do you see growth, and how can you capitalize on it? Conversely, where do you see a slowdown, and can you run a promotion to juice things up?
Choose the breakout – customer, item, division, or another – that is meaningful to your business type. Then, if possible, arrange for a searchable database so you can drill down into the detail even more. What trends do you see? What opportunities do you see?
To obtain more information about your profitability and get into the details of how your expenses match up with your sales, you need to review your operational accounting reports. The precise report will depend on your business type. For example, if you are in services, you’ll need payroll reports and timesheets; for retail, inventory reports; construction, job costing reports; and manufacturing, cost of goods sold.
The last report that is essential for good business management is all about cash. There is more than one option here, and these reports can include Accounts Receivable Aging, Accounts Payable Aging, cash flow forecasting, and various cash flow reports.
If you grant customers credit, you’ll want to actively make sure that money is collected on time from customers. If customer balances get too old, action must be taken. Even if you don’t grant credit, transactions such as returns, expired credit cards, and bounced checks need special attention.
The same is true for amounts you owe to vendors with the Accounts Payable Aging report.
If you run tight with your cash balance, you may want to have a cash flow forecasting report on hand. This report gives you good warning as to when your bank balance may dip below your needs. You can then delay vendor payments or find an infusion of cash to cover the shortfall.
With these five categories of reports, you will have dozens of opportunities to run your business more proactively and improve your bottom-line results. If we can help you find or generate any of these reports, please reach out anytime.
Worker shortages have affected many companies over the past year. If you’re one of them and find yourself needing additional workers to keep up with your growing business, we’ve outlined a few jumping-off points that might help your hiring process.
Where to Look for Workers
You may think of workers as only being employees. Though, especially in today’s job market, you may find you have an easier time securing talent through more unconventional methods or platforms. Consider some of the following hiring alternatives:
- Employment agencies
- Online job portals, such as Indeed, SimplyHired, and ZipRecruiter
- Social media, including LinkedIn Jobs
- Your own website, email list, or employee referrals
- Temp agencies
- Specialized online job portals that cater to your industry and business type
- Virtual assistant organizations
- Day labor online sites and pickup areas
- Job matching sites such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.
- Colleges, when you need interns and entry-level workers
- Your local unemployment office
- Small business development centers
- Virtual assistant agencies or businesses
- Chambers of Commerce and other business organizations
- Professional organization directories where a license is required, such as hairstylists, dentists, or CPAs
- Friends, colleagues, competitors, and neighbors; your own personal or business network
- Craigslist and local classified ads
- High school guidance counselors if you want to hire straight out of high school
- Outsourcing to a company that provides the labor that does what you need
- Volunteer matching sites
Options for Adding Workers/Labor
There are many ways you can increase labor in your business. Of course, the obvious is hiring employees. But, beyond employees, there are many more options than you might first consider:
- Contractors, where you have a contract for a particular job and meet all of the IRS and other compliance requirements
- Temp workers, where you “lease” an employee who stays on the temp agency payroll or hire them outright with a limited term of employment.
- Part-time workers on your payroll
- Companies that you outsource the work to and contract with as vendors to provide a particular service. They may outsource your labor needs or have labor as a component of the product or service you have hired them to supply.
- PEO, or professional employer organizations, act as a customer’s employer, hiring their employees and managing payroll and other HR compliance tasks.
- Interns, which are unpaid positions. Check your state and local rules for laws regarding hiring interns.
- Volunteers, a common source of labor if you operate a nonprofit organization.
With all of these options available, you should be able to take advantage of less mainstream ways to add labor and grow your business.
From recycling to driving electric cars, there are myriad ways for all of us to make a difference, and you’re probably already doing your small part to live more eco-consciously. If you’re somebody who frequently looks for better ways to do just that, guess what? There’s an app for that!
In reality, there are a few different apps that can help you track your carbon footprint. In doing so, you can physically see your carbon environmental impact. Below, we have detailed a few of these apps and their benefits. Take a look!
Capture is an app that calculates users’ monthly CO2 targets by asking a series of questions. These questions include things like, “How many flights a year do you take?” and “What kind of diet do you adhere to?” Capture also utilizes GPS tracking to predict emissions from transportation.
Specifically, the app was designed to make planet-friendly living possible, but it also makes the process easier for those interested. Capture claims that users can conveniently “track, reduce, and remove CO2 emissions from everyday life.”
Interestingly, the app can be used single-handedly or with colleagues. If you are a numbers person who likes measuring and tracking, Capture might be an excellent solution for you.
- Understand your carbon footprint
- Discover responsible brands
- Earn offset coins when you make a switch
- Offset your carbon footprint
Almond allows you to scan products to not only learn about a particular item’s story but also see what’s in the product (i.e., if it’s environmentally friendly). You can earn money with crypto rewards to plant and protect trees, which offset your carbon footprint. The more you earn, the faster you can grow your forest to achieve a carbon-balanced lifestyle and reach your personal CO2 Net-Zero.
Of course, plenty of other smartphone apps and tools are available to help you better track and reduce your carbon footprint, including The Extra Mile, My Planet, and Carbon Footprint. The trick is to find the app or tool that works best for you and your lifestyle. Hopefully, our list provides a good jumping-off point for you in your eco-conscious journey.
A lot of times, new business owners ask us one question: How much will it cost for you to do my accounting or taxes? And, we’re happy to answer that question as soon as we find out more about your business and whether we can help you with what you need.
However, you might want to ask us more questions than simply inquiring about our fees. Here are some to consider. And yes, feel free to grill us. We appreciate your interest and want you to know us better. Setting expectations at the beginning contributes toward a healthy long-term relationship between a business owner and their accountant.
- How long have you been in business?
- What experience do you have with companies in my industry?
- What experience do you have with companies at my revenue level?
- What professional bookkeeping, accounting, and/or tax credentials do you have?
- How skilled are you with technology?
- What accounting software do you support?
- Have you earned any accounting software credentials?
- Do you partner with any accounting software vendors, and what benefits do your clients receive from your partnership?
- What accounting and tax services do you offer? Do you have a specialty or favorite service or niche?
- What services are inhouse and what is outsourced by you to other vendors? (example: payroll)
- Are your employees US-based or overseas?
- What size is your team, and who would support my business?
- How do you bill for services: flat-rate or hourly?
- How long is my initial rate locked in for?
- How often do you raise prices on clients?
- What price would you charge to perform the services I need?
- Do you offer a guarantee or warranty on your work?
- How do you protect and secure my financial data?
- Who in your company and supply chain will see my financial data?
- How secure is the accounting software you use?
- Do you require me to sign a contract or engagement letter?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- If I pay for software through you and decide to cancel, what happens to my software and data inside the accounting system?
- Is your firm environmentally-friendly?
- Does your firm support diversity and inclusion?
While Net Profit and your cash balance are probably the first two numbers you look at on your monthly financial reports, those aren’t the only important factors you should be looking out for in your regularly scheduled reviews. You can glean a lot more gems by digging a little deeper and looking at your data through any of the following six perspectives.
Look at your labor detail reports and professional and outsourced expenses to see where you could be automating specific tasks or work types. For example, adding more automation to your workflows could be as simple as automating your team’s calendars so that your admin professional(s) don’t have to spend as long coordinating between other team members. Additionally, if you find that duplicate data entry is driving up costs, reach out to us about integration solutions like Zapier that could free up more time to keep your employees working in their most profitable capacities.
Duplicate or Excessive Expenses
Have you noticed that you’re paying for things twice on your Profit and Loss Statement? Or, are there services, applications, or other expenses you could cut back on?
An area you might see duplicate spending, for example, is insurance coverage. Perhaps your liability and your business umbrella both cover worker’s compensation; see what you can do to reduce the overlap.
A significant example of excessive expense could be your rental. Especially in today’s environment, when many employees are working on a fully remote or hybrid basis, or your overall team is reduced, your office rental could be costing you more than it needs to. For example, if you rent 5,000 square feet but now only need 2,000, see if you can re-negotiate your lease, sublet that extra space, or move to a location that more suits your needs.
Lastly, retainer and recurring expenses should be scrutinized; are you getting what you’re paying for? These opportunities could lead to increased services for the same cost, or you might be able to negotiate for a lower fee.
Remember, all because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Are there tasks or work that an outsource company could do cheaper and better than you? If so, outsourcing could be a profitable option to look into further.
Indications of Fraud, Theft, or Excessive Risk
As owners, we need to protect our business investment, and we should always be on the lookout for signs that our investment may be at risk. If your numbers look odd or unexpected, you should be skeptical and investigate further.
Tax Savings Situations
Investing in tax planning almost always yields the best results, especially this year with new tax relief available to qualifying businesses. Get help from a tax professional to see if you qualify or close to qualifying for tax deductions, credits, and savings.
This list would be remiss without mentioning the obvious opportunities of finding ways to grow sales. Your sales results can give you an idea of where more growth can occur, where promotion opportunities exist, and where completely new revenue sources can be created.
So the next time you review your financial reports for your cash number and net profit, take a closer look through these six filters to extract insightful data on how to run your business better.