A quick glance is all you need to check your fuel gauge, speed limit, engine temperature, and RPM when you’re driving down the road. Your car’s dashboard is designed to focus you on what’s important and what you need to know to have a safe trip.
Your car’s dashboard items, if they applied to business, would be called key performance indicators or KPIs. Unlike a car’s, the KPIs of your business vary depending on your business goals and what’s important to you. Common ones might include your cash balance, how fast you get paid, how much revenue is coming in, and whether you’re making plan. There are literally hundreds of them to choose from, and many of them are not derivable from your financial statements, such as number of orders, client satisfaction levels, and employee turnover.
Would it be useful to have a dashboard of KPIs for your business so you can know what’s working and get alerted to what needs focus? Here are the steps to creating a dashboard for your business:
- Decide on the KPIs you want to track. Selecting 6-10 to create and track is a good place to start.
- Select a tool that will provide you with the KPIs in the format you desire. There are many great add-ons to your accounting software that will instantly crunch the financial KPIs for you and present them in insightful formats, including charts, graphs, dashboards, and reports.
- Create any new processes to calculate the new KPIs and get them entered into the dashboard app.
- Hold a review meeting to go over the KPIs and determine any action based on the review.
There are many great KPIs available right in your accounting system, which might be plenty to get started with. And there are some real gems outside your accounting system that will take a bit of work to calculate. In any case, we can help you through this process. Feel free to reach out to us any time to discuss the possibilities of having a dashboard in your business.
If you have employees, you have the distinct honor once per year of being part of a worker’s compensation audit. You likely receive a form in the mail, an email request, or a phone call that will ask you about your payroll numbers and employees for the prior year.
Worker’s compensation is an insurance program that covers employees in the case they get hurt on the job. Each employee receives a classification code that describes the type of work they do, and a rate is figured based on the classification and its risk factors.
If you’ve hired anyone throughout the year, you might need to get a new classification by contacting your provider. If you have employees working in different locations (especially different states), that matters too.
The audit form will typically ask for gross payroll numbers by employee or by category or location of employee. That’s easy enough, but seldom does the policy run along your fiscal year, so the payroll figure needs to be prorated to match the policy period.
Your numbers need to tie back to the numbers reported on your quarterly payroll reports for both state and federal. The provider may also want copies of your 941s and your state payroll reports.
Once you’ve submitted your numbers, the insurance provider will calculate whether they owe you or you owe them additional fees.
The worker’s compensation audit happens every year (even if you pay worker’s comp premiums each pay period, some companies still request an annual audit). It’s not difficult, but it is time-consuming. If this is something you’d like our help with, please feel free to reach out.
The products and services your business sells make it unique. The same thing is true of how these items are set up in your accounting software. Whether you’re using QuickBooks Online or something else, getting your products and services set up right can impact the quality of the information you can get out of your accounting system.
Here are the types of items you can set up in most systems.
Inventory items are used in retail and wholesale businesses. They are physical items that the system can keep count of for you. You can purchase or make the items, and the associated cost is usually tracked when a shipping receipt or bill is entered. They are sold when a sale is made and an invoice or sales receipt is entered.
Transactions using inventory items impact a lot of accounts on both the balance sheet (cash, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and inventory) as well as the income statement (cost of goods sold, sales, and returns). The inventory item can be tied to default sales and purchase accounts in most systems.
QuickBooks offers a type of item called a non-inventory item. There’s a big difference in that non-inventory items do not have quantities associated with them. They don’t increase or decrease the inventory account. But they are able to be tied to default sales and purchase accounts like inventory items above.
Examples of non-inventory items include items purchased for a specific jobs, such as a contractor purchasing appliances for a custom home, items you sell but do not buy, such as an ebook or other digital product, and items you purchase but do not sell, such as shopping bags.
A service item is a special type of non-inventory item. There are no quantities, which makes sense because services are not physical items. They also are only connected to a sales account and not a purchase account.
With service items, you could set up service packages or hourly rates.
A bundled item is a group of items that were designed to be sold together. For example, if you sell a gift basket of coffee products, you would bundle the items used to create the basket.
An assembly item is a special type of inventory item where the quantity is tracked, but it differs from an inventory item in that it can’t be sold separately because it is a component and not a whole item. Assembly items are available in larger accounting and inventory apps, such as QuickBooks Enterprise, and are used in conjunction with a Bill of Materials or other build feature.
An example is a set of shelves. The assembly components are the individual shelves and the frame pieces that you may want to keep counts of. An inventory item that contains the shelves, the frames, and other parts is “built” from the assembly items. The nuts and bolts could be non-inventory items or assembly items, depending on whether you wan to keep count of them or not.
Sales tax is a very special type of item used on an invoice or sales receipt to calculate sales tax due on the order. In many accounting systems, it’s usually kept in a separate list from the other product and service items. Rates can be entered for each sales tax jurisdiction.
Some systems have an “other” category to capture items such as freight, shipping, handling, and other add-ons to the sale.
Setting up the right type of products and services is critical to matching costs and revenue for accurate insights into gross margin. This section of your accounting system is also the one that’s most different from industry to industry and company to company. Be sure you get professional help from experts who know both the software and your industry for best results.
Fixed assets are special kind of assets in your business. They include land, buildings, equipment, furniture, and vehicles that your company owns. While we frequently look at expenses to cut costs, fixed asset management is another place we can look to find ways to better utilize our resources and, in some cases, improve our profits.
Fixed asset management is a discipline that requires keeping good records of the assets a company owns. In the case of furniture and equipment, many businesses place an asset tag on the item and assign it a number that goes in a spreadsheet where data is kept about the item. There are also software apps more sophisticated than spreadsheets that track all of the fixed assets for a company, including original cost, depreciation method and history, and tax treatment.
You never know how many of an item you might have until you record and count them. How many computers (and computer parts) do you have lying around your office? Extra desks and chairs? Maybe you even have extra office space or extra land.
Part of being a great entrepreneur is fully utilizing all the resources you have at your disposal. Where can you put to better use the extra assets you have? Could you sell the surplus items? Or donate them for a write-off? Do you have extra room to rent out to a tenant, earning rent?
Sometimes we’re so focused on operating the core of our business that we don’t see what else is a money maker right in front of us. In addition to focusing on income and expenses from operations, consider the resources you have in your fixed assets.
At the very least, consider developing a spreadsheet that tracks the major items your business owns. Or reach out to us, and we’ll help you develop a fixed assets schedule and tracking process for your business.
And if you do sell some of your fixed assets, be sure to reach out to us so we can help you book the transactions properly.
Whether you call it bacon, Benjamins, or big bucks, cash – and having enough of it – is key to running your business. Here are five tips related to managing and getting the most out of your business cash.
1- All banks are not the same.
Choose your bank wisely, and don’t be afraid to switch if you need to. Banks know they have a “high switching cost,” which means it’s one big time-consuming hassle for customers to change banks.
A couple of things that are important when choosing banks (some of which we never knew to ask five years ago) include:
- Is your accountant able to connect your accounting system with free bank feeds, saving you hours and hours of accounting work?
- How automated is your bank? The more automated, the fewer errors, and the more likely the bank is to have competitive services, features and prices.
- What is their policy on holding large deposits?
- Do they offer ACH services?
- Does your payroll withdrawal need to be approved each pay period?
Accountants have experience with banks, so if you are in the market for a new one, feel free to reach out and ask us our opinion on the easiest bank to work with.
2- Keep the number of cash accounts to a functional minimum.
Certainly, you’ll need at least a business checking account, often a business savings account, a business PayPal account, and perhaps a petty cash fund. You may also want a separate account for payroll; a lot of companies do. But if you need more accounts, there should be a functional business reason to support them. That’s already a lot of accounts to reconcile and keep track of each month.
The same is true of credit card accounts. It’s the keep-it-simple approach.
3- Reconcile all of your cash accounts every month.
Keeping all of your cash accounts reconciled each month is a good idea. If a bank error, accounting mistake, or even fraud occurs, you can catch it and get it resolved more quickly than if you delay.
You’ll also have more accurate information about your balances and can move and manage your money better.
As you learn your balances each month, you can also move money around. Unless you spend a lot out of PayPal, plan to move that money to pay off debt or into your checking account on a regular basis.
4- Maintain a cushion in your checking account.
If your checking account hovers close to zero more often than not, you may be wasting precious time watching your bank balance instead of spending time to manage your business. If you make a small error, you may get hit with costly overdraft fees, making your cash situation even worse.
Instead, consider depositing a fixed amount, like a cushion, that you never spend. You won’t get overdraft fees, and you won’t have to watch your balance so closely. You may give up some interest income, but the time freed up and the reduced worry will be worth a few extra pennies.
5- Watch your liquidity.
Cash is to business as water is to people; we can’t live without it. Make sure you have enough to cover future obligations, and when possible, build up several months of reserve for emergencies. Anything that you can liquidate quickly, such as accounts receivable, can count toward this fund too.
Try these five cash flow tips to keep bringing home the bacon in your business.