When it comes to business accounting, reporting can tell you about the past, present and future of your business. More than just keeping you prepared for tax time, tracking your financial data is critical to effectively running your company.
Tools like QuickBooks Online offer powerful financial reporting to help small businesses analyze and organize their books. QuickBooks is so comprehensive, though, that it can sometimes be overwhelming. If you’re unsure where to begin, we’ve got you.
As finance and accounting advisors to creative agencies and professional services firms, we work with a lot of business owners who are still working to build solid financial reporting systems. This post will cover five of the most useful reports for understanding your business’ financial performance.
Use These Key Reports to Track Your Business Finances
Make a habit of looking at these five reports on a regular basis, such as at the end of the month when you close your books.
1. Profit & Loss
Sometimes called a P&L or income statement, this is the most important financial status check for any business. The profit & loss statement details exactly where you spend money and where your income comes from. Use this key report to hone in on the most profitable aspects of your business, evaluate spending by category, reveal trends and compare current results with a prior period.
2. Balance Sheet
The balance sheet is a snapshot of the business’ assets and liabilities. In other words, it shows what you own versus what you owe, including physical, intangible, and prior assets. Lenders may use your balance sheet to decide whether or not to approve you for a loan.
3. Cash Flow
For a summary of all cash flowing into and out of your business over a period of time, turn to the cash flow statement. Unlike the balance sheet or income statement, this report tells you exactly how much cash you generated or spent in a period. Cash flow can be wildly different than your net income from your P&L so it’s important to look at this report just as often as you look at net income.
Using cash flow reports to predict future cash flow can be extremely helpful for budgeting, investing and other business decisions.
4. Accounts Receivable (A/R)
This report shows who owes you money, how much, and for how long, so you can quickly identify slow-paying customers and unpaid accounts. A monthly or bi-monthly review of your A/R report helps you manage cash flow and go after low-hanging fruit when it comes to relieving financial strain.
5. Accounts Payable (A/P)
The flipside of A/R is accounts payable or A/P. Your A/P report will quickly tell you how much you owe and to whom. You can use this report to keep yourself off the A/R reports of your vendors and never miss another due date again. Late payments can incur fees or be detrimental to relationships.
Get Your Key Reports Set Up and Review them Monthly
There are many other reports that you can–and should–use when running your business. However, these five serve as the starting point for building good financial hygiene. Checking in with these regularly will help keep you on track (or let you know if you’re going off the rails).
Each month, PlotPath clients receive a comprehensive management report with multiple views of these 5 reports. Check out an example of our financial reporting package here.
If you’re not a spreadsheet person, don’t worry. When you work with us, you’ll also have access to a dashboard that provides a visual representation of all your reports, driven straight from your QuickBooks data. See here for an example of the dashboard report