Tag Archives: Monthly Financials

P&L’s – The most important number?

I received a question about  our recent post regarding Financial tools every business needs regarding the Profit and Loss Statement.

The question is…

” Which is the single most important number to help manage your business on the P&L?”

The answer quite simply is the “% Variances” column.   Not all P&L reports even have that so what is it?  To truly have an idea where your business needs to be, you need to start with creating a budget.  Every line on a P&L should have a “budgeted amount”  number in it.  This is the amount you expected to spend to yield the profit you planned.  If you don’t do the work to create a budget, then the P&L looses half of its value as a tool to help your businesses ability to generate revenue.

Many know that to help manage your business you compare the “Actuals” to the “Budgeted” columns for each line.  But there should also be a percentage column next to each of these showing the percent of total revenue that each is, which isn’t as common to find in smaller businesses P&L.  It is important to do this because Percentages reflect day to day execution of the operations in your business.

The VARIANCE column shows the difference between the budgeted and actual dollars spent, which should also have a % Variance column next to it.  This is an excellent “At a Glance” illustration of how you did in that area for the given period (+/-).

The variance dollar columns are great information for when you need to “dig in” and find why an area was high or low, but comparing that areas “actual” percent to the percent of “budgeted” revenue….

is the single most telling number for performance.

Example:

Sales are up, which would likely mean some controllable expenses are up, right? But how much more should you spend to maintain your margins?  Management needs to make sure expenses are still with in the Budgeted percentage of sales to maintain profit levels as expected.  Simply put if you expected to spend 20% of your expenses on materials, you should still spend 20% on materials whether sales go up or down.  This column helps you keep an eye on that and make adjustments if necessary.   Businesses that have a lot of fluctuation tend to run these reports more often (Food, Retail, etc).  This helps you control your product costs.  Granted, this may also mean that profit dollars are down (assuming revenue is down), but at least you maintain product and fiscal integrity.  That is very important which I have a lot to say about as well as how to impact these numbers, but I will save that for another time.

But the SINGLE most important number, one that a Business Analyst or Owner should focus on first is the % Variance to budgeted because it shows so much information.

Call me if you need help with this, my number is at the bottom of our Contact page.

Carpe diem!

Non Profits & Small Business – 3 Keys to Finance Basics

Businesses of all sizes will eventually need to prepare and manage three basic financial statements.  They are included in any comprehensive Business Plan and I will show you how they are commonly used for business strategy and routine Operations Management decisions.  These are the Profit & Loss Statement (P&L), the Balance Sheet, and the Cash Flow Statement.  I admit these can be both intimidating and confusing yet the sooner a business can use these as a compass the sooner they can be financially independent.

They will be asked for by any Business Analyst, Loan Officer, or Financial Advisor of your business so what are they?

Defined

Profit & Loss Statement (P&L) –  Also called an income statement.  This is a consolidated record showing how much you have spent (expenses) and how much you have made in revenue.  The two are calculated showing what your net income is over a specific period of time.  The period of time these show may depend on the industry you are in and typically are either by calander months, fiscal period(typically 28 days), or weekly.  It is also very common to have quarterly P&L showing a consolidated series of numbers that help you determine if it is time to sound the alarm or not.

Balance Sheet – This is a dashboard of your companies overall health.  It provides a summary of the businesses assets, liabilities and net worth.  Essentially the balance sheet tells you what you own and what you owe.  Assets are resources your business controls such as cash, equipment, buildings, furniture, inventory and money owed to you.  Your Liabilities will be the obligations you owe to others such as payroll, taxes,  Accounts payables or loans.  Your net worth is what is left over.

Cash Flow Statement –  This report demonstrates how cash has flowed in and out of your business over that time period.  Typical software programs to produce all of these would be Quicken or  Peachtree if you do your numbers your self (opposed to an Accounting Firm) or for smaller or really savvy businesses Excel works just fine.

How you use themthe 101

P&L – Depending on the scope of your business the P&L Statement can be very complicated or extremely simple.  The key is to have it inclusive of money going in and out of the business over a set period of time.  All expenses should be categorized so that at a glance you can tell why and where they are up or down from a previous period or the “forecast” budgeted amount .  Similar with revenue.  The more information the better because this tool will not only help track history, but it will help you predict future spending in most areas.  The expenses are commonly broken down into two categories; “Controllable and Non Controllable”.  Examples of non controllable expenses would be rent, loans & taxes.  Controllables are pretty much anything you can say “NO” to (much more on that another time).  This report will subtract the expenses from the revenues and show your “net profit” at the bottom.  This is a very important report for the Operations Management team to utilize and if used properly it can be very effective in containing costs and contribute to a positive cash flow for the company.   But it is not all inclusive and needs to be used in conjunction with the other two forms.

Tip – A “best practice” I have all my clients do is when using a P&L is to have all expenses broken down as a percentage of total revenue that is expected.  Manage by using the percentages and not necessarily the dollars on the form.  Ex:  (Forecasted Revenue is always 100%).  Say labor is expected to be 15% of your revenue $.  Then lets say Revenue is down a little.  The manager can either adjust labor or not during that month.  Well if labor comes in at 14% of  projected revenue, you may still be ok in that category.  If labor comes in at 20% because the manager did not use the P&L to make adjustments, then you have lost money.  Same goes for every line on the P&L.  The more information you have, the better your daily decsions could be!

Balance Sheet –  This report is generally broken into a few areas.  Assests will be broken into categories depending on how accessible they are or how quickly you may expect to use them.  “Current or Fixed”  is common terminology.  Current assets, often referred to as “Liquid” means you could use it today if needed (cash, accounts receivables, or short term investments) and are usually listed first.  Followed by Fixed assets which may be a building or equipment you own.  While you could free up money invested in these it may take some time to access it.  Under Fixed assets you are likely to find “Depreciation” which is the amount of money estimated to be used up from the fixed assets. Meaning,  if you had to sell them today, what would they actually be worth?  If you subtract the depreciation from the Fixed assets you will determine how much is available or “net Assets”

Liabilities are listed next and they are everything that the business owes to someone else.  Accounts payable, taxes, loans, wages, etc.  Similar to assets these are also categorized by time frames, although Liabilities are listed by due dates.  If your business has a invoice that has 90 days on it, it won’t be listed on your P&L, but will be listed on your balance sheet.

Both the assets and the liabilities are then subtracted from the assets to determine a businesses “Net worth” or “Owner Equity”.  In short it is a snapshot of what you would have left if you had to sell the business today after you paid everything off that you owed.  Most would agree, it is a good idea to keep an eye on this figure!

Cash Flow Sheet –  depending what type of business you are will determine the frequency in which you use this report.  Any organization that may have an unpredictable revenue stream will rely on it more frequently.  As one Non Profit client put it, “this report essentially shows you how much air you have left”.  This report will not only list what cash is expect to come in and go out of the business, but it calculates a time frame of how long the business could continue should things change drastically.  Generally measured in days weeks or months depending on the size of the Balance Sheet numbers.  In a larger corporate environment this is only reviewed by the most senior level Executives but for Small Businesses and Non Profits, who tend to live “day to day” this can be a helpful report to review quarterly.  Because using just a P&L, like so many companies do, can be deceiving.  It may look like you made money during a specific period but other expenses not appearing on a monthly P&L may come to terms.  Remember the 90 day invoice I mentioned earlier?  Well that may also need to be paid which can throw off your cash accounts.  A Cash Flow sheet would show what will be due and help you plan for it so you don’t become over extended.  As mentioned this is particularly important for many small or seasonal based businesses and pretty much all Non Profits.

As mentioned most software packages on the market will take a lot of the work out of creating these important reports for you.  All it takes is a small time investment to load all the information on a daily basis.  If you prefer to hire an Accounting Firm to get you started, I work with several I would be happy to recommend.  I guarantee that using these standard Financial tools will improve your businesses ability to generate revenue.

For more business basics click here for information on our Business Boot Camp Workshop

Carpe diem!

10 steps to a better Inventory Process

To many it is a dirty word, but most businesses understand that “taking inventory” is a necessity and must be dealt with.  The frequency of it is often determined by the industry and it ranges anywhere from once a week to once a year.  But Inventory is an extremely important tool and when managed properly will not only add to a companies profit line, but contribute to keeping your cash flow lower.

Many dread the process.  It can be very lengthy and tedious.  We thought it would be helpful at year end to pass along some tips to help make this process more efficient for you.  Simply put, the more organized you are, the easier and quicker it goes and the better you do it, the more you know where your money is.  When working with clients, I often offer to do an inventory with them.  They usually jump at the offer for help, and it gives me great insight as to how they run their office and thus lets me know where to dig in deeper.  The goal is usually to do a better job with Inventory and save them time doing it.  I have listed those things I look for below.

Inventory is a process; don’t view it as a task.  So many look at it as a one time task of counting what’s on hand.  That part of the process is referred to as the Physical Inventory, but it should not be viewed as the only component.  What leads up to, and happens after the Physical Inventory is equally important in the process and each adds to the efficiency of the other.

Why is this process so important?

Inventory takes a lot of time to perform correctly.  What if you could save ½ hr or more every time you do it?  I save most people at least an hour by having them follow the steps below.  Oh, and also….this is money were talking about.  Inventory is important because the dollars it identifies are vital when figuring out your product costs, so the more detailed the collection process, the better your product costs look.

If you don’t have everything I list here in place, it may take a few months of implementing to really see the effects of how much time it will save you.

Here are what I refer to as  the 4 components of the Inventory Process;

Determining need(s)

    • Establishing what needs to be in your inventory ahead of time helps streamline the counting process.
    • Establish Product specifications and Order guides to insure consistent ordering.
    • Have Vendor agreements to insure pricing, quality and consistent supply.
    • Have Production systems in place that can establish pars on items needed to inventory.  Keeping inventory as low as possible to meet demand.

Organize

    • Organizing storeroom logically and insure items are located together.
    • Establish product pars to insure adequate space is available.
    • Create Physical count sheets to mirror storage to accelerate counting process.  (see “Shelf to Sheet” below)
    • Have someone clean and organize store room prior to counting.
    • Create different count sheets for different store rooms and consolidate like items at the end of the counting process (not during)

Daily Management

    • Label and date to help insure proper rotation (everything has a shelf life)
    • Limit access and secure storeroom when not in use. (Key control)
    • Minimize storeroom personnel to ensure consistent receiving and control
    • Limit who receives orders and handles invoices
    • Perform account receivable tasks as invoices are received

Monthly Management

Pre- Physical counting

    • Ensure the most current price is on the Inventory extension sheet (Master Spreadsheet) for each item (changes by industry) and that it is done prior to Physical counting day.  Account receivables need to be up to date at time of Inventory counts.  Doing price changes at the same time is proven to not be efficient.

Post Physical counting

    • Review and tally all Physical count sheets.  If products may be found in multiple spots, consolidate to one number to enter on the Master spreadsheet.  Doing this ahead of time will expedite the data entry AND begins the analytical process.
    • Enter counts in Master spreadsheet to allow for calculations (referred to as “Extensions”)
    • Review extensions and look for obvious errors.  – Key miss-types or entered as “each” but priced by “case” would be one of the more obvious
    • Analysis of inventory by category totals and comparison to prior inventory.  Look for any major differences, variations, or trends.

Depending on the industry, I generally advise establishing an acceptable variance by Inventory category becomes established.   If over the “acceptable” variance (5%?) then have the manager report as to why.

Other key points that will help your Inventory process
  • Make sure how it is being counted is consistent with how it is purchased, used or stored.  If it comes in a case of 100 ea., yet they are only used 1 at a time, then break the sheet down to an “each” price and inventory them by the “each”.
  • If it is purchased by the pound, then make sure there is a scale available when inventorying occurs.  Do NOT assume each one is a given weight.  There is a reason why the maker doesn’t price the product this way.
  • The Physical Count process needs to be completed at a designated time when no product will be entering or exiting the storeroom(s).  Often done after hours or before business start for the day.  If you have multiple units doing individual inventories, it is important to insure they all do it at the same time, otherwise performance comparisons are difficult.
  • Utilize  “Shelf to Sheet ” – a 2 party system during physical inventory.  Inventory is not about filling in what is on the count sheet; it is about capturing the money on the shelf.

                 Process -One person starts in the upper corner of a storeroom and calls to                                             the second person.  The person calls what item it is and how many there                                                are.  The second person finds the item on the count sheet and writes down                                             the amount.  If they don’t find the item on the sheet, they write it down                                                   separately to be added at the end of the process.  The first person then goes                                       to the item adjacent to what they just counted and calls that item off etc.                                             This is done throughout the storeroom and is a methodical way to ensure                                               everything is accounted for.

  • Make sure Physical counts are never taken while someone is sitting at their desk.  Mistakes happen and this is why they call it “Physical” inventory.
  • Lastly for proper control a non Ordering/Receiving person should be involved in performing the physical counts also.  This is a common Risk Management practice plus; people that touch these products everyday are more likely to make assumptions/mistakes during a lengthy Inventory process.

 

Carpe diem!