No matter how good business is, successful owners are always asking themselves “How can I run a better business?” You already know that consistent evaluation is a must if you want to fuel growth and become more profitable. After all, what gets measured gets managed, right? Most industries are excellent at telling us how to set prices yet tend to fall short on helping us understand how to financially manage our businesses.
Path to Success
“How can you run a better business?” You can gain a solid understanding of your financials. Yes, your to-do list is too long and ever growing. And if you are anything like most business owners, you don’t have the time or desire to learn accounting. Often owners don’t even know where to begin, so if financial management is difficult for you, don’t be embarrassed. I find this to be the case with many of my new clients.
There’s no doubt you can identify aspects of your business that set it apart; however, you may not understand that consistent and careful analysis of your financial information can be one of them. How? Because everything you need to know about your business and the path that it is on can be found in your financial statements. Having accurate and up-to-date financial records allows you to:
- Manage proactively rather than reactively.
- Easily navigate the cyclical nature of a seasonal business.
- Borrow money more easily. (Sharing your budget will impress your banker and improve the odds getting your loan approved.)
- Provide financial planning information for investors. (or potential buyers when the time comes.)
- Make your operation more profitable and efficient.
- Maintain short-term working capital needs to support accounts receivable and inventory more efficiently.
- Set sales goals. (you need to be growth-oriented)
- Improve gross profit margin by pricing your services more effectively or by reducing supplier prices, direct labor, etc.
- RUN A BETTER BUSINESS!
Waiting to Exhale
Are you sitting there holding your breath waiting for me to tell you to take an accounting class? RELAX! You don’t need to learn accounting. But you do need to learn how to make your to use your accounting software. Then, with accurate data in hand, you can consult your Small Business Development Center representative, SCORE representative, bookkeeper, or other trusted adviser to interpret the financial statements for you. Or, later down the road, you could learn to interpret them yourself. (It’s not as complicated as you think!)
The most popular accounting software in the United States is QuickBooks. That’s because QuickBooks is easy to learn. But it’s also extremely easy to mess it up.
Be honest. Are you stressed out just at the thought of tackling your books? Do you ever wonder if you’re using QuickBooks to its fullest potential for your business? Does your accountant send you a huge list of adjustments at tax time? Don’t worry. You are in good company. For instance, I recently worked with a client who has been using QuickBooks in his business for more than 10 years. After our training session he was amazed at the amount of time he had wasted doing things incorrectly and inefficiently. The good news is that, just like my client, you can learn to navigate the program with confidence.
Do What Works for You
There are a variety of ways in which to learn QuickBooks and it doesn’t have to take a lot of your time. You can do it a little at a time or over the course of a few hours.
A word of caution. Be sure you know whether you are using QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online. While the two versions are very different, people often assume they are using the online version because they can access their desktop version remotely. Unlike the cloud (online) version the desktop version must be installed on a device to access it. If you are not sure, Google both and compare the images. They look very different and they operate different.
There are hundreds of video tutorials produced by QuickBooks ProAdvisor’s that break things down well for novice users. There are QuickBooks communities where you can ask questions and receive responses from qualified individuals. And of course, there is the help section within the program itself.
Videos and chat rooms are great when you have specific questions, but not if you want an overview of the entire program. There are courses galore for both versions. Lessons can be spread out over a period of time or can be crammed into a few hours. Just don’t do what I did and spend $500! There are much more economical options.
- Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Development Centers. They often host free or low-cost workshops. If not, they may be able to direct you to someone who provides training.
- If you like taking online classes, websites like Udemy, Intuit, and ed2go are just some that offer quality training. Many are self-paced so work well with your tight schedule. Be sure to shop around because some can be pricey.
- If you are like me and you prefer face-to-face training, many accountants and bookkeepers offer personalized live or virtual. You can check with your accountant for a referral or visit www.qbexpress.com to find an expert trainer who has the most up-to-date materials available. Of course, you could just contact me 😊
Again, before signing on to take a course, be sure the subject matter will cover the QuickBooks platform (desktop vs. online) you are using. Sometimes, once you register and pay you can’t get your money back. Ask first, pay second.
QuickBooks can help you run a better business. It has features to help you grow, manage, and maintain your business. However, that’s not the most important reason to learn QuickBooks. What is? How about having less stress around tax time or your bookkeeping in general? Or, my favorite, spending less time in your books and more time doing what you love…running your business?