One key to understanding what’s happening in your business is to understand the numbers. As a business owner, it is certainly important to me to see if my business is profitable or not – but even more important is to see trends that are happening in the business. With QuickBooks (one of the most widely used accounting packages for small business), I can quickly see if we are profitable for the year by creating a Profit & Loss Standard Report with the Date box set to “This Fiscal Year-to-date.” But even more important to me is to see the trends for the year. With a simple click of a button (changing the Columns box from “Total Only” to “Month”) I can see what has happened month by month up to the current month. By reviewing this report on a regular basis, I can quickly spot trends (i.e. expenses increasing at a higher rate than income over a period of time could indicate a need for re-pricing).

Another report that I think is beneficial for looking at trends is QuickBooks’ Profit and Loss Previous Year Comparison report.With this report, I can easily see how my business is doing this year compared to the same period last year. If you want to look at several years together, you can create the same Profit and Loss Standard Report discussed above and change the Columns box to “Year” and set the “From” and “To” dates to the years you want to view.

If you find that these are reports you want to review on a regular basis and you don’t want to re-create them every time you want to see the data, then simply memorize the report with a unique name. To view again, you can go to the Reports tab or Report Center and click on memorized reports.

Other reports that I view on a regular basis include:

    • A/R Aging Summary report: This report shows all your outstanding receivables and, with a click of a button, you can drill down to see the invoices that make up the totals.
  • Unpaid Bills Detail report: This report shows you all your unpaid bills by vendor in due date order.
  • Sales by Customer Summary: This report will help you identify your best customers (you can sort by total and arrange by highest to lowest total). You could use this report if you want to make sure you are spending your time on the customers who are creating the revenue or to periodically reward your best customers.
  • Unbilled Costs by Job: If you assign a customer/job name to expenses and leave the billable box checked, you can pull these expenses into that customer’s invoice. This report shows you a list of expenses you have coded as billable that have not yet been billed.
  • Profit and Loss by Class: If you are using classes in QuickBooks, this report will let you see income and expenses by those classes. It will also identify income and expenses that don’t have a class assigned.

We will talk about other QuickBooks features and a variety of tips and resources to help your business in future postings.

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