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key numbers to focus on in your business now

Key numbers to focus on in your business now

Key numbers to focus on in your business now

As a business owner, it’s always been helpful to have an understanding of accounting – but in the post-lockdown world, it’s never been more important to have a good grasp on your finances.

With the business world irreparably changed by the impact of coronavirus, your business is facing a ‘new normal’. Priorities have changed, customer behaviours have mutated and revenue streams have had to evolve and pivot in order to create a viable post-lockdown business model.

To track, monitor and drive your financial performance in this new business world, it’s increasingly important to have a handle on your key financial reports and metrics.

Getting to grips with your financial reports

Whereas in the past, extra cash in the business may have been seen as a surplus that needed to be spent on something, COVID-19 has shown us that having these reserves is vitally important for the survival and long-term health of businesses.

To truly be in control of this cash, it’s vital that you can dip into your accounts, financial reports and dashboards and ‘see the genuine story’ behind your financial position.


So, what are the key reports to focus on? Let’s take a look:

Budget 

Your budget is the financial plan that's tied in with your strategic plan. In essence, the budget is your approximation of the money it will take to attain your key strategic goals, and the revenue (income) and profits you hope to make during this period. It’s a benchmark you can use to measure your actuals (historic numbers) against, allowing you to see the variances, gaps and missed targets over a given period.

Cashflow Statement 

A cashflow statement shows the flow of money into and out of your business. Understanding these cash inflows and outflows in detail allows you to manage this ongoing process, allowing you to aim for a ‘positive cashflow position’ – where inflows outweigh outflows. In this ideal positive scenario, you have enough liquid cash in the business to cover your costs, fund your operations and generate a profit.

Cashflow Forecast

forecasting allows you to take your historic cash numbers and project them forward in time. As such, you can see where the cashflow holes may appear weeks, or even months, in advance – and that gives you time to take action, whether it’s increasing your income stream, reducing your underlying costs, chasing up unpaid invoices (aged debt) or going to lenders for additional funding.

Balance Sheet 

 the balance sheet shows you the company’s assets, liabilities and equity at a given point in time. In a nutshell, it’s a snapshot of what the business owns (your assets), what you owe to other people (your liabilities) and what money and profits you currently have invested in the company (your equity). The balance sheet is useful for seeing what stock and equipment the business owns, how much debt (liabilities) you’ve worked up and what the company is actually worth – all incredibly useful information to have at your fingertips when making big business decisions.

Profit & Loss

Your profit and loss report (P&L) Your P&L gives you an overview of the company’s revenues, costs and expenses over a given historic period of time. Whereas the balance sheet is a snapshot, your P&L is more like a moving video. It shows you how your finances are progressing by demonstrating how revenue is coming in and costs/expenses are going out (rather than cash coming in and going out, as you see in your cashflow statement and cashflow forecasts).

cashflow and cost control

Cashflow and cost control

Cashflow and cost control

More than ever, cashflow is a vital part of staying afloat, whether your business is in recovery or growth mode.

Revenue, profit and your bottom line will all resume their importance when we’re back to “normal” (however that’s going to look), but keeping everything running is the priority for now.

Regular cashflow forecasts will help you keep that in focus. Here’s why:


Cost control  

If you can't reach your targets for income, reining in your costs may give you a little extra head room to manage cashflow while you plan your next move.

Visibility on outgoings 

Cost control can be a challenge when it’s hard to pinpoint hidden costs or where established ways of doing things cost more money than they should. You may also have been coping with unexpected expenses, as you’ve adapted your business for unplanned circumstances.

Improving business practice

It's more than just keeping an eye on outgoings (though that's important). It's about looking at each aspect of your business and business systems (or the gaps where there should be business systems) to see if poor practice is driving costs up unnecessarily.

It can be useful to break it down  

You can look at cost centres such as office supplies or freight. Or you can look at what those costs do for your business.

It can help to analyse costs in terms of cost of sale and overheads.


Cost of sale and overheads​​​​

Cost of sale (also known as Cost of Goods Sold or CoGS) is how much it costs you to make a sale. In a business which sells products, CoGS is based on the price paid for the product, plus any costs necessary to put the merchandise into inventory and make it ready for sale, including shipping and handling. You can even break it down to calculate the cost of sale of individual units.

Overheads are general business expenses. They can’t be tracked directly to sales. Overheads are what it costs you to open your doors (whether online or actual) every morning.


What’s your plan?
  • Reduce unnecessary expenses - Now might be the time to trim every expense that’s not related to your core product or service.
  • Suppliers - Are you able to work with your providers to ask for discounts or more favourable payment terms on either cost of sale or overhead expenses?
  • Talk to the team - Analyse your costs and involve your team, including frontline sales staff.
  • Advertising - It might be a false economy to cut back on advertising, as customers are online looking for bargains and price-checking alternatives. Targeted campaigns might work better.
  • Prioritise - Can you pinpoint the products most likely to bring the fastest or best return and hold back on products that are a slower sell?
  • Promote or discount - If you have old or slow-moving stock, can you discount it and convert old stock to cash? If you can attract customers now, you may be able to use it to spotlight your other products.

Every dollar you can pull back from your costs can go straight into cashflow.


Want to get a handle on cash flow in your business?

Whether your sales are boom or bust, you want to make sure that your costs aren't holding you back. We can help.

Talk to us if you'd like to review your costs and your systems to keep costs under control. .

reduce your debtor days

Reduce your debtor days and improve your cashflow

Reduce your debtor days and improve cashflow

Managing the gap between the receiving money into your business and paying money out of your business is vital for sustaining viability.

Debtor days is the average number of days taken for a business to receive payment for goods or services. Keeping track of the average number of days for a business to receive payment is important in understanding the cashflow gap you might experience and the impact on cashflow planning and budgets.

How to calculate debtor days

(Year-end receivables amount ÷ annual sales) x 365 days = average debtor days.

Here's an example: An IT consultant has in her terms and conditions that payment is due 21 days after invoice date. But she is interested to know what the actual average payment time is.

Trade debtors at 30 June 2019 = $35,000

Annual sales for 2019 = $478,000

(35,000 ÷ 478,000) x 365 = 26.7 days

With this information, she can either alter her cashflow planning according to the actual time-frame or take steps to reduce the average number of debtor days.

Here are ten things you can do to reduce the payment times?

1. Update your payment terms

Make sure the terms are clear on every invoice issued. Don’t forget to include bank details on the invoice!

2. Regular admin

Schedule a regular time for your own administration and get your invoices out promptly.

3. Send to the right person

When you send invoices, make sure you address the email personally to your contact. Send the invoice to multiple addresses if possible, for example, your contact and the accounts department.

4. Use technology to your advantage

Use automated invoice reminders to notify customers when an invoice is about to be due and then when it is overdue. Do not wait to send notifications manually, let the software do it as soon as the invoice is a day overdue.

5. Make it easy for your customers

List the payment terms, for example, due in 14 days, as well as the actual due date.

6. Provide incentives for early payment 

For example, a 5% discount if paid within five days.

7. Offer several payment methods for clients

Make it easy to pay by adding an online option such as credit card or PayPal.

8. Offer instalment payment plans over a mutually agreed period. 

This allows you to plan for part payments, rather than being inconvenienced by the whole invoice being paid late.

9. Do not offer unlimited credit to customers

Make sure your terms and conditions include the right to refuse further supply if invoices are outstanding. Request part or full payment before supplying more goods or services.

10. Talk to your suppliers

Maintain good relationships and clear communications so they are more likely to help you if you need an extension on your bills. If possible, renegotiate supplier terms that suit your business cashflow.


During tough times it can be difficult to get paid on time. Use low activity phases in your business to update your terms and conditions, implement alternative payment options, think about ways of making it easy for customers to pay you and clarify information on your website.

Talk to us about adding payment options, updating your software and improving business systems to assist in reducing the number of debtor days to improve your cashflow.

We can also look at average debtor days of your business compared to industry averages and discuss ways of managing cashflow during difficult periods.

6 secrets to getting prompt payment

6 secrets to getting prompt payment

6 secrets to getting prompt payment

If you’re struggling with late payments, and about half of small businesses are, here are some simple tips to try.

Invoice without delay

Your customer can't pay until you've invoiced them, so make sure you send you bill promptly. Customers are also more open to paying when they've just recieved the goods or services that you delivered. Cash in the goodwill, there's no reason to delay.

Include all the information

Make sure you invoice has all the right information, including a description of the work or product, the date it was ddelivered, and any customer requirements such as a purchase order number. Some customers have very specific requirements so ask what they need to see on the invoice. Make the due date clear too.

Ask for prompt payment

Customers used to get weeks to pay invoices, but that's changing. More than a third of businesses now request payment within a week. Consider doing the same. Starting off at seven days will help set an expectation of prompt payment. 

Be easy to pay

Customers will pay faster if they can use their prefferemd method to hand over the money. Consider whether you can offer them a variety of options, like a credit card or PayPal.

Chase payments

Your job's not done when the invoice goes out the door. You'll need to follow up with the customer to make sure it's being processed. If the invoice goes past due, it's time to make a phone call.

Talk to us about your invoicing system, we can help you get paid faster.

create cash flow forecast

How to create a cash flow forecast for your business

How to create a cash flow forecast for your business

A cash flow forecast is an important tool for business planning. And right now, understanding the cash coming in and going out of your business is vital.

A cash flow forecast will show you how long your business can continue to survive on current sales levels, by showing you how much money you’ll have in the bank at the end of a period.

It will give you an understanding of what the revenue drivers are in your business, and give you visibility of your expenses and the things you can control. Having this information in a forecast will also allow you to plan for different scenarios, work out your priorities and understand the outcomes of different options such as diversification.

A cash flow plan can give you a proactive tool to deal with uncertainty. If you are seeking funding in the form of a loan, applying for business support or just establishing your long term survival, you'll need a cash flow plan.

What information do you need?

We can help you to create a plan for your business. The plan is only as good as the data you have. So here’s what you’ll need to get started:


Understanding where your cash is coming from

Start with revenue from sales - break your sales figures up by product line and across channels. This will show you where the cash is coming from. For example:

  • Does 80% of your revenue come from only 20% of your products?
  • Do you sell to different markets and does one deliver more revenue than others?
  • Are some of your products high value but low volume or low value at high volume?

The data you collect will enable you to ask questions, such as can you reduce margin to lift sales, can you push volume up or are there other channels to sell through?

Make sure you include all other revenue streams, such as grants, tax refunds or investment in your cash inflows.

Understanding expenses - where is the cash going to?

This will include all the costs associated with your business, including rent, wages, supply materials, bank loan fees and charges, tax bills, and electricity.

If you have a bank loan, include the details such as the length of the term and the monthly payments.

Your cash flow plan should also include tax payments when they are due and any capital expenditures.

Some of your variable expenses will directly relate to revenue such as freight or materials. When your sales stop, these will drop too, so your cash flow plan should reflect this relationship in order for you to scenario plan.

Controlling expenses - what costs are fixed and what are the variable costs that you can control? You may not be able to stop fixed expenses like rent, power and internet, but you could reduce the cash going out on petrol and travel, cleaning, and even directors' drawings.

Making informed decisions in your business

A good cash flow forecast will collate all the data from your business in one place. It will allow you to plan and work out how long your business can weather a storm. It will also help you make decisions around staffing, purchasing inventory, ordering supply materials or investing in growth.

It’s worth remembering that a cash flow plan is a different tool to a budget. Here’s one example: a budget will show sales but a cash flow plan will show the cash benefit of those sales. If you offer credit to customers, your sales may not result in immediate cash flow.


Want to get a handle on cash flow in your business?

If you’re not certain of how to get this information from your accounting software, talk to us about which reports to run. You may need a combination of accounting software reports and projected figures.


Use the information above to source the data you’ll need and get in touch. We can help you build a plan that gives you cash flow projections to assist your decision making.

Managing Cashflow

Managing cashflow and accessing emergency funding

Managing cashflow and accessing emergency funding

Working capital is a vital component of any successful trading business – providing the liquid cash needed for everyday operations. Suddenly finding your business without this cash can be a shock, but there are ways to fill these cashflow holes and get the company back on track.

In short, it comes down to careful cashflow management, and ensuring you have the best possible routes to additional finance and funding provision.

Key ways we can help include

Helping you understand your cash requirements

The starting point of any funding search will always be to understand what your current cash requirements are. This means sitting down to review your whole financial position. Then, armed with this information, we can see exactly how much you’ll need to borrow.

Liaising with banks and lenders

We can put you in touch with the most suitable banks, lenders and alternative funding providers, and can help in conversations with these lenders. For example, you may want to discuss the possibility of extending your overdraft facility, or whether you could temporarily suspend principal payments etc.

Preparing financial information for lenders

Any lender will want detailed financial reporting to back up your loan application. We can produce up-to-date accounts, cashflow statements and forecasts to help banks and finance providers understand your financial health and the risk levels involved in lending to your company.

Accessing government assistance

The Government is offering a variety of ways to support businesses financially during the coronavirus crisis. We can explain what loans, grants, tax reliefs or filing extensions may be available to you, and can help you fill out all the relevant forms and applications to make a claim.

Improving your debtor tracking

Outstanding customer invoices is another key area to get under control. We can help you understand your aged debt position, and identify which invoices you should be prioritising when it comes to chasing up customers and finding mutually agreeable payment terms.

Extending credit from suppliers

The coming months will be tough for many businesses, so it’s worth having open and honest communication with customers and suppliers around when payments will realistically be made. Agreeing on small discounts, part payments or extended terms will all help to increase liquidity for everyone.

It’s likely to be a rocky road for many businesses over the next few weeks and months. So, working together as a business community to support each other will be essential.

If you’d like to get in control of your cashflow management and funding needs, we’re here to help. We can help you crunch those cashflow numbers, access the best possible routes to funding and remove some of the worry during these testing times.

Talk to us about getting on top of cashflow.

The value of cashflow forecasting

The value of cashflow forecasting

During challenging times, many businesses are seeing income either disappear completely or drop to dangerous levels.

To be able to navigate the future path of your cashflow, you need to start forecasting, so you can map out your financial position over the coming months and can take the appropriate action to safeguard your cash position.

Forecasting your future cash piepeline

Projecting your cashflow pipeline forwards during a crisis is vital. Having access to detailed forecasts helps you to scenario-plan, search for cost-savings and look for strategies that will preserve your cashflow position.

Remaining in control of the cash coming into (and going out of) the business is the real focus, so you can accurately predict your financial position and can resolve any issues.

Key ways to get more from your forecasting

Run regular forecasts

The financial landscape is changing on a daily basis at present. A cashflow forecast is not a document that remains static. Variables and external drivers are literally changing each day, so it’s vital that you run frequent forecasts and react swiftly to any projected cash issues as they become apparent.

Use the latest cashflow forecasting apps 

Cashflow forecasting apps, like Futrli, integrate with your Xero accounts, giving a drilled-down view of how your cash inflows and outflows will pan out over the coming months – information that will inform and justify the decisions you make during these extremely challenging times.

Explore the right revenue streams

Most sectors will have seen their face-to-face sales drop to absolute zero since quarantine restrictions came into place. To overcome this, there’s a real imperative to explore revenue streams and new opportunities for income. An example of this is coffee shops that now sell roasted beans online (this will depend on lockdown restrictions). The idea is to find ways to increase the money that’s coming in the door and balance out your unavoidable expenses.

Get proactive with cost-cutting

If you can reduce cash outflows to a minimum, that will have a real impact on the health of your future cashflow. Pare back your operations and aim to reduce things like unnecessary software subscriptions, or over-ordering of basic supplies. Negotiating cheaper rates with suppliers, if possible, will also help.

Review your staffing needs

Now’s not the time to make anyone redundant, but you can look at ways to reduce the costs of staffing and resourcing. Reducing working hours or redeploying staff in different roles are all options that reduce payroll costs, while also looking after your staff’s welfare.

Run a variety of scenarios

Changing the financial drivers in your forecast model allows you to scenario-plan different strategies and options. Many of these will be in a long-term plan when restrictions ease. Scenario-planning lets you answer questions and will give you some hard evidence on which to base your decision-making and strategic outlook over the coming months.

Look at various ways to access funding

If forecasts show a giant cashflow hole coming up, you’re going to need additional funding to get through this crisis. We can assist your business to investigate funding opportunities from grants, banks, loan providers, alternative lenders and crowd-sourcing funders.

Forcasting is an important step to give you the business intelligence to support your decision making.

Talk to us about setting up cashflow forecasting.  Get in touch.

Keeping your cashflow strong in tough times

Keeping your cashflow strong in tough times

Keeping your cashflow strong in tough times

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable in tough economic times.

When sales are slow, there are still overheads and salaries that need to be sorted. Pre-planning and being proactive can help you weather tighter economic periods and allow you to continue to thrive.

Make sure you have a clear picture of your payroll, and any other planned expenses that will need to be accounted for.

If there’s even a possibility that there could be a shortfall, it’s essential to meet this head-on. Whether this means talking to your supplier or creditors to figure out an arrangement, or compromising on other business outgoings, you must make a plan to ensure that the business, or your staff, won’t suffer.

Minimise the stress of cash-flow

Invoice early

Send any invoices that you can, and in advance if possible. Perhaps consider whether you have any regular clients or customers that you could offer a retainer or similar deal to if they book services or make a purchase from you in advance.

Chase payment 

Use this opportunity to chase up any outstanding payments. Strong communication and relationships matter - talk to clients and chase invoices.

Talk to suppliers​​​​​

A little honesty can go a long way. Perhaps they can extend a line of credit for your payments to them. In most cases, a good supplier would rather offer a little flexibility to keep an ongoing business relationship.

Review Inventory

Can you find a cheaper supplier locally to avoid the shipping costs or discuss alternative products that allow you to reduce expenses?

Review your costs

It’s also a good idea to do a general review of expenses. Business costs can creep up, and it’s a great idea to make a time to check on your expenses regularly, no matter what your financial situation. Review all of your regular payments and subscriptions as well as upcoming costs. There may be travel, functions or purchases which you can decide on an alternative approach to.

Talk to the bank or inland revenue

If cashflow is tight, make sure you have conversations early so you have everything in place to see you through.

Need help? We can help you implement strategies to protect your business for the long terms and help you alleviate cashflow worries.  Get in touch.

Colourful abacus on white background

Understanding Your Balance Sheet

Understanding Your Balance Sheet

To understand the financial position of a business at a specific point of time, look at the balance sheet. The balance sheet may also be called the statement of financial position. Together with the Profit and Loss Statement, and possibly other reports such as the Statement of Cash-flow, these reports provide a complete understanding of the financial position and business performance.

So what’s involved?

The balance sheet has three sections: assets, liabilities and equity.

What are Assets?

Assets are things and resources that a company owns. They have current and/or future value and can be measured in currency.

Assets may be subdivided on the balance sheet into bank accounts, current assets, (receivable within one year), fixed assets, inventory, non-current (or long term) assets, intangible assets and prepayments.

These include banks and other financial accounts held, accounts receivable (trade debtors), supplier deposits or bonds, stock on hand, property, equipment, vehicles, investments and intellectual property. All of these can be translated into monetary value.

What are Liabilities?

Liabilities are amounts owed to suppliers and other creditors for goods or services already received. Liabilities may also include amounts received in advance for future services yet to be provided by the business.

Liabilities are generally subdivided into current, (payable within one year), and non-current liabilities.

These include accounts payable (trade creditors), payroll obligations (salaries, taxes, superannuation), interest, customer deposits received, warranties and loans.

What is Equity?

Equity includes owner funds contributed, drawings, retained earnings and stocks. The value of the equity equals assets minus liabilities.

Transactions that affect profit and loss accounts also affect balance sheet accounts. For example, providing a service increases the accounts receivable balance, which therefore increases the equity.

The Balance Sheet Equation

The balance sheet must always balance! Asset value = liabilities + equity.

For example, if you buy a new vehicle for the business at say $50,000, having paid a $10,000 deposit and taking out a $40,000 loan, the value of fixed assets increases by $50k, but the bank asset value decreases by the $10k deposit paid. The value of liabilities increases by $40k loan, thus leaving the balance sheet balanced on both sides of the equation.

The balance sheet equation shows you how much money you would have left over if you paid all your bills and debts and sold all your assets at a given date. This amount is the Owner’s Equity.

Note that the balance sheet equity total is not necessarily how much the business is worth at market value. Assets are listed on the balance sheet at their transaction value, which may be very different from the market value. Some assets may be worth more, and others may depreciate in value. Business value is calculated not just on the balance sheet figures but many other factors.


Need more information?

Talk to us. Get the complete picture of your business performance and financial position, regardless of what stage of business you are at.


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