Cash flow reports show the money going in and out of the business, so they’re better indicators of a business’s overall financial health than a Profit and Loss statement (P&L).
A cash flow report enables you to make forecasts and budgets for your business based on previous trends — recurring expenses, average time to get paid, seasonal quiet periods, and so forth.
The 3 cash flow categories
Cash flow reports are typically broken up into three categories:
Operating activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from revenue-generating activities
Investing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from the acquisition and sale of long-term assets
Financing activities: cash flowing in and out of the business from borrowings and changes in equity.
Items in a cash flow report
In our Cash Flow, Budgets and ROI Xero Training Course, you’ll learn how to generate a cash flow report in Xero. That report will show every transaction that’s run in and out of your business, divided among one of the three categories.
In the operating activities category, you’ll typically find things like costs associated with any training courses or seminars, advertising and marketing expenses, income or commissions from your business, subscriptions to any magazines or periodicals, etc.
Under the investing activities category, you’ll find the cost of purchasing office or warehouse space and the capitalised borrowing cost, for example.
The financing activities category will show the loan you’ve taken out to purchase your business’s office or warehouse space.
MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely used spreadsheet application in modern computing. That said, it’s also one of the more difficult programs of the Microsoft Office Suite to learn, which is why we recently updated the content of our Excel training courses.
A lot of people do our Excel training courses to help them “skill up” to find a job, find a position better suited to them, or develop their career path. However, Excel is a fantastic tool for small business owners as well.
But whether you use Excel to create a pivot table or a database, there are a few things you should do each time you open an Excel document. Here we present you with three:
1. Vertical align: always centre
Always align the text in the cells of your Excel spreadsheet to the centre, or the top in certain circumstances. But never, ever align it to the bottom. It’s hard on the eyes and, when you’re looking at lots and lots of data in lots and lots of cells, it becomes difficult to know which row, column, etc, you’re looking in. Centre alignment, always.
2. Build error-checking into formulas
There should never be an instance where one of your workbooks is showing a #DIV/0, #N/A, #REF, #NAME?, #NUM!, or #NULL! error. This is especially true if you’re sharing these workbooks with your business partners or accountant or whomever.
Seeing an error in a financial report may cause the reader to doubt the accuracy of the entire workbook, so ensure your workbooks remain error free by using the simple IFERROR() error-checking function in Excel.
3. Print preview your work
Again, if you intend to share workbooks with other people, you should always ensure that your Excel workbooks can be printed nicely and easily, even if you don’t intend to ever print the document yourself. This is easy enough to do via File > Print Preview and adjusting the print margins before sharing (or printing) the document.
However, judging by the number of times I’ve printed an Excel document only to collect 87 sheets of paper off my printer to read the contents one 4×4 table, the function is seldom used by anyone else but me!
Help us help you get your business financials set up right
SO WE’RE INTO THE new Australian financial year. With the start of each financial year comes the chance to right last year’s financial habits and avoid repeating them again. You know what they say about people who repeat the same actions over and over again expecting different results …
If you had a crazy end of financial year, try starting off the next 12 months (well, 11 now, can you believe it!) on a positive footing, with these good financial habits.
Check your accounting software is set up correctly
Something that causes businesses and their owners countless headaches at tax time is accounting software that’s been setup incorrectly or not set up completely. Transactions that are coded wrong or bank feeds that are connected to the wrong account — or too few accounts — can leave you in the middle of a bookkeeping nightmare come June 30.
Spend some time sorting this out, or employ a bookkeeper to get you set up correctly. It’s worth that little bit of extra time now to get it right, truly!
Aim for daily reconciliations
Reconciling your business accounts regularly is important for a number of reasons, fostering good habits being chief among them. You may not need to reconcile your accounts each day, but it’s certainly a lot easier to find 10 or 15 minutes two or three times a week, rather than two or three hours once a month. The most often you do your bookkeeper the more unlikely it is that you’ll leave it pile up, eventually requiring costly rescue bookkeeping. You’ll also have a much better picture of your business’s performance with current accounting data.
Monitor cash flow
Positive cash flow is the marker of a healthy business. Negative cash flow is not. There are plenty of seemingly profitable businesses suffering negative cash flow that threatens to put them out of business. Don’t let yours be one of them. Create your own cash flow forecast reports in Excel or use a cash flow forecasting or expense app to determine if you’ll have enough money in the bank to meet your ongoing commitments (which includes paying yourself a living wage to meet your personal commitments).
WE’VE TALKED IN THE past about what a life saver daily reconciliations can be, and why some businesses could benefit from reconciling their account daily, twice weekly, or at least, on a more regular basis than once a month.
The expenses your business incurs form deductions that reduce your taxable income, so making sure you’re recording them accurately — and then storing them securely too — is an important part of your business remaining compliant.
But supposing, for whatever reason, you don’t want to use an Excel database as your pivot table’s data source? Well, there are some other options to create a pivot table without manually entering the information into Excel first. Here are a few more data sources that you can use to create a pivot table in Excel.
Office data connection files
The office data connection (ODC) file extension was created by Microsoft and contains properties to connect to and retrieve data from an external data source. It contains a connection string, data queries, authentication information and other settings. Microsoft recommends that you retrieve external data for your pivot tables and reports using ODC files.
External relational databases
If, for instance, you’re using another relational database program, like Microsoft Access or Filemaker Pro, you can also import data directly from these programs into your pivot table, rather than manually entering the data into an Excel worksheet. In the case of connecting data from an MS Access database, you can do this quite simply by selecting Access from the ‘data source’ dialog box. For all other external databases, you would select the ‘from other sources’ dialog box and follow the steps in the data connection wizard.
Using another pivot table
Each time that you create a new pivot table, Excel stores a copy of the data for the report in memory, and saves this storage area as part of the workbook file. To use one pivot table as the source for another, both must be in the same workbook. If the source pivot table is in a different workbook, copy the source to the workbook location where you want the new one to appear. Keep in mind that when you refresh the data in the new pivot table, Excel also updates the data in the source pivot table, and vice versa. When you group or un-group items, or create calculated fields or calculated items in one, both are affected.
Create a database in Excel first
The easiest and most efficient way to create a pivot table is to create a database in Excel first. Here, you can update and manage as much information about your business — including customer data and financial data — and then use that as a data source for a pivot table.
Being Jack of All Trades can land you in hot water with BAS
IT’S PERHAPS EASIER TO do your own bookkeeping these days than it used to be; particularly if you’re using a cloud accounting program like MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks, which are among the easiest, yet robust, accounting applications currently on the market.
But even so, there are many aspects of Australian tax that, while accounting software makes it possible to carry them out yourself (like business activity statements, for example), it’s not a good idea unless you really know what you’re doing. Here are the three GST mistakes nearly every business owner makes in their bookkeeping. Continue reading Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?
MICROSOFT EXCEL IS THE most widely-used spreadsheet application in modern computing. It’s ubiquity means most people use Excel on a regular basis, despite never having had any formal training in its many, many, MANY functions.
With its 2013 release, Excel got a serious update, which made it the perfect application to create and manage client and customer databases. Although there are many CRMs available on a subscription that provide the same functions of a database created in Excel, just in a more visually appealing format, they often lack reporting and analysis functions, requiring you to export your data in a Excel sheet anyway.
Flat file databases
Excel’s original ‘flat file’ database still remains the easiest and most basic database to set up and manage, and depending on your business and how you’ll use your database, a flat file database may be all you’ll ever need. If set up correctly, a flat file database will allow you to easily import your customer data into Word, your accounting software, an email marketing service, and so forth.
A relational database is a database that’s structured to recognise relations among the information stored in them. Microsoft offers a relational database program, called Access, which is available with Microsoft Office Professional or higher, or can be purchased separately.
Alternatively, you can create your own relational database in Microsoft Excel, providing you have the 2013 version or newer. When Excel got its update in 2013, it became easier to link charts and cells and to perform searches — all essential features if you’re working with large amounts of business data.
Correct Excel set up is crucial
Once Excel has been set up, it’s as easy as it is powerful to use. Of course, the key is to set it up correctly, so you can avoid errors or having to re-enter large amounts of data to make the format suit another third party software application.
Why Excel is Great for Keeping Track of Your Spending if You’re Self Employed
WHETHER YOU’RE ABOUT TO start your own bookkeeping business, or whether you work as an independent contractor (even if you’ve been doing this for a while), it’s really important to know how much you’re spending each month.
Your Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks accounting software will help you with some of this, but the very best way is to create an expense or spending sheet in Excel — which we teach you how to do in our Excel training courses — as this gives you a far more detailed look at your expenses and spending.
Not all your expenses are 100% business ones
Sometimes you can’t claim 100 percent of your expenses as business ones — the costs of running your car, home internet, rent, utilities, etc — but you should nevertheless keep track of your spending on these items because it will affect your cash flow.
That’s why keeping an Excel spending or expense sheet is a good idea for contractors and home-based business owners. You don’t want to enter your home internet into your accounting software as a business expense, if only 30 percent of it is used for business purposes, but you still need to keep track of it, so you can manage your cashflow.
Monitor frivolous spending
One of the things we love about using Excel to track your expenses and spending is that every little expenditure is right there, in plain view.
This isn’t the case with Xero or MYOB or other accounting software. Your expenses are hidden away, and you have to run a report to get a good breakdown on where your money is going.
Not so with Excel,. If you buy a coffee every morning, it’s right there, in a category you can label as “coffee”.
Now, we’re not saying that coffee is frivolous. Far from it. Many of us need coffee just to function (!) but there are lots of small things we spend money on every day, week, month that add up. When you’re self-employed you need to keep an eye on these “little” things.
Sometimes, you’ll find that you’re spending lots of money each month on subscription services that you’re not even using. Eliminating $15 a month here and there makes a big difference.
Create as many categories as you need
That’s the other great thing about using Excel to track your spending: You can create all the expense categories you like.
Of course, not everyone wants to track each and every expense right down to their last bag of jelly beans — that actually would be a little ridiculous — and for most the most part, you can lump your groceries into a category for discretionary spending, but there are some things you might want to separate out — movie tickets, money spent on lunches and dinners, and so forth.
These things tend to add up, and if you want to keep an eye on them, separating them out is the easiest way to do that.
Back to those business expenses
Each fortnight or month or however regularly you complete your bookkeeping, you can easily add in those business expenses into your accounting software — or your bookkeeper can.
Remember, if you spend $60 a month on internet, but only 30 percent of its use is for business purposes, you should only add $18 a month as a business expense in your accounting software. In your Excel expense or spending sheet, however, you’ll put the full $60 in, as you need to have the money in the bank to cover this expense each month.
You can learn how to create and manage your expenses or spending in our Excel training courses, where you’ll be able to create your own spending or expense sheet. Visit our website for more information.
There are websites that make it easy to change your business name
PLENTY OF BUSINESS OWNERS change their business strategy, but what makes this successful? We say, above all, planning and a willingness to change the ordinary operations of your business. In a new workbook contained in our Xero training courses, we take you through the steps you would take in Xero to affect a change in business strategy.
In this blog post, we’re going to look more generally at some of the things you might need to do if you were making a change to your business strategy — even before you would start making these changes in your accounting software.
Business name change
A change of business strategy and direction may warrant a business name change. As a basic example, a builder who begins offering plumbing, electrical, and handyman services should change their business name from John’s Building Services, for example, to John’s Building and Home Maintenance Services.
If considering a business name change, visit the ASIC website. There you’ll be able to register a new business name and make sure one you’re thinking of doesn’t already exist. ASIC doesn’t allow you to update or change your business name, but provided you’re operating your business under the same structure — i.e., sole trader — there’s no limit to the number of business names you can register and assign to your ABN.
In April this year, the business.gov website launched a new Business Registration Service, which although still in Beta, allows you to easily and quickly apply for a business name, ABN, company, and tax registrations for free. At the moment it’s only available for new businesses — whether they’re sole traders, partnerships, companies or joint ventures — but it’ll soon be rolled out to existing businesses, trusts, and superannuation funds.
Registering for GST
Many contractors don’t register for GST because they do a combination of contract work on their ABN and TFN. Provided their business doesn’t generate $75,000 per year or more, they won’t have to register for GST, even if they do earn more than that by also working as a contractor on their TFN.
If the change in business strategy means your business is going to generate substantially more than $75,000 per year, or even if your suspect it may get close to it, you should register your business for GST.
You can register for GST via the ATO’s Business Portal. Registering for GST does mean your business will need to lodge regular business activity statements. This is additional compliance that can yield fines for late or inaccurate lodgements.
If you’d like to try and defer registering for GST for as long as possible, run a profit and loss statement in Xero and compare your current revenue with the estimated additional revenue your new business strategy will generate.
If there’s good, safe margin between your projected income and the $75,000 GST threshold, you can hold off.
You can learn what you need to implement the financial side of your changed business strategy, plus how to run profit and loss statements, complete and lodge business activity statements and much more in our Xero training courses. For more information, visit our website.
Documenting procedures helps keep your bookkeeping up to speed
IN A PREVIOUS POST we talked about how to tell when you need rescue bookkeeping, which is basically when a business is behind on its bookkeeping by three months or more and the deadline is looming to lodge their activity statements.
Rescue bookkeeping work costs more than having your bookkeeping taken care of regularly, because it’s often messy and there are no procedures in place to manage the bookkeeping efficiently.
What’s a bookkeeping procedures manual?
A bookkeeping procedures manual clearly identifies the regular tasks and activities your bookkeeper needs to take each week, fortnight, month or quarter to ensure your bookkeeping is kept up-to-date. This not only gives you the peace of mind that your bookkeeper is staying on top of your books, but it also helps you to understand what’s going on with your business.
If you require regular P&L statements or balance sheets, having a procedures manual to clearly outline how frequently they’ll be created helps you to stay on top of your business’ financials.
A typical procedures manual will include:
Simple steps that are easy-to-understand and succinct
Tasks are written up in a step-by-step style, so they can be followed logically
References, links or examples are included to help readers understand
Contain a number of formats — written steps, flow charts or checklists.
Rather than leaving your bookkeeping to the last minute, so you’re always operating your business in dark, organise to have bookkeeper create a procedures manual to regularly take care of your business’s bookkeeping.
We Can Help You Find a Good Local Bookkeeper
We have bookkeepers, BAS agents and accountants located across Australia, available to help businesses in need of rescue bookkeeping work. Visit our online bookkeeping directory, National Bookkeeping, to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free.
You Can Use the Calculation Fields in our Excel Exercises as Often as You Like!
DESPITE THE POPULARITY OF cloud-based accounting software applications like Xero and MYOB, Excel still remains one of the most indispensable software programs for businesses and individuals alike. That is why we always make it a priority to constantly update our Microsoft Excel Training Course.
You can apply Excel to so much
Accounting software, even robust packages like MYOB, only allow you to perform a finite number of functions that relate to business accounting. However, Excel can be used for a multitude of different purposes — both business and personal, merely one of which is to develop a financial forecast for an investment.
But even though, with the current property booms in our major cities, granny flat construction has become more common, it is not so common that every person taking our Excel courses is planning to build a granny flat for their next investment. That’s why we decided not to lock our course content.
What does this mean? It means that all the calculation fields in the exercise files of our Excel training courses are unlocked, so that your education remains unlocked too. You’re free to play around and replicate them as you need, so you can get a proper handle of how to use Excel in business or for work.
Visit our website for more information on our Microsoft Excel Training Course, with its new granny flats case study. We provide a range of online Excel training courses for beginners’, intermediate and advanced students.
Depending on the structure of your business, you may be legally required to include a P&L statement with your tax return or activity statements. Your tax agent will be able to advise you if your business will be required to file a P&L, which requires all of your bookkeeping to be up-to-date before you can run it.
Even if you don’t have to file one with your activity statements or tax returns, it’s still a good idea to run a P&L for your own sake. A P&L statement identifies whether your business has made a profit or loss and which accounting period these occurred.
Accounts receivable, payable
Find out who owes money to your business and to whom your business owes money. This is obviously part of the credit management process, which any good business will have in place already, but it’s a good idea to keep a steady eye on what’s coming in and what’s going out as EOFY approaches.
The end of each quarter brings a lot of PAYG and superannuation reporting, but EOFY brings a double whammy of activity statements tax returns and PAYG and superannuation compliance. You’ll need to run these reports so your bookkeeper can complete the payroll component of your returns.
WE’VE ENTERED QUARTER 4 for the 2016/17 financial year, so we’ve been writing about the things your business should be doing this quarter in preparation for the end of the financial year. In our last post we wrote about writing off stock and inventory. Now we’re looking at business expenses.
We show you how to write off stock and inventory before the EOFY
IT’S A GOOD TIME TO START looking at any slow-moving or obsolete stock that your business (or your client’s business) may be holding, as we’ve reached the end of Quarter 3 and have now started Quarter 4 for the 2016/17 financial year — which means the end of the financial year is fast approaching.
Writing off stock in MYOB or Xero is known as making an inventory adjustment, and our MYOB BAS Reporting and GST or Xero GST, Reporting and BAS training courses take you through the steps to do this. But first, you need to identify which items aren’t selling. We’ve created this case study to help you understand how.
Understanding your inventory’s performance
Every business needs to understand how their inventory is performing, and how it impacts their business. If the business owner is too busy to stay on top of this, then they should employ a bookkeeper to help.
A good example of why understanding inventory is important to a business is to look at an air conditioning company. This business makes money two ways:
Selling air conditioning units
Installing / maintaining air conditioning units
The margin on the sale of an air conditioning unit is not much, a few percent on top of the wholesale price. Where the business makes its money is in the installation or maintenance of the units it sells.
The business purchases three dozen units, of varying brands, models, price points, etcetera. It now needs to know which units are most popular with customers and why; which units aren’t popular with customers and why; whether it’s profitable for the business to continue to stock the unpopular units; or, conversely, whether it’s profitable for the business to continue stocking the popular units.
The business’s bookkeeper regularly runs a number of reports in their accounting software, including profit and loss reports and stock-on-hand reports. These reports are used to identify which units sell quickly, as well as the units that take longer to sell, and the profit margins on each.
The units that sell quickly don’t require a technician to install them. Although they’re responsible for the majority of sales, they don’t generate more revenue for the business. The units that sell slowly, do generate more revenue as they require installation and maintenance, however too many units were ordered and they’ve now been discontinued by the manufacturer. Some units have hardly sold, and, although not discontinued, have been superseded by newer models.
In particular, the bookkeeper suggests that the units that have been superseded are marked down to clear as much stock as possible, and cease any new orders. Likewise, the discontinued models will be marked down.
Orders for the units that replaced the discontinued models will halve the order volume. Likewise, order volumes for the top selling units will reduced. The profit margin on these units is very low and they result in no additional revenue from installation or maintenance. The profit that would be earned on the additional units is negligible, however by reducing the unit volumes, the business improves its cash flow.
Act NOW for EOFY
If your business sells stock or a combination of stock and services, like the air conditioning business does above, start looking at your inventory now. Markdown any slow-moving stock at the end of Q3, to give your business time to move the remainder of it. If it doesn’t sell, write it off at EOFY.
We feature our own online directory of local bookkeepers looking to add to their customers. Visit National Bookkeeping to find a suitable and experienced person available to work in your area, or able to work anywhere in the cloud. Alternatively, if you are a bookkeeper looking to expand your client list or find contract work, you can register and become part of our network for free.