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If we know one thing about being a business owner, it’s that when your feet firmly hit the ground as you spring out of bed every morning, you exclaim excitedly, ‘I can’t wait to work on my financials!’

We kid – unless numbers and accounting and charts of accounts are actually your jam. In that case, more power to you!

But if it’s not your jam, we get it.

Because let’s face it: If finance isn’t your jam, opening a financial software application can prove a bit overwhelming with the amount of data available.

Data is decidedly awesome – but it can prove daunting to know what, exactly, to do with it all. (For insight on the top three business metrics, check out this podcast episode with our COO, Lisa Zeeveld)

The wealth of knowledge is certainly there, but even if a business owner knew what reports to run, would they know why they needed them?

Ultimately, however, the most important question to ask yourself is this: Am I the best person to do this? Because without experience in bookkeeping or an understanding of balance sheets and income statements, that answer could be all you need to recognize that it’s time to treat yourself to a professional.

A remote bookkeeper can provide the reports you need to interpret the data you have to make the decisions that can – literally – make-or-break your business. Here, we’ll break down those reports – and what they mean.

The Reports: What They Are

Statement of Profit & Loss

Also known as an Income Statement or P&L for short, this report shows a company’s income and expenses for a particular time period, though monthly and annually are the most common times reviewed.

Balance Sheet

This report shows a company’s assets, liabilities, and owner equity or capital on a particular date. This is a snapshot in time not a report that shows over a period of time.

Statement of Cash Flows

This report shows how changes in balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents.

Budget to Actual

This report shows the company’s income statement account actuals versus what was budgeted for a particular period of time (usually reviewed monthly, quarterly, and annually.)

Accounts Receivable Aging Report

This shows the amounts due from customers and separates them by days delinquent – 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and so on.

The Reports: What They Tell You

Profit & Loss 

The P&L shows the performance of the company, summarizing the total revenues and expenses incurred by the business, showing the profitability, such as net income or net loss, over a specified period of time, usually a month, quarter or year.

The Income Statement is used internally and externally to evaluate profitability and help assess the level of risk for an investor or creditor. In order to have a viable and valuable company, revenues must exceed expenses.

Balance Sheet

Just because the P&L shows the company is ‘profitable’ doesn’t mean the business is in good shape.

Often, the balance sheet is overlooked and is actually one of the – if not the most – important financial statement. A company can be profitable while incurring a lot of debt.

Debt means restricted cash flow and without positive cash flow, businesses fail. The balance sheet can be used to identify trends and make more informed financial accounting decisions. It is also important to lenders as they will use it to determine a company’s creditworthiness.

Statement of Cash Flows  

This report helps inform long-term decisions and the best use of this report – aside from seeing where changes in cash and other cash assets are – is to help estimate future cash flow which will assist with budgeting and decision-making.

Budget to Actual 

This report helps determine if particular areas of the business are not meeting revenue projections or in other words: Is spending happening like planned?

This also allows you to check to make sure expenses are being held to the set budget.

Accounts Receivable Aging Report 

This report allows an organization to stay up-to-date on what clients are paying for their services and which are past due on the amounts owed.

This report should be reviewed weekly to allow follow up with anyone who is past due and possibly suspend services before the account gets too far behind.

The Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line

Bottom line: Whether you’re a billionaire tycoon or a small business run from a home office, managing your bottom line is the difference between success and failure.

And accurate monthly and annual reports of financial data allow you to effectively run your company, enable you to better analyze operations, and help inform all business decisions.

If you’re ready to see how a virtual bookkeeper can help your bottom line, just check out our Ultimate Guide to Bookkeeping for more about small business bookkeeping.

Or if you’re ready to wave the white flag on handling your red and black margins, let one of BELAY’s experienced virtual bookkeepers help! Let’s get started today to get you paired with your dream bookkeeper.

You’ll regain your peace of mind – and wonder why you waited so long.