Posts tagged ‘Sales Ledger’

To many small business owners, administration and bookkeeping are a necessary evil of being self-employed.  Often managed simply to keep HMRC away from their door, the bank manager happy and accountancy fees at a palatable level, bookkeeping can be a time consuming and often monotonous chore, that steals time away from servicing client’s needs and therefore earning profit.

Have you considered using the results of your bookkeeping efforts to drive your business forward?

There are many ways that management information can help you to manage your business as well as complete your VAT return and keep an eye on cash flow.

  • It can assist the business owner in making good quality decisions
  • It can monitor performance indicators such as turnover against budget or prior year
  • It can help ensure you get paid for the work you do and manage financial commitments
  • It can highlight more profitable areas of the business, or potential to cut costs

Let me illustrate with an example.

A well maintained sales ledger, in a well constructed spread sheet or using software such as Kashflow or Sage, can improve cash flow, increase profitability and grow your business.

How?

  • By reporting customers in order of money spent, you can focus on providing your best customers with the best customer service, reducing the chance of them looking for alternatives or being as price sensitive.  This will also encourage advocates of your business, which will provide the best quality advertising at no cost.
  • Analysing debt by age can highlight poor paying customers who may indicate the need to improve the way you do business or highlight the need for more robust credit control.
  • You may decide that poor value customers or late payers are costing you too much in time and cash flow, so refuse to accept
    their future business or at least renegotiate terms.
  • Incorporating a little CRM (customer relationship management) data such as the source of the customer (e.g. advert, referral etc) can help you calculate the cost of acquiring new business and give you clues regarding your marketing spend.
  • Looking at accounts that have not been active for some time could highlight missed opportunities.
  • By improving the amount of cash flowing in to your business you can reduce the cost of finance and perhaps have more
    negotiating power when purchasing.

Not for you?

If the thought of devoting more management time generating information turns you cold, then outsourcing is probably your best option.  Many small business owners feel the need to control every element of their business and often consider cost to be a barrier, but in most cases outsourcing bookkeeping will pay for itself; by freeing up time to focus on the performance of the business or indeed to do more business.

To find out more about getting a return from your investment in bookkeeping, give me a call on 01480 426500 or Skype chat with tonimhunter.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Drowning under a mountain of paperWith 2011 more that half way through, how is your business performing?

 

Here are twelve tips to act an aid-memoire when trying to stay in control of your business:

  1. If you are not producing regular management accounts, consider what financial information can be easily extracted from your accounting system to help you monitor the business. You can only extract meaningful information if your records are up to date and accurate.
  2. If you are selling a product, make sure you know your break even sales volume – this could be higher than you realise, particularly with pressure on prices.  What level of waste are you experiencing?  Are you carrying too much stock?
  3. If selling a service, check how many hours of time you are invoicing out a month – how much of it is resulting in billable income?   Are you charging at the right levels?  Are you competitive without being cheap?
  4. Project Management PlanRevisit your business forecasts and cash flow projections for the coming 12 months on a regular basis – are they still realistic in the current climate?  What costs can be trimmed back?
  5. If cutting costs, make sure you know which of your costs are fixed and which are variable.
  6. What can you delegate/outsource so that you can devote more of your time to looking after key clients and driving the busimess?
  7. A big, bad debt can be disastrous for business, so make sure you monitor your debtors carefully.  Keep in regular contact, resolve disputes quickly and discuss options at an early stage if they are having difficulties.  A debtor making round sum payments on account is often a warning sign.  Consider credit checking businesses that do not have any history with you.
  8. Look after your purchase ledger with as much care as your sales ledger.  Good suppliers are key to you being able to deliver to your customers, keeping prices down and an essential source of credit when managing cash flow.
  9. Make sure you have up to date information to hand when requesting a renewal or increase in your banking facilities and keep your bank manager informed of changes to the business and its performance.
  10. Check that the financial structure of your business is correct.  If you are relying on short term finance for long term projects then you need to get the balance right.  What assets do you have to secure more cost effective commercial finance?
  11. Income taxGet your tax affairs up to date and make sure you have provided for payments due in January and July as well as Corporation Tax due nine months after the accounting period if trading through a Company.  This is just as important if profitability has declined as you may be able to reduce any payments on account that fall due.
  12. Check you are using the most effective VAT scheme.  If you have a large sales ledger, cash accounting may be more appropriate.  Have you calculated whether the flat rate scheme results in less VAT being paid over to HMRC?

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

 

Everyone in business has heard the term “Cash is King” and understands the importance of cash flow, but when in the day to day ‘busy-ness’ of business it is easy to take your ‘eye off the ball’.

So in these difficult times, if you find yourself in a position where cash flow becomes a matter of urgency rather than a procedural chore, what can you do to turn things around?

Here are my top five quick fixes, each one worthy of a post of its own.

1. Debt Collection

Focusing on getting paid for what you have provided is an obvious place to start. 

Don’t allow customers to improve their cash flow at your cost and don’t get lazy when it comes to implementing rigid credit control procedures. Many ledger clerks are instructed by their managers not to issue payment until a debt has been chased both in writing and verbally, so don’t cut corners or get caught off guard. 

If you are uncomfortable with this discipline or you have accepted that this is not your skill set, outsource it.  I recommend Ken Brown from Direct Route for everything from collecting a single difficult debt to completely managing your sales ledger. 

Also, be sure to focus on servicing customers that do stick to your payment terms.  Don’t forget my previous advice about allowing “he who shouts loudest…” to distract you from those that are key to your success.

2. Improve terms and conditions of sale

Meet with each of your valued customers without delay and renegotiate terms.  By prioritising their needs and building confidence in your business relationship, agreements regarding quick payment, or even payment on delivery can be made. 

If need be, offer an early payment discount to encourage quick settlement.  Often the reduction in margin, is substantailly less than the cost of finance such as overdrafts or the deminished goodwill from not meeting debts as they fall due.

Don’t forget that it costs a lot more to attract and service new business than it does to obtain more business from your current clients.


3.  Get your bank manager onside

Having up to date management accounts, a clearly defined business plan that demonstrates that the current difficulties are short term and building an open, honest business relationship with your bank manager will no doubt create flexibility. 

Once they have built confidence in you as a business owner, they will at short notice be able to offer solutions and support.  Involve your accountant in this process.

4.  Manage suppliers

This aspect is often not given enough attention.  In the same way that you manage customers, prioritise, negotiate and treat your suppliers with respect. 

Being honest with them and honouring any payment arrangements you have agreed with them will keep your integrity and prevent suppliers from ‘digging their heels in’.

Also, if you hold stock, review your processes and speak to your suppliers about delivery times etcetera, they may be able to help you to manage a ‘just in time’ system by offering you a priority service. 

5.  Increase profitability

Certainly not the easiest or quickest approach and one where you might want to seek support from your accountant or a business coach.

Looking at overheads is an obvious point, but how about reviewing historic data to identify which products/services in your sales mix generate the biggest contribution and assign time and effort in pushing these.  Perhaps redirect your marketing budget and reward your team for selling these items or finding innovative ways to deliver these at lower costs.

As well as focusing on your most profitable products/services, take time to identify your most profitable clients

Budgeting can take time, but often some ‘quick wins’ can be discovered by carrying out these accounting exercises.  They can also drive long term process and cash flow improvements. 


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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