As business specialists, we simply love getting right into the detail of bookkeeping software reports. Why? Simply because numbers and hard data show clearly what’s working and what’s not. However, we know that not all people feel this way, which is why we have a great hack to make the process of knowing your numbers much more enjoyable. It’s as simple as taking yourself for a regular brunch date with your finances!
Clarity around your numbers is critical for a successful, sustainable business, yet many people we work with have found themselves in a cycle of ‘gut feel’ when it comes to their business’ performance. This arises from a range of reasons, including their perception that they just don’t ‘get’ numbers and spreadsheets, or that their software is just too confusing. They may lack an understanding of what their numbers represent, or just don’t know which particular set of reports requires their attention. Regardless, the concept of being familiar with your numbers can be anxiety-producing, or at the very least, not a particularly fun way to spend your time.
There is an easy way to flip this mindset. We encourage all clients to add a positive association with their ‘number’ tracking routine and the best way to do so is with a delicious muffin in a lovely space.
Imagine having brunch in a gorgeous cafe as you dig deep into your relevant stats to get a true picture of your business- what’s working and what could do with some refining. The clarity that comes along with your coffee is liberating and means you are in a much more grounded space.
First things first- how regular is regular? Well… that depends. Of course, we all know someone who jumps into their software daily as they love having an intimate knowledge of their books. Some of our clients have a weekly date, others are happy with monthly. What is key, however, is choosing a frequency and putting it as a non-negotiable in your schedule.
Your brunch date with your numbers will be all the more effective if you structure it like any other meeting. Create a recurring set agenda with the reports you want to examine and a set of deliverables you’d like to achieve by the end of your brunch:
Get a Good Baseline:
Start your brunch by invoicing all of your outstanding client work, and then spend some time reconciling your bank and credit card accounts. This means that when you run your reports (see below), you’re starting with an accurate picture of the time that’s just passed. While you’re in your software’s dashboard, make note of any invoices that haven’t been paid for follow up later.
There are a lot of reports available within the leading software packages. Our experience is that some are less important to be familiar with than others. At a minimum, produce your Cashflow report and your Profit & Loss statement. Look at these against your set budget. Are you tracking along as predicted? Are your expenses more than expected? Where can you trim up a bit? Could all of those expenses associated with meeting a client in person be replaced? Are there extra expenses that are justified, such as attending a last minute event (thus not in your budget) which led to three new clients, more than covering the cost? Likewise, have you not spent in areas where you need to? Next take a look at your creditors/suppliers report – what bills are absolutely due for payment and what bills maybe can wait a day or week to match up with income coming in.
Our values are the core of everything we do at Cocoon Business Solutions because they ground us, and keep our activities focused on what’s important. Aligning your numbers to your values is a wonderful way to give the process some extra meaning. For example, if gratitude is one of your values, then your numbers will tell you exactly which customers or clients are your greatest supporters, making it easy for you to turn a value into a behavior by making some form of acknowledgement against this.
Work You Love:
You’ll often hear our team talking about helping our clients to do the work they love - your brunch date can include an overview of which services or products have been performing the best. Are they the ones you love? Is there a service which hasn’t appeared in your reports? Are your clients even aware of it and of how it could be of benefit to their circumstances? A simple tweak to your upcoming marketing plan could give that product or service some airtime. Alternatively, if you’re spending your working life on a product or service that doesn’t light you up, start promoting more heavily the work that does.
Spend some time thinking about everything you’d like to achieve in your business. What’s better than thinking? Tracking and measuring! Create a business goal tracker- good old spreadsheets for the win here- and measure your progress. Goals can be financial (of course) but also based around cultivating a community or audience, or delivering new products, services or programs. Take a look at our Resources page for a great ‘starter’ spreadsheet for simple business tracking.