It is a natural phenomenon for small business to be deeply involved in the particular skills and operations of the business. A fundamental issue that many small businesses overlook is that the particular industry in which they work and their personal skills are just tools of the trade not the trade of business itself. That trade of business is to produce a satisfactory bottom line.
While all business keeps financial records and many use accounting software the serious benefits of producing the accounts has a tendency to be restricted to accounting for tax purposes. The most useful function of a good bookkeeping system is however to use the financial information to generate higher levels of profitability.
The first step is to acquire and adopt an accounting software package suitable for the skills and knowledge of the small business. The second essential step is to produce a regular monthly income and expenses statement, usually called a profit and loss account.
Any individual monthly profit and loss account is of useful by limited value as a financial tool. Several consecutive monthly financial accounts can be indicative of where action can be taken to use the bookkeeping tool as a tool for accounting for profit.
Having produced a set of monthly accounts the next stage is to simply sit back and look at the numbers. The financial numbers tell the story of how the business has performed financially and with an intimate knowledge of how the figures came about the small business owner is perfectly placed to consider all potential options.
Sales turnover is a critical area to be considered. The historical sales income should be viewed in three separate modes being sales volume, sales prices and marginal profitability, the most critical and important of which is likely to be marginal profitability.
It is useful to stand back from the numbers and consider how the sales volume was achieved, what the driving forces where to achieve that level and what additional promotion can be done to increase sales volume even higher. Thinking about how the sales volume was obtained is the basis for determining how even higher levels can be produced in succeeding months.
Selling prices are often driven by market forces and product costs. An important area to consider is whether the sales prices obtained where the maximum prices obtainable at the same volume. Other considerations would be to consider the effect of increasing sales prices which would increase profitability if the same volume is maintained and even the effect of reducing sales prices if the volume of business increases to produce a higher level of gross profit.
Businesses in niche markets can charge a high selling price for the products or services without affecting the demand for the goods. On the other side of the coin the supermarket approach could be adopted by generating high volumes of sales from promoting the products at the lowest available prices.
The most critical area to be considered is the marginal profit from different products or services. The marginal profit is the gross profit which is the difference between the net selling price and the variable cost of that business area.
A lot of time can be spent working in the wrong direction, By identifying the most profitable items compared with the time and effort involved the small business can become more financially efficient by diverting more effort to those areas producing the highest financial returns.
The essential tool to this study is to maintain accounting records on a regular basis and produce a monthly profit and loss account. Periodically take a step back and consider the direction, future and opportunities available based on historical performance and the changes required to positively influence the bottom line, using and viewing the accounting software as a business tool. That tool is accounting for profit.