Financial Statements – The UN-Complicated Version!
When I first learned how to read and use financial reports, I would assemble the information to show my partner and husband, Hot Rod, how we were doing. I’d cover his desk with pages and pages of financial reports. His eyes would glaze over.
One day he sighed and said, “I really hate this. I’m glad you know what this means, but I can’t take all this information. Can you just show me the few numbers that make all the difference in our company? Can you give me the “Reader’s Digest” version?” Hmmmm. Hot Rod was on to something.
When it comes right down to it, there are only a few numbers that make all the difference. If there is a problem with one of the critical numbers, you can dig deeper and get more information. If you were to watch the critical numbers at your company, you would have a pretty good idea of what is going on. You would know for certain whether or not you are making money. You would know if you are going to have enough money to cover payroll.
Gail Gudell is a professional organizer and bookkeeper, par excellence! She is also my sister and in charge of Making Money at EllenRohr.com. Gail started working with us many years ago, and is one of the reasons Hot Rod and I didn’t kill each other in our early years of working together. Gail and I sat down, determined to put the few numbers that make all the difference on a single sheet of paper. The Financial Quick Check is what we came up with. (Thanks, Gail!)
The Financial Quick Check Meeting
This simple, powerful form summarizes the most important financial information from the balance sheet and income statement. Take a look at the Financial Quick Check form.
If your accounting program allows you to assemble a neat, consolidated report like this, that’s cool. However, I still recommend that you or your bookkeeper manually enter your financial information into the Financial Quick Check Form. That “manual moment” causes you to confront the data. It makes you look! You’ll be able to find and fix mistakes so much easier when you are checking the financial information on a weekly basis. And, the Quick Check will help you break out of denial, if denial is keeping you from charging the proper selling price, or making tough financial decisions.
We recommend filling out this form every week. Then, use it as the basis for your weekly Financial Quick Check meeting.
To complete the form, print your current balance sheet and income statement reports. Summarize the critical numbers from those reports on the Financial Quick Check form.
This form is set up to compare a period of time – we recommend filling this form out weekly – to the Year To Date (YTD) totals. List the budgeted information for the same period of time. Now you can compare actual performance to budgeted Goals.
Note the percentage columns. Numbers vary from day to day and week to week. Percentages present a clearer picture of trends and performance. By tracking critical numbers as a percen