As a small business owner, you’re responsible for many areas of your company, including finance, human resources, marketing and information technology. If you’re not an expert in any of these areas, it’s a good idea to seek general updates about each function in the form of reports from your department managers.
You need more than a master budget and your monthly budget to know how your business is performing financially. Ask your bookkeeper or accountant for a variety of detailed reports that help spot specific areas you can improve. A cash-flow statement lets you see when money is expected in, when your bills must be paid and whether you’ll have enough cash on hand to pay them when they come due. Accounts receivable aging reports let you check whether you have any slow-paying customers or any balances due that might be in default. Flexible budgets show you how to adjust your spending based on sales volume levels.
Sales reports provide more than just information on volume. Break down your sales figures with reports on sales by product, profit margins, geographic area, distribution channel, season and sales rep. This will help you make better decisions about whether to abandon certain sales strategies or ramp up others. Marketing plans complement sales reports. You can review marketing reports to determine your marketing strategy's impact on sales, or whether your sales report indicates that you are not following your marketing plan's recommendations.
Check you website statistics to gauge website traffic, checking which pages are the most viewed and who is looking at your site and what keywords are bringing traffic to your site. Look at the number of Facebook likes and Google Plus recommendations you’re getting and who’s making them. If you have a phone system that gives you call reports, look for patterns that might help you target sales opportunities in certain geographic areas. Examining your IT costs will help you decide whether it’s a better idea to outsource your staffing for this area or bring on an employee.
Labor costs are a significant expense for many businesses. Use reports to determine where you are spending most of your money, how much benefits cost you and what your retention rate is. These reports will help you determine whether you need to cut costs, offer lower-cost benefits to better manage labor costs, or to increase benefits to better attract and keep workers.