Get your business finances in order for your next credit application
If your credit application was denied, take steps to improve your business's financials to become a stronger applicant in the future.
The best way to take control of your business's future is to monitor what's going on today, says Jean Cook, a former C-level finance leader and current small business coach for Corporate Performance Group and The Alternative Board of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This includes assessing your business's key financial metrics consistently and effectively.
Take control, and turn up profits for your business, by leveraging technology and making financial tracking a habit.
Enlist tools for the job
In the realm of online, cloud-based accounting tools, QuickBooks from Intuit remains the gold standard. It maintains a 90% share of the market, and PC Magazine voted it the best accounting platform for its "superior combination of usability, customizability, and accounting toolset, especially reports."1
If you need a less expensive option — QuickBooks ranges from $15 to $40 a month — Xero offers a starter package for $9 a month (prices as of August 2016). Xero provides an "excellent user interface," according to PC Magazine, and no additional fees for unlimited employee access.
You may also be able to manage your business with Quicken Home & Business software which comes from Intuit. You would need to download the software to your computer, but it does offer a way to sync the data from your computer to your phone or tablet. It costs $114.99 to purchase the software (as of August 2016).
David Arnesen, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo's Digital Channels Group, says that online banking tools can provide business owners insight on where their money is going, and help them track spending habits by month and by category. Wells Fargo offers basic tools for tracking business spending and creating a budget for those with a business checking or credit card account. On their own, these Wells Fargo tools are not accounting software packages, but it's important to note that you can integrate your Wells Fargo accounts with Quicken and QuickBooks.
Work with an accountant
Even with technological advances, hiring an accountant can further fine-tune your efforts, especially when it comes to creating business plans, evaluating the effectiveness of existing accounting practices, and filing taxes. Depending on the accountant's role in the company — for example, writing checks and making deposits vs. solely accessing and viewing transactions and statements — you can choose your accountant's level of access. For example, you could designate him or her as a signer on an account, allowing full access, or provide limited, view-only business account access, according to Arnesen.
Separate your accounts
Dallas-based Andrea Travillian, small business owner and financial coach at Take A Smart Step, recommends personal and business accounts stay separate to keep business financials clean and help avoid IRS headaches — an often-overlooked mistake. "It's one of the top 10 things you should do when you start your business. It's so integral in being able to follow your finances," Travillian says.
Mobile banking can help you navigate your separate accounts with real-time account information and around the clock access. It allows business owners to see images of checks they've deposited and written, view their balance information and recent transactions, keep track of payroll, and deposit checks, Arnesen says. They also add that alerts regarding balance thresholds, returned items, and deposits can help business owners track their cash flow.
Make it a routine
To stay on top of finances, schedule a weekly appointment to go over the numbers, Travillian says. Weekly monitoring not only allows you to respond to changes in data, it also gives you the opportunity to look at trends in the business.
With these good habits in place, you can address the successes and potential pitfalls of your business in real time. For example, your sales productivity might be down. If you're measuring sales productivity in relation to units shipped, and you see shipments going down — even minimally — you can more accurately pinpoint and untangle what's going wrong.
Taking advantage of technology and making key metrics tracking a habit puts you in a position of control. "Isn't that why small business owners go into owning a business?" Cook says.
1"Tradeshift's Analyst Day: Intuit and QuickBooks (Part 1)." Spend Matters Network. http://spendmatters.com/2013/03/05/tradeshifts-analyst-day-intuit-and-quickbooks-part-1/