Do You Have a Financial Dashboard?

Posted by henrischauffler on February 7, 2014

dashboardMost small business CEOs have their bookkeeping fairly well in in order. But, are you using the numbers in your accounting to make key strategic decisions about your business?


Sally has four stores on one accounting system – the numbers are well kept for each store and for the company as a whole. She has managed all of her stores pretty well with traditional accounting for years – she can track all of the revenue daily and check the cross margins. But she can’t print a profit and loss statement (P & L), and even if she did, she wouldn’t know exactly how to use it.

As far as Sally knows, she sees a P & L once a year when her accountant sends it along with the tax returns at tax time. In that case, the accountant has worked hard to show the minimum profit possible for tax reporting purposes. But Sally must have done better than that!

WHY A P & L?

In her CEO Mastermind group, Sally learned from her peers several benefits of actually reviewing a P and L monthly:
* She will see her actual profit, not just work on growing margins
* She can analyze expenses on a regular basis and control costs more effectively
* She can make strategic decisions for the future based on present income and expenses

But the real issue is this: creating what we call a Financial Dashboard. If Sally can create a P & L for each division, or product category, or what we call a profit center, then she can know precisely how profitable each profit center is.

Are you actually making money with each of your product lines or divisions? When we analyzed Sally’s company in this way, we found that one of her products was actually losing money every time it was delivered!

So we went to work with Sally to set up this dashboard and began to review it together monthly. A trend over three months showed that, indeed, that division was in trouble. Sally cut back on staff and super-charged a marketing effort.

We began looking at the P & L weekly, and saw an immediate trend upward. By the end of the second month, the division was breaking even. By the end of the third, it the bottom line profit for that division was 5%


Many small business owners do not manage their companies this way; they’re “too busy doing the work.” Well, time to change, my friend. This single simple management technique could change the entire outlook of your company, as it did Sally’s.

Create a P & L for each profit center (each distinct division, product or service in your company) and review at least quarterly – monthly if possible. The dirty little secret is – most accountants know about this but do not get their clients to do it – they are focused primarily on “tax accounting.”

What we need as business owners is “business management and profitability accounting.” Try it today!

20 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Business Plan Format Before Publishing It

Posted by henrischauffler on February 2, 2014

Biz PlanIf you’re finishing up your business plan and starting to think about presenting it to potential investors and lenders, you MUST    spend quality time and energy preparing your presentation.  Format your presentation properly, and you’ll impress you    readers –  banks, venture capital leaders and other potential funders – before they even take time to read it!

The business plan represents you and your company; it doesn’t have to be in a gold embossed leather binder with four color photographs but it does have to look professional. So after you have written the final edit of your plan, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does the it include a title page with your company name, a person’s name and the address and phone numbers? Don’t just clip a business card to the front page, it could get separated.
  2. Has your plan been proofed and spell checked? And by a real person, not just your word processor?
  3. Did you check all abbreviations or acronyms to make sure the first time they’re used they’re explained, ie., World Wide Web (www)?
  4. Have you gone through the plan to make sure all technical terms are explained?
  5. Are the pages numbered?
  6. Do the page numbers for the index match the actual page numbers?
  7. Have you edited the plan to see what you can include in the Appendix rather than in the body of the business plan?
  8. Has someone unfamiliar with your company read the business plan and understood it?
  9. Is your executive summary limited to no more than 3 pages?
  10. Have you had someone unfamiliar with your company read just the executive summary and understand your company?
  11. Are your margins at least one inch wide on each side, top and bottom?
  12. Is your font size at least 11, preferably 12?
  13. If you are using a word processing system which allows color graphics, have you changed the color graphics to grayscale for printing? Or will you be printing the business plan in color?
  14. Will you produce it in PDF format for easy emailing if needed?
  15. Have you checked to make sure you didn’t use too many fonts and font sizes?
  16. Have you taken advantage of bullet points, shading, indents, and borders to add visual interest to your business plan? (Just don’t go overboard.)
  17. Do you make judicious use of graphs, charts and graphics to make your points? If not, consider making the extra time to add these in – if you need help, get a staff person to research or create the graphics you will need. And make them color, if possible, for better effect.
  18. Is the use of your page titles and headings consistent in format throughout the business plan?

You can print your business plan on both sides of the paper, just make sure it’s printed on quality paper so that the printing doesn’t bleed through to the other side.  If you are using duplicating or copying services to print your business plans, is the quality nearly perfect?

Two final question to ask yourself:

  • When my prospective funder picks up this booklet, will they be drawn in?
  • Will it be pleasing to the eye and engaging of the mind?

Follow these steps, and you’ll be taken seriously.