Can you believe we are halfway through the year already? In all likelihood, you started off 2013 telling yourself that you were going to reach certain goals and revenue targets. Now that we are heading into the third quarter, it is time to take a moment and reflect on whether you are meeting the sales goals you set for the year.
The funny thing is, many small business owners won’t really know the answer. They will have a general idea whether they are having a good or bad year but not a solid understanding, based on sales, expenses, and all the rest.
Cash management is generally one of those areas where small business owners could use some help. Since the vast majority of entrepreneurs did not go to business school, financials, cash management, profit and loss statements are not something that they tend to understand. However, it is important to get it right.
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. It is not just a matter of checking your bank balance. You need to keep track of your revenue and financial goals for the year. Here are four ways to do it:
1. Google Docs: Google docs offers free cash flow templates that you can use to track sales, manage expenses, track receivables, and more. For example, a Cash Flow Projection document will give you a good idea if you are going to run into any kind of cash shortfall. And since this is Google Docs, you can share and edit these documents with others in your business.
What is also great about these Google Doc templates is that you don’t have to start from scratch. Are you are meeting your yearly objectives? Customize one of these Google templates and find out. This is an easy and smart way to track your progress, and it saves you the time, trouble, and expense of creating your own cash-flow documents.
2. Cash Management Apps: Many people today track everything from calories burned to money made is via their smartphone. Thus, a great and easy way to track your financial goals and business progress for the year is by using an app.
Pulse, for instance, is an app that allows you to evaluate income and expenses and ranges from $14- $49 per month. It is very comprehensive and can be used by multiple members of your company simultaneously. Simply input your information or upload it from a spreadsheet. Then you can see various graphics that track how your business is doing.
Another good app is called You Need a Budget. For a single purchase of $60, you can easily track your expenses. While this is mainly for personal budgeting, it can also work quite well for small businesses. Based on your bank statements, You Need a Budget creates a budget and estimates how much you should expect to make each month.
3. Financial Calculators: Check out DinkyTown, which has a variety of free financial calculators for businesses. These products track everything from cash flow to profit margin and can help you stay on financial in 2013.
4. Read: If you feel like you need a little extra help with getting started, books are always a good resource. “Cash Flow for Dummies,” by John A. Tracy, will give you a refresher course on various accounting topics and some insight into how cash flow fits into the big picture.
There is also an excellent article called The Art of Cash Management by Jill Andresky Fraser, Inc.'s finance editor.
So, are you meeting your revenue goals for the year? If you can pull out your smartphone and take a quick look at your cash flow at a moment's notice, you are one step ahead of the game.
How do you track your revenue and financial goals for the year? Share your story below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss