Visibility Is For Life, Not Just Year-End

Dafydd Llewellyn

If your small business is like most others, it’s hard to find time to step back and look at the numbers. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, and it’s only at year-end that you look at the books in any detail.

But having year-round visibility into your numbers and knowing what’s going on in your business financially is essential if you want to have a stable, secure company that’s ready to grow.

Here are five areas many small businesses forget, and why you need to remember them.

1. Neglecting cash flow

The best measure of the health of your business is its profit margin, right? Well, it’s one of them. In many ways, profit is theoretical. It’s cash flow you need to worry about. Many small businesses struggle with a lack of cash, even when sales are increasing. Why? Because too often, you don’t know about the cash that’s going out in the form of costs such as travel and expenses until it’s too late.

2. Not chasing late payments

Late payments are a big problem. In fact, they’re such a big problem that the UK government introduced Duty to Report legislation to tackle it.

But you don’t have to hope legislation will do the job for you. Look at when your suppliers pay you. How many of them breach your terms? Once you have this information, you can make decisions about how to tackle it. You can review your payment terms. You can start to be more disciplined about chasing a payment when the due date passes. Whatever you decide to do, you can plan your cash more effectively because you know when the payment is really coming in.

3. Assuming the data is correct

If you use spreadsheets for your financial data, it’s highly likely they contain mistakes. It’s easy to see how mistakes, such as switching two numbers or getting the decimal point in the wrong place, happen when you’re entering figures manually.

These errors can have big consequences: In 2017, Marks & Spencer initially reported sales growth of 1.3%. Then it discovered an error in a spreadsheet. When that error was corrected, it discovered sales had actually fallen 0.4%.

By automating financial processes, not only do you remove time-consuming data entry, you also remove the mistakes.

4. Not reviewing your prices

When did you last review your prices? Supplier prices and raw material costs change all the time, and you need to be sure they aren’t eating into your profit margins. Take time to review prices regularly and make sure you’re basing them on facts, not a gut feeling or a general sense of what the market will stand.

5. Failing to be compliant

Not having visibility into your numbers also leaves you open to falling afoul of the tax authorities. A survey found that one in five employees thinks it’s OK to exaggerate expense claims, and nearly 90% of company car drivers admit to submitting an inaccurate claim in the past. By automating expense and mileage submission, you save employees time and make it much harder for “mistakes” to happen.

Knowledge is power

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, when you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Many small businesses manage without having this visibility into their numbers. But when you have the visibility, you can spot problems much further ahead and take steps to solve them. It puts you in a position of strength when it comes to the financial health of your business.

To learn more about improving cash flow, gaining visibility into company spending, and minimizing risk, watch this on-demand Webinar by SAP Concur.

This article originally appeared in the SAP Concur UK newsroom and is republished by permission.

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Dafydd Llewellyn

About Dafydd Llewellyn

Dafydd Llewellyn is SAP Concur managing director of SMB and Nationals for the UK and France. Since joining in 2004, Dafydd has played a key role in developing the UK business – helping growing companies to transform their manual expense, travel, and invoice processes. He’s now taking that successful strategy to support small and midsize business growth in France. Dafydd has seen the evolution of on-premise software to cloud-based solutions and, as someone who has spent many years on the road, he’s passionate about how mobile technology can improve the lives of business travelers.