Secrets to Monitoring the Health of Your Business in QuickBooks

How healthy is your business?  Many businesses just look at their profit & loss statement (aka income statement), but you could be missing out on some helpful information.

Have you ever heard of accounting ratios?  The first time I even learned of them was when I somehow stumbled on them in the help in QuickBooks (it’s no longer in there).  But they explained why I was struggling financially even though I had money in my bank account and my P & L showed a profit.

Banks often use ratios to analyze your financial statements as part of the loan approval process, so it’s helpful to know in advance what they’ll see.  Acceptable ratios can vary by industry, so you might find that your accountant or trade association may have those numbers.  This would also let you know how you compare to those in the same line of work.

In my article on the Profit & Loss report,  I discussed 2 key metrics – Gross Profit Margin and Net Profit MarginIn this article we’ll take a look at two ratios that are easy to get, but often ignored – Current Ratio and Debt Ratio. To calculate these ratios, you need to run your Balance Sheet (I know many of you do not), and that the Balance Sheet is in good shape.

Current Ratio – This looks at how easily you can pay your debts. For a true picture, you will want to include the “current portion of long-term debt”.  In other words, if you have 4 years left on a loan, move 12 months of principle from long-term liability to current liability.  (Your accountant or lending institution could help you determine this number if you need assistance.) This can be a substantial dollar amount depending on the number and size of your loans.  But even if you don’t do this, it can still be a good eye opener.  Simply divide your Total Current Assets by your Total Current Liabilities.  In this example (in blue), you would take 302,185 divided by 54,690.  Keep in mind that if you have credit card accounts in your Chart of Accounts, QuickBooks considers these current, which is fine unless you don’t plan on paying the card off within 12 months.

Debt Ratio – What percentage of your business is financed by debt? To get this ratio, divide Total Liabilities (debt) by Total Assets.  For Quality Built Construction, you would take 68,675 divided by 374,142 (highlighted in red).

So take a look at these ratios for your business and see what you get.  If you want to know if they are good or bad, your accountant can help you determine how you are doing for your industry.  I would recommend that you look at these at least quarterly if not monthly.  You may find that for your industry, these ratios will fluctuate seasonally.

And, if you’re not sure if your balance sheet is in good shape, your accountant can give you a quick yes or no – hopefully you’ll get a yes. If it’s no, we’ll be happy to see what may be going wrong in your QuickBooks.

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