Managing Small Business Finances - Iowa Western Small Business Development Center
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Managing Small Business Finances

Small Business Finances

Managing Small Business Finances

Accounting for revenue and expenses can help keep your small business finances running smoothly. Make sure you maintain proper bookkeeping and have a basic knowledge of business finances.

Start with a balance sheet

The balance sheet is the foundation of managing your finances. It operates as a snapshot of your business financials. It helps you keep track of your capital and provide a cash flow projection for future years.

balance sheet will help you account for costs like employees and supplies. It will also help you track assets, liabilities, and equity. You can get insights by separating and analyzing segments of your business, like comparing online sales to face-to-face sales.

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)

Looking closely at money-in and money-out helps maintain a sustainable balance between profit and loss. From development and operations to recurring and nonrecurring costs, it’s important to categorize expenses in your balance sheet. Then, you can use a cost-benefit analysis to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of a business decision, and put potential recurring benefits and cost reductions in context.

A CBA is a technique for making non-critical choices in a relatively quick and easy way. It simply involves adding money in benefits and money in costs over a specified time period, before subtracting costs from benefits to determine success in terms of dollars. This can come in handy with hiring another employee or an independent contractor.

For example, let’s say you’re deciding whether to add outdoor seating for your sausage-themed restaurant, Haute Dog. You estimate outdoor seating would add $5,000 in extra profit from sales each year. But, the outdoor seating permit costs $1,000 each year, and you’d also have to spend $2,000 to buy outdoor tables and chairs. Your cost-benefit analysis shows that you should add outdoor seating because the new benefits ($5,000 in new sales) outweigh the new costs ($3,000 in permitting and equipment expenses).

Pick a method of accounting

Businesses often use either the accrual or cash methods of recording purchases. The accrual method puts transactions on the books immediately upon completing the sale. The cash method only records this once payment has been received.

For example, if you make a sale in January and receive the $200 payment in February, an accrual method would allow you to record that on January’s books, while the cash method would require that payment to land on February’s books.

Method Pros Cons
Accrual

Creates immediate snapshot.

Can reduce the tax burden.

More complex to manage.

Potentially deceiving figures.

Cash

Shows cash flow clearly.

Easier to understand.

Limits predictive value.

Less long-term clarity.

Need help making sense of your small business finances talk to an SBDC Counselor today!

Michael Mitilier
mmitilier@iwcc.edu
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