QuickBooks Tips

Tune Up Your Business Plan with QuickBooks


Do you have a business plan? If you don’t, even if you’re a sole proprietor, you should.

Business plans can be a good barometer for the health of your finances as a way to gauge whether or not you’re on the right path. If you don’t have a business path (or if yours is less than organized or polished), you can use QuickBooks’ tools to create or fine-tune one. We’ll show you how to use these tools to get the job done quickly and easily.

The Game Plan

To get started, select Company > Planning & Budgeting > Use Business Plan Tool and you’ll see what’s displayed in Figure 1. QuickBooks’ business plan tool uses a convention that other Intuit products use frequently: a lengthy wizard that walks you through the entire process. This tool supplies information and asks questions about what’s needed on each screen. You fill in the answers (or select from options) and the business plan wizard works in the background to place the data in the correct place.

The first topic you’ll be asked about is your company. If you’re a new business, you’ll have to estimate in some areas, like the percentage of your sales that will come through credit. In other cases, you’ll be better able to answer in concrete terms. For example, what will your customer payment terms be? When do you want your business plan and financial projection to start?

Tune Up Your Business Plan With Quickbooks

Figure 1: QuickBooks walks you through the process of creating a business plan with an easy-to-use interface.

What’s Coming In?

Your income is up next, and this will take some figure-pulling (and maybe some hair-pulling). You can either fill in a spreadsheet manually, adding up to 20 categories, or use the Income Projection Wizard, as pictured in Figure 2. If you’ve already been working with your data in QuickBooks, the latter is certainly recommended. These numbers will be scrutinized very carefully, perhaps put under the microscope more than any other element of your business plan. Make sure you can back them up.

Tune Up Your Business Plan With Quickbooks

Figure 2: The QuickBooks Income Projection Wizard.

If you’re projecting manually, be prepared to calculate the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). This number contains three pieces:

  • Material: What percentage of each dollar pays for the cost of product(s)? If you’re a service company, enter the associated materials costs.
  • Labor: What percentage of each dollar is tied to the employee costs associated with goods production?
  • Other: What percentage of each dollar goes into other costs?

Business Expenses and More

You have the same two choices when you’re entering your expenses. You can enter them manually or use the Expenses Projection Wizard. If you do the latter, your projections can be based on either the last 12 months of history or an average from the last 12 months.

In the Interview section, you’ll need to have numbers available, including:

  • Beginning account balances
  • Assets you own or need to buy
  • Cash available to invest (if applicable)
  • Amortization and depreciation

As in other areas of the business planning tool, existing data in QuickBooks will be automatically filled, such in Figure 3.

You’ll also answer questions here about inventory (i.e., fixed or variable, minimum balance), vendor financing, lines of credit, and your total credit limit.

Tune Up Your Business Plan With Quickbooks

Figure 3: The business planning tool pulls in existing data from QuickBooks.

Writing Your Plan

Now it’s time to write, but don’t panic thinking you’ll face a blank screen. The Plan section is divided into three sections, and you can toggle between them. You can view the actual plan outline tree, which is a window that provides tips and examples, as well as a text entry window, as shown in Figure 4.

Though this is primarily a text-based section including information about things like your company background, products and services, and the competition, you’ll supply some numbers, too, and the rationale for arriving at them.

Tune Up Your Business Plan With Quickbooks

Figure 4: The Plan section is divided into three main sections.

Once you’ve completed all of the sections, you simply preview and print your plan. QuickBooks assembles it with all of the text, tables, graphs, and charts in the right place, and presents you with a professional business plan that you can take to the bank, or simply revisit from time to time to make sure you’re on course.

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frequently asked questions

  • What Is A Virtual CFO & How Can It Transform My Business?
    • a. A Virtual CFO can be a much-needed sounding board, coach, and guide. Outsourced Virtual CFO is generally not just one person, but an experienced team of professionals providing a full-stack Accounting and Finance Department at a fraction of the cost that it would otherwise cost a business to hire even just one full-time CFO internally. The right virtual CFO service team, such as the one at Perpetual CPA, can deliver timely, detailed, comprehensive financial reporting, interpret the financial data, prioritize recommendations, give expert guidance on how to execute those recommendations, and ultimately give a better path to business success.
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    • a. A growing number of small businesses are opting to outsource services such as IT, human resources, or accounting. The benefit of a Virtual Accounting Department is that the company can reduce or increase services to accommodate current business needs. Because the service provider has multiple clients they can absorb fluctuations in workflow more easily than the average small/medium business can on its own.

      b. A Virtual Accounting Department can integrate with a company’s own accounting department to create a blended solution or provide a full-stack accounting department, including Accounting Staff, Manager, Controller, and Virtual CFO. By using a Virtual Accounting Department Small business owners don’t have to worry about hiring, training, figuring out compensation, and payroll compliance for the internal accounting team. Also as the business grows and new and more complex accounting and tax issues come up, the outsourced Virtual Accounting Department can provide all the needed expertise to facilitate continued business success.
  • What are the benefits of hiring a CPA firm?
    • a. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) do a lot more than just crunch numbers and prepare taxes. They provide valuable expertise and strategies to help businesses and individuals achieve their business and financial goals. A CPA firm can help small businesses with management financial reporting, tax compliance, strategic business advice, and much more. Firms like Perpetual CPA, that specialize in helping small and medium-sized businesses achieve growth, can also provide Virtual CFO services, that help the business owners have the foresight into the short-term future cashflows and be able to more successfully navigate their business performance.
  • What are the best strategies for small business growth?
    • a. A business growth strategy is, simply, a plan of how a business gets from where it is today to where it wants to be in the future.

      b. Some of the questions to consider when coming up with a growth strategy are:
      i. Where will the business get new customers from?
      ii. How will the business expand into new markets?
      iii. What new products could the business offer?

      c. In reality, what happens with many small businesses, is that they generally achieve a specific level of business activity or sales and then the business growth trend flattens. In those cases, working with a firm like Perpetual CPA, which provides Virtual CFO services, can help small businesses avoid stagnation. Virtual CFO services, aside from providing timely accounting and tax reporting, can also provide valuable insight into the current performance of the business, as well as, foresight into the future cash flows for the business. Perpetual CPA Virtual CFO team helps small businesses interpret their financial information and come up with business strategies to help improve business performance and achieve growth.
  • What are the best strategies for small business risk management?
    • a. A risk management plan helps a business develop a detailed strategy to deal with certain risks that are particularly important for the businesses’ success.

      b. For many small and medium-sized businesses, the easiest way to develop and implement a business risk management plan is to work with a reputable CPA firm, such as Perpetual CPA. Large corporations invest a lot of resources and time into managing risk, which is a material factor that allows those large corporations to continue to generate billions of dollars in revenue every year. Small businesses, however, almost never manage any business risks, which is the major reason that over half of all the small businesses do not survive for more than 5 years. Generally, small business owners are not experienced corporate business professionals and lack the needed business knowledge, yet they often have to wear many hats while trying to get their businesses off the ground. In those situations, a CPA firm such as Perpetual CPA, can help small businesses better manage tax compliance risks, cash flow, internal controls, business administration, financial reporting, and much more.
  • What is Strategic Advisory and Virtual CFO? / How do Strategic Advisory and Virtual CFO services work?
    • a. When small businesses start spinning wheels, it is a good time to consider hiring a reputable CPA firm, such as Perpetual CPA, which can provide both Strategic Advice and Virtual CFO services.

      b. As a strategic advisor, the CPA firm will work with business management to improve the effectiveness and profitability of the business. They will look holistically at the business and find ways to operate the business more efficiently, increase customers through additional or improved marketing or improve customer touchpoints and service.

      c. As a Virtual CFO, the CPA firm is like a part-time version of a traditional CFO or Chief Financial Officer plus a full Accounting support team. They perform the tasks that in a larger organization would be performed by the CFO, Controller, and Accounting Staff such as preparing and overseeing the budget process, identifying and analyzing current and future trends, and developing strategies for the business growth.
  • How can timely financial visibility and management reporting help with better business decisions and growth?
    • a. A simple way to a successful business is to prioritize the timely financial visibility and management reporting as it means:
      i. Timely financial information and analysis are essential for making informed decisions, evaluating your company’s results, improving financial performance, and ensuring you are on the path to meet your strategic goals.
      ii. Management reporting is a source of business intelligence that helps business leaders make more accurate, data-driven decisions. But, these reports are most useful if they are available timely and the management receives proper interpretation of the business financial information.

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