Many business owners generate financial statements, at least in part, because lenders and other stakeholders demand it. You’re likely also aware of how insightful properly prepared financial statements can be. This is especially true when they follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
But how can you best extract these useful insights? One way is to view your financial statements through a wide variety of “lenses” provided by key performance indicators (KPIs). Calculating KPIs or formulas into which you can plug numbers from your financial statements and get results that enable you to make better business decisions.
If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you know how important it is to be “liquid.” Companies must have sufficient current assets to meet their current obligations. Cash reserves for business is obviously the most liquid asset, followed by marketable securities, receivables and inventory.
Working capital — the difference between current assets and current liabilities — is a quick and relatively simple KPI for measuring liquidity. Other KPIs that assess liquidity include working capital as a percentage of total assets and the current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities). A more rigorous benchmark is the acid (or quick) test, which excludes inventory and prepaid assets from the equation.
Businesses are more than just cash; your assets matter too. Turnover ratios, a form of KPI, show how efficiently companies manage their assets. Total asset turnover (sales divided by total assets) estimates how many dollars in revenue a company generates for every dollar invested in assets. In general, the more dollars earned, the more efficiently assets are used.
When calculating KPIs, turnover ratios also can be measured for each specific category of assets. For example, you can calculate receivables turnover ratios in terms of days. The collection period equals average receivables divided by annual sales multiplied by 365 days. A collection period of 45 days indicates that the company takes an average of one and one-half months to collect invoices.
Liquidity and asset management are critical, but the bottom line is the bottom line. When it comes to measuring profitability, public companies tend to focus on earnings per share. But private businesses typically look at profit margin (net income divided by revenue) and gross margin (gross profits divided by revenue).
For meaningful comparisons, you’ll need to adjust for nonrecurring items, discretionary spending and related-party transactions. When comparing your business to other companies with different tax strategies, capital structures or depreciation methods, it may be useful to compare earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).
As your business grows, your financial statements may contain so much information that it’s hard to know what to focus on. Selecting and accurately calculating KPIs can reveal important trends and developments. Contact us with any questions you might have about generating sound financial statements and getting the most out of them.