The Problem with Small Businesses and Accounting Technology

accounting technology hero image confusion

Accounting technology has come a long way since the dawn of time. While it took thousands of years to go from clay tablets to iPads, modern accounting software has evolved at the speed of light. In less than 30 years we’ve moved from early enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to the versatility of the cloud.

What does this mean for the average small business? Unless you own an accounting or bookkeeping business, it’s not likely that a spreadsheet is your spirit animal. However, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, like PayPie, have made it easier for small businesses to harness the benefits of automation.

The problem is many small businesses are not only time-starved —  they’re somehow missing out on the time and money they could save by adopting accounting technology.

Industry surveys indicate small businesses aren’t keeping up with the pace

According to the good folks at the GetApp Lab, we’re currently in the “Age of Intelligent Accounting.” We’re living in a time when technology lets you easily forecast cash flow, automate data entry, improve processes and securely share data.

age of intelligent accounting

Yet, a FitSmallBusiness study of 293 small business owners found that no single form accounting software, in any category, had a usage rate of 50% or more. The only category that came close was general accounting software with 49.8%. In fact, most categories came in at 40% or less.

QuickBooks found similar results when it surveyed 400 small business owners with 20 employees or less. Most spent more time than they’d like on back-office operations, such as accounting, administrative tasks, bookkeeping, inventory and accounts receivable. Furthermore, only 30% of these small businesses considered themselves “highly automated.”

Why aren’t small businesses adopting accounting technology at historic rates?

Most small businesses said cost was the main reason they weren’t using small business accounting software and other accounting technology. The irony is that these tools are often quite affordable. For instance, the “Simple Start” version of QuickBooks Online is $20 USD a month and there are often sign-up promotions.

Then there’s the simple fact of valuing the time and the savings gained by preventing costly mistakes. Every hour that a business spends on a process that could easily be automated is an hour that’s lost toward growing the business. An hour spent each day on updating a spreadsheet adds up to 5 to 7 hours a week or 20 to 28 hours a month.

Mistakes also cost time and money. Any business that files its taxes late without filing an extension, will be fined. The longer the problem goes unsolved, the more interest and penalties accrue. Without proper processes, solving the problem is also harder. Any mistake that goes unresolved can easily snowball into a spiral of despair.

Pro Tip
In most cases, the costs of accounting software and related accounting technology are tax deductible in both the United States and Canada.

The times are changing and so should small businesses  

Within the next few years, 80% of accounting and finance tasks will be automated. If you take the literal translation of few as three years, this is soon, very soon.

It doesn’t mean the robots will take over. What it means is those small businesses who embrace process automation by using cloud-based small business accounting software and the ever-growing ecosystem of apps will:

  • Reduce errors by up to 95%.
  • Make some processes up 4 times faster.
  • Gain cost savings of up to 80%.

“Cloud accounting automation capabilities will significantly streamline internal operations. This lowers the risk of data loss and miscommunication. And given the technology’s low cost of entry and maintenance, its return on investment cannot be ignored.”
—Tammatha Denyes, TD Accounting Services, 2018 QuickBooks Firm of the Future Runner-up

Where small businesses can leverage accounting technology

According to small business owners themselves, they spend too much time on accounting, bookkeeping, administration, inventory and chasing payments. However, they’d rather be spending more time on things like building their teams and marketing their products and services.

tasks with too much time

Going back to the costs of failing to automate:

  • 70% of small businesses aren’t using apps to help them automate scheduling — which not only wastes time, it puts these businesses at risk of violating labor laws and increasing turnover.
  • 60% of small businesses aren’t automating their payroll — let’s just say that in the history of bad ideas, this is one of them. Hello, tax laws anyone?
  • Only 21% of small businesses have integrated their accounting software with invoicing apps — considering late payments are a top business concern and cash flow headache, this should be a “no-brainer.”

Any small business accountant or bookkeeper reading this piece is probably saying, “Yes, yes, yes!” to all the points above. But how do we turn the tide and get small businesses to take advantage of the simplicity and effectiveness that accounting tech offers?

The role accountants and bookkeepers play

“We can consult with our clients to help them solve their pain points as they occur and make real-time changes to their business. This makes us more valuable than ever before.”
—Tanya Hilts, Cloud Bookkeeping Services, 2018 QuickBooks Global Firm of the Future Winner

Once a business works with an accountant and/or bookkeeper, they quickly see the benefits of this relationship. From complying with tax and labor laws to setting and achieving financial goals, there are no better advocates than small business accountants and bookkeepers.

As the people establishing financial processes, accountants and bookkeepers have a unique opportunity to get small businesses using accounting technology. Many financial professionals have their core go-to apps that they often recommend to businesses. Slowly but surely, this is how the bridge will be gapped.

When you consider that 40% of small businesses claim that doing their own bookkeeping and taxes was the worst part of being a small business owner and another 64% do their bookkeeping by hand, it’s easy to see where the opportunity lies.

It’s all about empowerment

“With every new client we bring on, my primary missions are the same: to make their financial processes easier and to help them reach their financial goals.”
—Michael Ly, Reconciled, 2018 QuickBooks US Firm of the Future

At PayPie, we’re 100% behind empowering accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses. It why we’ve developed our risk assessment and cash flow tools and why we’ve invested in creating useful, informative and actionable content in our blog.

Just as businesses benefit from automation, so do accountants and bookkeepers. There’s no need to spend hours building custom reports. Grow into your role as an advisor and advocate by helping businesses see the big picture with PayPie.

Trying our powerfully designed and intuitive analytics is as simple as creating a PayPie account then connecting a business’ QuickBooks Online account.

Main analytics dashboard

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online and was a 2018 Small Business App Showdown Finalist. 

The information in this article is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Stock image via Pexels. Age of Intelligent Accounting infographic via GetApp. Table of back-office tasks via Intuit QuickBooks. 

Forecasting Cash Flow in QuickBooks Online

cash flow forecasting in QBO main image

The average small business owner might not be as familiar with cash flow as they should. However, if you’ve got an awesome accountant and/or bookkeeper on your side, they can wax poetic on the virtues of a good cash flow projection.

Once a business starts forecasting cash flow, they’re quickly inspired and empowered by the insights it provides. This is why PayPie has included both monthly and daily cash flow forecasting within its analytics dashboard.

Accountants and bookkeepers who use QuickBooks Online (QBO) know that the Cash Flow Projector tool is only available within QuickBooks Desktop. But hope is not lost! In this article, you’ll learn how to use PayPie to project cash flow by simply connecting a business’ QBO account.

Creating a cash flow forecast in QBO

Put down the pen and paper. Forget about opening Google Sheets or Excel. Simply sign up for PayPie, then connect the business’ account. Forecasting cash flow is really that easy.

The app will then do a deep dive on the business’ financial data, looking at hundreds of variables. (And we’re just getting started…) The assessment of these variables is then presented in a unique analytics dashboard, with all of the cash flow metrics detailed in the cash flow tab.

main dashboard cash flow tab

Learn more about the PayPie QBO integration

Forecasting cash flow — monthly projections

The data for the monthly cash flow forecast pulls from the company’s income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. The graph shows three months of actual cash flow and another six months of forecasted cash flow. The forward-looking projections are based on the numbers from the previous three months.

Cash flow is broken into the three main categories:

  • Operating cash flow — inflows and outflows related to the sale of goods and services.
  • Investing cash flow — inflows and outflows that stem from the sale or purchase of capital investments.
  • Financing cash flow — inflows and outflows from borrowing activities or external investors.

Monthly changes in cash flow also helps identify patterns in order to leverage peaks and overcome the valleys.

cash flow forecasting monthly projections

Forecasting cash flow — daily projections

The daily cash flow projection shows the beginning and ending cash balance for each day — based on current and previous data in the business’ main financial reports.

Daily projections help you get more granular in your cash flow analysis. For example, a pattern of negative cash flow days can help pinpoint if a business is giving their vendors more time to pay than their debtors are giving them.

cash flow forecasting daily projections

5 reasons to use PayPie for cash flow forecasting.

Analyzing cash flow — accounts receivable

Receivables and payables are key components of cash flow. With PayPie you can generate an assessment of each one. Assessing accounts receivable helps identify overly generous credit terms and outstanding invoices that negatively impact cash flow and a business’ overall financial health.

In the accounts receivable analysis, you’ll be able to quickly access:

  • Total invoices raised — for a period of 12 months, regardless of whether the invoices are open or closed.
  • Monthly invoices, payments and open AR — laid out in a convenient bar graph. (Open AR = (previous month’s open AR + current month’s invoices) – payments.)
  • Top five exposures — showing which customers represent the highest amounts of outstanding invoices.

accounts receivable

Analyzing cash flow — accounts payable

Just as accounts receivable shows inflows, accounts payable details outflows. Crucially, if there are late payments which affect the business’ short- and long-term credit profile, as lenders base their conditions on previous payment histories.

The accounts payable analysis features:

  • Total bills received — for a period of 12 months, regardless of whether the bills are paid or unpaid.
  • Monthly bills, payments and open AP — laid out in a convenient bar graph. (Open AP = (previous month’s open AP + current month’s bills) – payments.)
  • Top 5 exposures — showing which vendors represent the highest amounts of outstanding bills.

accounts payable

Comparing income to expenses

In order to provide a historical and top-level perspective, PayPie also graphs total income and expenses for a period of 12 months. This yet another way to highlight trends, such as when expenses either exceed or come close to surpassing income.

income and expenses

Generating a breakdown of expenses

Delving further into examining cash outflows, PayPie’s cash flow analysis also breaks down expenses on a monthly basis, displaying 12 consecutive months. It’s a quick way to provide a snapshot of a business’ main expenses throughout the year.

expense breakdown

Handy reference — basic cash flow terms and concepts.

Creating a cash flow statement in QBO

If all you want to do is create a cash flow statement, simply go to the QBO reports tab and select “statement of cash flows.” However, why have just a cash flow statement when you can have a comprehensive cash flow forecast? Plus, our dashboard includes a cash flow statement as well.

cash flow statement in dashboard

Assessing credit risk

The main question that PayPie’s financial analysis answers is, “How does my business look in front of lenders?” We provide insights into cash flow as it’s closely tied to determining the business’ ability to manage its finances and credit.

However, our algorithm also examines a range of variables related to risk in order to create a proprietary risk score. Unlike traditional credit scores, it’s based on a business’ own real-time accounting data, instead of third-party sources. It doesn’t replace a traditional credit score. Instead, it serves as an internal benchmark of how the business is currently performing.

If a business is planning grown and knows that it’ll need funding in the future, it can use the risk score and the insights from the assessment to be better prepared when applying for financing.

risk score

Taking action through insights

If you’re taking the time to forecast cash flow and evaluate risk, you’re already interested in troubleshooting. But you’re also interested in solutions as well. This is why PayPie also includes a list of targeted insights, that pinpoint problem areas which need to be addressed.

These insights into financial health and borrowing capacity include:

  • Cash flow coverage ratio — the ability to pay interest and principal amounts on borrowed funds.
  • Creditor days — the average amount of time needed to settle debts with trade suppliers.
  • Current ratio — the ability to meet short-term debt obligations within the next 12 months.
  • Debt-to-equity ratio — shows how much debt is used to run the business as well as the value of the assets compared to the debt.
  • Debtor days — how long it’s taking to collect payment from debtors.
  • Interest coverage ratio — determines how easily a business can pay interest expenses on outstanding debt.
  • Leverage ratio — how much operating and financing leverage a business has in order to manage debt or acquire additional funds.
  • Net worth — the total value of the assets after all debts are paid.
  • Return on capital employed — how well a business’ capital investments are paying off.
  • Revenue growth — compared year over year.

insights (2)

Start forecasting cash flow today. Sign up for PayPie and connect your business.

PayPie’s cash flow forecasting is currently free. In the future, each user will be limited to two businesses. Volume pricing for accountants and bookkeepers will also be introduced.

In the meantime, try it out and let us know what you think. We mean it, we value your feedback.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online are registered trademarks of Intuit Inc. PayPie integrates with QuickBooks Online. It does not integrate with QuickBooks Desktop. 

The information in this article is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Stock image via Pexels. App images via a PayPie demo account. 

Is Creditworthiness a Real Thing?

creditworthiness handshake

The amount of financial jargon you see as an entrepreneur is dizzying. You’ve got to worry about your accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash flow, and more. That’s not even getting into the world of acronyms, such as EBITDA, P&L, and other gems. With so many strange and different words in the financial universe, you might be wondering if “creditworthiness” is even a real word.

Truth — it’s very real and really important to your business. Creditworthiness is the sum of many factors, which is why PayPie has created a proprietary risk assessment to help you answer the question, “How will my business look whenever I apply for funding?” As a reflection of your financial health, here’s what you need to know about what goes into determining how lenders see you and your business.

What is creditworthiness?

Creditworthiness isn’t a specific statistic about a company’s financial health, unlike some other metrics, like a business credit score. Rather, it is a valuation that lenders perform in order to determine if borrowers may default on their loan. A lender determines creditworthiness by evaluating several financial figures, which shed light on a business’ overall ability to take on and repay its debts.

The reason lenders care about creditworthiness boils down to risk. Lenders aren’t fans of risk.  They want to be as certain as possible that their borrowers can afford to repay the money they’re lent, plus interest and fees.

There’s always some risk that a borrower might default, and no one is a psychic, of course. But lenders want to do as much research into their applicants as possible to minimize this possibility.

Your past credit and future creditworthiness 

That’s where credit and credit history come in. Lenders will look into your finances to see if there are any red flags — things like late payments, the amount of money you have charged versus how much credit you have available, defaults, insolvency, or poor cash flow could signal that you’re a riskier borrower than they might like.

The relative importance of your business’ creditworthiness varies depending on the kind of loan in question. For example, a longer-term loan may require a much higher creditworthiness threshold than an equipment loan.

The reason for this is term loans come with bigger financial obligations and longer repayment schedules, whereas equipment loans are self-collateralizing and banks can easily sell the machinery purchased with the loan to recoup their money. The importance of your creditworthiness might shift depending on what kind of loan you pursue.

What determines creditworthiness?

Your creditworthiness may not boil down to a certain score alone. However, lenders look at several financial figures to help determine their decision. Most of these figures, perhaps unsurprisingly, relate to your company’s credit. But there’s more to creditworthiness than a credit score. Here are a few of the core elements and how they affect the ways that lenders make their decisions.

The 5 C’s of credit

The 5 C’s of credit are perhaps the biggest determinants of your creditworthiness. They account for five key components of your business’ borrowing history:

  • Character: Your company’s character focuses primarily on your trustworthiness and acumen as a borrower. This includes your track record of paying back debts, be they through credit card balances or previous loans. But that’s not the only factor. Lenders also want to know more about your business experience, financial know-how, education, and professional accomplishments. Achievements, like having previously built a successful business or holding an MBA from a top university, are considered “experiential” assets.
  • Capacity: Capacity looks into your company’s cash flow to determine if you have enough money coming in and going out to make repayments feasible. Lenders don’t want to give money to a company that doesn’t look like it can make consistent repayments. Your capacity shows them whether or not your business can. Capacity decisions also include the amount of time your company’s been in business. (This is an area where newer business’ struggle, but it can be overcome with a solid business plan and strength in the other C’s)
  • Capital: Lenders love to see business owners who have put some of their own skin in the game. Capital reflects the amount of your own money you’ve invested in your company, which demonstrates how financially invested you are personally in its success. Lenders don’t want to be the only ones taking on risk when they put their cash on the line to help you fund your business.
  • Collateral: Collateral is the amount of cash you can put up to secure a loan. Most loans require some amount of collateral for approval. This is because lenders want to know that you have something to provide them in the event that you default on the total balance of your debt. Some loans do not require collateral, such as equipment loans, as the equipment itself serves this role instead (i.e. lenders can sell the items purchased to recoup their losses).
  • Conditions: The purpose of your loan plays a large factor in your creditworthiness since there’s more risk involved in certain ventures than others. For example, if you intend to use your loan to buy raw materials or inventory, this is a safer “more tangible” purpose than a new ad campaign, which may not necessarily reap direct financial dividends. Most lenders would rather you use their money in ways that have a direct impact on revenue.  Conditions help them make this decision.

Read more about the 5 C’s of credit.

When your personal credit comes into the picture…

Your company’s creditworthiness decision comes from a few data sources. Most relate to your business, but your personal finances can also play a significant role. Especially if your business is new and doesn’t have a detailed financial history. If that’s the case, lenders will look toward your personal credit history to get a better projection of your track record with debt.

When lenders evaluate your personal credit history, they focus on a few specifics. Chief among them is your credit report, which offers a snapshot of your debt history. Your credit report reflects how well you pay off your debt, as well as your credit utilization (the amount of credit you use out of the total amount offered to you). The better your credit score, the more likely lenders are to approve your business loan. They view your personal use of credit as an indicator of how you’ll handle business debts. The stronger your personal credit history, the better.

Your business credit history

Your business may already have enough credit history to have its own credit score. If so, that’s a great addition to your application, and can help improve your creditworthiness if your score’s a good one.

Business credit scores are similar to their personal counterparts, as they evaluate your company’s history with credit, as well as its credit utilization. Business credit reports also factor for industry-based credit risks as well, however. If your industry is subject to market volatility or has recently seen a large number of bankruptcies, your credit report may suffer.

Your creditworthiness and financial health.

Creditworthiness tells a story that all lenders can understand

Your ability to get a business loan or any form of business financing hinges on your creditworthiness. It is an objective, universal measurement of your company’s history (and your personal history) with money. The same factors go into measuring your creditworthiness as any other business — which means that it serves as the baseline method of determining a company’s attractiveness to lenders.

Credit scores may change depending on the reporting agency, and every business’ mission statement is unique unto itself. But creditworthiness accounts for these differences by objectively evaluating the total picture of a borrower.

How cash flow affects creditworthiness

One major factor that has a cascading effect on creditworthiness is cash flow. With a solid cash flow, you can pay your debts on time, expand your revenue, and prepare for the future. Without understanding the ins and outs of this vital metric, you’ll miss payments and mismanage your money — which is a recipe for credit disaster.

A reliable cash flow forecast helps you take control of your cash, your debts, and day-to-day finances. This is why we include both a monthly and daily cash flow forecast within our analytics dashboard. You also receive a targeted list of actionable insights to help you improve your business’ creditworthiness.

insights

Get the tools to measure and build creditworthiness. Connect your business with powerful, intuitive analytics and insights.

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online and was a 2018 Small Business App Showdown Finalist. 

The information in this article is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Images via Pexels. 

COGS: What it is and How it Works

Cost of Goods and Services

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are always on the lookout for ways to maximize profits. The cost of goods sold (COGS) is a great place to start, as this figure includes a key expense: the cost of labor. If you’re manufacturing your products, in addition to selling them, your COGS impacts your financial health.

Knowing your COGS helps you find inefficiencies throughout different parts of your business. Perhaps you’re paying too much for manufacturing and could find alternative means of making your products. Or maybe your labor costs are too high and there are ways for you to make your workforce leaner.

All of these common COGS factors have a huge impact on the way you do business, especially with regard to cash flow. Since cash flow is the backbone of your day-to-day operations, you’re going to want to make sure you can stretch your liquid assets as far as they’ll go. Maximizing your COGS helps improve your cash flow, risk profile and ability to secure business financing whenever you need.

Read more: The 5 C’s of Business Credit 

What is COGS and why is it important?

COGS is, at its core, a measurement of how much it costs for you to make your product or provide a service. This figure goes beyond simply tracking how much you spend on raw materials since that only tells one part of the story. Instead, COGS tracks the cost of materials as well as the labor associated with production. It measures any direct costs in materials, purchases and labor that went into creating a product or service during a specific period. 

Your COGS is important for three major reasons: tax reporting, growth opportunities and, profit tracking. COGS helps you accurately track your sales when tax time comes, which helps make sure you claim the most deductions and pay the right amount of tax.

This number also helps you determine which items sell better than others and where you might be able to reduce manufacturing costs. (If they’re out of sync with other products.) Lastly, COGS helps you track profits by giving you a foundational understanding of how much it costs to produce your goods.

cash flow consulting stock image

How to calculate your COGS

Avery’s Amulets is a little shop on Main Street that’s devoted to all things baubles. She has more than $3,000 worth of jewels in inventory at the beginning of the year. She also makes an additional $1,500 worth of goods throughout the year. That means that Avery has $4,500 worth of stock. Avery’s Amulets amasses an astounding amount of sales that leaves her with only $430 worth of inventory by the end of the year.

Avery adds it all up with the following formula:

Beginning Inventory ($3,000) + Additional Inventory ($1,500) – Ending Inventory ($430) = COGS ($4,030)

Therefore, Avery’s COGS for the year is $4,030. This means, in the next year, she knows that it will take a minimum of $4,030 to produce the same amount of goods. Unless she’s able to find efficiencies or there’s a rise in the cost of materials or labor that’s simply beyond her control. 

How to control your COGS

Avery wants to bring her COGS to heel — namely, she wants to reduce her labor costs per item. This would help dig her out of a cash flow issue since the bauble business requires a ton of up-front payment for raw materials.

Avery might be able to find savings by automating some of her work, so she buys the Recom-bauble-lator 3000, which lets her build baubles in a fraction of the time. This helps her reduce labor costs, since she no longer needs to employ part-time employees to help her out.

This is only one way to control COGS. The other is buying materials at a better price. Avery doesn’t want to make the investment in a Recom-bauble-ator 3000 and would rather be loyal to her employees. Preferring a human touch, she works out new terms with her gold supplier, which gives her better bulk pricing to produce a bevy of baubles for less money. This helps her reduce her COGS by lowering materials cost.

Learn the Difference Between Personal an Business Credit

Why controlling COGS is key to cash flow

Buying equipment and paying to put it together isn’t cheap. Any time you pay more than you need to when creating inventory, you leave money on the table. Keeping track of COGS can help significantly here. It provides you with clues on where you can minimize costs and optimize your company’s operations.

Keeping costs down helps free up cash. Which, in turn, helps you keep your cash flow steady. The more you can free up cash, the better your cash flow gets. Having your COGS at the ready helps you determine where your company is making the most of its available cash, and where there might be a drain on resources.

To get a further handle on your business and its financial health, you can connect your QuickBooks Online account to PayPie to get a detailed assessment of how banks, online lenders and other businesses view your business in terms of risk. Cash flow is definitely one factor, but our tool also combs through your transactional data to give you a near-real-time answer to the question, “How do lenders view my business?”

main dashboard

Get started today! Create your account then connect your business in just a few clicks. It’s that simple.

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online. Additional integrations are coming soon.

This article is informational only. It is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional.

Images via Pexels.

What Your Cash Conversion Cycle Means For Your Business

cash conversion cycle

Running a business is all about making investments of time and money in exchange for a return on your efforts. But, if it takes too long for you to generate sales, you risk running out of cash. Or, if your production process takes too long, you risk leaving potential sales on the table.

The cash conversion cycle demonstrates how many days it takes for you to turn your investments in whatever it takes to create your products or services into cash flows from sales. It also helps measure how long it takes for you to see a return on your investment and can even help you spot inefficiencies along the way.

Because your cash conversion cycle (cash to cash cycle) helps tell you how much cash you need to fund ongoing operations, it’s instrumental when forecasting cash flow. Knowing the mechanics of your cash conversion cycle and using PayPie to forecast cash flow helps you see how efficiently you’re running your business and better anticipate your financing needs.

What is a cash conversion cycle?

You don’t need an MBA to decipher the benefits of increased sales. However, in the real world, you have to account for the amount of cash you have on hand to invest in inventory, employees, manufacturing, and the other costs of doing business.

Here’s where the cash conversion cycle helps. This measurement shows you how long you’ll go between making an investment in creating a product or service and turning it into a sale. Whether you buy inventory on credit or pay out of pocket or sell products on credit or cash-on-delivery, you can use the cash conversion cycle to measure how long it takes to turn your investment into an actual sale.

Your cash conversion cycle measures exactly how long it takes for you to turn investments into cash. This helps you make smarter financial decisions about inventory, sales, and pricing. A faster cycle means you’re churning out product as fast as you can sell it. A longer cycle means you’ll have to be a bit more careful about how you invest your money in inventory and expenses.

Learn how to read a cash flow statement. 

cash conversion cycle and cash flow

How to calculate your cash conversion cycle

Barry owns a ball bearing company. He wants to determine how long it’ll take for him to turn his investments in inventory and manufacturing into sales. The best way for him to do this is by calculating his cash conversion cycle —the time it takes between the outlay of costs to produce and when they’re sold.

To figure out his cash conversion cycle (CCC), Barry has to calculate several underlying components first: days sales outstanding (DSO), days inventory outstanding (DIO), and days payables outstanding (DPO).

With these numbers in hand, he can use this formula to figure out his cash conversion cycle:

CCC = DSO + DIO – DPO

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

DSO (days receivable or average collection period) reflects how long it takes for your customers and clients to pay their bills. The higher your DSO, the longer you go without getting paid for your sales. This can adversely affect your cash conversion cycle (and cash flow) since it means you have to wait longer to get a return on the money you’ve invested in making the product sold.

Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)

Your DIO (days in inventory or days inventory) reflects how long it takes for you to sell an inventory item. The smaller your DIO, the faster you’re moving products. It also helps you determine how long it takes to convert investments into cash by reflecting the waiting period between your investments in inventory and how long it takes to sell the items.

To determine your DIO, you have to make two other calculations. You’ll want to determine your average inventory and cost of goods sold (COGS).

Average inventory lets you know the amount of unsold inventory you have at the end of every period. COGS lets you determine how expensive it is for you to create an inventory item. Here’s more on each:

Average Inventory

Average Inventory measures the number of goods sold during a specific time period. Common average inventory measurements track two concurrent periods, providing you with insights into how long your products sit in the warehouse.

This figure helps you determine how quickly you’re able to move products — the more inventory you have at the end of the period, the slower your products move. And, inevitably, the longer your cash conversion cycle.

To calculate your average inventory, add the total value of your inventory for two or more periods, then divide by the total number of periods included.

For example, Barry has $10,000 in inventory left over at the end of September. He has $9,000 left over at the end of October. So Barry would add $10,000 and $9,000, then divide this figure by two. His Average Inventory is $950.

($10,000 + $9,000) ÷ 2 = $950

COGS

Your COGS represents how much it costs to acquire or manufacture goods during a particular period. This figure tallies up the cost of the inventory, labor and any other expenses that relate to producing a single unit of your merchandise. Think of this number as the underlying figure you have to factor into your sales price in order to cover the money you spent to produce something.

Barry wants to determine his COGS, so he collects information about his raw materials, labor, and other expenses. His inventory costs $5,000 per month, additional inventory purchases during the period ($750), and the remaining inventory at the end of the month ($1,500). Barry then adds his beginning inventory ($5,000) by the purchases made during the period ($750) minus his ending inventory ($1,500).

($5,000 + $750) – $1,500 = $4,250

With these average inventory and COGS in tow, you can now determine your DIO. For example, Barry has an average inventory of $950, which he then divides by his COGS figure of $4,250, broken out by day (roughly $141 per day on a 30-day cycle). His DIO is 6 days.

$950 ÷ ($4,250 ÷ 30) = 6.37 (rounded to 6 days)

Days Payables Outstanding (DPO)

DPO indicates how long it takes for your company to pay its bills to suppliers and vendors. You can calculate this figure quarterly or annually, depending on how detailed you want to get with your company’s cash outflow figures. The higher your DPO, the longer it takes for your company to pay its bills. A high DPO means you might have more financial wiggle room for making purchases (if you don’t have to pay vendors quickly), but could also indicate that you’re not paying vendors on time.

Adding it all up

Barry’s DSO is 45 days, his DIO is 6 days and is DPO is 30. Using the formula: 

CCC = DSO + DIO – DPO

21 = 45 + 6 -30

Barry’s CCC is 21 days.

This means it takes Barry 21 days to go from production the production of goods to sales. By knowing where he stands, Barry can compare his metrics to benchmark standards for other ball bearing manufacturers. Internally he can also use his CCC as an internal reference point.

If he’s able to generate enough cash flow to make a profit and keep his operations humming, he knows that 21 days is a good CCC target. If this slips for any reason, he knows which factors to examine. When he wants to grow his business, he can look for further ways to optimize DSO, DIO and DPO.

Learn why you need a cash flow statement and cash flow forecast.

Why the cash conversion cycle matters

The cash conversion cycle helps you determine how much money you can afford to reinvest in inventory. The underlying calculations can also help you spot inefficiencies from delinquent payments from customers, paying your own invoices too quickly, or letting poorly selling products languish on shelves for too long. All of these factors affect your cash flow and the money you have left to grow your business. 

Whenever you need to apply for business financing, lenders will also look at your cash flow and cash conversion cycle in order to determine your ability to pay back the funds and on what terms. As you see that it took nearly  1,000 words to walk you through one calculation, that’s why PayPie has created a one-click risk assessment that includes cash flow analysis forecasting.

With PayPie, you can use your own financial data, the information you already have in your QuickBooks Online account, to generate your nearly real-time risk assessment and cash flow forecast. Get started today!

main dashboard

Create your PayPie account, connect your business and let our analytics dashboard do the rest.

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online. Additional integrations are coming soon.

This article is informational only. It is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional.

Images via Pexels. 

PayPie’s QuickBooks Integration – What You Need to Know

PayPie QuickBooks Online Integration

They’re not media darlings or mythical unicorns, they’re the hard-working people giving everything they’ve got to make their businesses a success. In fact, 99% of all the businesses in the world are small businesses.

In spite of their diligent efforts, 60% of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that fail point to cash flow. There’s also lack of funding to bolster cash flow with 1 in 5 SMEs being turned down by banks and traditional lenders. What’s worse, is that many SMEs don’t know the reasons why or even how to improve their chances.

The power of a one-click risk assessment  

There’s no question that QuickBooks Online is a smarter business tool for the world’s hardest workers — small business owners. That’s why PayPie is excited to integrate with QuickBooks Online to offer these businesses powerful, intuitive, one-click risk assessment — based on a business’ own first-hand accounting data.

While expense tracking, payments and other day-to-day business functions can be easily automated, if an SME wants to know their business credit rating, they have to rely on an outdated system based on second-hand information. That is, until now.

With PayPie all you have to do is create a PayPie account, then connect your QuickBooks Online account. It’s that simple and your near-real-time credit score will be generated in seconds.

main dashboard

Hundreds of variables, one concise indicator

PayPie analyzes the financial data in the business’ QuickBooks Online account. Our application sorts the data into key variables and indicators, which are then further divided into two main categories — risk assessment and cash flow analysis.

The risk score, the focal point of the dashboard, is a capstone or synthesis of all the risk assessment variables. Like a car odometer, the risk score shows if the business is accelerating, resting at a comfortable cruising speed or losing momentum.

The table below breaks down some of the variables and indicators that PayPie uses to assess risk — factors that small business lenders often use their own assessments:

elements of risk assessmen

The added value of cash flow forecasting 

Risk assessment is to cash flow as a chicken is to an egg. You can’t have one without the other. Businesses need cash flow to survive. As such, they need to be aware of exactly how and when the cash flows in and out of their business. Cash flow forecasting also helps businesses predict when they’ll need funding — letting them plan and prepare to apply for these funds more effectively.

PayPie helps SMEs monitor cash flow by:

  • Detailing accounts receivable and payable exposures.
  • Comparing income to expenses.
  • Analyzing categories of expenses.
  • Projecting monthly cash flow.
  • Providing a daily cash position.

AR days overdue

Daily cash flow forecast

Learn 5 reasons why you should use PayPie for cash flow forecasting

Risk assessment that includes solutions

In developing their analytics dashboard, PayPie didn’t want to provide just a series of charts and graphs alone. They also wanted to offer solutions. This is why each assessment also includes a list of insights that show businesses which goals they’re achieving and where they’re reaching their goals and where they can improve.

Our insights that help SMEs improve their financial health and increase their chances of getting the funding they need include:

  • Evaluations of key liquidity ratios.
  • Comparisons to industry benchmarks.
  • Generation and investment of operating cash flow.
  • Debt and repayment indicators.
  • Return on capital employed.

risk assessment with insights

Financial tools for businesses, accountants and bookkeepers

Any business, accountant or bookkeeper using QuickBooks Online can use PayPie’s risk assessment and cash flow forecasting. We want to put these tools into the hands of the people who need them the most — whether it’s the businesses themselves or the financial professionals who consult and advise them.

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island or huddled in a safe room, you know that technology is set to transform accounting. This “Fourth Industrial Revolution” will also change the relationship between accountants, bookkeepers and businesses.

When all the basics are covered and simplified by automation, there’s more time to focus on conceptual and insight-based tasks, like cash flow consulting. The more businesses know about their current and future cash flow, the more able they are to make strategic, data-backed decisions.

Learn more about how cash flow consulting benefits businesses and accountants alike. 

Look better in front of lenders.
Improve your cash flow.
Grow your business.

“Every day, small businesses struggle with a lack of accurate and efficient ways to assess risk and accesss funding. We’re leveling the playing field so that SMEs can seize upon further opportunities for growth.”
Nick Chandi, PayPie CEO and Co-Founder

We invite you to try PayPie and we can’t wait to hear what you think

See more reviews and insights via FitSmallBusiness

In addition to our listing in the QuickBooks App Store, you can also learn more about PayPie in our listing within the 2018 Small Business Accounting Software Reviews & Pricing Guide.

QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Connect and the Small Business App Showdown are registered trademarks of Intuit Inc. 

The information in this article is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

4 Financial Ratios for Cash Flow and Risk Assessment

financial ratios hero image

Financial ratios help small business owners who want a fuller picture of their company’s overall financial health.

Ratio analysis takes raw financial figures and helps you uncover patterns and problems at a glance by establishing relationships between variables and providing benchmark indicators.

Within PayPie’s cash flow forecast and analysis, there are four go-to financial ratios that indicate how efficiently a business is operating and managing its financial obligations.

1. Cash-inflow-to-cash-outflow ratio

The cash-inflow-to-cash-outflow ratio, also known as your operating cash flow, reflects your company’s short-term liquidity (the cash you have on hand, or can get your hands on quickly).

This is one of the financial ratios that measures the number of times your company can pay off its current debts with cash in a set period. A high cash inflow to outflow ratio suggests that your company brings in more cash than it needs to pay off its debts. A lower one signals that your cash flow is negative and that your business may have trouble paying its debts within a set amount of time.

Learn more about determining your break-even point.

Calculating cash inflow to cash outflow — an example

Patty’s Pastry Pagoda sells a variety of outstanding snacks. But working in the bakery biz doesn’t always mean your company’s dough is in order. Her pagoda has high fixed costs, such as gas and electricity bills. She also has to buy enough baking supplies to keep producing pain au chocolat without a hitch. Patty has to figure out how her cash inflow to cash outflow ratio looks if she wants to make sure she has the bread to pay off her debts.

Patty’s annual cash flow is $200,000 and has $190,000 in current liabilities. This gives her cash inflow to cash outflow a ratio of 1.05, which means she’s at risk of not having enough cash to keep up with payments.

Here’s how Patty calculated her operating cash flow ratio:

cash flow ÷ current liabilities = cash inflow to cash outflow ratio

$200,000 ÷ $190,000 = 1.05

2. Current ratio

The current ratio is similar in some respects to the cash inflow to cash outflow ratio. Both measure a company’s ability to pay off obligations, but the current ratio offers more details about how a business can handle short- and long-term obligations.

The current ratio takes accounts for a company’s current liquid and illiquid assets (hence the name) with regard to its current liabilities. This ratio is also known as the working capital ratio since it shows how much capital a company has in hand after costs are factored in.

Much like the cash inflow to cash outflow ratio, your current ratio signals your ability to pay off current debts. The higher the number, the better equipped you are to make these payments. A number below one signals that you can’t afford to pay off your existing debts with the amount of cash you have.

You can also use the quick ratio to get a similar impression of your immediate cash flow. The quick ratio is similar to the current ratio, except it removes the cost of inventory from the equation. This is helpful if you want to want to exclude inventory from your estimates—say, for example, if you do not want to factor in your ability to sell your supplies to help pay off debts.

Calculating a current ratio — an example

Patty’s business is on a roll, but she’s worried about having enough cash to keep things on the rise. She’s got a kitchen filled with all the tools she needs to bake her customers’ favorite snacks. But buying all of that equipment wasn’t cheap and she had to finance these purchases as a result. Now, Patty wants to make sure she can pay for all of the machinery she bought with credit.

Patty has $275,000 in current assets since she’s got $200,000 in cash and invested $75,000 of her own money into the business when it started. She also has $190,000 in liabilities due to her loans. This leaves her with a current ratio of 1.4, which is safe enough to keep her business running—so long as there aren’t any unforeseen financial emergencies.

Here’s how Patty calculated her current ratio:

Current assets ÷ liabilities = current ratio

$275,000 ÷ $190,000 = 1.4 

financial ratios pointing out

3. Debt-to-equity ratio

One of the financial ratios that measures solvency, the debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio (also known as your as risk, gearing or leverage ratio) shows your company’s assets versus the amount of debt it has taken on. It determines how much your company’s assets are worth relative to the amount of debt it has, which can help you understand your attractiveness to investors and lenders.

In essence, it shows you how much debt you use to run your business. D/E ratio also helps you stay on track with debt, since you can make sure you’re not taking too much on at once. Business lenders also use this ratio to gauge your attractiveness as a borrower, since too much debt may signal that your company isn’t making enough money to finance enough of its own operations.

A healthy debt-to-equity ratio keeps both numbers relatively low, and near one another in value. In other words, the lower the ratio the better. However, debt-to-equity ratios vary by industry and can be sensitive to interest rates.

Calculating a debt-to-equity ratio — an example

Patty wants to take out a loan to purchase a new pastry proofer. But first, she has to figure out how much debt her pagoda has relative to its equity, since this helps lenders determine if she’s able to prove her ability to pay them back. Patty has $250,000 in assets and $190,000 in liabilities.  This gives her a debt-to-equity ratio of 1:6, which means she has one dollar of debt for every six dollars of equity. That’s a pretty great position to be in, as it means that most of your company’s money hasn’t come from loans.

Here’s how Patty calculated her debt-to-equity ratio:

Total liabilities (debts) ÷ assets (equity) = debt-to-equity ratio 

$190,000 ÷ $250,000 = .76 

Just looking at the numbers before doing the math, you can see that Patty’s debts are creeping up on her assets (equity). She’s doing ok, but she might want to pay down some debt and be mindful of her ratio as she moves forward.

Learn more about accounts receivable turnover (another ratio) and why it matters. 

4. Operating profit margin

Your operating margin is among the most important, and useful, financial ratios to keep an eye on. It shows the percentage of profit your business generates from operations — prior to subtracting taxes and interest charges.

Your operating margin measures your company’s profitability. It demonstrates how much money is left over from every dollar of revenue you make, minus the cost of goods (COGS) and operating expenses. This figure helps you determine your company’s efficiency — a low percentage means that most of the money you make in sales goes right back into expenses, rather than your bank account.

Be sure that your operating profit margin calculations include the right kinds of expenses. You’ll want to use your operating profit within this formula, since it removes the cost of goods, labor, and other daily business expenses from your total earnings. You’ll also want to exclude certain expenses, such as interest and one-off expenses.

With an operating profit of $200,000 and a total revenue of $150,000, here’s how Patty calculated her operating profit margin.

operating profit ÷ total revenue = operating profit margin 

$200,000 ÷ $150,000 = 1.33 

This means that Patty earns roughly only 13¢ from her operations once you factor out other costs. This is a margin she’ll want to improve by adjusting pricing, cutting input costs and optimizing her operations.

Get insight into your business’s health

There’s no shortage of metrics out there to help you manage your company’s cash flow. The financial ratios discussed in this article will do the same for you, as long as you know what they mean.

But rather than spend the time calculating these financial ratios manually, simply connect your QuickBooks Online account with your PayPie account. PayPie’s analytics will then comb through your financial data to create an in-depth interactive dashboard containing these ratios and more.

Along with a breakdown of your cash flow metrics, you’ll also receive a proprietary risk score and assessment based on your current QuickBooks Online data.

main dashboard and ratios

Get started today and learn more about the factors affecting your cash flow and credit profile.

At the writing of this article, PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online. Integrations with other platforms are in development.

The information in this article is not financial advice and does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Images via Pexels. 

Determining Your Break-Even Point

Finding Your Break-Even Point

Making a sale is exciting. Making lots of sales is even more exciting. Profit is crucial to business survival. No one goes into business to lose money, after all.

However, profit’s a deceptive metric for success that often only gives you part of the picture. For example, sales are recorded on a profit and loss statement, regardless of whether the customer has paid for them yet.

While profit is simply the difference between what it costs you to produce and sell a good or service and what you sell it for, your break-even point tells you how much money you need to make in order to cover your operating costs.

Thankfully it’s easy to determine your company’s break-even point. The first step is monitoring your cash flow using tools like PayPie. Armed with this information, you can determine just how close you are toward being cash flow positive and having the working capital you need to reinvest in growth.

But first, what is a break-even point?

Put simply, the break-even point (BEP) is a financial indicator that demonstrates when your company’s net profits match its expenses. “When” — in terms of the concept of timing or at what point your income is equal to your costs.

The thinking here is that if you when you get there, you’ll also know more about how you got there. More importantly, you’ll have a better idea of what to do to have your profits consistently surpass your expenses.

Your break-even point fluctuates with your costs, including start-up costs, fixed assets, and day-to-day purchases. The more you spend to do business, the higher your break-even point to stay in business. Therefore, most companies calculate their break-even point monthly or annually — or both. This helps you orient your business toward higher profits and lower expenses, as they’re the key determinants behind whether or not you’re “breaking even.”

Factors for determining your break-even point

Every company’s break-even point is different. If you’ve made major capital investments in your company, you’ll have to earn higher profits to overcome these costs. Or, if you have high raw materials and labor costs, you might have a long way to go before you hit your break-even point. Alternatively, if your business doesn’t require much of either, you’ll hit your break-even point as long as you’re generating enough revenue and charging the right prices for your services.

There are still a few core tenets behind a break-even point calculation, even though each figure is different. These key metrics influence how you determine your break-even point. Your best bet is to create a sales forecast before you dive into a break-even point forecast, as that will give you insights into each of the metrics below.

The difference between profitability and cash flow. 

Average per-unit cost

Your average per-unit cost is the amount of money it costs for you to make a single unit (product or service, depending on your business). You’ll typically want your per-unit cost to be as low as possible if you want to maximize your profit margin.

Average per-unit sales price

The average per-unit sales price — also known as per-unit revenue — is the money you receive for every unit you sell. In short, it’s the amount you charge on every sale (or invoice). This stat doesn’t account for taxes, labor, or raw materials costs. It’s just what you take in for every item you sell. Be sure to account for sales and discounts, as these will lower your per-unit sales price. And if you sell more than one item, you’ll have to calculate an average price across all products.

Fixed costs

Fixed costs are the expenses you regularly incur over a set period of time, like a month, quarter, etc. This includes raw materials, rent/mortgage, payroll, taxes, and any other expenditure that you can count on every month. Fixed costs, also known colloquially as overhead, or the cost of doing business, are recorded in your business’ income statement. You’ll want to make sure your fixed costs are low if you want to make it easier for you to hit your break-even point, since your overhead eats into your profits.

What your financial statements tell you. 

Determining your break-even point

When you determine your break-even point, you’re basically asking yourself whether you can sell enough units to cover the costs that go into producing them. In short form, your break-even point equals your fixed costs divided by the difference between your per-unit sales price and per-unit costs.

Break-Even Point An Example

Calculating a Break Even Point: An Example

Tara’s Teddy Bears is introducing a line of cute, cuddly mini bears. But what will it take to break even each month for this line alone?

Here’s how Tara worked out her average cost per unit. Based on an estimate from her manufacturer, it will cost $500,000 to produce 1 million tiny teddy bears. Running the formula, this means the average cost per unit is 50¢.

Average per-unit cost = total production costs ÷  number of units produced

$500,000 total production costs÷ 1,000,000 bears = 50¢ per bear

In this example, you’ll be able to see how pricing makes a difference in the ultimate break-even point.

  • If she charges $10 a bear, she’ll earn $10,000 in revenue for every 1,000 bears she sells.
  • If she charges $15 a bear, she’ll earn $15,000 in revenue for every 1,000 bears she sells.

To get to her break-even point for her new line of bears, Tara runs the numbers, based on $1,000 in monthly fixed costs using the formula below:

Break-even point = fixed costs÷ (per unit price – per unit cost)

  • $1,000 ÷ $9.50 = $105.26
    With this break-even point, Tara has to sell more than 10 bears at $10 each month in order to cover costs.
  • $1000 ÷ $14.50 = $68.97
    With this break-even point, Tara only needs to sell more than 4 bears a month at $15 each in order to cover costs.

As this isn’t her first product line and she knows that her other product lines all sell 100 units or more each month, she can see that she has the freedom to charge either $10 or $15. Of course, she’ll examine other market factors as well and look at her break-even point for her entire company as well.

Other considerations when using your break-even point as a KPI

From the example above, which features one product line, it’s easy to see how a lot of generalizations and assumptions are made to get to an overall average for every product a business produces. Thus, measuring a break-even point a key performance indicator (KPI) is easier for businesses with fewer product and services.

In its simplest calculation, a break-even point lumps all the fixed costs together. It simply shows you the numbers you need to hit. It doesn’t account for verifying market demand, which is part science and part leap of faith in the first place. Your break-even point is like anything else, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

The best thing you can do is understand how it was calculated, what it means and how to apply it. For instance, if Tara knows there’s the potential for teddy bear stuffing costs to increase, she might opt for charging $15 a bear to help hedge her bets. Or if she has a sale each year, she knows she has the margin to offer a sale price of $10.

Burn rate and runway — how long your cash will last. 

Your break-even point and cash flow

Because there are so many moving parts to a business, monitoring your cash flow and the factors that affect it gives you the perspective you need to make future projections and better-informed decisions.

Cash flow analysis that includes a cash flow statement and cash flow forecast helps you compare things like the timing of your income versus the timing of your expenses. It can show you if you’ve got more debt than equity and highlight a range of indicators, ratios and variables.

Hitting your break-even point is only one step toward being cash flow positive and staying that way. It’s simply one piece of the puzzle. However, a cash flow forecast and analysis from PayPie gives you a way to put all the pieces together — using your current financial information.main dashboard and ratios

If your business uses QuickBooks Online, you can get started today.

Simply create an account, connect your business and start seeing what your numbers have to say.

At the writing of this article, PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online. Integrations with other platforms are in development.

The information in this article is not financial advice and does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Images via Pexels. 

Fixing Business Credit Report Mistakes

Business Credit Report Mistakes Don't Add Up

As a kid, few consequences were more frightening than the threat of having something go on your permanent school record. Any slip-up, large or small, could go on this life-determining record. The prospect of a tainted record was all most of us needed to sit up straight, respect our teachers, and resist the temptation to shoot a spitball at the blackboard.

Your credit report is the adult equivalent to your school record. You even get graded for it. It also has real-life consequences. What happens if your business credit report comes back with mistakes? That’s like having an expulsion on your record that never happened.

Fixing business credit report mistakes isn’t simple,  but it’s not impossible either. Be prepared to make several calls, carefully go through your company’s financial records, and remain vigilant. As challenging as this may seem, it’s worth it in the end. Plus, you can keep an eye on your big picture financial metrics with PayPie.

Finding business credit report mistakes

Before a potential error on your business credit report makes you shake your fist at the sky in anger, check your books. Rule out any possibility that you may have left out important information in your own recordkeeping. Think of it as the “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” step.

You should also ensure that you know what your business credit report covers. Your credit score is a numerical value that distills your company’s record of paying vendors and creditors on time, the amount it debt it owes, the length of your credit history, and any new kinds of credit your business has (loans, lines of credit, credit cards, etc.). Credit reports from Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion all provide you with a credit score for your company, as well as a rundown of your business’ credit history.

Request a report from each credit bureau

Business credit scores vary by bureau. Some even include slightly different information on their report than others. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion all use a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the top possible score. Overall grade assessments will differ depending on the criteria used and how these factors are evaluated. This is why it’s a good idea to request reports from each agency if you suspect there might be a mistake.

Once you have credit reports from each agency, you’ll want to read through them all and see if the information they contain matches up with your business records. If you’re certain that your credit report has a mistake, there are plenty of reasons why that might have happened. Better yet, there are several steps you can take to fix it.

Improving your business credit score — where to start.

Business Credit Report Mistakes Not Right

Common business credit report mistakes

Some business credit report mistakes are more common than others. Most come down to human error. Here are some of the more common mistakes you might find on your credit report and how they got there in the first place.

1. Late payments from seven (or more) years ago

Your credit score should remove late payments if they’re seven years old or older. But this doesn’t always play out as it should. Sometimes, old late payments stay on credit reports long after they should. If this is the case, contact the credit bureau to contest the entry. They will either investigate the entry or simply strike it from your record if the claim is valid.

2. Credit accounts opened under a similar name

Credit bureaus aren’t perfect. Their data is often only as good as what gets reported to them, which means that clerical errors can cause credit report mistakes. If a company with a name similar to yours opens a credit account, there’s a possibility that their information might get mixed up with yours.

3. Closed accounts listed as open

Your creditors should note when you close your account or you finish paying your loan, but mistakes happen. Old credit cards or a closed business line of credit can show up on your current credit report due to clerical errors. This could accidentally signal to credit agencies that you have more credit accounts open than you actually do. In turn, it may suggest that your company is borrowing more than it should. Be sure to look for old credit accounts and loans on your report. Then check with your lenders to make sure they’re no longer open in their system.

4. Paid tax liens from seven (or more) years ago

Old tax liens on your credit report are similar to late payments. They no longer belong on your credit report if you paid them off and they’re seven or more years old. Most agencies will remove lien records once the seven-year mark hits. If you see an old lien on your credit report, reach out the credit bureau and request that they remove it.

5. Inaccurate credit limits or loan amounts

Credit agencies determine your score based in part on the maximum amount you’re approved to borrow (your credit limit), and the actual amount you’re currently borrowing (your loan amount). If this information is incorrect on your credit history, you may appear to be borrowing more money than you should — even if you’re approved for more than the report suggests. Make sure your credit limit information, loan totals, and remaining balance are all correct when you review your credit report.

6. Fraudulent activity linked to your business

Of all the potential sources of credit report mistakes, fraud is the most vexing. Credit fraud is all too common these days, with more than $3.7 trillion lost due to business fraud in 2017. It’s not always easy to keep track of daily cash flow, which can help prevent fraud before it happens.

The differences between business and personal credit.

Who to contact to fix business credit report mistakes

The process by which you fix business credit report mistakes varies depending on the kind of error in question.

When to reach out to vendors first

If your payment history with a vendor is inaccurate, contact the vendor before going to the credit bureau. Credit agencies rely on vendors for payment history information. So start by going to the source. Reach out your contact or someone within the accounts receivable department. This process also helps in clearing up confusion involving a similarly named company appearing on your business credit report.

When to reach out to creditors and lenders first

Give your creditors or lenders a call if your credit limit, payment history, or loan totals look incorrect. Odds are that they may not have updated your business’ profile. The same holds for any closed credit card accounts or loans that still appear to be open on your credit report. The creditors and lenders themselves are the first points of contact that can help clear up any issues regarding your use and repayment of credit. Again, it’s a matter of going directly to the source.

When to contact the credit bureaus first

There are a few reasons for reaching out to a reporting agency directly. The most common instance is when the other third parties can’t shed light on the mistake. You would likely reach out in cases where an old tax lien or delinquent payment still appears on your credit history after the seven-year mark expires. Or if you’ve solved the problem with the primary source, but your report itself is still incorrect.

When you have to fix an error on your credit report, the first thing to do is stay calm. Next, be patient. Fixing business credit report mistakes may take a while — and you may need to contact a few different companies to get things fixed.

Track your credit in near-real-time

Knowledge is power, particularly with regard to your company’s overall financial health. PayPie’s cash flow analysis helps you forecast future cash flow and track other key metrics like income vs expenses or where your greatest strengths, exposures, and opportunities lie.

Your business risk score, featured prominently in the report dashboard, is generated using a sophisticated algorithm along with the current data in your small business accounting software. This score (from 0 to 100) gives you a sense of how third parties, especially lenders, view the financial strength of your business.

main dashboard and ratios

PayPie is currently compatible with QuickBooks Online and more integrations are in the works.

The information in this article is not financial advice and does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Images via Pexels.

10 Free (& Fun) Things to Do at QuickBooks Connect San Jose 2018

10 free and fun things to do at QuickBooks Connect San Jose

We were going to call this the Insider’s Guide to Managing Cash Flow at QuickBooks Connect San Jose. But really, who doesn’t stop and turn their heads when they hear the word “free”? Of course, you paid for attendance and travel. But, as your cash flow forecasting advocates, we wanted to suggest a few cost-effective ways to make the most of every minute:

1. Plan ahead

Go to the QuickBooks Connect San Jose 2018 event page and see who’s exhibiting. If there’s a company you don’t want to miss, reach out ahead of time. In most cases, they’ll be willing to set up an appointment. (PayPie will be at booth 12-A. If you’d like to reach out in advance, please drop us a line.)

Another way to make your list is to check the QuickBooks App Store reviews to get unbiased, first-hand accounts. Furthermore, keep your primary business goals top-of-mind and use them as a filter for connecting with vendors and selecting informational sessions.

QuickBooks Connect San Jose Stage

Research the speakers and their backgrounds as well. This will help you know who you want to see the most, plus it’ll give you plenty of ice-breakers and conversation starters.

Did you know that MBA star Alex Rodriguez also owns a successful real estate investment firm? Or that Dylan’s Candy Bar founder Dylan Lauren is the daughter of fashion designer Ralph Lauren? And, yes, Mindy Kaling is that girl from The Office.

Several speakers are also authors. Check out their books ahead of time online or there’s even still time to see if your local library has a copy. (Note: If you want to get your book signed, your librarian will kindly ask you to purchase your own copy.)

Want to see if influencers and peers are attending? Visit their blog and social accounts or reach out. Let them know you’ll be there. If possible, set a meeting time instead of relying on your paths meeting in a sea of more than 5,000 attendees.

QuickBooks San Jose Convention Centre

2. Download the event app

Time is money. If anyone understands this, Intuit does. This is why they’ve created a QuickBooks San Jose 2018 Event App to help you plan your schedule and keep up with all the latest information. (Apple App Store | Google Play)

Insiders also advise arriving early to scheduled events to ensure you get your seat. These sessions are first-come, first-serve only. In between sessions, scout out the booths and influencers you want to meet.

3. Say, “Hello”

There’s a reason it’s called QuickBooks Connect. The entire event is designed to bring accountants, business owners and tech experts together. It only takes a second to smile and say “hello.” And make sure your name tag is easy to see. From the exhibit hall to the breakout sessions, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get to meet new people.

Keep your business cards handy, too. Although technology continues to astound, the simplicity and effectiveness of business cards have yet to be outdone.

In their Insider’s Guide to QuickBooks Connect Sydney, Receipt Bank shares a quote from CPA and attendee Sam Rothberg that captures the essence of making connections:

“We all have great knowledge of our industry and we’re all still learning a lot about different areas. Don’t feel like you’re less a person than anyone else. Whoever you’re sitting next to at any of the areas you’re gonna go to, just introduce yourself, talk to them, ask them questions, I’m sure they’ll do the same.”

2018 Small Business App Showdown

4. Meet tomorrow’s industry and tech leaders

QuickBooks Connect San Jose showcases both the Global Firm of the Future Contest and $100,000 Small Business App Showdown.

Held the evening of November 5, the Small Business App Showdown shines the spotlight on 10 of the most promising new QuickBooks Online apps. Each company will appear on stage and a winner will be decided that evening. There will also be an exclusive app finalist section within the exhibition hall.

Shameless plug alert: PayPie is beyond thrilled to be one of the 2018 App Showdown Finalists.

The Firm of the Future Finalists from Australia, Canada, India, the United States and United Kingdom will all be in attendance and the Global Firm of the Future Finalist will be announced on November 6. In addition to being savvy businesspeople, they’re also outstanding networkers and influencers.

Firm of the Future 2018

5. Ask questions

Asking questions is the single most important habit of innovative thinkers. Whether you’re in a small group discussion or breakout panel, you’re here to learn and trade ideas. When it’s time for questions and answers, be a participant. You’re there, in person and so are your fellow experts. Even if you’re an introvert by nature, challenge yourself to speak up.

Pro tip: Bring a pen and paper. Write your thoughts down during the event and prep your question in advance of raising your hand. It’s a good way to add a filter and an extra level of polish.

QuickBooks Connect Exhibitor Hall

6. Keep an open mind

QuickBooks Connect San Jose is defined as, “An event for dreamers and doers – those with passion and drive who blaze their own trails to business success.” In outlining their top 10 tips for attending, Chaser eloquently summarizes:

“Coming into QuickBooks Connect with strongly held preconceived notions about ways of working or which apps are right and wrong for you and your clients, can be dangerous. At best, you’ll waste the time and money you spent on attending. At worst, you may completely miss huge opportunities for your firm and clients and lose your competitive edge.”

7. Be social

Participants and attendees aren’t just active at the event, there are also many conversations to join online — before, during and after the event. Build your tribe and get connected by following:

These are the main accounts. You can also use them as a starting point for discovering other industry peers and influencers. If you’re unable to attend, following the main social accounts and hashtags is also a way virtually experience QuickBooks Connect. Intuit will also be streaming live from the event.

8. Score stellar swag

Stickers, t-shirts, headphones, notepads, stress balls and more — you name it, you’ll find it here. If there was a swag hall of fame, QuickBooks Connect San Jose would already be an inductee. A word of caution: Most airlines charge for checked baggage these days. If you’ve got a serious swag habit, leave room in your carry on bag when you’re packing.

9. Schedule downtime

Booths, speakers, events. Lions, tigers and bears… oh my! Even the most seasoned event goers need to plan breaks. Be sure to give yourself time to take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, remember what day it is…

QuickBooks Connect is incredibly exciting and engaging. However, it’s not an extreme endurance challenge. (Unless you make it one.) By taking breaks, you will still make amazing discoveries — sans the risk of life and limb and exposure to the elements.

10. Dine in

Each event pass includes daily meals and beverages. In addition to saving you time and money tracking down external sources of sustenance, grabbing a quick bite is yet another way to mix and mingle. Plus, we hear Intuit puts on a good spread. Perhaps in addition to comfy shoes, you might want to pack stretchy pants.

Last year, 98% of accounting professionals who attended QuickBooks Connect San Jose felt it would help them serve their clients even better. Although that statistic is hard to qualify on an income statement, it’s fairly substantial ROI. For three days, you’ll be mingling with some of the smartest, most talented people in your field. Get excited and seize each day!

The QuickBooks Connect, Small Business App Showdown and Firm of the Future logos are the property of Intuit and used with permission. Lifestyle images of QuickBooks Connect San Jose are also used with permission.