Make beautiful business reports that anyone can understand

Accountant & Bookkeeper Guides

4 min read

Small business owners sometimes miss the important details in your accounting reports. That is, unless, you convert the findings into graphs and charts. Here’s the easy way to do it.

Why business reports don’t get read

Advisors spend huge chunks of time creating financial reports, management reports, and more. Unfortunately the findings often go over the head of small business owners, who struggle to make sense of the information.

Most clients find rows of numbers hard to digest. The patterns and trends simply won’t jump off the page at them like they do to you. As a result, insights are missed and clients don’t get all the benefits they might have from your accounting reports.

Show, don’t tell

Visual reporting is the best way to break through to the average small business owner. It’s not condescending to think that way. Charts and graphs are simply an easier, quicker way for most people to interpret information. When accompanied by your short written summary, visual report help owners see the trends in their business far more clearly than raw data.

How business reporting software can help you

While a lot of accounting software helps you present financial reports and management reports visually, some third-party apps do it even better. Cloud-based reporting apps will read the information stored in online accounting software and churn out beautiful reports in seconds. And those reports can be updated with fresh data every day, if you like.

Smart business reporting software to check out:

Why visual reporting is good for your practice

Data visualization is a game changer for clients. It allows them to look under the hood of their business and literally see what’s going on. Most business owners won’t have seen anything like it, so they’ll love you for bringing them that clarity. They’ll also reward you with more business because they’ll start asking questions about what they’re looking at.

They’ll spot positive trends and ask how to keep them going. They’ll see negative trends and ask how to fix them. Answer the questions you can, and refer them to other experts if you’re getting in over your head. Once you’ve connected clients with the advice they need, they’ll be more likely to try it because they can watch the needle move over time, from one report to the next. It’s a great way to prove your value and expand your role.

What sorts of report can you produce?

Anything you can produce as a table can be brought to life by business reporting software. That includes standard P&L, balance sheet and cash flow reports, plus management reports that look into specific business segments. You can also use them to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs).

Report templates for particular industries

Some business reporting software comes with industry-specific templates. For example, there are hospitality report templates that display things like revenue per transaction, food cost to revenue, revenue per seated hour, and so on. You can find templates for other industries, like agriculture, retail, SaaS, and professional services. More are being developed all the time.

Tracking personalized KPIs

Clients who see a visual report find it much easier to identify the key metrics in their business. The relationships between value drivers are clearer, and the things that need attention become really obvious. Use the opportunity to agree on KPIs and set goals.

This could be a massive step for your clients because setting concrete targets is one of the best ways to improve a business. It also opens up an opportunity for you to create more regular reports that track how KPIs are trending.

Set financial or non-financial goals

You can set up reports on financial metrics such as revenue, expenses, equity, and profit, but you don’t have to stop there. You can use business reporting software to follow non-financial goals too. Think of things like leads, conversions, sales volume, billable time, stock, and employee turnover. So long as you can get the data, reporting apps can do the rest.

Take reporting as far as you like

Creating visual reports will really help your clients understand their business – and the work you’ve done for them. It also opens the door to more strategic conversations and advisory services, if you’re interested in going there. How far you take it is up to you. Once you connect business reporting software to cloud accounting, the options are all yours.