Through our work helping hundreds of entrepreneurs, we know that many people find dealing with the numbers in their business tough – and plenty more find it just plain dull.
Neither of these things is a barrier to running a successful business. If you have a good, proactive accountant supporting you and watching your back, it’s not essential for you to be a whizz with numbers or even to be especially interested in them.
However, every business owner needs to be at least able to understand their management reports and make sense of the key figures that indicate the health of their business. It’s why we regularly run workshops for number-averse owners, showing them how to identify and interpret essential numerical data and use it to inform their decision-making.
But while some people find it relatively easy to convert numerical data into information they can act on, others find it far easier to make sense of numbers when they’re converted into a visual format.
Are you one of them?
A picture can paint a thousand numbers
If you’ve ever spent time staring at a set of numbers while struggling to engage your grey matter, it’s because our brains have evolved to recognise and respond more quickly to information when it’s shown visually.
Research carried out by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has shown that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual – and we can process an image in just 13 milliseconds.
Bring numbers to life with visual reporting
The ability to quickly analyse and interpret figures relating to the performance of your business is essential. However, if you’re someone who isn’t comfortable with numbers, or you find it quicker to take them in when they’re visualised, you might be interested to know that there are a number of software applications that can help you.
Some of these are designed primarily for management account reporting, and others focus on cash flow forecasting. But all of them can present your critical data visually, allowing you to view the key numbers in your business as graphics, visuals and charts, or see them in a dashboard using icons and colours to highlight performance and prompt action.
Here are just three applications compatible with popular accounting solutions, including Xero, QuickBooks and Sage.
Fathom provides a suite of in-depth analysis tools and metrics to help you see exactly how well your business is performing. Fully customisable, Fathom lets you configure data in a highly visual format using techniques like traffic light colour coding and thumbs up/down icons to help you monitor profitability, cash flow, growth and other key performance indicators.
Fathom also lets you create beautiful reports when you have to make a presentation, and allows you to set up alerts, so you receive an automatic notification when a key metric is exceeded or missed.
Fluidly provides real-time cash flow forecasting graphically, enabling you to see exactly what your financial future looks like.
Cash flow management and forecasting are essential for effective financial decisions, but many small business owners find staying on top of cash flow forecasting time-consuming and complex. Fluidly combines AI with financial modelling, allowing you to produce an accurate, up-to-date cash flow forecast whenever you want, presenting this crucial information visually so you can see your cash flow position instantly.
Fluidly can also be configured to automate your credit control process, sending out emails, scheduling follow-up calls, and keeping a record of debtors to get you paid faster and save time.
Recently acquired by Sage, Futrli is a cash flow, reporting and forecasting solution that helps business owners to plan ahead, enabling them to make short-, medium- and long-term performance projections in real-time.
Using Futrli, you can build beautiful, bespoke dashboards from scratch or pre-built templates. You can set up KPIs from your financial and forecast data to easily share, export and make presentations.
Could visual reports and forecasts save you time and help you make better informed, more timely decisions? Whether you love or loathe numbers, seeing data from a visual perspective has the potential to transform the way you work, presenting you with an instant overview of your business and flagging up when action is required.
At Inca, we love technology that helps make life easier for business owners, and we know our way around the leading software solutions.
Tell us a little about your business, and we’ll be happy to discuss which solution we think is best for you. If you want, we can even help you set up and integrate the solution with your accounting software and support you as you get started!
Get in touch with one of our advisors today.