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Return to Articles about Accounting

Is Your Business Profitable?

by: Pam Newman
Copyright 2005 Pam Newman

Whatís your job profitability? Do you know?

Many business owners are unsure of their profitability at a company or job level. They ďthinkĒ they are making money because they have a few dollars in their checking account. Having money in your checking account doesnít mean you are profitable. It might simply mean you havenít paid all the bills yet, so you have a little cash. Cash and profit are two different concepts. If you donít know your exact income and expenses for each job and your overall business, then how can you know whether you are making a profit? And, if you arenít profitable, your business wonít last long.

Analyze Each Job

Regardless of the size of your business or your industry, profitability is something you should be monitoring on a monthly basis. To determine your profit, you must know how much you make and spend on each job. Expenditures should be tracked for direct labor and material costs on each job. In addition, you should also be tracking overhead costs and allocating them to your various jobs as applicable. There is always going to be some general overhead, but too often dollars are thrown into general overhead, when those dollars could easily be attached to specific jobs.


Intuitís QuickBooks software program has easy-to-use features that allow you to do job-costing for time and materials, so you donít have to worry about having to track it all manually. Rely on tools to help you run your business more efficiently and effectively.

Are you curious how you are doing with job costing measurements? Here are some quick and easy questions to gauge your job costing performance:

1. Do I track each customerís revenue information through a detailed invoice?
2. Do I have a way of breaking down my direct job materials cost by customer?
3. Do I associate all time spent to each job accurately with actual dollar amounts?
4. Do I have access to reports to monitor profitability on each job in a timely manner?
5. Do I have a way to trend the fluctuations in job profitability from job to job, month to month, etc?

If you answered ďnoĒ to any of these, then itís time for you to take an objective look at your financial goals. Itís time for you to implement a job costing mechanism to help you answer ďyesĒ to all these questions. How can you track your profitability and long-term growth plans if you donít have detail at a job level?

QuickBooks Can Help

Here are some easy ways to utilize QuickBooks effectively to help you with your job-costing process:

1. Set up the QuickBooks Item list so that youíll have both an expense and an income aspect to each of the items. This will allow you to track your costs and your income, and will provide you profit by item.
2. Record your sales through the invoicing or sales receipt process. This will record the income aspects of the items.
3. As you purchase the product or service items, make sure that you utilize the Items tab so that it will record the cost to the appropriate item. In addition, make sure to assign your customer/job information to each line item so that youíll have the costs associated to the appropriate customer/job for job-costing.
4. Utilize the time-tracking mechanism in QuickBooks so that you and your employees can track time by item and customer/job. No dollar value is associated with this time until you actually pay the employees within QuickBooks.
5. QuickBooks has preformatted reports that you can access to have job-costing information right at your fingertips. These are found under the Reporting menu and the Jobs/Time/Mileage option.
6. QuickBooks has the ability to provide reports for any time period you select. This will allow you to have a variety of detail over the growth of your business and to produce trending reports. You can modify the report as needed to meet your needs.

A good accounting professional can help you understand what these reports are telling you, in terms that you can use. Reports alone donít provide value if you donít understand them. So it is key that you understand the reporting information and how you can use that information to assist you in decision-making as you grow your business profitably.

Job-costing is easier when you set-up your accounting/bookkeeping software package and know how to use it. So, challenge yourself today to become more adept at running a financially savvy business through job-costing. Then, youíll know, without a doubt, whether your company is profitable.


About the author:
Pam helps business owners keep money from slipping through their fingers. She is a Certified Management Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Author of Out of the Red and Unlocking the Secrets of QuickBooks. For more information, you can visit our website at http://www.quickbooksinformation.com


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