Category Archives: Cash is King

What makes good management accounts?

Usually management accounts look very similar to the set of accounts that you get at the end of the tax year, but on a more regular basis – usually monthly – and in more detail.

Most cloud accounting software produces all these reports, so surely that’s enough? In some ways, yes it is, but there are two things to remember:

First: “rubbish in, rubbish out”. Simply printing out a snapshot of the accounts is unreliable. To improve the quality of the information you need to:

1. Make sure you have enough detail to see what’s going on – “Administrative costs” is good enough for the year end accounts, but does it help you see where the costs have built up?
2. Check all the sales and purchase costs have been included (and the accounts are up to date). this sounds simple, but isn’t as common as you’d think.
3. Think about making sure that only costs associated with this month are included – if you deduct a whole year’s insurance costs from one month’s sales your results may be skewed disastrously.
4. This is where stock counts come in, but also prepayments (spreading an invoice over several months) and accruals (estimates of costs not yet invoiced).

This creates accurate and reliable accounts. The second thing to remember is that there are no rules as to what you need to show in management accounts. The real benefits come from shedding light on what’s going on “under the hood” in your business.

Things like:
Financial metrics: debtor days (a comparison of how long customers take before paying), ratios splitting sales between different products or services, etc
Non financial metrics: customer numbers, spend per customer, active orders, etc
Variances: how this month compares to last month, or to forecast
Forward plans: a radar highlighting where problems should be expected, and an idea of liabilities (tax bills) in future.

Good management accounts should give you the information you need to identify the actions to take to steer the business towards the objectives that you want and they help you track the results of those strategies as well as the unintended consequences.

This is not about having reams and reams of paper to look through every month. You need a dashboard that shows the information that you need neatly summarized so that it doesn’t take an expert to find the figure that you want, and clear and unequivocal so that you can make decisions quickly.

If you would like to find out more, or you have a specific issue that you need help with then contact Susie either via the website here or direct on 07801 199671 or susie@poundlane.co.uk

Help with accessing support for small businesses

In the news recently there have been horror stories about how difficult it’s proving for small businesses to access the government’s CBILS business support scheme. Here we look at how to get the best result in any funding application, and particularly the Covid-19 support.

We are currently supporting a number of businesses with their loan applications so here are our tips on what to include in your application:

1. What support do you need?

The CBILS scheme is actually just government backing for standard bank overdrafts and loan so think carefully about ways to reduce your business spending in order to reduce the potential loan you will need. There is a raft of new measures to consider: furloughing staff, deferring VAT and requesting payment holidays, amongst others.

2. Make your case

The days of bank managers who keep in regular contact with your business are long gone so be prepared to give the bank an introduction to your business; include your last set of accounts, your most recent management accounts and a summary of your recent successes and future plans. Think of this as a sales pitch; make the bank manager want to back you.

3. Outline the effects of the disruption on your business

The bank will want to see the effect on both your profitability and your cashflow, over the next 3-6 months. A cashflow forecast is essential for this – now, more than ever, cash is king. As well as the numbers make sure you explain what changes you expect in words. Every business will feel the effects differently so you can’t expect the bank manager to know this already.

4. What will your business look like after this is over?

Do you expect some of your customers to disappear? Can you capitalise on the changes you’ve been forced to make? Are new markets suddenly open to you? Most importantly you need to extend that cashflow forecast to (ideally) show the bank that you expect your recovery to allow you to repay the loan that you’re applying for.

Finally, remember to state clearly how much money you want to borrow based on the forecasts above.


We have a detailed advice sheet on giving that application your best shot: Government support.
You can find other information and help concerning the government’s support for businesses at this time on our Covid-19 support page