There is no single business metric that is crucial to every business nor every industry.
Most metrics are historical measures of ratios and relationships that the business deems critical to their success. The metrics may be financial but more often are measurements of volume or utilization of employees. In service industries metrics often focus on utilization of the billable personnel and billable hours versus paid hours. Call volumes are common metrics for sales personnel as are quote conversions into actual sales.
One metric that I think is important for all businesses to consider tracking is the projection of cash requirements. The term “Cash is King” is a well worn business statement, but the fact remains that cash is the lubricant that keeps business flowing. If a firm is projecting their cash needs for the next 13 weeks, they can have a reasonable picture of the risks to their cash position. And the projection gives them visibility in time to address and concerns. Without a projection, they are guessing. While experienced owners may be able to make reasonable educated estimates, documenting the thought process involved in the estimate will allow for refinement in the future.
A cash projection starts with an understanding of anticipated cash receipts from sales, receivables, and other sources such as tax refunds. These receipts are matched to anticipated expenditures to show the net cash generation/usage each week. Expenditure categories should be customized to each business. In many businesses payroll and benefits are a category. Payments for inventory purchases, rent, major insurance charges, capital equipment, and large variable costs also make sense to estimate on a weekly basis. Always include a miscellaneous category of expenditures and receipts to capture the unusual large items such as large quarterly or monthly payments. I recommend that a company track their weekly actual performance as a feedback to improve their estimating process.
If you don’t have a cash projection process or are not satisfied with the results you are seeing, I would be happy to meet with you and explore how to improve the process.
Jeff Matthews, CPA, CGMA is a partner with B2B CFO® and a member of The Sunrise Alliance. The Sunrise Alliance is a network of experienced professionals who provide support to small and medium-sized businesses, with the development and implementation of their strategic business objectives. You can explore The Sunrise Alliance at www.TheSunriseAlliance.com and visit Jeff’s website at www.JeffMatthewsCFO.com