3 Simple Financial Tools to Help Track Business Success
Many entrepreneurs are so busy running their business there's little time left to keep their finances in order, too. So, online financial dashboards have become an increasingly popular way for small business owners to manage their money.
These online dashboards sort your financial data and serve up a visual snapshot of the health of your business, ranging from colorful graphs to user-friendly charts. To be sure, these tools require a business owner to submit a lot of personal financial information online. To many startups, it's a useful – and cheaper -- way to track your business than it would be to hire an expert to do it for you.
Here, three affordable financial dashboards to consider, when a pricey consultant is not an option.
What it does: inDinero pulls your transaction history from banks, credit cards and financial accounts and organizes it for you. There is no tedious data entry; you just input your account numbers. It sorts transactions by category – such as payroll, advertising, and dining – and tracks spending changes each month. It also creates accounting reports for you.
Cost: Plans range from free to $49.95 per month.
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What it does: BodeTree partners with Intuit, which makes QuickBooks accounting software. So, this dashboard analyzes financial information only from business owners who use QuickBooks. Once connected, it automatically generates colorful breakdowns of your expenses. It creates analytical reports that show how your company stacks up against competitors, and offers financial projections. Perhaps most uniquely, BodeTree calculates and updates, in real-time, an estimation of your company's worth. You can watch the value of your business fluctuate, much the way that publically traded companies watch the value of their stock move.
BodeTree is named after the Bodhi Tree, where, according to legend, the Buddha reached nirvana. The idea is to enlighten you and bring some Zen into the complicated world of finance. Following this theme, your BodeTree dashboard will show you a “business enlightenment score” which gives you a summary benchmark reading on the overall health of your business according to the BodeTree algorithms.
Cost: $250 a year or $24.99 a month.
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What it does: This dashboard imports your financial information from several accounting software programs, including QuickBooks, Sage Peachtree, MYOB, and others. Once your financial information is imported, you can monitor whatever metrics -- like revenue, expense, profits, receivables, gross margin, or owner compensation -- you are most curious about and set goals for each one. The dashboard will color each metric either red, yellow, or green, depending on whether your business is running behind schedule, on pace, or ahead of schedule to meet the goals you set. You can also compare your progress with competitors. And if you're always on the go, consider Corelytics’ mobile application, which won Intuit’s Apps Showcase award last year.
Cost: Plans range from free to $69 a month, after a $180 set-up fee.
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What online tool have you found especially helpful in tracking your business finances? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.