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Do you understand the figures that count?

9 December 2008

What we mean by this is…do you focus on the top line (turnover or sales) and/or the bottom line (profit)? Or do you fly in the face of conventional wisdom and concentrate on your balance sheet and your working capital?

In our view, some businesses are in danger of sleepwalking to their collapse because they don’t understand, and haven’t been told by their accountants, the fundamentals about finance. If you do what you’ve probably always done and worry about sales, profit and your profit and loss account, you could fall into the ‘liquidity trap’ and run out of cash.A load of sums ...

Despite what you might have been told, a profit and loss account is just a load of sums, which can be manipulated to give a number of different answers. But cash is real and it is what could kill you if you don’t understand it and manage it. To do that you need to absolutely understand your balance sheet and make it work for you.

However, don’t despair, if you don’t understand your balance sheet then you are in good company. Most business leaders don’t. Make sure your accountant explains the balance sheet to you, or ask us. You’ll then be better placed to help yourself by focusing on the figures that count.

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