This article is all about reports and financial reporting tools available in QuickBooks Online. Reports really are the core of your accounting. They frame all of your sales, expenses and everything in-between to tell you about the health of your business.
Of course, reports are only useful if you’ve entered complete data, so make sure you’ve entered all of your business income, expenses assets and liabilities entered into QuickBooks so you get a comprehensive, accurate snapshot of your business every time you run a report.
Reports appear on the Reports Tab Dashboard list (Reports Center), or you can search for something specific from the search field at the top. There are tons of reports available. Most will follow this titling convention:
(What you want to know) by (the criteria specified)
Some have very specific use-cases, giving you lots of options. There are common reports you’ll want to run on a daily or weekly basis such as:
Balance Sheet (which follows the Balance Sheet Equation) – tracks assets, liabilities and equity of your business – what you “own” and “owe” within a given time period.
Assets- Make sure you understand the difference betweencurrent assets(plan to sell within 1 year) andfixed assets(large purchases you plan to use over the course of several years).
Liabilities– again, know the difference between acurrentandlong-term liabilityso you know how to enter things like open bills and loans appropriately. Note that while liabilities are what youoweand you’d assume this should be a negative number, it’s represented as a positive value here.
Equity–the value of your business from the perspective of the owner (including their contributions, owner’s draw and net income [activity from income and expense accounts]).
Profit & Loss Statement - tracks your income and compares it against the cost of running your business (i.e. expenses).
This is the most common report you’re likely to run. It’s essentially a summary of your income and expenses so you can see your cash flow.
Net Income is your profit after your total income, expenses and Cost of Goods Sold have been factored in. This line shows up at the bottom of your Balance Sheet under Equity (above).
Sales by Product/Service Report – the easiest way to track your sales that can be customized to show varying levels of detail.
Summary Reports focus in on specific data points (such as you’re A/P or A/R or total income by accounts) without getting too lost in the line-by-line details. Instead, get a mid-ranged overview of your accounts.
These types of reports are particularly useful for looking at long-range trends between specified periods of time.
Detail Reports are for when you want to get into the nitty-gritty of your accounts.
These provide account summaries as well as individual line-by-line transaction details. “Customer Balance Detail” and “Sales by Customer Detail” Reports are common and useful for zeroing in on very narrow information or identifying a specific set of transactions.
The “group” function is also a great way to identify trends while having the specific details displayed side-by-side on the same page.
List Reports are useful for looking at everything in your QuickBooks system, from Products and Services to Employee information to Payment Methods used by your company. Most are broad, but some can get fairly narrow -- want to see all the bills you’ve paid in QuickBooks over the last 3 months? There’s a report for that.
Want to hand your team a list of contact emails but not their phone numbers? Run a Customer List Report and customize with the phone number column removed.
Another use for List Reports is to clean up your data. Let’s say you want to remove inactive customers from your books but you have a large sales team: pull a CSV for (or print) a Customer List Report, sharing around your team to identify who is no longer a customer and hand it back to a single team member to make those customers inactive.
Running custom reports in QuickBooks lets you narrow in on the data that matters, render the data in ways that make sense to you and eliminate extraneous details so you can easily zero-in on account specifics. Moreover, going narrow with reports means knowing more about how each part of your business impacts its overall health, which ultimately helps you make more informed financial decisions.
Custom reports offer a lot of flexibility: you can apply various filters, sorting tools and ranges to pull very specific data sets. But some custom reports need not be complicated – a Profit and Loss Report scheduled to be run and emailed on a Monthly basis is a simple one with powerful insights about the trajectory of your business.
You can apply these customizations at the top of the form in these two areas:
Depending on the report you use, different customization options will be available – not all reports have the same sets of filters, but most do. Don’t forget to hit “Run Report” to apply your customizations. Customizing also enables some other cool features which we will go into later in the article.
Customizing reports with “filters” brings you down to the ground from a high-altitude view of your business. Clicking “Customize” from either the report page or the vertical ellipses tool next to the report on the list gives you access to a number of filters for both row and column report data.
Rather than browsing at the enormously diverse array of customizations available to build a report, ask yourself “what data am I really interested in?” Use that answer to find the necessary filters to arrive at your answer - through this process you, will learn what is available.
Customizing reports by adding, removing or reordering columns is another great to render the data in ways that make sense to you and eliminating information that is not as useful or potentially distracting, getting you to the insights you need most with the least amount of friction.
Displaying figures as percentages, rather than raw figures, is just one compelling reason to dive into the reporting features.
Once you find the perfect set customizations, rather than reenter the same set every time you want this data, you can save a customization. Give saved reports a unique name to distinguish them and click “save customization” at the top of the report page.
Here are a few custom reports you might want to create and have on hand at all times:
Filters applied: (“All Dates,” “Date-you-opened” to “1/1/2020,” Display columns by “Months”)
Sales by Customer Detail Report for a high-value customer John Freeman
The more features you can set on auto, the more time you will have to focus on more important business matters.
There are cyclical reports you can schedule right away that coincide with financial periods, such as a monthly Profit and Loss Report or a weekly Balance Sheet. Remember, custom reports don’t have to be complex and the interval may be enough to put it on this “recurring” email basis.
If there are custom reports you run regularly or you want constant updates on a particular report, consider scheduling them. At first, schedule them to send more often than you’d think you need and adjust from there – it’s better to get more information ahead of time than too little information too late.
To email reports, click on the Reports Tab and then the “Custom Reports” sub-tab. Select the report you want to modify, click “edit” and you can enable permissions for the report – which is separate from who will receive the email. Once you turn on “set email schedule,” you can designate the date, time interval and even set an end-date (or “none” for indefinite sending).
These are stylized “presentation-worthy” versions of reports that allow you to include notes. You can also export these into PDF or DocX files and even edit them to have a table of contents. Your team may prefer the standard format, but management reports are a great way to send a professional-looking PDF to share good news around to the team.