I was driving through the grounds of a conference center last week and saw a roadsign: Speed Limit – 11 Miles Per Hour.

I noticed the sign, and so did one of my kids. “Dad, why is the speed limit 11 miles per hour? That’s kinda weird.”

I told her that it was kinda weird, and that was the point. If it had said 10 miles per hour or 15 miles per hour, most people wouldn’t pay attention.

There are some signs in accounting data that should stand out to us too, and make us pay attention:

  • Decreasing net income over comparable prior-year period
  • Decreasing margins on key products or services
  • Steadily decreasing cash
  • Increasing age of receivables
  • Decreasing revenue per employee

There are more. But these should get an owner’s or manager’s attention. Stop, look, and listen to what your financial reports are telling you.

What indicators of financial performance really get your attention?

Here are four ideas to be more successful with QuickBooks for the balance of this year:

1. Make a good backup plan, and implement it. Talk to your local IT pro or give us a call for practical advice on this. Everyone knows they should have good regular backups. Studies show that 90% don’t follow through. But you go ahead! If your computer crashes later this year, you will thank me. Yes! You will.

2. Get your versions of QuickBooks, Windows, and your hardware all lined up. Don’t run QuickBooks 2005 under Windows 7. Or run QuickBooks 2010 on a PC you bought in 2005. Hardware, operating system, and applications work together best when they were produced around the same time.

3. Make QuickBooks work harder for you. It can do more than just pay your bills and reconcile your bank account, you know? Have you ever showed your QuickBooks reports to someone who can interpret them for you and tell you how you could tweak your business to make it way more profitable? That’s where some hidden accounting beauty lies…in the potential bottom line. Talk to your CPA, to a virtual CFO, or talk to us to get connected to one. You’ll spend a little, but maybe save or make a lot.

4. If you are using QuickBooks 2010, check out some of the optional services/apps. Online document management, online check depositing, email marketing…there are lots of new services to consider that can help save time or create new revenue.

Are you going to try anything new with QuickBooks this year?