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Quickie QuickBooks Tutorial #1: Run a Profit & Loss Report

Jessica Mishra

Welcome to my new series: Quickie QuickBooks Online Tutorials, woot! Little snippets highlighting some of the cool features in QuickBooks Online (no that is not an oxymoron, they really are cool). These tutorials will not be complicated, but will show you how to use the system to best benefit your business. Today we start with Reporting. I will show you how to run a simple report that will give you oodles of info about your business. From there you can understand trends, make decisions backed up by actual numbers, and monitor the growth of your business. 

Tell me the report already!

This report is called the Profit and Loss Statement. Almost anyone (banks, accountants, etc) that wants to see financial info from your business will ask for this statement. This report shows you one of the most important things from your business: your profit! It is a rather simple report, actually. First it lists your income, next your expenses, and finally your profit (income minus expenses). 

You will see the income and expenses listed by type and you can even customize the report to show each type of income or expense as a percentage of the total (this can help to highlight the services or products that produce the most income or the categories of expenses where maybe you can cut back). 

How do I run it?

Two ways:

1. Go to Reports on the left side bar. Under Recommended Reports you should see Profit and Loss. Click there and it will pull up an initial report. Before getting all excited or anxious about the results, make sure you are looking at the right time period. At the top you will see Transaction Date. You can chose a date from the drop down menu here or enter in a period/range manually. I most frequently use either Year-to-Date (shows you everything that has happened so far this year) or I run a report just for the month. You may also want to look at last month or last year. Once you select the date, don't forget to hit Run Report. This will reload your new report. 

This will create a pretty basic report showing the totals in each category. If you want to sort your info in different ways, hit the Customize button at the top left of the screen. We will keep it simple for the sake of this first post, but here are a couple things you may want to do to slice and dice the numbers on your report (I mean hey let's get a little cray). Under Rows/Columns I like to select Months. This allows you to see your income, expenses, and profit by month.

A little further down there is the option to "Add Subcolumns for Comparison". I like the % of Income and % of Expenses options. These will show you each type of income and expenses as a percentage of the total. For example, maybe you offer 4 types of products/services. You might see that your eBook sales were 65% of your total income. That means you are doing great with eBook sales and could maybe put even more effort there (this is a hot seller). Or, perhaps you see that your one-one-one consulting income is only 10%. You could make the decision to either spend more time marketing this, or drop it off to focus on more profitable products. See how this works? Don't forget to hit Run Report at the bottom of the Customize screen so it saves the changes. 

2. The second way to get to your Profit and Loss report is through the home page. Under the Profit and Loss section on the Home Page, you can click directly on the Net Income number. Voila, it runs your report. You can change dates and customize from there. 

Final Notes

I tell my clients to run this report at regular intervals to keep in touch with the health of their business. You could do this at month-end or quarter-end. Just make it a regular thing so you don't forget (calendar it for goodness sake). 

You can export any report to Excel or to email if you want to share with others (lenders, partners, your Mom - she is so proud). 

You can save your customizations if you think you will want to use them again. Just click on Save Customizations in the top menu and you can then save the report to a group. 

Key Takeaways from this blog post:

  • Periodically run a Profit and Loss report, it will help you stay in touch with the health of your business.
  • Visit the Reports section of QuickBooks to run this report, be sure to set the appropriate time period at the top, and feel free to customize the report to your liking. 
  • Import to excel or email reports to share with others. This can be the start of a very fruitful conversation. 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts or post your QuickBooks Online questions. I would love to hear from you!

***Disclaimer: This post was written on May 12, 2015. Intuit makes periodic updates to the QuickBooks Online software. Be sure to check with your financial advisor or tax professionals if it appears that any changes have been made or to discuss the specific circumstances of your unique business.***