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How to Create Simple Yet Accurate Business Reports and Records

In any business, there is endless paperwork involved. It would be a lot easier to get through it all if it were simple, concise, and to-the-point. If you’re wondering how to go about doing that, this list would help. 

Make the purpose clear

Write your title such that it stands out clearly and can be read easily. 

A short description consisting of a few sentences would be good. This description would tell readers what the report is about and what’s in it for them. Talk about how the information in the report can be utilised for their benefit as well. 

If you have a tag line – which would be a plus point – draw attention to it by using colour, font, or other available visual tools. 

Easy navigation is key for quick understanding 

Visual guides used right would help greatly in allowing readers to pick up the main points of the report. Text, graphics and images act as distinct navigation signals. These would make identifying the key points in the report easier for the readers and help them be efficient by allowing them to zero in on what’s most important to them. 

Headings and subheadings are must-haves in reports. They should be easily attention-grabbing, and should act as markers for clear differentiation between different sections of the report. Having adequate spacing around them would also be easier on the eyes. 

Stick to a format. If your first bold heading indicates one distinct section of a report, make sure your following headings are synonymous with defining each of the other sections as well. 

This uniformity would give a logical, simple structure to the report that makes it easy to peruse. 

Consistency is key, and it applies to not just headings, but other visual elements used in the report as well. Font size, colour, bullet points, etc. 

Ensure that your page numbers, footers and references are in the same place on every page throughout your report. 

Visuals, visuals, visuals 

When I say visuals, they don’t have to be bright and loud and all over your report. Colour is definitely a key factor here but your photos, charts, graphs, and any other nuggets of design would heighten the interest aspect of your work. 

It is important that these are clear, well-spaced, and add value to your content. Doing so would go a long way in helping the audience understand what they’re looking at better. 

Not only are valid visuals a great way to increase your report’s appeal, they also help in reinforcing your message and purpose. For instance, an image of a prototype being tested would add value to a report about that prototype. 


When it comes to maintaining an excellent record-keeping system, there’s a whole other set of factors that come into play. I can’t list them all (this article would become a lot longer than intended) but here are what I feel some of the more essential ones.

Capture the information

​Once the idea is out there, capture it. Open up an excel sheet or google doc which would start storing all these bits of information, little or big, and keep updating it. 

This doesn’t just have to be limited to ideas. The finances can be kept track of in the same way. Revenues, personal expenses, business expenses, miscellaneous transactions; these are all essentials that fall under the capturing process. 

Discipline and consistency are required in this process, but over time, it’s one of the most useful habits you can develop when it comes to business. 

There’s no need to feel the pressure of utilising the information you have right away. Keep collecting it for, who knows, a rainy day in the future. The habit definitely doesn’t hurt anyone. 

Just make sure the information you capture is detailed so that when the time comes for it to be used, you don’t have any missing details that would render it invalid. The date, product, transaction amount are some examples of the details. 

Save what you record 

It would be a sheer waste of hard work and consistent effort if your gathered information isn’t saved on a platform or software somewhere. Saving what you’ve recorded is giving it a potential purpose. 

This matters especially when it comes to your finances. Your copy of them could always be cross-checked with the bookkeeper’s so that the final information you have is as accurate as possible. It would be ideal do to this on a monthly basis, along with a review of the content. 

Check, double check, triple check

Just logging all the information is of no use if it isn’t accurate and right. Set a regular time for you to go through whatever you’ve captured so you can make sure everything is correct. 

The vetting could be done fortnightly, twice a month; up to you. Sticking to the schedule once you’ve set it up, however, is vital. Only after you’ve done the vetting and ensured it’s all in order can the information be considered valuable. 

I’ve talked about recording the details, but let me take this chance to emphasise on its importance. The nature of the transaction, the product, its purpose, the time of the transaction; these are crucial for the record to be accurate. 

Take action based on what you see

There’s no need to if everything seems to be in order. But if you do see something that needs fixing, fix it yourself or by someone else. Get the work done. 

Craft your to-do list in order of priority, starting with the most urgent one. If you see your expenses creeping up on your earnings, or worse, surpassing them, act. 

Make changes and accommodate your needs around the spending cut you’re going to incorporate. It’s important that these changes don’t have a negative effect on your profits. 

Collect your debts on time, and take the necessary action to make that happen. Dragging it out will be a downfall for you, not the other party. 


There are a lot more tips out there for effective business record-keeping and reporting, but for me, these six capture the essence of what a company needs fundamentally. 

If you have more of your own, that’s great. If your company is at a stage where there’s room for experimenting – or even better, it’s encouraged – then no harm in trying these out, I’d say. 

This list of logical, tested-and-proven steps might just help your company get the strong foundation it’s looking for. 

Source Credits: Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualitythe balance small business 

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5 Do’s and Don’t’s You Need to Know for Your Start-up

The steps you take to build your start-up could either make or break it. Here are some tips to make sure you do more of the former and avoid the latter. 

Take stock

Fully knowing the limited resources your start-up has is essential before executing any grand plan. One of the few, crucial tools in your inventory is time. 

Setting up a timeline for the things that need to be done goes a long way in ensuring effective planning.  

Human capital is another one of the weapons you have in your arsenal. I cannot emphasise this enough, but a start-up’s team is its biggest asset. The people are what helps the business grow.

Start-ups burn cash while not making money in the beginning. That is just the way things are. This makes it crucial to spend wisely. Make sure to focus your efforts on tasks that have top priority, so that you will not be burned out – worse still, with no good results. 

Overspending

I meant what I said earlier – think before spending. It is completely understandable for you to want nothing but the best for your start-up. The best office space, laptops; the list goes on. 

However, write down your priorities from most to least important first and stick to the order. This early on in the business, a start-up needs to channel its efforts to staying afloat rather than attempting to full-on swim. 

As a guidance to start off your decision-making journey, here are three steps Forbes recommends that you take. 

The first one is to figure out how much space you require. The next is determining what specifically goes into your inventory. Last, but far from the least, is your budget question. Here is where you decide how much to spend on what.

Overplanning

Every start-up has that one team member who is concerned about the minor details. A little too concerned, in fact. Just make sure – if the start-up is yours – that member is not you. 

Yes, the small details do matter, but fretting over them to the extent of worrying yourself cannot be a good thing. Murphy’s Law exists for a reason. It is good to be prepared, undoubtedly, but you need to remember that you cannot ensure that every microscopic aspect is in perfect order. 

Take a step back, look at the big picture, and try to fix up the most important links first. Remember, priority-wise is a great way to work worry-free. 

Forbes once again has a reliable set of three steps to offer as help. 

The first one is to have the basic materials that you require. An office space and laptops are good examples. Next, do your paperwork right and get it in order to go about getting your business legally up and running. The final step is simple: fix the opening date and go for it. 

You can be as prepared as you want, but you have to accept that events may take their own course as well sometimes. Do not let the fear of anything going wrong hold you back from executing a solid, thought-out plan. 

Under-planning

A question most of you may have asked is, “Which is worse? Doing too much or too little?”

Personally, I would rather be overprepared than lack adequate preparation. Not having the tools you need in a crucial moment is the last situation you would want to find yourself in. 

Having a business plan in place is what is going to save you from landing in those situations. From the employees you hire to your go-to-market methods to revenue model, it is vital to have it all down and decided before you launch your business. 

Use your business plan as a guiding stick. It will keep you on the most viable path. Even though the structure is more or less fixed, it still offers the flexibility that would allow you to make changes you wish to as you go along your start-up journey. 

Narrow down the activities to focus on

As I said earlier, it is inevitable that start-ups spend more than they make in their early days. The high opportunity cost involved puts more pressure on getting the wheels of the company to move as quickly as possible. 

The most logical line of action here would be to channel your limited resources into the most essential aspects – the ones that could potentially make you a big name in the start-up industry. 

Out of the hundred and one activities you have, however, sieving out the unfruitful ones may not be the easiest task. Many of these can present themselves to you as necessary measures, when in fact, they are not. The resultant time wastage is something many start-ups experience initially. 

Do not lose hope. You can still salvage the situation and make good use of your time in the future by learning how differentiate between actual and phoney progress.

According to YC Partner Adora Cheung, determining your primary key performance indicator (KPI) and setting weekly goals related to it would be a recommended way to go about doing that. 

This would aid in shearing the unnecessary parts of your to-do list down to only the activities that affect your selected KPI. 

Choosing the perfect KPI to focus on could be a slight challenge, but for most businesses, results that show the value they provide to their customers is what serves as an ideal indicator. 

How do you find out the value that customers are getting from your product or service? Conducting surveys, expanding marketing efforts, and collecting their responses to those efforts could help greatly. 

Not only is it in line with your goal of finding the specific information you need, the results you gather also let you know if you are on the right path. Consequentially, they help you plan your next moves as well. 

If you ever decide to take up this advice, talk to people about how it worked out for you. Who knows, someday we could all know you as the next big thing in the start-up industry!

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