Glossary of Terms
Here is a glossary of some of the terms used, and the context in which
they are used, throughout this site.
The same terms can mean different things to different people, depending
on who they are and what they do which will alter their perspective of
things. The information here should clarify the perspective
from which are looking at the various aspects of Business Management,
and the role of software within these areas.
|Accountancy is the practice of maintaining Accounts through the process of accounting. Accountancy is a part of any business, because all businesses have to maintain accounts for the purposes of tax returns and the like.|
|Accountants are people who deal specifically with the accounts of a business. A small business may not need to employ the services of an accountant at all, or it may employ their services only for the end-of-year accounts.|
Larger businesses may have their own accounting departments and employ their own full-time accountants.
|Accounting is the process of creating the Accounts for a business, and for larger companies this may be fulfilled by a separate accounting departments. Smaller business may well perform most of the accounting themselves on a day-to-day basis, and then employ the services of an accountant for the more complex end-of-year requirements.|
|Every business, no matter what its size, needs to keep accounts. Accounts are simply a record of all of the financial dealings of a business, which for a small business primarily means Invoices and Receipts. The larger a business is, the more information that it may have to store, and the more complicated the Accounts may be.|
|Addresses are an important part in the managing of your contacts details. Ultimately you will need correct and accurate address information to enable you to communicate with your contacts and clients.|
Most contacts and clients will have more than one address, and you may need to send different documents to different addresses. You should therefore have the ability tyo store multiple addresses in you business software, and be able to specify different addresses for different documents.
|A balance sheet shows the overall 'financial health status' of a business, and also gives an insight into any errors that may be in place in your accounts books.|
See our article "What is a Balance Sheet" for a more in-depth description of what a Balance Sheet is.
|If you're running a business, you're going to need a bank account. Many businesses operate using more than one bank account. They may, for example, have a general account for the main day-to-day running of the business. They may have a separate bank account for the receipt of standing order or direct debit payments. Many businesses also operate using Credit Cards, and this is in essence another bank account.|
The bookkeeping and accounting software that you use should be able to deal with multiple bank accounts, so that you are able to specify where a receipt is paid into, or which bank account a purchase is made from. This will enable you to more easily reconcile all you transactions, since you will be able to reconcile data one bank account at a time; if all your bank accounts reconcile, then your accounts are reconciled.
|A business is any entity which is in existence to make money.|
|Business Builder is an integrated business management software solution which provides facilities from Contact Management, Diary Management, Order Processing, Invoicing through to Management Accounting facilities - in short the one-stop software solution for the Small Business.|
You can find full details on Business Builder can be found here.
|A calendar should be able to provide you with an overall diary of the tasks and events that are central to the management of a business.|
Employees should maintain their own calendar, enabling them to be able to schedule their own events, and set up their own tasks and reminders. Emplyees should also be able to see other employees calendars so that they can see when they are available and when they are busy.
Of course, not all entries on a calendar will necessarily be available for everyone to see - some entries may be kept private so that they can only be viewed by the person to whom they belong.
|Clients are a businesses most important asset - without them a business is not a business.|
Management of your clients and building and maintaining good relationships with your clients is essential to the continued success of a business.
If you haven't got the business management software in place to do this, then you should seriously look into getting the right package - NOW!
|For your regular and loyal customers, you may wish to set up a credit limit on their account, enabling you to supply them with a maximum value of goods or services before they have to settle their account.|
Credit Limits should only be put in place when you have sufficient cash flow to enable you to provide credit to your clients without putting your own business in jeopardy. You may well have credit limits with some or all of your own suppliers which will enable you more freedom in providing a similar facility for your clients - but make sure you don't give a client too much credit. Remember that any of your clients could go out of business tomorrow, and you don't want to be left with a big debt owing to you that could takes months or years to get paid - if indeed it ever does.
|A Credit Note is raised as an opposite transaction to an Invoice and in effect reduces the Invoice amount by the amount of the Credit Note.|
A Credit Note will be raised against an invoice if an item on the invoice is reduced or cancelled, or if the whole invoice is cancelled (for example if a customer cancels an Order after an invoice has been raised).
Why not just delete the invoice? This is very bad accounting practice and the Inland Revenue will take a dim view of the deletion of invoices. It places question marks over the accuracy of the financial information that you are recording. So, instead, a Credit Note should be raised, and a printed or digital copy of the information send to the customer, which they should then store with the invoice that you sent them.
|Customers are a businesses most important asset - without them a business is not a business.|
Management of your customers and building and maintaining good relationships with your customers is essential to the continued success of a business.
If you haven't got the business management software in place to do this, then you should seriously look into getting the right package - NOW!
|Debt is any amount outstanding or left owing to you as a business. Chasing debt is an importanty aspect of many businesses to ensure a free cash-flow. Failure to maintain good cash-flow can severely impede business growth and can, and does, result in the faliure of many small businesses in the early days.|
Good debt management is therefore essential for any business, but particularly for a young business when cash flow can have more impact on a business.
|It's no good getting new clients, providing them with products and services and sending them invoices if they aren't going to pay.|
A Debt Ledger will enable you to see who owes you money, how much, for how long and who needs to be chased for payment.
A Debt Ledger should also enable you to easily send out a statement of account to any clients who have outstanding payments due. This can allow you to quickly and easily chase these clients, and so ensure a better cashflow situation for your business.
|A diary can be used to show any information that is date or time specific. Usually the diary is used to show items like meetings, tasks to be completed, and other reminders. The diary can also be used to show anything esle date related.|
For example, in Business Builder the diary can be used to display Orders that have been created on any given day.
The diary utility usually has the flexibility to be able to display information by day, by week, or by month, allowing you to view as little or as much information as you need to. Zooming into the day view should enable you to see specific times, where relevant, for the entries in the diary.
|You may be providing an on-going service for a client, and the client may pay for these services on an on-going basis by Direct Debit.|
Direct Debit payments need to be setup using forms that comply with the Direct Debit regulations.
It is best to speak to your bank about the information that you need to include on the Direct Debit forms that you intend to send to your clients. This will ensure that you are covered in the event that there are any errors made in payment by your bank.
Direct Debit payments provide a convenient solution to your client because they are able to pay for your ongoing services without having to remember. They are also convenient to you, because you don't need to continually chase monthly or weekly payments.
Business Builder has a module available which enables you to easily track the receipt of Direct Debit payments and to quickly see where expected payments have not been received so that steps can be taken to recover payment.
|A direct expense is an expense to your business that is as a direct result of making a sale. For example if you sell a blue widget which is made up of two parts that you have to buy in, then the cost of those two separate parts is a direct expense.|
All expenses that are not defined as direct expenses are definded as Overheads.
|How many people are there in the world who aren't aware of emailing? If you've got the technology to read this information in the Internet, then the chances of you not knowing what emailing are are slim to none...|
However, how many of you can use email for ALL of your business communications rather than using paper? Sometimes it may seem easier to print out and post a piece of paper, rather than work out the best way to get it ready to send as an email.
Has this ever happened to you? If so then the chances are that you are not using the best software for tasks that you are trying to achieve. Good software packages will enable you to email information to a contact or client just as easily as printing that information out.
As emailing is a quicker and more cost-effective way of communicating, it makes sense to invest in the right software to enable you to maximise the potential of email - one of the biggest impacts on our everyday lives within the last decade.
|Emails are an important way in which to communicate with clients and contacts, and the use of email is growing all the time. |
If you cannot make efficient use of email communications, then you are going to be at a disadvantage to those businesses that do make better use of e-commerce, including the use of emails.
If a client needs a copy of an invoice emailed to them, how quickly can you do it? If the answer is any more than 30 seconds, then you should look to implement some better business management software that incorporates email usage at its core.
|Many times a business is required to provide an estimate for a potential client. Estimates are very often missed as a major marketing opportunity to potential new clients. The person has already contacted you, so they know about you. They want to know about your prices, because they have asked for an estimate - but what else will they be looking out for?|
A company that is able to provide a professional looking estimate document and email it within, say, 30 minutes of the request, is going to compare very favourably to a company that takes a week or more to provide the information, and produces it in an ad-hoc unclear fashion.
You may end up getting the business, even though you didn't provide the cheapest quote, but you provided a good insite into the professionalism of your business by providing them with a quality estimate document.
Don't miss out on this marketing opportunity!!
|An Event is anything that may happen at a given time, and in most cases will require you to do something, or it will have some effect on you. An event may, for example,be a meeting with client, or an event may be a task that needs to be completed.|
Events are most suitably diaplyed using a diary format, since events are date and time related on the same way as a diary. This format enables you to easily see what events are occuring, and when they are occuring.
|Faxing is still an important part in the running of many businesses. There are two main reasons for using a fax:|
1. You or your contacts or client are unable to send/receive email, but they can recieve a fax, which is quicker than sending information by post, so you send it by fax.
2. You need a signature on a document.
There is still no definitive digital signature solution that is widely enough used to make signatures in emails secure enough to be able to be used in a court of law. Since fax signatures can, faxes are still widely used when signatures are required quickly.
If you require signatures, then you need to be using software that will enable you to choose to send a document by fax just as easily printing it out or emailing it.
The fax lives on....
|Finance relates to any monetary aspect of a business. For a small business this primarily relates to Invoices and received payments, and receipts and expeniture payments.|
All business, by definition, are there to make money, and therefore the finance aspect of a business is at its core. It is therefore essential that a business is in full control of its financial situation and has all the necessary financial information available, when required.
|Sorry - no further info available at present.|
|An Input relates to a Purchase of goods or services in the running of your business, or in other words is the expenses.|
Accounting may seem a bit backwards in this respect, since the money going out of your business to pay for a product or service is referred to as an Input!
|An invoice is the document sent to a customer to advise them of how much money they owe you for the product or service that you have provided to them.|
An invoice will usually be raised at the same time that an Order is created, but depending on whether you provide credit or not to your customers, the payment of the invoice may trigger the despatch of goods.
Unpaid invoices should be able to be easily located, so that payment reminders can be sent to the relevant customers.
|Invoicing is the process of creating an invoice document for the purposes of charging another business or person for a product or service.|
All businesses need to create invoice documents as part of their accounting process so that full accounts are available as and when required.
|Letters - they can be the bain of many a business's life for two main reasons; they take time to produce; and they need to be stored and filed so that they can be quickly retrieved if required.|
If you're using the right software, then you can eliminate both of these problems straight away. Letter templates can be used so that a letter can be produced for a client at the click of a button, without the need to type a further word - just sign it and send it!
Document Management software can enable you to store documents in customer files on your computer, in date order, so that you can quickly retrieve a letter should you need to recall any of the letters that have previously been sent ot a client or prospect.
Business Builder provides these facilities in a very powerful Letter Template and Document Management system. You can produce and fil a letter in three easy steps:
1. Select the client/contact to send a letter to.
2. Select the letter template to create the letter from.
3. Make any adjustments to the letter as required.
4. Print the letter.
Business Builder can automatically file the printed letter within the Document Manager - you don't need to worry about it. It's there if you need it later!
This can be a HUGE time saving EVERY DAY in your business administration.
|Management can have a very broad meaning, but in our context we primarily refer to the overall management of a business. By this we are referring to the general running of the business and the administration that this involvces.|
So, business management is the administration of a business, and good management is maintaining an organised and efficient administration process - and this is why we develop and provide Business Builder, to ease this process and make for good management.
|Messages can cover many different facets of passing information, and may be within the confines of a business, or may include messages into and out of a business.|
Messages can include email, voice-mail, or verbal messages, or even post-it notes stuck to a computer monitor.
For the successful running of a business, it is necessary to be able to capture all important messages, and store them in a central area, where they can easily be accessed.
|If you provide services or products overseas, then a multi-currency invoicing system can enable you to provide far more flexible invoicing solutions to your clients. Particularly with the GB pound maintaining independence from the Euro (at least for now) there is a potential need to be able to raise an invoice and the provide it to a client at a different currency rate.|
Business Builder's Accounting system includes multi-currency invoicing facilities as standard.
|Even small businesses should use software to enable them to run their business as efficiently as possible, and even a small business may have more than one person using such software.|
In order for everybody working within the business environment to be able to communicate properly and efficiently, you should use a database software package where the data is stored centrally and each person can access the same information at the same time. In these cases most business software packages will be supplied with User Licences, where each User Licence enables a user to log into the central database. There may be different licencing agreements depending on the software that you are using, but the most flexible licencing will allow for "concurrent users". This will enable you to install your business software on as many computers as you like, but if you have, for example, five user licences, only five people will be able to log into the software at any one time.
If you are looking for a centralised integrated business software solution, then you need to ensure that it supports multi users, enabling everybody to share information across the business.
|A Nominal Code is used in accounting prinipally to group financial information together so that ultimatelty summarised accounts can be produced.|
Businesses will have different Nominal Codes depending on the type of business they are in (a farmer would have a different Nominal Code struture to an Architect for example).
A Nominal Code will relate either to an Input (a purchase) or an Output (a sale).
See our article "What is a Nominal Ledger" for more details on Nominal Codes, Nominal Accounts and the Nominal Ledger.
|Order Processing relates to the stages involved in creating an order and the different statuses that an Order may take during it's "life", from the it's inception, through to final delivery. For example, an Order may be a 'Quote', then a 'Confirmed Order', then 'Awaiting Despatch', and finally 'Complete'.|
The number of stages and the statuses that an Order may have will depend on the type of business you are in, and how you run your business.
|If you're a business and you're providing a product or service to a client, then in most instances you are going to need to create an Order for the product or service that you are supplying.|
It may be that you wish to just raise an Invoice directly, but the Order document gives you a lot more flexibility in how you operate. For example, and Order can have a different status depending on the type of Order that it is - so if a contact has made a tentative enquiry you can give the order that status. It means that you are able to store the information within the Order, but it won't necessarily become invoiced. Should the contact come back to you and go ahead with the Order, then you can just alter the status to confirmed, maybe add an additional item or two if necessary, and then invoice the Order.
This is just one example of how the Order document within the business process cycle can help to simplify, speed up, and increase efficiency in your business practices.
|In financial terms, an Output relates to a sale of a product or service that you are providing. This seems back-to-front since a sale relates to money coming into your business, but in accounting terms this is referred to as an Output since it is referring to the productivity of your business.|
Think of it this way: the more business and work that you do, the higher the amount of products or services that you are providing, so the more output from your business. This output means more invoices raised, and therefore more money coming in. So incoming money is the result of your business's output.
|Overheads are all expenses that are not direct expenses and are the costs to your business regardless of the number of sales that you may make. For example, office rent, telephone, electricity and other utility charges, staff wages, stationery etc. These will all be costs to your business regardless of whether or not you sell anything. Since they are not directly linked to your sales they are classed as overheads.|
|Payment Terms are the terms that you provide to your clients for payment, and should generally be included on the invoice documentation that you provide to your clients so that they are aware of how long they have to pay an invoice.|
Your payment terms may be anything from immediate payment, to 30 days or more.
Depending on the Payment Terms that you give to your client will determine when you should start chasing them for any amounts owing on their invoice(s). If you have given them 30 days Payment Terms, you don't want to start chasing them after a week!
Business Builder has the facility to stipulate different Payment Terms for different clients, or even for individual invoices. These Payment Terms are linked to the Debt Ledger, which will only remind you of outstanding payment if payment has not been received within the Payment Terms period.
|Payments are the receipt of any payment for a product or service that you have charged for (and for which an invoice should have been raised).|
Payments can also refer to payments that you make to a supplier for any good or services that they have supplied to you.
A business should keep a record of all payments, both income payments, and expenditure payments, as part of their accounts and accounting procedures.
|Payments on Account|
|A payment on account is a payment that is received from a customer before you have raised an invoice for the customer. In normal circumstances, one would raise an invoice and send it to the customer, and the customer would then send payment. The payment would be allocated against the invoice so that you know that it has been paid. (Any unpaid invoices would need to be chased for payment).|
However, there may be an instance where you recieve the payment but have no invoice to allocate it to. The payment would therefore be added as a 'Payment On Account'. If the customer has paid all other outstanding invoices, then their account would be in credit. If an invoice is subsequently raised, some or part of this credit amount amount can then be allocated against this invoice.
|Sorry - no further info available at present.|
|A refund will be paid to a customer if you have received too much money from them. there are two main reasons for needing to send a client a refund.|
1. They have paid you too much for an invoice.
This doesn't happen too often, but mistakes can be made, and a cheque of too high a value, for example, may be sent to you. In this case you may return the entire cheque to the customer requesting another one. However, often it is a good idea to bank the cheque (getting payment is not always easy!) and then raising a refund for the overpayment amount and returning them a cheque for this amount. (Alternatively you may leave the overpayment amount as a Payment on Account).
2. They have cancelled a service or returned a product after payment.
This is the most likely reason for having to refund a client. In this instance, a Credit Note would be raised against the invoice for the product or service which would then mean the invoice would be showing as overpaid. A refund is then raised to repay this overpayment to the client. Again you could alternatively leave the overpayment amount as a Payment on Account)
|Business is all about building relationships, and a good healthy business will be forged on the basis of good strong relationships with your customers. Event if you only deal with a customer once every year, or once every two years, it is still possible to build a relationship with that customer, and make them feel special when you do deal with them.|
Customer relationship software can enable you to provide this kind of personal service easily and efficiently. If you've got the right customer relationship management (CRM) software in place, then building these all important relationships will become far simpler, ensuring the growth of a strong and successful business.
|Reminders are important in Task Management and Diary Management to ensure that the relevant tasks are completed on time, by the right people for the right people.|
If you're not reminded and a task is forgotten, that could easily be a customer lost. Reminders can make a big difference!
|If you are charging clients on a regular basis for a service, then you will need to know when they are due to be charged for agains. These are generally termed Renewals, and indicate when the client needs to have a further invoice raised for them.|
Depending on the services that you are providing, you may wish to check Renewals that are becoming due and contact your clients to advise them, and ask them if they wish to continue, or to provide them with an update on your business, etc.
If they wish to continue with your services (which of course you hope they will!) then godd Business Management Software like Business Builder will enable you to create the required renewal invoices at the click of a button.
|Many businesses, primarily those that are providing a service, will charge people on a regular basis depending on the service that they are providing. For example, a web hosting company may charge you monthly or annually for the hosting services that they provide.|
If you are charging clients on a regular basis for a service, then Repeat Invoicing is a facility that you really can't be doing without. Repeat Invoicing facilities will not only allow you to identify the invoices that need to be raised and for whom, but will also allow you to create the relevant invoices at the click of a button.
Combine this functionality with a full featured Business Management Software package like Business Builder and you can then send the invoices produced by email at the further click of a button!
|Your Sales Ledger provides you with an overview of your Sales over a given period. Checking your Sales Ledger can enable you to see when you sales are falling, and over a period of time may enable you to identify patterns, and then adjust for these patterns in the furture.|
For example, do your sales always drop at a particulat time of year? If so, why? What can you do to drive sakes upwards during this period.
Your Sales Ledger is an important tool in adjusting the way your business operates in response to the changing buying patterns of your customers, whether that be seasonal, or as a result of general changes in the economic climate.
|Security is an essential part of many types of software, since there will be data that needs to be protected. This is particularly important for business software, since there is likely to be sensitive data, which you don't want some people to be able to change, or even see.|
Your business software should provide you with the flexibility to be able to allow different people to add/view/change or delete specified information.
For example, you will probably only want upper management to be able to see Management Accounts.
|You may be providing an on-going service for a client, and the client may pay for these services on an on-going basis by Standing Order.|
Standing Orders can be set up on a bank account by requesting signatures from your client on a Standing Order form, which will include the payee's bank details (i.e. you client's bank details) and the recipient's bank details (i.e. your bank details).
The bank details need to include:
- The NAME of the BANK
- The NAME of the ACCOUNT
- The ACCOUNT NUMBER
- The Bank's SORT CODE
The same information needs to be provided for both banks.
It is also necessary to instruct the bank how much needs to be paid, and how often. You may also wish to specify the number of payments to be made, or the date at which the payments should stop, though if you are providing services without an end date then this is not necessary.
It should be noted that Standing Orders are primarily in the control of your client - they can cancel a Standing Order at any time. In addition, Standing Order payments are not covered by the same regulations as Direct Debits, and therefore your client's may prefer a Direct Debit payment option.
Business Builder has a module available which enables you to easily track the receipt of Standing Order payments and to quickly see where expected payments have not been received so that steps can be taken to recover payment.
|Stock may be important to your business or may not. If you only provide a consultancy business, then stock is of no relevance.|
But if you provide any kind of product, whether it be produced by yourselves or a third party, stock control is all important in making sure that you continue to function efficiently as a business, providing the necessary products as quickly as possible.
Stock maintenance software should be implemented to ensure that this is fulfilled.
|For businesses that provide products to customers, rather than services, Stock Control is an essential part of running the business. It is important to ensure that stock levels are maintained and that the selling rate of individual stock items are taken into account so that:|
1. Stock will not run out prior to the next delivery.
2. You do not carry too much stock of slower selling items.
If you run out of stock you may lose business to a competitor, and if you hold too much of slower selling stock this will cost you in terms of your storage space.
|When we refer to tasks, we are referring to completing an action or process which all emplyees within a business have to perform every day. If they don't then the business will surely fail.|
Task management is an important part, therefore, of any business to ensure that tasks are completed on time, by the right people, for the right people. This can be the difference between an efficient and healthly business, and a business that struggles or fails.
|Is the logging of telephone calls important to your business? In most businesses the answer is probably yes, but many don't keep a record of telephone calls.|
A telephone call can be logged manually by typing in the details about the call and who it was with and when it was made or received. Alternatively it is possible to record the actual telephone conversation and store this electronically.
Storing details about telephone calls can make life a lot easier, particularly in circumstances where you need to clarify what has been said to a customer. If they are insisting that you said one thing, when you believe you said another, if you have a record of the actual telephone call then what could become a problem is immediately resolvable.
|Using Templates when communicating with your contacts and customers has two main benefits. |
Firstly it provides a unified way in communicating, across all your members of staff, ensuring the correct business tone.
Secondly, by using templates you can generate your communications at the click of the button without having to do any typing! Brilliant!! Asuming the templates are correct, then there will be no typographical errors, so you won't need to check for spelling mistakes etc.
Templates should be able to be used for all you typed communications, whether it be printed letters, emails or faxes.
Templates can produce a massive efficiency saving in the running of your business, particularly in a business that has to deal with a significant amount of typed communications. If you haven't got the business management software installed to enable you to do this, then do it now!
|Time Management is an important element for any business, and it is important that all employees are able to implement efficient management of their time.|
Efficient use of time will ensure that a business as a whole is running more efficiently, and this ultimately results in a higher ROI (return on investment) for each employee. Efficient time management is therefore an important factor in overall productivity and a business should have tools in place to help employees and managers with their time management.
|If you're VAT registered, then you have to charge a VAT rate of (currently) 17.5% on the products or services that you provide. The amount that you receive in VAT then has to be paid to H M Revenue and Customs - but you are allowed to subtract from this any VAT that you have been charged by your suppliers.|
In essence you are acting as a tax collector on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs.
This is the basis of the VAT Return and the maths are simple, but if you're running a business with a lot of clients and suppliers it can become a big job - but get the right software and it'll be a breeze.
Business Builder's VAT Return Calculator can calculate your VAT Return and present you with the figures you need to enter on you VAT Return form in a matter of seconds!
|VAT Returns have to be made by any business that is VAT Registered every quarter (i.e. every three months).|
Depending on you business turnover, you may need to calculate the VAT payable on the amount of money that you have actually received in the given period, or for larger businesses on the amount of money that you have invoiced for within the given period, even if the business has not been paid for some of the invoices.
This basically entails calculating all of the VAT that you have charged your clients within the given period (or been paid by you clients in the given period) and subtracting from this the amount of VAT you have been charged by your suppliers within the same period.
If you are using good accounting and bookkeeping software then the calculation of your VAT Returns should be a breeze; if they're not then look at Business Builder's accounting software, including the VAT Return calculator, and remedy the situation immediately!
|Voice Mail is the same thing as an answer phone message, but has been given the name Mail to include it in the same category as any kind of mail; that is information that is sent from one party to another. The main types of mail that we hear about are "Snail Mail" (the old fashioned letter in the post), "Email", and Voice Mail.|
Note that Voice Mail doesn't refer to a telephone conversation, it only refers to a stored message.
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