Math is not my friend, even though we did have a long-term relationship throughout my formative years.

(If you’re reading this, Fourier Analysis and Partial Differential Equations, don’t forget: You didn’t dump me, I dropped you.)

Accounting isn’t my friend either. Know it, use it, can speak intelligently about depreciating capital assets at parties (which may be why I’m often alone at those same parties), and do my own books. But I don’t enjoy it.

Here’s my problem with digging into QuickBooks or creating complex Excel spreadsheets: It’s hard to sift through the clutter to get actionable insights. If I don’t know where to look and what questions to ask, the data I produce is interesting but not particularly helpful. 

Plus generating that data is really boring.

If you feel the same way, check out Profitably. Profitably is a Web tool that automatically pulls QuickBooks financial data and generates reports on employee performance, customer profitability, cash flow, channel profitability, etc. You’ll get more charts and spreadsheets than you can imagine, all without manual data entry. Security concerns are also a non-issue. Your data is accessed through the QuickBooks Sync Manager, so Intuit manages your data through that cloud. While the software “knows” your business, no one at Profitably has access to your files.

I checked out the 30-day trial version and even though my business is fairly simple I noticed a few things in the first few minutes that, I’m embarrassed to admit, I hadn’t noticed for years.

A friend of mine is a better example. He also checked out the trial version. He’s a closet accounting nerd and his business is a lot more complicated: multiple services and thousands of products, dozens of locations, range of delivery and sales channels, etc. He spent a few minutes syncing files and decided to check out the Customer Profitability Chart first. He went straight to one of the dots in the “dog” section of the chart; “dogs” are high-volume, low-profit customers. He clicked to see detail, saw the P&L (more L than P by far) for that customer, and started cussing.

If you’re unsure, check out the free version or think about the 30-day trial. It’s quick and easy to set up, so you have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain. While your business is unique, and your products and services are unique, there is a body of financial analysis that every business needs. In a few minutes you can get a list of improvement recommendations supported by analytics and data.

Who knows—Profitably might help you make accounting your friend... without having to develop an Excel relationship, too.