As an entrepreneur and a business leader, there is a lot of weight on your shoulders.
From employee management, to product innovation and customer experience, all the way to financial management and smart asset allocation, you have to keep a lot of proverbial balls in the air to keep the ship afloat. Needless to say, cash flow management is one of the most important elements of a successful business, and the most important factor that will ensure smooth sailing on a daily basis.
For a small business, operating capital tends to fluctuate greatly, but before you get out a business loan or start selling your office equipment to obtain immediate capital, you should consider other ways to stabilize your cash flow for the long run. With that in mind, here are the top five cash flow strategies that will help you pave the road to a solvent future.
Analyze, forecast, improve
It all begins with a solid, in-depth financial report. It might be a tedious and time-consuming task, but financial reporting is nonetheless one of the most important elements of successful cash flow management. Simply put, this is your way to gather relevant financial insights, and actionable data that will allow you to build a viable strategy for cash flow improvement.
If you don’t stick to meticulous financial reporting, you will have no way of knowing when to invest in growth or marketing, when to cut back on expenditure, how to optimize your inventory, or how to make savings without harming your long-term financial status. By analyzing consumer trends, you can make sound forecasts, and improve your cash flow over time.
Cut costs across the board
In the modern business world, there can be no room for financial leaks. Yet, no matter how much you try to track every expense, there is a distinct possibility that your company is hemorrhaging money in more places than one. You cannot allow this to persist if you are to build a long-term cash flow structure. Now is the time to invest in automation, adopt a more frugal mindset, and optimize your payroll expenses.
Start by using smart software to automate and expedite menial and certain crucial processes. You can further optimize payroll expenses by outsourcing tasks that require a human touch to freelancers, as these individuals often cost less than keeping people on as full-time employees. Finally, you can cut your overheads by adopting a more eco-friendly mindset and sharing an office space with other companies.
Don’t rely on your customers
Your cash flow is directly tied to your customers’ and clients’ ability to pay your invoices in a timely manner. In the modern business world, this almost never happens. Whether they are unwilling or unable to pay, it doesn’t matter, the simple fact is that you’re not getting what you’re owed, and as a result you are losing more operating capital every single day.
It should be quite obvious by now that you cannot rely on your customers to maintain cash flow. Invoice factoring, also known as debtor finance, might seem like a complex solution at first glance, but it’s one of the best options for small businesses struggling with their cash flow. In essence, debtor finance explained simply encompasses getting paid by a third party lender until your customers cover their invoices. It’s a quick and easy way to maintain cash flow in the long run without ruining your relationship with your customers. The other solution would be to spam them with reminders to pay the invoice, which will get you nowhere.
Make savings when times are good
Another crucial step towards better cash flow management, is putting some money aside for those rainy days of the year. During the months when business is good and recurring customers are numerous, you want to establish a fund that will help you keep the business going when the customers go silent. It will happen, and there is always the possibility of other competitors taking away some of your customers, so you will need to have a financial leg to stand on in order to eventually get back on your feet.
Invest in a more solvent future
Finally, when entrepreneurs think of cash flow management, they tend to focus on ways they can improve their immediate cash flow, and rarely effectuate strategies that will help secure operating capital for the long haul. As you might have gathered, this will only help you weather the current storm, but it won’t save you from future financial difficulties.
This is why your main priority should be to invest in the growth of your business at regular intervals. When times are good, use the left over capital to push a costly marketing campaign into the market, or bring new talent to the company, or even open a whole new department that will help your business thrive. If you don’t invest in your own business, then you will find yourself right back where you started every single year.
Keeping a small business afloat despite the pressure from the competition and the socio-economic drivers that define a local market is definitely not an easy task. Regardless, these effective cash flow strategies can help you weather any storm and pave the road to a future of solvency and success in the industry.