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Cash Management

2 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business raking in the big bucks on paper—while you struggle to pay your bills on time because your bank account is constantly running low? Cash flow problems are one of the biggest challenges small business owners face. More than 80 percent of small businesses fail because of cash flow problems, Small Business Trends reports. Here’s how to prevent your business from meeting that fate.

 

Curious what the second big problem small business owners struggle with is? Check it out here.

 

What is cash flow?

Positive cash flow means you have more money coming into your business than going out. Negative cash flow means you’re spending more than you are bringing in. (Think of it as being overdrawn on your checking account.)

Cash flow problems can easily happen—even in successful businesses. A growing company may need to buy inventory or hire additional employees to keep pace with demand for products or services. But what happens if those customers don’t pay you for 60 days, 90 days, or more—as is common with many corporate or government clients? If you have to meet payroll every month or pay off your inventory in 30 days, you’re in trouble. 48180328_s.jpg

 

According to an analysis of 20 million invoices conducted a few years ago by Fundbox*, 64 percent of small businesses are affected by late payments.

 

How to manage your cash flow

When you’re having cash flow problems, your instinct may be to hide your head in the sand. Don’t. Use your accounting app (like QuickBooks or FreshBooks) to create cash flow statements and review them at least monthly. If you’re struggling with cash flow, or you’re going through a busy time, review your cash flow statement weekly or even daily.

Learn more about Account Management from Bank of America

Reviewing your cash flow statements and developing a cash flow forecast can prevent unpleasant surprises. Use your past cash flow statements and your sales forecasts to understand what your cash flow landscape might look like six or 12 months in the future. Having a roadmap of what to expect helps you budget more accurately.

 

Fast or slow?

In general, your goal is to get paid as quickly as possible, while delaying your payments as long as possible in order to keep cash in your accounts longer. Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Invoice right away. As soon as the product is delivered or the service is performed, send out your invoice.
  • Contact the customer as soon as a payment is late. Use your accounting app to alert you of past-due payments.
  • Automate your own payments so you can pay your bills as late as possible without concern about missing a due date.
  • Use business credit cards to pay your bills when possible.
  • Offer your customers discounts for early payment (make sure this doesn't negatively affect margins).
  • Request a deposit before beginning a job, and/or stagger periodic payments throughout a long project.
  • Once you’ve developed a good track record with vendors and suppliers, see if you can negotiate longer payment terms or adjust your payment due dates so you don’t have too many bills due at once.

 

Prevent cash flow problems

To keep cash flow problems from cramping your style, always conduct credit checks before you extend credit to a new customer. If you have any concerns about a customer’s ability to pay but still want to work with them, work out a plan such as monthly payments or COD to ensure you’ll be paid for your work.

Finally, have a backup plan. When your business is doing well financially, apply for a business line of credit that you can use in case of emergency. Obtaining a couple of business credit cards will help as well. This way, you have some options for financing if you get into a cash flow crunch.

 

Learn more:

Find the right financing for your business

Compare Small Business Credit Cards from Bank of America

 

 

*Disclosure: Fundbox is a client of my company.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Do you own a seasonal business, such as a summer camp, sailing school or ski manufacturing company? Maybe you sell patio furniture or own a car wash. Any business where sales rise and fall drastically based on the seasons can benefit from these ideas for season-proofing.

 

  1. Expand geographically. Can you sell your products or services to parts of the country (or world) with similar seasons? For instance, a patio furniture company in New Jersey could season-proof the business by selling to customers in California or Florida. It could even expand internationally to a country that’s warm during New Jersey’s fall and winter, like Australia.

  2. Expand your product or service line. Think of things you could sell during the off-season that make sense with your business model. For example, could that ski manufacturing company retool its equipment to manufacture surfboards? In a mountain community near me, a lodge that does most of its business during snow season built a giant waterslide to attract families who stay at the nearby lake in the summer.

  3. Expand demographically. Investigate whether there’s a demographic market you aren’t serving that needs your products or services during your slow time of year. For instance, when sales at your ice cream store decline during the colder months, make up for it by marketing catering services to event and party planners and setting up ice cream sundae bars at their events.

  4. Manage cash flow and working capital carefully. When you own a seasonal business, it’s vital to keep a close eye on your cash flow. You need to keep on top of both short-term and long-term cash needs. Monitor your cash flow weekly and set aside cash reserves for the slow season to ensure you have enough working capital.

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  5. Open a business line of credit before you need it. This way, you’ll be prepared with a source you can draw upon for working capital during slow times. Build up your credit rating by borrowing small amounts from the line of credit and paying it back on time. Eventually, you’ll be able to get a bigger line of credit, which will give you more flexibility to manage seasonal ups and downs.

  6. Plan ahead for seasonal staffing. Determine whether using a temporary staffing agency, reducing permanent employees to part-time status during the slow season, or hiring seasonal employees each year makes sense for your business. Make sure you train employees before the busy season hits so you don't waste time getting them up to speed while a line of customers snakes out the door. Pulling from the same pool of seasonal employees every year can help you cut the time it takes to train employees. When you find a good seasonal employee, keep their information on file for next year.

  7. Sell more during your busy season. Some entrepreneurs wish their seasonal businesses could operate year-round, while others love having downtime. If you’re in the latter camp, boost your cash flow by selling even more to customers during your busy season. Could your surf school start selling surfboards, wetsuits and other surf gear in addition to giving lessons? Could you charge more by providing surf students a boxed lunch during their midday break so they don't have to bring food from home?

  8. Market early. When you only have a short season to make the most of your sales, it’s important to keep last year’s customers coming back. Stay in touch with your customers all year long via email or direct mail so they don’t forget about you. Send them special offers before the season starts, such as discounts if they book your summer camp early or buy a new snowboard “before the rush.” Emphasize the benefits of purchasing before the season starts, such as better selection and prices. This helps you get cash flowing before the busy season starts.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

It’s normal for seasonal businesses to experience ebb and flow, however, it’s still important to remain lucrative. To succeed at a seasonal business, you must prepare for your busy season year-round.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: The 4 Cash Flow Management Mistakes that Fail Small Businesses

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years.

 

Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous

local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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