Cash flow - simply stated is how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out. When you are trying to assess your cash flow situation, it can take a lot of time or a short review, depending on what factors have to be considered.
Use Financing to Your Advantage
Credit cards, lines of credit, personal funds, are all places where you can find additional financing, or money coming in, for your business. The key is to use them to your advantage. Credit cards usually come with high interest rates, and should be paid in full on their due date. However, sometimes you need that extra time for payment to be made, so you end up making the minimum payment, and paying in full later. Let's face it - we all have debt, it is a matter of how we manage this debt. Interest is an expense and cuts into your bottom line, so use it wisely. But, more importantly, you need to spend money to make money, so make that expense count!
Make Your Receivables Collectible
It's great if you have clients and are invoicing for your products or services, but if you are not getting paid, you are no further ahead then when you did not have clients. Set your terms of payment on your invoice (typically 30 days, but can be less) and as soon as that term has come up, send an email, or make a phone call and ask when you should be receiving payment. Sometimes you might have to not provide further products or services unless the account is brought up to date. You will usually see a pattern emerge with your customers, in which who will pay early, on time or late. Adjust your reminders accordingly, so the customer knows you have not forgotten about them, and hopefully they will improve their payment habits. More importantly - make it easy for payment using credit cards, paypal, e transfer, and any other electronic payment options.
Negotiate Your Terms for Payables
If you are able to carry an account with your suppliers, negotiating 45 day terms for payment will help to smooth out the timing between getting money from your customers and paying your suppliers. You don't want to be that business where the cheque is always in the mail, and you are always late. You want to build a relationship with your suppliers where they are willing to help you out when times are tight. If a supplier requires immediate payment, then use a business credit card, on the basis you will be paying off the balance on time (as discussed above).
These are just a few of the common cash flow items that can help keep the money coming in more than going out. What tips and tricks do you use in your business for better cash flow? Leave me a comment and pass on the wealth of knowledge!
As any Owner knows, sometimes doing it yourself (DIY) is easier than finding someone else to do it. However, here are some areas where you might consider contacting someone in your network or paying somebody else to do the job:
If you have decided to incorporate, there are options online to DIY setting up your Company. But, this is an area that if it is not done right, you will have to fix it later. The old adage of "Pay me Now or Pay me Later" comes to mind. When your Company starts to make money, you want to be able to distribute the wealth and get the maximum tax benefits. This might include having other shareholders such as your spouse, kids (using a family trust), or others be involved in the share structure of the Company. All of these considerations are not completely obvious when you DIY the set up of your Company. A Corporate Lawyer does this on a daily basis, and can answer questions from you in the initial consultation of how you want to structure the shares of the Company. Do lawyers cost money? Yes, but considering the possible consequences in the future, better to do it right the first time, then trying to fix it later.
Technology can be your friend or your foe. Recently I was hooking up my new printer, and after hours of trying to get the wireless printer to connect with the WiFi, it was time to call in an IT expert - my brother in law. Within 15 minutes, he had the printer connected. The time value of money comes to mind. Where I should have just stopped and realized somebody else can do this better than me, was the time I should have brought in the IT expert, and moved on to more important business. There are so many options nowadays with IT consultants, you have the choice as to how much IT you want to bring into your business. As with anything, ask your network if they know of a good IT expert - likely there will be at least one. Because when IT is happy, everybody is happy!
Websites, business cards, and most importantly you, are the marketing expert in your business. Specifically, designing your website is where a little or a lot of money can be spent. At the end of the day, you need to know what you want your website to say, and you need to have the time to make it happen. There are lots of options to DIY your website through Weebly, Square Space, Go Daddy, and any other number of websites that you can find. You will need to have the time to write, gather the pictures, design the pages, and ensuring all of your buttons are connected to where you want your user to go. Most importantly, all of your marketing should be consistent with the brand you want to create for your Company. Therefore, consulting with a marketing expert who can bring the creativity required to get your Company noticed from the rest of the pack, is well worth the investment.
You need to ask yourself one question: If you don't know where you are, how do you know where you are going? Not having a handle on your numbers, can at times, be detrimental to your business. Anybody can enter receipts into a program; however, not being consistent in how those receipts are entered, taking too long to invoice your clients, filing your own Corporate Tax Return, are all areas where money can be left on the table. Even if you decide that you or your significant other is doing the bookkeeping, have somebody take an overview of the numbers on a consistent basis (e.g. monthly, quarterly, yearly) to see if there is cash flow coming in or out that can be improved. Do I have a biased opinion? Absolutely! But, at the end of the day, collaborating with an Accountant, and seeking their knowledge and expertise with numbers can only help your business improve.
These are just a few areas where you need to decide if you will DIY or bring in an expert. When you start considering some of these expenses as an investment in your business, the choice that needs to be made will be very clear.
Entrepreneur, bike spinner, and resident of beautiful Steveston, BC.