Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre
Tips for managing small business cashflow
Seen many comments in closed online forums from business owners who’re struggling financially, on top of suffering with the stress of all the things to do ahead of the holidays. Small business can be a lonely difficult place at times, and at this time of year can be extremely stressful. Here’s some tips to manage your small business cashflow, to help reduce one key area of stress.
Maybe your business had a soft patch when you expected a busy period, or an unexpected business or personal expense tipped things over the edge. If this happens take a few deep breaths and look at the situation calmly. Are there things you can do to relieve the pressure? Are there things you can put off buying in the short term? Do your kids really need the latest and greatest tech device?
Money is hard to come by at the moment, with many lenders clamping down. Avoid putting yourself in a situation where you only have emergency funding sources available.
Payment terms and bad debts
Many businesses don’t invoice in a timely manner, as it’s one of those admin tasks that gets pushed aside. When customers are asking you for an invoice, that’s not a good sign! Get those invoices out, and check your payment terms. Seen some small businesses with 30 days terms that could be 7. If the work’s done, you’ve paid your workers and materials, why not seek payment earlier?
Bad debts should be few and far between, if your invoicing and payment follow-ups are managed properly. Collectmore 2.0 is a great app for your phone at $6, providing you guided instructions of what to do and when, including the scripts to use to effectively hurry along late payers.
Have you thought about pitching your business to investors or mentors to get help? Recently I attended The Big Small Business Christmas Party hosted by Nova and CGU Insurance, after winning a ticket from pitching my Christmas wish. Three lucky businesses won money and advertising prizes from Nova, Tribe and Facebook to fulfil their wishes. You need to be in it to win it! Look around for what’s coming up, but do make sure you read the fine print, as there was a dodgy competition a few years back, where all entries transferred the rights to their idea to the competition promoter. A few received a prize, the rest they got to keep for free – not a fair trade at all!
In February FoundX is running a Pitch It session in Norwest with some great prizes and feedback from business mentors on offer. Video entries close 1st February 2019.
Although there is not money being handed out like presents from Santa to children on the nice list, there are some grants available to small and medium business owners. Jobs for NSW has a roadmap of their key grants and loans that can help small businesses. You can contact your Business Connect Advisor or look up www.business.gov.au/assistance to see if there are any Government grants that may assist your business. If you are looking to employ people definitely have a look.
Not many businesses have a smooth, even cashflow year round. If your business is affected by the summer holiday season, you could be coming up to a lean part of the year. Some will be in the midst of their busiest period of the year, particularly if their business is gift oriented.
Regardless of your ups and downs, start planning ahead. A simple monthly cashflow sheet is easy to set-up and allows you to project expenses and income, so you can see which months will be a struggle. This can often be done through your accounting system or in Excel. For instance, if all your insurances go out in a single month it can be a large hit to the business bank account (and potentially your own). Make sure if you’re having good months you don’t just go out and spend everything. Those upcoming big months need covering too.
If you want more information about budgeting and costs you can read our budgeting blog.
Each month you can replace the projected figures with the actual (or even better compare the two and analyse any large variances). Our business advisors or your accountant can help with this.
Analysing your Cashflow
After entering your actuals each month, or at least each quarter, analyse the numbers. Are they what you expected? If not, why not? Why were your sales so low, or so high? Is there more promotional work you need to do, or did something work really well you could replicate in the future? How did costs compare? Can you look at alternative suppliers or amend your process to reduce waste and inefficiencies?
Generating sales or giving back
Sometimes you have end of season stock that simply won’t sell, or a very quiet month. Think about discounting JUST for those reasons to generate some income, or alternatively think about how you could be doing good for your community. Maybe give some leftover clothes to a local charity, women’s refuge or homeless shelter. Consider donating some time in your business to help another business in need. Do you have fellow business owners who tirelessly help their community (maybe RFS or SES volunteers)? Consider helping them, as they’re often making large sacrifices to save their community. Take on board someone who needs experience, and get them to do some work for or with you.
Business Connect can assist you with managing small business cashflow, and our advisors are mobile in your local areas. Arrange to see your local Business Connect Advisors by contacting Western Sydney Business Centre.
Western Sydney Business Centre, offers 4 hours business advice at NO COST with a NSW Government funded Business Connect Advisor. We can talk about any concerns with your business, and help you connect with others. Please book here now!