Keeping a tight control of your cashflow is the single most important thing you can do when running a business; particularly when you are just starting out. All companies need cash to survive – and thrive – and meeting your financial obligations and having money to invest in opportunities is critical. But how do you manage your cashflow properly, and what are the best methods of doing so? We’re going to reveal all in our guide to managing cashflow – read on to find out everything you need to know.
What is cashflow?
Understanding cashflow is the first thing you need to do if you want to know how to manage it properly. Cashflow is the amount of money that comes in and goes out of our business, and you need to track it on your cashflow statement. A positive cashflow is the ideal, as it means you have more money coming into your business than leaving it, although many startups will usually have a negative cashflow – which means there is more money going out of your business. However, having a positive cashflow doesn’t necessarily say that you are turning a profit, as that money coming into your business could also include borrowing.
Working out a benchmark
So, when it comes to managing your cashflow, the first important step is to work out a reference point – or breakeven point. It’s this point where your business becomes profitable, and it’s an important goal to set for any new business. Not only will it help you achieve a level of safety for your business, but this benchmark or breakeven point is also a way of predicting your cashflow in the future, and can help with your financial planning. The general rules of cashflow are relatively straightforward: know where you are at right now; know where you will be in six months time. You can’t possibly know either of these if you don’t work out your breakeven point first.
Having access to cash is vital for your business, so it’s important to ensure you are getting what you are due as fast as possible. In the vast majority of cases, this task involves getting money from clients and customers. According to research, the average customer pays around two weeks late, so it’s easy to see where many of your problems might arise from. Never invoice people and then leave them to it – remind them regularly and be proactive in chasing them up. You can sue automatic emails at regular intervals before a due date, and if that time passes with no payment, you can also consider imposing late payment fees. Don’t be afraid of chasing money – you have a right to be paid for your work, and the longer a customer leaves it, the more exposure your business will have to risk.
Of course, the money that goes out of your business also has an impact on your cashflow, And whereas you should be encouraging your customers to pay straight away, you should be avoiding paying your suppliers and other payables for as long as possible. We’re not suggesting missing deadlines, of course, as that will attract fines. But by establishing longer credit terms – changing a 60-day payment to a 90-day, for example – and you will find that your cash flow improves by a significant amount.
If your business buys inventory, it’s vital to ensure that you are making sensible decisions about how you buy, store, and manage it. Don’t forget, everything you buy will impact on your cashflow, as it ties up valuable money that you can’t use for meeting your financial obligations or investing in improvements. The fundamental principle of inventory management is to order stock in quantities that you can sell on quickly, without impacting your sales with out of stock issues. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but absolutely essential if you don’t want your cash tied up in inventory that lingers around your business for months on end.
At some point in time, all businesses will experience periods of a shortfall when it comes to cashflow. And one of the best ways of protecting against such occasions is to ensure that you have some reserves put aside – emergency savings if you like. Of course, this can be difficult to achieve when you are just starting out, but it’s something you need to consider if you want to avoid potentially dangerous financial situations arising.
Borrowing money for your business is a great way of improving your cashflow, but bear in mind that you have to counter this by being able to turn a profit. Look at something like a cashflow loan if you need to fund a new marketing campaign that can pretty much guarantee results. While these types of loans can be expensive if you don’t pay them back on time, the funding they deliver can help you achieve your goals far more quickly than saving a little each month and raising them yourself. Small business loans are also an interesting idea, and as long as you research the market and get the lowest interest possible, they can provide you with vital funding to help you pay for your growth strategies.
Boost sales to current customers
Acquiring new customers is an expensive task, both regarding resources and money. So, if you want to increase sales to improve your cashflow, you are far better off trying to sell more to your current customers. Research suggests it is up to six times cheaper to sell to old clients, so it’s easy to see how much value it can bring to your business. Look at what people are buying, and spend some time analyzing their shopping habits. Is there a way of enticing them back with discounts or better deals? However, one thing to bear in mind is that you have to focus on getting money quickly – don’t allow your credit out to build up, or it will just cause you further cashflow issues. The idea here is to make money, not increase your accounts receivable.
How To Prepare For The Next Wave of the Outbreak
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US warned that a second wave of the COVID-19 infection is inescapable and may cause more harm. The WHO also stated in March that COVID-19 is far from over and that a second wave is respectable.
With as many as 100,000 new cases reported since late May, the new wave may be upon us now. The global count of infected persons has exceeded 9 million, and COVID-19 deaths have crossed 480,000. The Director-General of WHO urged countries to be creative and pragmatic in finding solutions as they ease the lockdown restrictions and get back to business as usual amid the spread of infection.
The Second Wave
There has been a surge in new COVID-19 cases. On June 21 the WHO reported an increase in the global number of new COVID-19 infections. 183,020 new cases were reported mostly in South Asia, South America, and North America. Beijing recently reported 158 fresh cases.
In the US nearly 20,000 new cases were reported. India reported 15,968 new cases on June 23. There are also reports of new COVID-19 cases in Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. South Korea, which contained the virus in March, now records 40-50 new cases per day since late May. South Korea’s Director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the country is going through a second wave of the virus.
The WHO believes that the new cases could be a result of easing lockdowns and travel restrictions too early.
Currently, we don’t have a proven vaccine for COVID-19. The WHO is collaborating with pharmaceutical companies and research institutions to develop one. As of June 24 a total of 141 options were in various stages of development.
In a report by the WHO on June 24, 16 candidate vaccines are in the clinical evaluation stage. One of these is called ChAdOx1-S, and is already in phase 3 of clinical evaluation. It was developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. The trials of the test vaccine will be conducted in July. More than 4,000 participants have enrolled for the trials in the UK.
Another 30,000 participants enrolled for the ChAdOx1-S trials in the US. Simultaneous trials will also be conducted in other parts of the world, including South Africa. Some of the other vaccine candidates are in phase 2 of clinical evaluations. These include Adenovirus Type 5 vector developed by CanSino Biological Inc. and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. Another of these is the LNP-encapsulated mRNA developed by Moderna and NIAID.
Scientists at the University of Oxford reported in early June that the Steroid dexamethasone reduces mortality rate in patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. COVID-19 directly attacks cell linings in a patient’s airways and lungs.
Dexamethasone reduces the inflammation, thereby protecting the cells. Dexamethasone has also been used in Spain and the US to treat patients. The results from Spain and the US match the findings in the UK.
Currently, dexamethasone is only being administered to patients with severe COVID-19 under close clinical supervision. In response to the report from the University of Oxford, The Director-General of WHO urged countries to increase the production and distribution of dexamethasone.
Until a vaccine is tested and mass-produced coronavirus will remain a threat. Governments and individuals must prepare for the second and subsequent waves of COVID-19 infection. With the easing of lockdown measures and businesses reopening we must take additional precautions.
New cases of infection in Seoul were traced to nightclubs. In Germany, the fresh cases were tracked down to a slaughterhouse. Risks increase when people congregate and precautions are ignored. Governments must rethink preventive measures.
Many countries have chosen not to ease their lockdowns until a vaccine is found. As is usual in case of public measures, the effectiveness and success eventually come down to the actions of individuals. We must be mindful of our safety at all times.
One aspect of preparation is securing our supply chains. For millions of families worldwide, remittances are lifelines. Switch now to a reliable channel to send money online. Ensure that your family back home can cope with the economic situation throughout this difficult time.
About The Author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.
5 Must-Haves To Get Small Business Funding
Securing financing for your small business when it most needs it can be ‘make or break’. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to the volatility of poor trading conditions like a recession.
Even a minor dip in sales revenue can send a start-up or small business to the wall, and this is why lenders need to know their funds are in good hands. While the process to get a loan is stringent the positive is when you get the approval you know it’s due to have a robust business model.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of success with a lender. Here are some essential tasks that must work well for you before applying for business finance.
Well-Grounded Business Plan
Having a sound business plan is key to securing investment for your business. You need to make sure that you have a complete, realistic business plan that articulates every facet of your company. The executive summary must present what you do, who for and why it’s a great offering, so lenders are encouraged to delve deeper into the detail of the plan.
Improve Your Credit Score
If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a home loan or personal finance you’re already aware of the importance of a good credit score. The same conditions apply for companies they too must have a good business credit score – if not your options for finance from tier-one lenders, i.e. banks is limited.
Learn how your credit score is calculated and stay up-to-date with it so that you know if anything needs doing – like paying off business credit cards and other loans – before applying for new funding. If you’ve just started your business and it has no credit history, your credit score may be taken into account if you apply for a bank loan, so keep on top of that too.
Invest Your Own Cash
Putting some of your cash on the line is one way to increase your chance of success when applying for a business loan. Typically, lenders favor applicants who have at least a 25% equity stake in the company that they are applying on behalf of. And, being able to put some of your own money down will mean that you can borrow less and will start your business off in less debt.
Rent Your Premises
Purchasing an office building might seem tempting if you can, but lenders tend to prefer businesses that rent, rather than buy their workplace. This is because they prefer to see you investing your money into assets that are going to generate income for your business, such as equipment and inventory.
Of course, if you own commercial real estate and it earns an income, this investment is viewed favorably by lenders. Personal assets can be used as security for loans. Often small business owners need to use their assets like property as security to get a loan for their company.
Finally, don’t assume that you have better chances of getting a loan with bigger banks. Smaller, local banks may be more inclined to provide funding to small businesses in their community, and you’re more likely to get individual attention.
Similarly, you might have better luck avoiding the banks altogether and applying to a small business funding circle, including private investors like angel investors. This action does not relieve you from providing the fundamentals that show the health and potential of the business.
Every lender needs to earn a profit from their investment, and they will be thorough in their assessment of risk. The higher the risk, the higher the interest rate too.
Offering a slice of the business may also be another way of securing investment from private investors.
There is no need to shy away from seeking funding for your business when all you need to do is what you should have in the first place, a good credit rating, robust business plan and some skin in the game.
Key Considerations When Applying For A Merchant Account
As a merchant, deciding which credit card processing company to partner with can be a Make or Break issue. As such, the decision should be made with the utmost care.
Weighing profitability versus reputability can be a difficult process especially if one hasn’t dealt with finding a credit card processing company previously.
Unfortunately, poor quality companies are abundant, so choosing an appropriate company for your company’s needs will require thorough vetting and knowing exactly what your company’s needs are. There may be various pressures to choose quickly, but it is important to make thoughtful deliberations to avoid pitfalls.
High and Low-Risk Accounts
Hopefully, you already know whether you are designated as a high or low-risk merchant account. This makes a huge difference in the types and willingness of credit card processing companies to work with your company.
These accounts are typically well-established industries with a limited chargeback, low average ticket size, and low monthly processing totals. Because these industries are easy to predict and require limited investment from the company to process your totals, these accounts are very attractive to banks and processing companies. Because of how attractive these accounts are and how plentiful processing companies may be, they can become the target for poor quality companies
These accounts are typically in an industry that is highly regulated, a possible reputational risk, or e-commerce. These accounts often face a difficult time finding quality companies to work with because of their drawbacks. However, there are companies that specialize in high-risk industries and actively seek high-risk clients in specific industries.
Customer (Service) is King
These two account types seem to have opposite obstacles but it boils down to the same decision-making process. For a business to function efficiently it is important to work with a reliable company that can cater to your needs to ensure reliability in case of an issue and keep your costs low.
An ideal credit card processing company will have easily contacted customer service representatives and is willing to tailor service to your needs, saving you money.
Easily reached customer support is vital in case of an issue, being able to speak with someone immediately to resolve an issue will vastly change the experience if something was to occur.
Although making this one of the utmost priorities may seem unnecessary, in the event of an emergency this may be the only attribute that really matters at that moment.
So How Do They Get You
Unfortunately, some of these companies operate with some impunity which makes it difficult to find companies that are reputable. Some companies will employ shady business practices which make them seem inexpensive compared to the competition then overcharging higher than industry standards. Some of these shady practices might include:
- Undisclosed charges and fees masked by seemingly low rates
- Locking in the long term or non-cancellable contracts which may have outrageous termination fees or monthly/annual fees that change as time passes
- Non-disclosed information or a misleading website that makes an informed decision possible
Options that employ these tactics may try to undercut the competition while not disclosing all the important information before signing with a processing company.
Even if you are quite savvy, research, and read through the contract you may still be taken advantage of; there are many ways for companies to save money. This can be done with non-competitive rates, poor quality equipment or requiring the customer to purchase/lease the equipment, and low functioning or non-existent customer service.
What To Look For
Now that we can spot and avoid poor quality companies, it’s time to start identifying what an ideal company looks like:
- Flexibility: A provider that is willing to tailor service to provide only what is necessary with quality products and services is ideal.
- Communication: It is important to be able to get into contact with someone at a moment’s notice in case of an emergency or an issue.
- Price: The most important aspects of price are early termination fees and competitive rates. Strangely enough, if it’s a quality company, the rate is not the most important issue. They will probably save you money in other ways like providing great equipment or showing extreme visibility regarding fees.
As with anything, not very much of this is cut and dry. All companies fall on the sliding scale of quality, it’s just important to avoid over compromising and protect the integrity of your business. There are good options out there!
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