While many figures can help project the overall success of your business, one factor can cause even successful businesses to fail: negative cash flow. Businesses receive cash through the sale of their goods, services, or investments but they use it to pay for their operating expenses, purchase of assets, and to pay off debt. Maintaining positive cash flow is a necessary component of running a successful business.
One of the first steps to positively manage cash flow is to accurately project sales. This allows you to make an estimate on the funds that are likely to come into your business. Complete this task by comparing your numbers from the last few years. Estimate the amount of sales that you expect to have for each month. Remove those sales that will be on an accounts receivable basis. With these accounts, determine how long it usually takes to receive payment and log this information with the cash sales you expect to have.
Include a line item budget that shows the expenses that you will pay for each month. This includes employee wages, insurance, mortgage payments, utilities, asset purchases, professional fees, debt payments, costs to advertise, maintenance expenses, and costs for materials. Specify on the budget when these expenses will be incurred so that you can be sure to properly plan for them.
A fundamental way to improve your cash flow is to get paid for your goods and services faster especially if you have had a history of receiving payment on a delayed basis. There are several ways to accomplish this goal such as issuing an invoice promptly and delivering it by email or fax. Customers may be required to make deposits on purchases so that you can receive at least part of the payment upfront. Conduct credit checks on customers who want credit extended to them. Follow up on those payments that seem delayed and avoid offering credit to slow-paying customers in the future.
Establish a Back-Up Plan
Even the most savvy business owner may experience a shortfall due to an unexpected expense or factor outside his or her control. After all, the business owner is basing cash flow on estimates and projections, not exact data. There are ways of handling such shortfalls such as keeping an open line of credit available from the bank or asking suppliers to lengthen the payment time frame.