Your manager breaks her leg playing softball and will be out for a month. Or your receptionist's husband lands his dream job, but it's out of state so they'll be moving. When you own a small business, learning to expect the unexpected comes with the territory. Yet, you don't have to stand idly by and wait for something to disrupt your finances and send you down a path of trouble. Consider being proactive with these troubleshooting tips.
You can monitor your company's financial health, spot developing problems, and improve performance by reviewing key ratios derived from the numbers on your financial statements. Taken together, these ratios help paint a picture of your company's financial well-being.
At times, you might dwell on problems in one particular aspect of your business. But don't ignore the rest. If you're not seeing the big picture, you might not spot trouble in other areas. For example, if your profit margin is falling, you could become so focused on trying to find a solution that you fail to notice that several of your biggest customers haven't sent a payment lately and a cash flow problem is brewing.
Always try to make the most of your assets. If you carry inventory, keep your eye on turnover rates. Slow inventory turnover can strain your cash flow. Figure out how many days' worth of product you'd ideally like to have on hand, and adapt your purchasing to meet that goal. Also, check your fixed assets. If you have equipment that's not being fully utilized, you may be able to repurpose it. If not, it may be time to sell or donate it.
It's practically impossible to operate a business without taking on at least some debt. Debt itself isn't a problem, as long as you keep it under control. A high level of debt can eat up your cash, cut into your profits, and reduce the return you're getting on your investment in the company -- and that's definitely trouble.