Cash is critical to the functioning of every business. Maintaining a healthy cash flow not only allows a company to meet its financial obligations but also gives it the flexibility to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
All too often, however, small businesses find themselves in a cash crunch, struggling to pay the bills and stay afloat. The good news is that businesses can take various measures to manage cash flow more effectively.
A good place to start is by reviewing expenses to determine if there are areas where you can shave costs by contracting with another vendor or renegotiating existing contracts. Costs for ongoing goods and services, such as utilities, shipping, and telecommunications, should be reviewed frequently to see if expenses can be reduced. And when paying suppliers, consider whether it makes financial sense to take advantage of any early payment incentives that may be offered.
Debt can be a useful tool if used properly, so be sure to keep it at a manageable level. Before your business takes on a new loan, reach out to multiple lenders and compare the terms they offer. When acquiring equipment, consider whether leasing may be a better option than borrowing money to finance its purchase. For short-term financing needs, a line of credit is a helpful tool. The lender will base interest charges only on the amount your business draws from the credit line.
Maintaining excessive inventory can tie up cash unnecessarily. If your business carries inventory, avoid overstocking. Your inventory management system should be able to indicate the minimum quantities that you need to keep on hand in order to meet your customers' needs.
Employees who handle billing and collections should have specific, clear guidelines. By standardizing the process, you help ensure your business will be paid promptly. You can speed up payments by offering discounts for early payment or by encouraging your customers to pay using electronic funds transfer. To help minimize the problem of unpaid accounts, consider making follow-up calls or sending email or text message reminders within a set period after you have provided goods or services or when a bill's due date passes. Minimizing Taxes When Possible
Deductions and credits can help your business limit its tax burden and boost its cash flow. A knowledgeable tax professional can keep you informed of any special tax breaks that may be of value to your business, such as the energy credit for the acquisition of various types of alternative energy property.
Identifying the causes of reduced cash flow and taking steps to rectify a cash flow crunch is critical to the ongoing success of your business. Proper cash flow planning can help you make better use of budgets and employ financing and capital more effectively to increase revenues as well as boost profits. If erratic cash flow is a recurring issue for your business, it can be helpful to gain the insights and the input from an experienced financial professional.