It does not matter how big your business is and how profitable it has become. If you are running a company, there are some things that you must worry about in order to be successful, one of them is your cash flow.
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Cash flow is defined as the net amount of cash and cash-equivalents moving into and out of a company. It is the difference in amount of cash available at the beginning of a period (opening balance) and the amount at the end of that period (closing balance). We say it is positive when the closing balance is higher than the opening balance. Having a positive cash flow signifies that a company's liquid assets are growing, therefore, the company can be able to pay its debts, reinvest in its business, return money to shareholders, pay expenses and plan ahead against possible financial difficulties. Every company is always trying to keep a positive cash flow since it is used to assess the quality of its income. Positive cash flow indicates whether the company is positioned to remain solvent or not.
In terms of success, most companies’ dream is to have a regular cash flow. The right way to do it is by collecting receivables as fast as possible and slowing down payables without jeopardizing the relationship with suppliers. Nobody wants to deal with a situation where payables (debts) are due before the receivables (money that hasn’t been collected yet) come in.
There are many ways to handle cash flow issues. One could be extending your accounts payable period by using a credit card to pay suppliers. If you pay with a credit card, your supplier gets immediately paid and you get a few more weeks to pay the card down. However, this alternative can be also a problem since you probably don't want to deal with interest charges.
As the credit card alternative often is not the most useful one, in this article Adam Greene will share a few tips on how your company can improve its cash flow effectively.
1. Be well prepared for the future:
Putting together a 12-month forecast for your company’s cash flow is definitely the best way to go. You need to be prepared for the costs associated with your business operation, and mapping things out week a week will help you see where to expect changes in expenses ahead of your big sales season and where several payments might come due all at once.
Sometimes small companies are not prepared for all the costs associated with growing quickly –more employers, a bigger inventory and more debts. By using pen and paper to plan what is going to happen with their cash flow, they can prevent a financial disaster.
2. Balance your terms:
You may want to evaluate your paying terms in order to keep a positive cash flow. This means that your average payable should always exceed your average receivable.
Having a balanced customer and supplier terms is always a good way to structure your business. In order for your company to achieve this, you should check the terms you're offering to customers and evaluate if they work for you and how your customers are performing to those terms.
3. Be disciplined:
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You should reduce your receivable period after selling a product or service to your customers. A way for you to make this task easier is by keeping track of your activities and documenting that information. Using a software to help you remember when to collect your receivables can be quite helpful.
This discipline should also be reflected on your payables operations. By settling all your debts with suppliers on time, you are ensuring a healthy business relationship that is likely to give you the chance to negotiate for future discounts or payment terms better suited to your business cycle.
4. Beware of your inventory:
Check which products tend to be more prone to be sold and try to keep a small inventory of the products that you only sell sporadically. Having money invested in an inventory that is never going to be sold, is a waste of resources that could be better used in items that can return your investment more quickly. In other words, try to avoid having tons of money tied to an inventory.
5. Identify which customers help you with your cash flow:
Not because a customer is a regular or an old one, it means is going to have a positive impact on your cash flow.
Evaluate your customers and identify which ones are the worst payers. For these type of customers, you may want to plan a strategy in order to better approach them and improve the paying terms. Sometimes small accounts are more profitable than big accounts with horrible terms.
If you currently run a small company and still don’t know how to have a better cash flow, you can click here and find more information.