Finance

Cash Flow Management: How to Keep your Business Afloat

Cash Flow Management: How to Keep your Business Afloat
Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

Running a business is a lot like steering a ship: sometimes the waters are calm, and at other times, you face rough seas. Just as the captain must be skilled in navigation, an entrepreneur must master cash flow management to ensure their business sails smoothly. 

Think of cash flow as the wind in your business’s sails, and managing it effectively is essential to keep your ship afloat. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Understanding Cash Flow: What Is It?

Defining Cash Flow

Simply put, cash flow is defined or described as the money that comes into your business (inflows) and the money that goes out (outflows). If you have more money coming in than going out, you have a positive cash flow. Conversely, if you spend more than you earn, your cash flow is negative.

Importance of Cash Flow

While profits are vital, having cash on hand is crucial. Think of it as having enough breath to sing a song; without it, the tune falls flat. Even profitable businesses can run into trouble if they don’t manage their cash effectively.

2. Monitor Your Cash Flow Regularly

Regular Check-ups

To effectively manage your cash flow, it’s essential to monitor it regularly. This doesn’t mean glancing at your bank balance once in a blue moon but thoroughly reviewing detailed cash flow statements.

Forecasting is Your Friend

Predict your future cash inflows and outflows. By forecasting, you can anticipate potential cash shortages and make plans to address them.

3. Speed Up Receivables

Invoice Promptly

Send out invoices as soon as work is completed or a product is delivered. The quicker you invoice, the faster you’re likely to get paid.

Early Payment Incentives

Consider offering discounts to customers who pay their bills early. Even a small percentage off can entice clients to pay quicker.

4. Manage Your Payables

Negotiate with Vendors

Build good relationships with your suppliers. Sometimes, you can negotiate better terms, like extended payment periods or discounts.

Schedule Your Bills

It’s tempting to pay a bill as soon as it arrives, but consider holding off until it’s due, especially if cash is tight. This ensures that you have the maximum amount of cash on hand.

5. Create an Emergency Fund

The Unexpected Happens

Life throws curveballs. Whether it’s an equipment breakdown or a sudden drop in sales, it’s essential to have a buffer.

Setting Money Aside

Aim to set aside a percentage of your revenue each month in a separate savings account. This emergency fund will provide peace of mind and financial flexibility when you most need it.

6. Cut Unnecessary Expenses

Regularly Review Expenses

Just as you’d declutter your home, periodically go through your business expenses. Are there services you’re paying for that you no longer use?

Be Frugal, Not Cheap

While it’s essential to cut unnecessary costs, be cautious not to compromise on quality. Remember, sometimes you need to spend money to make money.

7. Explore Financing Options

Bridge the Gap

If you foresee a significant cash gap, it might be worth exploring financing options. This could be in the form of a bank loan, line of credit, or even crowdfunding.

Smart Borrowing

While borrowing can be a lifesaver, it’s crucial to do so wisely. Ensure you understand the terms and can comfortably pay back any money borrowed.

8. Recognizing Risks to Cash Flow

Embezzlement

One of the internal threats that businesses often overlook is embezzlement. Embezzlement is when someone within the organization misappropriated funds for their own personal use. 

This can severely impact your cash flow, not to mention the trust within your team. Practicing embezzlement prevention measures not only serves to protect your financial assets, but fosters a more trustworthy and stable work environment. 

Steps to Mitigate Embezzlement:

  • Regular Audits: Make it a practice to periodically check your financial books. Irregularities can often be spotted with regular and thorough audits.
  • Separate Financial Responsibilities: No single person should have control over all financial aspects of your business. Divide responsibilities so that multiple eyes are on every transaction.
  • Encourage Whistleblowing: Create an environment where employees feel safe to report suspicious activities. This can act as a deterrent and a detection mechanism.

Managing Cash the Smart Way

Running a business isn’t always smooth, but with the right techniques, you can keep things steady. Think of cash flow as the heartbeat of your company; it’s essential to monitor and manage it well. By doing so, you’re paving the way for your business’s ongoing stability and success.

Remember, challenges will come. But with a strong grip on your finances, you can confidently face any obstacle and continue to grow your business.

About the author

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Steven Ly

Steven Ly is the Startup Program and Events Manager at TheNextHint Inc. She recruits rockstar startups for all TC events including Disrupt, meetups, Sessions, and more both domestically and internationally. Previously, she helped produce Dreamforce with Salesforce and Next '17 with Google. Prior to that, she was on the advertising teams at both Facebook and AdRoll, helping support advertisers in North America and helped grow those brands globally. Outside of work, Priya enjoys Flywheel, tacos, the 49ers, and adventuring around the globe.

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