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5 Hacks for Managing Your Business Cash Flow

5 Hacks for Managing Your Business Cash Flow

Above all else, every business needs cash to survive. Not IOUs or intangible assets, but cold hard cash sitting in your bank account that your business can use in an emergency. A small business owner must manage their cash flow to ensure that the business has enough money. Banks will not just grant a loan to small business short on cash like they might with a larger corporation, so creating a positive cash flow is one of the most important things a business owner can do.

Fortunately, a lot of the steps towards maintaining a good cash flow are fairly intuitive. Here are some basic steps which every new business should do to ensure a solid starting cash flow.

Prepare a Cash Reserve

Murphy’s Law is a thing. It always seems that it is right when a business has negative cash flow that it gets hit with sudden emergency expenses or a loss in revenue. But if your business can save money during prosperous periods, it will have a cushion during tight periods and ensure that negative cash flow is not an immediate, catastrophic crisis.

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Knowing how much cash reserves your businesses should hold onto at any period is tricky, but a general idea should be to keep somewhere between three to six months’ worth of operating expenses. That number can vary a lot depending on factors such as what stage a business is in as well as whether it is in a more volatile industry or not. Entrepreneur has an excellent guide on some of those potential factors.

Conduct sales forecasts

Sudden emergency expenses are inevitable for any business. But all too often, these “sudden” expenses or drops in revenue are really things which a forward-thinking business should have anticipated in advance. As an obvious example, many stores will see reduced income in January as the holiday season comes to an end.

Every business should look at past sales and expense numbers, identify problematic periods during the year, and create a forecast which will provide a rough estimate for how much your business can expect to earn during the coming months. You cannot completely simulate the future and there will always be surprises, but gathering information and making predictions in advance can ensure your business is ready to handle new challenges.

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Pay bills on time, but not early

You may feel responsible when your business pays its bills in advance, but remember that time is money. There is no reason to pay a $500 bill now instead of paying $500 when the bill is due next week. If something urgent happens during that week, that extra $500 could help stave off any immediate emergencies.

If you intend to pay a bill in advance, talk to your creditor and see if they will give you a discount if you pay in advance. Similarly, you may want to offer a discount to customers who pay you early. It is often better to have cash in the bank now as opposed to waiting for a customer to pay you a somewhat larger sum eventually.

Get an Accountant

Practically no business owner wants to stare at financial numbers all day. While you may be tempted to save money by doing your business’s finances yourself, you may end up making more mistakes than a professional or losing morale by the drudgery that can be bookkeeping.

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A business accountant can help your business so much more than by merely tracking expenses. Accountants can offer you additional financial advice beyond managing your cash flow, help you lower your taxes and expenses, and let you focus on the parts of running a business that you like. If you cannot afford a full-time accountant, then get a part-time bookkeeper who can still organize your business’s finances for a few hundred dollars per month.

Slash expenses

Ensuring a positive cash flow is not just about getting as much money as possible, but ensuring that your business does not waste money as well. While slashing costs to the bare minimum may not always be the best move for your business, there is always fat that you can trim to improve your business’s bottom line and cash flow.

Some possible methods to reduce expenses include buying used equipment, not always going for the latest in technology, and employing content or social media marketing over traditional advertisements. The Houston Chronicle has a few other examples of how a business can try to slash costs without negatively affecting worker productivity or customer service.

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Managing your cash flow requires preparing in advance, knowing what areas your business is struggling to make money in, and ensuring that your business is paid in time and costs are low. But if you work on keeping cash on hand, this will ensure that your business always has a cushion during more troublesome times and can keep afloat while less cautious competitors fail.

Featured photo credit: Sean McMenemy via flic.kr

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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

“How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

  • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
    • food
    • rent/mortgage
    • cell phone
    • insurance
    • socializing/entertainment
    • transportation
    • hygiene products
    • household bills
  • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
    • travel
    • clothing
    • medication (*depends)
    • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
    • gifts

Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

Save Money on Food

1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

2. Buy the store-brand version

Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

4. Have group dinners

If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

Save Money in Transport

5. Get a bicycle

Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

7. Find the cheapest gas

Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

Save Money in General Shopping

8. Shop online

Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

9. Sell your old stuff

Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

10. Bulk buying stores

For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

12. Generic brand medication

More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

Cut Down on Household Expenses

14. Printing

Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

16. Shop around for insurance

Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

18. Don’t get a TV

Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

20. Have house parties

Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

21. Open festivals, meetups and events

It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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22. Volunteer

If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

23. Housesit

There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

24. DIY beauty

French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

  • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
  • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
  • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
  • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
  • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
  • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
  • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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