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7 Ways to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

7 Ways to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

For entrepreneurs, cash flow is a vital component of business operations. Business owners shouldn’t just take notice of available cash when times are tight; maintaining an optimal level of cash on hand in all circumstances ensures your business can make it through any financial bumps in the road.

Here are a few tips on keeping your cash flow where it needs to be for business security.

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1. Offer Early Payment Discounts

Incentivize your clients by giving them a discount for early payment. An acceptable discount is 2% but up to 5% may be worth the slight revenue reduction. Your customers, whether individuals or other businesses, like to save money too. Give them a reason to pay you right away and reduce the risk of late or missed payments that cause a dip in your cash flow.

2. Set Up Extended Payment Deadlines

Whenever possible, pay what you owe to vendors right away. For the months when there may be a gap in cash flow and payments, however, set up an extended payment agreement with the people you owe. This can mean an official 60-day turnaround for all payments, or even a clause in the agreement that allows it a certain number of times in a year. Don’t pay late if you have the money on hand, but be prepared in case you need to use that option on occasion. It will save you money on late payment fees and also allow more time to receive revenue to pay the bills.

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3. Build a Cash Reserve

Think of a cash reserve as a savings account of sorts for your business. This is money that is not allocated to anything else but is simply available if you need it. Financial experts recommend keeping three to six months’ operating expenses in a cash reserve, but you can adjust those numbers based on the stage of your business and what you plan to spend in coming months. Figure out a smart amount for what you need to operate, and then set it aside.

4. Finance When it Makes Sense

Just because you have the cash on hand to handle any unexpected expenses does not mean that you should spend it. There are times when it might make more sense to leave that cash alone, and seek out short- or long-term financing instead. You can do this through a small business loan or even a business credit card. Do your homework to find the right credit option for your needs. Don’t break into your cash stash if there is another way around it – particularly when the amount in your cash reserve isn’t enough to cover the expense anyway.

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5. Hire a Money Manager

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money and that is definitely the case when it comes to handling your financial matters. Perhaps you don’t have the budget for a full time accountant on staff – hire part-time help or go to a local firm once a month. It’s difficult to be objective about spending for your business when you own it. Let someone else take a closer look at money coming in and going out – and give you advice on spending and saving.

6. Know Your Break-Even Point

What is the number you need to reach each month to start making money? You can figure this out by adding up your operating expenses, wages, overhead costs, and your own salary. How much do you need to make to meet all of those obligations? Once you have that number in mind, you can spend with greater savvy and as a result, keep your cash flow at its optimal level.

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7. Follow a Budget

This may seem obvious but it’s vitally important to the health of your cash flow. Business owners often focus too much on profits and not enough on spending. You aren’t really getting ahead if the amount you make off each sale can’t cover your other expenses. Save money wherever you can and track all of your business spending. Having a spreadsheet or software that can quickly break down cash coming in and going back out will make you more mindful of how that hard-earned business money is spent.

Keeping a robust cash flow takes vigilance but it will help protect your business during tough times. Your cash on hand gives you more stability and having enough of it will help you sleep better at night.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pexels.com

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Annie Qureshi

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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