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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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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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