If you’re running a business, you probably know that managing cash is critical to your success — so let’s share some tips on doing that even better. Solid cash flow is vital to keep a business thriving, whether you’re a sole proprietor or the head of a larger enterprise. Even businesses with strong earnings can struggle with cash flow. That’s why cash flow can be a sure sign of how healthy a business is — or is not.
So let us help you optimize that cash flow. We’ll share some smart insights and helpful tips on:
• What cash management for business is
• Why it’s so important
• Ways you can improve your business cash management
Let’s get started.
What is Business Cash Management?
Simply put, business cash management is basically the way you track and manage the money coming into and going out of your business – usually on a cash flow statement. Positive cash flow means more money is coming in through revenues or borrowing than is being used to pay expenses, such as payroll and rent.
That said, good cash management also means not having too much cash on hand. In that scenario, business owners, while cautious, may be missing out on future earnings growth when they neglect to invest cash back into the business.
Here’s another way to frame this principle: You can look at your business’ balance sheet. Check the ratio of current liquid assets to liabilities. A ratio that’s greater than one indicates good health (you’re not losing money), but if that ratio gets too high, you could be holding onto too much cash or other assets that could better be invested elsewhere.
The Importance of Cash Management for Businesses
Cash flow is the essence of all businesses. Without cash, a business will struggle to meet expenses, pay suppliers, repay any investors, and, often most importantly, grow the business through marketing and/or new opportunities.
Strong cash management strategies can also help a business avoid taking on debt. It can also give business owners more control over everyday activities, decisions, and growth opportunities. What’s more, smart cash management is the best way for owners to fulfill their vision for their enterprise while meeting both their short, intermediate and long-term needs. There’s certainly a lot riding on cash management, so let’s dive into ways to optimize it.
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6 Tips for Managing Cash Flow
Cash management can be especially challenging for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Yet it is one of the most important financial strategies business owners must master. These six tips can help.
1. Learning Your Cash Flow Cycle
A cash flow cycle is the time it takes to purchase your supplies and materials (or prepare the work that goes into providing a service), transform them into a product, sell your offering, and collect payment that can go into your business bank account. Sounds simple but a lot can go haywire during that process.
That’s why it’s important for business owners to constantly update and monitor their balance sheets and profit and loss statements. Ideally, you want to know at any given time what happened in the cash-flow cycle last month. Also important: Knowing your projections for what’s going to happen next month.
Understanding your cash flow cycle can help identify and address inconsistencies such as a late-paying customer or a build-up of inventory. If your business is seasonal or cyclical, you want to be well-prepared for both the intensely busy times…and the lulls.
2. Getting Payments on Time
Reminding customers to pay on time is one of the easiest but most necessary ways to manage cash flow. Late payments are a fact of life; common, even. Having receivables come in even a day or two past the due date can wreak havoc with your cash-flow cycle and your bank account.
Consider setting up email reminders to all customers ten days, seven days, and two days before payment is due. Technology today makes it a snap to pre-schedule email blasts. If the payment is still late or only a partial payment was made, don’t hesitate to follow up with a personal note or phone call.
This simple solution can really work. Customers will pay more attention to timely payments when they know you are paying close attention.
3. Turning Over Inventory Quickly
Having an abundance of inventory on hand at a given time means that a bundle of cash is tied up in that unsold stock. That could be an issue, because those funds might otherwise be working to pay for operations and expenses. What’s more, if all of that inventory bought upfront doesn’t sell as expected, it could mean losses on top of that lack of cash. That could hurt your growth and business valuation.
Many small business owners have learned that, in terms of cash, it’s better to turn inventory more quickly. Of course this will vary widely depending on your business – perhaps your product is handmade jewelry, perhaps its reconditioned air conditioners. But, just as an example, you might want to boost from inventory turning over from twice a year to five times. More targeted marketing could contribute to this acceleration.
That said, finding the right inventory management to fit with your cash flow cycles takes some time and experience. Recent supply chain issues have shown how challenging inventory management can be. Again, constant monitoring of the cash flow cycle can help guide how you tweak things.
4. Understand Invoice Financing
Let’s say you hit a cash management hitch. If you do find yourself in a position where you have too much inventory on hand and you need cash to cover expenses, there is a path forward. Invoice financing companies will advance a full or partial amount of your outstanding invoices. You repay that amount plus interest after the invoice is paid.
This likely should be considered only as a stop-gap measure. Like credit cards, interest payments on invoice financing can add up fast and quickly get out of control. Consider the fact that annual percentage rates for invoice financing products can reach as high as a jaw-dropping 64%.
5. Cutting Costs
Monitoring and cutting costs on expenses is another tool for managing cash flow. After all, if less cash goes to pay overhead, more can be invested in the business. A few suggestions: Relying on online marketing efforts that can be less costly than traditional methods, outsourcing tasks that take too much time and money in-house, and reducing energy costs. You might also want to renegotiate outdated contracts and prices with suppliers. These are all areas business owners can consistently monitor to keep costs low.
6. Comparing Loans
Sometimes, a business could use a helping hand to smooth out its cash flow. Let’s say you have outstanding accounts receivable — in other words, you know money is due but you don’t have it yet — and you need the cash now. In this situation, taking a business loan can be an option to help bridge the gap.
Cash-flow loans (like invoice financing explained above) are short-term loans or lines of credit. These are often used to cover expenses or to take advantage of opportunities that can increase revenue.
A working capital loan is another option that can be used to finance everyday business operations such as rent, payroll or restocking inventory. These loans are not designed to finance long-term assets or investment. Companies with seasonal or cyclical sales often rely on working capital loans to provide relief during slow periods.
In addition, there are a variety of small business loans available that are used to finance long-term expenses such as real estate, equipment purchases or business expansion. These include SBA loans, business lines of credit, and term loans.
Whatever type of loan you choose, be sure to compare your options carefully. Look at terms, APR, and how much lending you qualify for among several lenders before taking on any short or long-term debt. Spending some time and energy on research will help ensure you get the right form of financing.
Cash flow management is an essential part of running a successful business of any size. Carefully monitoring cash flow, then learning some simple strategies can maximize it. These moves can help ensure your business remains healthy and your future growth stays strong.
Personal cash management matters, too. At SoFi, we can help make that process more profitable and less time-consuming for you. Sign up for our online bank account with direct deposit, and you’ll enjoy a competitive APY. Plus, we’re fee-free – no monthly or minimum balance charges, period.
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