Financial success requires understanding how your business is earning and spending its funds, which includes sales proceeds, loan proceeds and interest income as well as outgoing expenses such as inventory purchases, payroll wages, rent payments and utilities costs.
Even profitable companies may experience financial issues if they run out of cash, which is why it’s essential to monitor cash flow projections on a regular basis.
1. Set Your Goals
One of the key components of successful cash flow management for any business is setting and adhering to goals. Doing this will allow you to avoid surprises that often contribute to business failure–in fact, 82% of such failures can be traced back to poor financial management practices.
Consider all cash inflows and outflows over one, six, or 12 months for your business, including sales income as well as loan payments and investment returns. Also remember your outgoings such as rent, payroll, raw materials, utilities as well as regular expenses such as annual registrations or subscriptions.
As soon as you have compiled an accurate accounting of all the money that enters and leaves your business, evaluate it closely and take notes. Focus on finding ways to bring in more revenue than what is going out, even if that means cutting staff numbers or investing in less expensive equipment.
Another effective strategy to boost cash flow is being mindful of how you collect payments from customers. For instance, limit the length of time customers have to pay their invoices; always screen prospective new clients before offering credit; and send automated reminders 10-7-2 days in advance so customers pay on time.
2. Create a Budget
Establishing a budget is essential when starting any small business. Doing so allows you to forecast (and match) revenue with expenses, providing insight into whether you have enough funds available for operational expenses, growth initiatives or investment into other projects.
Start by identifying all of your business’s income sources – sales, investments, interest on savings accounts and any other forms of income that come in – then total them up for an accurate picture of how much cash flow your company is experiencing monthly.
Once you understand your income, start to estimate costs – starting with fixed costs that remain constant month-to-month, such as rent and utilities payments, accounting services fees and professional development fees. Next come variable costs which change according to sales; such expenses might include raw materials purchases, advertising expenses, additional staff hires or travel costs.
Finally, don’t overlook one-time spends. These expenses don’t recur and could include purchasing new equipment, expanding into a new location or dealing with security breaches.
Once you’ve collected all of the data, subtract expenses from revenue to calculate a gross profit margin, then divide that figure by total expenditures to arrive at an approximate monthly expense figure. Use that number as the foundation of a realistic budget plan that incorporates any changes or events you are aware of beforehand.
3. Create a Cash Flow Projection
Cash flow projections provide a forecast of all of the cash coming in and going out from your business in coming weeks and months. To create one, you will require access to historical accounting reports from either an accountant or bookkeeping software program as well as knowing what length of time you wish to predict; most opt for monthly projections.
Once you have this information in hand, it is possible to calculate a projected cash flow by subtracting estimated expenses from estimated income. The result will be your company’s closing balance for that month – and will serve as its beginning balance when entering into your next month.
At this stage, it’s essential that you analyze past sales and profit data to better predict trends and make more accurate forecasts. Furthermore, it is wise to factor in any additional costs not already budgeted for such as marketing expenses, customer acquisition or staff salaries.
Use either a simple spreadsheet or accounting software like Agicap to organize cash flow projections. Be sure to update them on an ongoing basis so you have an accurate representation of where your finances stand; should there be discrepancies between projection and actual cash flows, take steps such as increasing advertising or decreasing staff expenses until issues have been rectified.
4. Monitor Your Cash Flow
Keep a close watch on cash flow to ensure your company can overcome any unexpected challenges, and create a business cash flow projection – this estimates how much money comes in and out over time and helps identify any cash shortfalls or surpluses in less than an hour!
Assuming your sales have increased but your accounts receivable have lagged behind, you could end up without enough cash in the bank to meet expenses later this month. A sudden dip in sales could leave no money available for payroll or loan payments. A cash flow projection can help track business performance as well as identify areas of overspending such as internet service providers, software support, copiers or janitorial services.
Smaller businesses often face greater risks of running out of cash than larger ones, since larger organizations typically possess larger cash reserves to fall back on. Therefore, it’s crucial that cash flow strategies be prioritized and regular cash forecasts be created and implemented.