If there’s one thing that Entrepreneurs and SME owners understand, it’s that good cash flow finance is the lifeblood of any business. A healthy cash flow will help a business to thrive and develop, while poor or irregular cash flow can cause it to stagnate or even fail.
Despite this seemingly obvious fact, cash flow issues are frequently neglected until it’s too late to recover. So what can a business do to manage its cash flow effectively? Here are some top tips.
1. Collect receivables instantly
Check the financial health of a new customer before offering them credit. Don’t offer overly generous discounts, and charge a “late fee” to customers who don’t pay on time.
2. Manage your cash
Although you should encourage your customers to pay as early as possible, your own outgoings should be managed carefully. Many people believe in staying ahead of bills and paying them as early as possible, but that’s just poor cash management. Be aware of any late fees you may be in danger of accruing, and schedule your payments to keep your cash flow balanced, as opposed to trying to pay all of your expenses at once. Make sure your employee payday is at a time of the month when you’re least likely to find yourself slipping into the red.
3. Ensure sales continuity
If you offer a regular product or service, consider offering a contract whereby customers can pay upfront to receive it for a fixed period of time. You may be familiar with this technique as it is frequently used in magazine subscriptions. A reader can often subscribe for, say, 24 issues of a weekly magazine for the price of 18, so long as they pay in advance. It’s easy to adapt this structure to almost any kind of regular service or subscription-based product, and helps to promote customer loyalty.
4. Consider using an invoice finance provider.
Invoice Finance is a method of controlling your finance by getting a cash injection when you need it, without resorting to a bank loan. Invoice factoring is a form of cash flow finance that allows you to use your customer invoices as collateral in return for ready cash, in some cases up to as much as 90% of the value of your outstanding invoices. The invoice finance company will then chase up the client payments on your behalf, leaving you with the funds you need, when you need them, and time to focus on other important areas of running and developing your business. Once the invoices have been paid, the finance provider will release the remaining invoice return minus their fees.
When using invoice finance, it’s important to select a factoring company that is well reputable and well-regarded in the industry. Make sure you check out any company you approach thoroughly, and make sure they have the appropriate accreditation. They should also be able to increase your funding as your business grows and develops.