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Cash Flow

Manage Cash Flow

Use these four steps to keep track of the money coming in and going out of your growing company.

Entrepreneur

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Cash is king when it comes to the financial management of a growing company. The lag between the time you have to pay your suppliers and employees and the time you collect from your customers is the problem, and the solution is cash flow management. At its simplest, cash flow management means delaying outlays of cash as long as possible while encouraging anyone who owes you money to pay it as rapidly as possible.

Measuring cash flow

Prepare cash flow projections for next year, next quarter and, if you’re on shaky ground, next week. Accurate cash flow projections alert you to trouble before it strikes.

Understand that cash flow plans are not glimpses into the future. They’re educated guesses that balance a number of factors, including your customers’ payment histories, your own thoroughness at identifying upcoming expenditures, and your vendors’ patience. Don’t assume that receivables will continue coming in at the same rate, that payables can be extended as far as they have in the past, that you have included expenses such as capital improvements, loan interest and principal payments, and that you have accounted for seasonal sales fluctuations.

Start your cash flow projection by adding cash on hand at the beginning of the period with other cash to be received from various sources. In the process, you will gather information from sales people, service representatives, collections, credit workers and your finance department. Always ask: How much cash in the form of customer payments, interest earnings, service fees, partial
collections of bad debts, and other sources are we going to get in, and when?

The second part of making accurate cash flow projections is detailed knowledge of amounts and dates of upcoming cash outlays. That means not only knowing when each rand will be spent, but on what. Have a line item on your projection for every significant outlay, including rent, inventory (when purchased for cash), salaries and wages, sales and other taxes withheld or payable, benefits paid, equipment purchased for cash, professional fees, utilities, office supplies, debt payments, advertising, vehicle and equipment maintenance and fuel, and cash dividends.

And, as difficult as it is to prepare projections, it’s one of the most important things you can do. Projections rank next to business plans and mission statements among things a business must do to plan for the future.

Improving receivables

If you got paid for sales the instant you made them, you would never have a cash flow problem. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen, but you can still improve your cash flow by managing your receivables. The basic idea is to improve the speed with which you turn materials and supplies into products, inventory into receivables, and receivables into cash. Here are specific techniques for doing this:

  • Offer discounts to customers who pay their bills rapidly.
  • Ask customers to make deposit payments at the time orders are taken.
  • Do credit checks on new non-cash customers.
  • Get rid of old, outdated inventory for whatever you can get.
  • Issue invoices promptly and follow up immediately if payments are slow in coming.
  • Track accounts receivable to identify and avoid slow-paying customers. A policy of cash on delivery is better than not doing business with slow-paying customers.

Managing payables

Top-line sales growth can conceal a lot of problems. When you are managing a growing company, you have to watch expenses carefully. Don’t be lulled into complacency by simply expanding sales. Any time or place you see expenses growing faster than sales, examine costs carefully and cut or control them. Here are some more tips for using cash wisely:

  • Take full advantage of creditor payment terms. If a payment is due in 30 days, don’t pay it in 15 days.
  • Use electronic funds transfer to make payments on the last day they are due. You will remain current with suppliers while retaining use of your funds as long as possible.
  • Communicate with your suppliers so they know your financial situation. If you ever need to delay a payment, you’ll need their trust and understanding.
  • Carefully consider vendors’ offers of discounts for earlier payments. These can amount to expensive loans to your suppliers, or provide you with a chance to reduce overall costs. The devil is in the details.
  • Don’t always focus on the lowest price when choosing suppliers. More flexible payment terms may improve your cash flow more than a bargain-basement price.

Surviving shortfalls

Sooner or later, you will foresee or find yourself in a situation where you lack the cash to pay your bills. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a business person — you’re a normal entrepreneur who can’t perfectly predict the future. And there are normal, everyday business practices that can help you manage the shortfall. The key is to become aware of the problem early and as accurately as possible. Banks are wary of borrowers who have to have money today. They’d much prefer lending to you before you need it, preferably months before. When the reason you are caught short is that you failed to plan, a banker is not going to be very interested in helping you out.

If you assume from the beginning that you will someday be short of cash, you can arrange for a line of credit at your bank. This allows you to borrow money up to a pre-set limit any time you need it. Since it’s far easier to borrow when you don’t need it, arranging a credit line before you are short is vital.

If bankers won’t help, turn next to your suppliers. These people are more interested in keeping you going than a banker, and they probably know more about your business. You can often get extended terms from suppliers that amount to a hefty, low-cost loan just by asking. That’s especially true if you’ve been a good customer in the past and kept them informed about your financial situation.

Consider using factors. These are financial service businesses that can pay you today for receivables you may not otherwise be able to collect for weeks or months. You’ll receive less than you would otherwise, since factors demand a discount, but you’ll eliminate the hassle of collecting and be able to fund current operations without borrowing.

Ask your best customers to accelerate payments. Explain the situation and, if necessary, offer a discount of a percentage point or two off the bill. You should also go after your worst customers — those whose invoices are more than 90 days past due. Offer them a steeper discount if they pay today.

You may be able to raise cash by selling and leasing back assets such as machinery, equipment, computers, phone systems and even office furniture. Leasing companies may be willing to perform the transactions. It’s not cheap, however, and you could lose your assets if you miss lease payments.

Choose the bills you’ll pay carefully. Don’t just pay the smallest ones and let the rest slide. Make payroll first — unpaid employees will soon be ex-employees. Pay crucial suppliers next. Ask the rest if you can skip a payment or make a partial payme

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Cash Flow

How South Africa’s Small Businesses Plan To Invest Their Money In 2018

Here are their five areas they should focus their attention on in the next year and beyond.

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Despite economic uncertainty, South Africa’s small businesses are positive about the future. In fact, our State of South African Small Business report reveals that 40% of small businesses are expecting to grow. However, to achieve growth without overextending their limited resources, small businesses need to invest wisely.

Here are their five areas they should focus their attention on in the next year and beyond.

Marketing

When times are tight, companies typically reduce their marketing spend. This isn’t the case for 36% of South Africa’s small businesses. These respondents recognise marketing as a critical investment area.

They’d rather make a concerted effort to grow their customer base, than sit still and do nothing as consumer demand declines.

Related: What To Consider When Investing Your (Hard-Earned) Money

Technology

Without access to the latest technology, business growth can quickly stagnate. This is why 23% of South Africa’s small businesses plan to invest in up to date equipment, whether that be new machinery, mobile devices or computers.

The right investment in this area can give a business a real competitive advantage.

It can help boost profits and improve operational efficiency – both of which can help a small business withstand difficult economic conditions with greater success.

Product development

Consumers are spoiled for choice. Their needs are constantly changing and companies can’t afford to become complacent. To keep up with market demands, 22% of small businesses plan to invest in product development. Barring a few timeless classics, most products need a regular review and tweak to stay relevant and popular.

Technology

technology-south-africa

Digitisation is transforming business functions across the board. Technologies, like cloud software can take care of laborious administrative work.

Related: How To Make Money Investing, According To Ashton Kutcher

This liberates employees from time-consuming tasks, enabling them to focus on more strategic work like customer retention and acquisition.

Technology has the power to improve productivity and efficiency. Which is why 18% of small businesses are going to focus their investment plans on this area of their businesses.

Customer service

The customer should always be the priority. It doesn’t matter how good a product is, if there are no customers, then there’s no business. As competition increases, the user experience becomes more and more important to win over customers.

Business growth depends on happy customers and to achieve that, 18% of small businesses plan to invest in delivering better service.

All five of the above business areas are worthy investment focuses. The question is, how does a small business work out what to invest where? The only way it can invest effectively is with a full view of its company finances. A small business needs to be able to see which functions have provided the best return on investment to date.

Related: 12 Millionaire Habits To Start Making Serious Money Soon And Build Wealth In A Hurry

It also needs to consider how much investment capital it has to spend. What’s more, before it makes an investment in say, marketing or product development, it must know exactly how and where the money needs to go.

The right software can help a small business access the real-time insights it needs to make better, faster financial decisions. To combat increased competition and market uncertainty, South Africa’s small business owners need access to up-to-the minute information from any device no matter where they are. An informed investment has the greatest chance of success.

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Cash Flow

The Simple Way To Pay Wages When Your Staff Don’t Have Bank Accounts

If you have employed casual workers over the busy season, you can pay wages even if they do not have bank accounts.

Absa

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At Absa Business Banking, the things that are important to you are just as important to us. We understand your business needs, which is why we have developed tailored solutions to help you where it counts. Take CashSend Plus, for example. It is a payment solution that enables you to pay workers even if they do not have bank accounts.

Related: Hiring Your First Employee? 5 Things You Need To Know

It is safe and secure

Your employee will receive a six-digit access code and a ten-digit reference number, so that they can verify the transaction. The money is instantly available at an Absa ATM.

You can even pay yourself

We have all lost bank cards or wallets at some point in our lives. What an inconvenience. Well, it is good to know then that you can access cash by sending it to yourself. Now, that is what we call better. 

Related: How Salary Transparency Empowers Employees – And When Not To Use It

Interested?

Please speak to one of our consultants or call 0860 111 123 or visit your nearest branch.

Absa Business Banking 

Do better business. Prosper.

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Cash Flow

Strategies To Help You Stay Out Of The Red With Cash Flow

Cash flow management is always essential, but in a recessionary environment it’s even more crucial to the overall health of an organisation. Here’s how you can keep your business growing and out of the red.

Pieter Scholtz

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In every adversity there is an upside. This saying is particularly valid when it comes to managing your cashflow in a recession. As we all know, cashflow is the lifeblood of any business. Banks are implementing stricter lending criteria and this places greater strain on your business as the availability of cash becomes limited.

For savvy entrepreneurs there are a number of strategies that one can apply to ensure that you have the required cash to continue funding your business operations.

Conduct a rigorous overview of your costs

This is a particularly good time to review all your costs in your business and truly question each expense. Often this exercise reveals unnecessary costs that do not impact the effective operation of the business. Set yourself and your team a target to be able to reduce costs by 10% and then review these costs with each department.

A really good example to follow are costs that once trimmed have a ripple effect of cost reduction in other areas of the business. Scaling down on office rental has the advantage of reducing your utility bill, insurance and possibly also your telecommunications bill.

Related: Cash Flow Tips For Small Businesses To Survive Rocky Times

Managing your Debtors Book

If you are not already doing it, you should be reviewing your debtors book at least weekly, dependent upon the type of business you are running. Keep regular contact with all your customers, particularly those outside of their credit terms.

Chase payments from these customers regularly but fairly and ensure that you apply your own debtors policy and procedure.

If you find this difficult to do, appoint a third party to manage your debtors book for you but do not lose touch with your customers.

Invoicing

Ensure that you are invoicing your customers at the completion of ‘project’ and do not delay invoicing for a particular day in the month. This ensures that your customers are required to pay you timeously for the work done, for example within seven days of invoicing.

Review your Supplier credit terms

This is an important process to go through but recognise that your suppliers will be managing their cashflow as well. If you are a regular supplier and have a good payment history, they will be more willing to discuss an extension of payment terms with you.

It’s very important that you discuss any ‘broken agreements’ with them as soon as you are aware of them. If new payment terms are agreed, ensure that you can manage them.

Related: Funding Solutions That Support Business Cash Flow

Cash Flow Cycle

This is an ideal time to review your cash flow cycle to determine the length of time it takes from receiving an order to invoicing and receiving the cash in your bank account. Identify each step in the process and determine whether there are ways to shorten the cycle.

Bank Finance

It’s always good advice to keep communication with your bank open but this is even more important in a recessionary environment. Should you require additional financing from your bank to be able to fund short-term shortfalls, ensure that you have a good business plan to support your application, as this will give the bank the comfort that you are ‘on top’ of your game, particularly where your cashflow plan is concerned. While bank finance should be your source of last resort, do not leave it until the last minute.

Following these strategies will largely negate the negative consequences that a shortfall of cash may have on your business.

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