Do you want to do everything you possibly can to ensure the survival and growth of your company? Of course you do. Well, one of the most essential skills that you can bring to your company is understanding, tracking, and using certain numbers.
This numeracy — thinking in numbers — is a vital skill.
In my experience, far too many people feel that they aren’t good at maths, or didn’t take accounting, or whatever. Using this as an excuse, they hire someone else to watch the numbers for them. This is two mistakes in one. First, they’re selling themselves short. Anybody can work with numbers, and the kind of number-tracking I’m talking about requires no advanced mathematical training or professional degree. Second, there’s no substitute for you in this process. Nobody else out there is as motivated as you are to get the numbers working on behalf of your business.
Yes, your accountant can prepare your profit and loss (P&L) statements, tax returns, and balance sheet and offer certain kinds of advice based on rules-of-thumb and industry norms. But you simply can’t count on quarterly meetings with your accountant. In order to run your company properly, you need to get access to certain numbers quickly, and use those numbers effectively.
Know Your Numbers
Here are the numbers you should have at your fingertips:
- A snapshot of the company
- Cash flow statements that are regularly updated
- Cost analysis of your product(s)
- Break-even analyses, both for the company overall and for each new product
Here I will only discuss the snapshot of the company. My goal is to get you comfortable with these numbers — by which I don’t simply mean that you’ll be able to generate them, but that you’ll understand them and be able to adapt and use them effectively. In general, my prescription is, “Know and love these numbers!” Note, I am not saying you have to prepare the snapshot yourself. You can have your accountant or bookkeeper prepare them for you and if your company grows to the point that you can afford a chief financial officer, then they will take responsibility for preparing the numbers.
I call the chart shown below the Company Snapshot because I want to convey the idea that it’s quick to read and absorb. I’ve done it weekly because that’s been the interval that’s proven most helpful to me in my businesses. The snapshot is meant to be simple. It’s meant to be easy to prepare — your secretary or bookkeeper should be able to do it — and able to be digested by you in no more than five minutes. Depending on the specifics of your business, you may want to add or subtract categories from the snapshot provided.
The point of this report is to get the quickest possible handle on key aspects of your company’s operation, such as:
- Do I have enough cash to pay my bills? (You may notice that you’re cash challenged because your fixed monthly expenses seem to be too high. This should trigger you to start thinking about cutting some expenses or converting some to variable expenses.)
- Are my receivables running too high? (If so, is it because payments are running late? Or is it because my credit-checking system has fallen apart, and we’re selling more to non-creditworthy customers?)
- Do I have enough inventory to handle future demand? (A caveat: This report can’t tell you if you have the inventory in the right categories; only a detailed inventory report can tell you that.)
- Have we overcommitted ourselves in terms of inventory? (Most companies hit this stumbling block sooner or later. If your inventory figure is too high, it’s a signal that you need to get the kind of detailed report that would let you take the right immediate action — such as canceling existing product orders, heading off the placement of future orders, putting certain items on sale, or closing out certain items.)
- » Are my sales on target with projections? If not, why and what corrective actions need to be initiated?
You must always keep an eye on your numbers. This snapshot is meant to help you do so in a minimum amount of time. It will help you prevent crises by spotting them before they materialise. Most business failures are attributed to running out of cash. Let’s avoid that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Digitisation is transforming business functions across the board. Technologies, like cloud software can take care of laborious administrative work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please speak to one of our consultants or call 0860 111 123 or visit your nearest branch.
Absa Business Banking
Do better business. Prosper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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