Managing your cash flow is something that we need to do in our small business during every season. However, with the current challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, it is even more important to do TODAY.
We’re looking at 10 ways that you can manage your cash flow right now, from both the Cash In and Cash Out side of your business. During “normal” times, maybe working on one or two of these would be enough. Right now, I’m recommending that you consider as many of these as you can. And revisit them as often as you need to in the coming weeks and months. Things are changing so quickly, but you can still make changes that will make you more likely to come out of this ready to thrive again.
This information is also available on YouTube here.
Let’s start with six ideas for the CASH IN side of your business. Consider which of these you can use to keep bringing money in.
- Add New Payment Methods
The best thing you can do right now is make it easy for your customers to pay you. Maybe the 2%-3% charge to accept credit cards didn’t make sense for your business model last month, but now people are looking for ways to pay that don’t require any contact. You can turn that option on with a simple click in QuickBooks or other digital payments options (i.e. Paypal, Square, etc.). If you have an e-commerce shop, it may be time to turn on additional payment methods that give your customers more options and flexibility to pay you.
You can review several payment methods in this blog to explore some other options.
- Accelerate Invoices with New Terms
Right now, you don’t want your accounts receivable sitting out there very long. What if your customer has cash flow issues, and your invoice is the one they choose not to pay? You’re a small business. You NEED to get paid for the work you’ve done.
If you send invoices, I want you to consider speeding up Accounts Receivable. We recommend considering 2/10 Net 30 terms. This is a payment term that is available in QuickBooks and gives your customer a 2% discount if they pay within 10 days. Some large businesses are required to take advantage of this discount, meaning you would be one of the first invoices paid. Make sure you note this new option to customers/clients when you send over the invoice.
- Pivot To Your Customer’s Demand
This is one of the biggest business challenges we have right now. You need to be thinking about what you have that you can offer in a way that will work for your customers. Many of you have already done this. Can you turn your live training sessions into webinars? What can you offer curbside pickup or delivery if you’re a brick and mortar store? Can you package your products/services in a new and helpful way for what people need right now?
One of the best things about being a small business is that we are nimble. We CAN shift tomorrow if we want to! Be creative and think about what your customers need and want right now.
- Collect on Any Accounts Receivable
I hope you’ve already thought of this one, but it can be so easy to assume that you’ve already been paid. Make sure that you’ve reviewed your current Accounts Receivable and make sure that you’ve collected. Do it now! The longer you wait to collect on those accounts receivable, the less likely you are to receive it. You’ve already done that work, go get paid for it.
- Optimize Any Available Sales Channels
If you have different sales channels (i.e. different ways to sell and distribute to customers), make sure that you are focusing on the ones that are allowing you to get products out to your customers and clients. Maybe you were already planning to improve your e-commerce this year. Now is a perfect time to focus that energy into revamping and improving your e-commerce presence. It might also be an opportunity to collaborate with other brands with similar customer bases and gain additional exposure that you didn’t have before this crisis.
- Consider One of the Federally Available Loans
I don’t normally encourage business owners to take on debt, and I want you to maintain that caution. However, in these circumstances, the EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) or PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) may be what your business needs to get back on its feet. I’m encouraging many of my clients to consider these programs.
My caution is that you should not use these as a crutch if your business was struggling before these circumstances. What I don’t want is for you to take out a lot of debt, and then three years down the road realize that the business model was not working. If you need to do this evaluation, I have a blog post to help with that.
However, if you just need this loan to get through this circumstance and keep your good employees, then definitely talk to me or your financial adviser to figure out what you need.
I collaborated with a colleague to look at these options, and you can view that on YouTube or Facebook. Note that details were changing quickly when these came out, so do verify the current information with your bank or the SBA.
Next, you need to consider the CASH OUT in your business. What can you do in these four areas?
- Review All Expenses and Cut
Pull your Profit and Loss report in detail for the past 12-18 months. Then look at what expenses you can cut. You may be able to cut entire rows off your P&L, while other expenses may be able to be reduced temporarily by pausing a service. Make sure you are reviewing any subscription fees and software as these creep up easily and sneakily over time. Check the number of users and the level of service to make sure you are only paying for what you need to survive right now. Those little details can add up and improve your cash flow.
If you are a brick and mortar, consider talking with your utilities or landlord to see if payments can be reduced or pushed out. Some software companies are allowing subscriptions to be paused so they can be resumed again when needed. Find anything that you can cut out right now.
- Negotiate With Lenders
If you have any loans, call up your lender and see what they can do for you. What do they have in place to respond to this crisis? Maybe you can pay the interest only for a little while, or push back payments altogether. If your revenue has taken a steep decline, then you should consider anything you can to conserve cash right now. This won’t be permanent, but it can help in this moment.
- Review Staffing Levels
This is the hardest one! Your employees are everything to your business. Especially if you have those employees that are critical to your operations, do everything you can to keep them. What happens if you let them go and they find another job? You might not be able to get them back.
This is another opportunity to get creative. What else could you have them do? Do they have skills that can be used in a pivot? Some employees will stay with reduced hours. Another option could be a small decrease in paychecks across the board to be able to keep as many employees as possible.
Also consider the PPP program. Be aware of the requirements for the loan forgiveness, and use this if you are able to keep your staffing levels up to meet the requirements.
- Reduce Personal Expenses
As small business owners, our personal expenses typically directly impact how much money you need your business to make. The best thing you can do for your business right now, is to need your business less. If you can lower your owner’s draw or even your own payroll, it will help the business recover faster. That may not be realistic for all business owners, but it is something to consider as Owner’s Draws/Distributions are the #1 thing forgotten about in cash flow planning.
Hopefully you can apply some of these strategies right away. If you want to talk about what you can apply to your business, we have financial clarity sessions available to speak with you about your current cash flow challenges.
Disclaimer: This blog and the linked videos are intended for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal or tax advice. You should consult with your financial professionals about your unique financial situation before acting on anything discussed in these videos. Clara CFO Group, LLC is providing educational content to help small business owners become more aware of certain issues and topics, but we cannot give blanket advice to a broad audience.