Wednesday 1st Jul 2020
Cash flow is one of the biggest financial challenges that any small business will face. Without readily available cash, it can be really hard to push on and grow the enterprise, and in severe cases, it can even threaten the viability of the business. This happens when cash flow is so poor that there are few funds available for things like payroll, rent, and other essential monthly commitments. But what are the biggest problems with cash flow for small businesses? What exactly causes this lack of liquidity? Let’s take a look at four of the biggest drivers.
It’s worse for some industries than others, but any business owner or accounts officer will know just how expensive it can be to keep a modern firm going. It’s these (often monthly) expenses that are what really eats into cash. Any business that’s finding that too much cash is leaving the accounts every month might look to making some cuts, or looking for alternative and cheaper suppliers. Never do anything that might impact profit however, as this could ultimately make matters worse.
Unpaid invoices are perhaps the biggest contributor to problems with cash flow, and they can affect businesses of any size. At any time here in the UK, hundreds of millions of pounds are outstanding, and this can be really harmful. Fortunately, if your biggest issue is late invoices, there are plenty of ways you can improve the situation. Tightening up on credit control, effectively tracking and chasing invoices, and being careful with terms can all help to get those invoices paid when they’re due. There are also financial products on the market, such as invoice finance, which can help remove some of the worry over late payments.
Low profit margins
A lack of profit will naturally mean less cash coming into the business. Startups can often face challenges in this regard, because their unestablished reputation can make it harder to secure lower rates for goods and services that they might then sell on. This is why it’s so important for new market entrants to be able to offer something different to competitors. If you can ensure your product stands out - whatever it may be - then you stand a better chance of being able to apply a strong profit margin that doesn’t have to directly compete with other businesses.
Lack of planning
Finally, a lack of planning can actually be much worse than you might expect. The dates that money comes in and goes out can have a surprisingly large effect on cash flow, and poor planning in this regard might mean dipping into an expensive overdraft unnecessarily. As best you can, forecast for when you expect money to arrive and leave the accounts. This will leave you better prepared, less likely to experience short-term issues, and less likely to need help with your cash flow.