Small business owners and successful entrepreneurs know that maintaining a positive cash flow can make or break a company.
According to a recent survey conducted by Visa, cash flow is the key concern for new entrepreneurs starting a business, or existing small business owners trying to stay in business.
Having enough money to manage a business is the key to success in business, and having a negative cash flows is one of the reasons why startups fail.
Here are 5 ways to improve your company’s future cash flow:
#1: Ensure Invoices are Error-Free
Errors on an invoice can have a dramatic impact on a company’s cash flow statement. Not only do invoice errors delay the payment process, but errors can also inflate or deflate the company’s financial picture. Invoice errors can also have a long term impact on an organization by reducing customer confidence, and ultimately impacting future sales. There are a number of ways to eliminate invoice errors including; using a order management or invoicing software (Quickbooks, PayPal, Freshbooks).
#2: Use Electronic Payment Systems as a Payment Method
By offering electronic payment as a payment method (Visa, Mastercard, Paypal), small business owners can:
- drastically improve the collection time
- provide immediate availability of funds
- lower collection costs, and
- minimize collection risks.
Giving customers the option to make electronic payments for goods or services, can give small business owners peace of mind; allowing more time to focus their efforts on sales rather than collections.
#3: Integrate Online Invoices with the Company’s Accounting System
Online invoices benefit the environment, but they can also save time, costs, and improve a company’s cash flow. Using an online invoicing system (Freshbooks, InvoiceCloud,. Quickbooks, PayPal) can save time because the invoices are submitted instantly. The costs of processing, printing and mailing can be eliminated with submitting an online invoice; and anyone in the company can send the invoice to a customer.
#4: Receive an Advance Payment
Asking for a partial payment upfront can ensure that a customer is committed to the purchase, but also can inject cash into the company. Most small business owners will ask for 5 – 10% down payment, but why not ask for 20 – 30% down payment? It’s surprising that most sales negotiations are focused merely on the final price, and not on the down payment.
#5: Offer a Payment Discount for Early Payers
By offering a payment discount or encouraging early payment of invoices, 1% – 5% if invoices are paid within 15 days, small business owners can receive payment faster and eliminate any payment risks. Other the other hand, offering such a payment discount may encourage customers to ask for additional discounts in addition to extended payment terms. It is important to always assess the situation before providing additional payment discounts. Providing a payment discount should only be used as a last resort, particularly if a company has a cash flow issue, since offering discounts has a direct effect on the bottom line.