Managing small business finances begins with a focus on “cash flow, cash flow, cash flow,” or “cash, cash, cash.” Cash flow management is essential at any time of year, but this is especially difficult during the holiday season.
There is always a lag between the money spent and the money received in any business. So, for example, having to order holiday merchandise in August and September and not receiving payment until December only exacerbates this problem. This year, it’s more difficult to predict when and what customers will buy because of supply chain issues.
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A cash-flow problem can arise at the end of a year, even for those in the professional service industry. If your company experiences an uptick in business during the fourth quarter, expect additional staffing and expense costs. However, you may not be paid until January.
Which actions can you take to boost your year-end cash flow? Money rolling in and going out can be increased and decreased with two important steps. First, you’ll be able to better respond to this year’s unpredictable holiday conditions if you have more money in your bank account.
Increasing the Amount of Money That Is Coming In
Encourage “pre-sales” by promoting them.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your hotel room is paid for months in advance? Paying your staff’s time by November 1 for services in late December at your salon is a good idea, right? If you want customers to buy, book, and pay early, you’ll need to find ways to do so. For example, spend $80 for $100 worth of goods or services if paid before November 15 for pre-paid services or products, such as a discount of 20%. Your profits may be smaller, but you’ll have access to funds more quickly.
Provide specials for the beginning of the season
Why wait until Black Friday or Small Business Saturday to begin offering discounts? Offer discounts and host special events prior to the peak of the holiday shopping season. It is easier to turn over merchandise, reduce stress during busy periods, and improve cash flow if you can persuade customers to buy early.
Gift cards and gift certificates should be pushed more.
Don’t wait if you haven’t started selling gift cards or gift certificates. Gift cards, after all, are essentially pre-sales. Even before a customer makes a purchase, you’ve already received the money. A gift certificate isn’t just for things like beauty salons or spa treatments. Even a business could give away a gift certificate. A gift certificate for a will-writing session may seem odd, but your law firm may be able to help.
Reducing or removing the need for billing
Assuming you bill your clients for goods or services, you may not see the money for 30 or 60 days. Business services and construction both use billing, but doing so locks up your cash flow. So instead, ask for a deposit or demand payment upon delivery instead. You’ll get your money more quickly, and less paperwork will be involved.
Pay with a credit card.
Your customers will pay you right away, and you’ll be able to get the money into your bank account quickly—often the same day. Paying a small fee for this service means you don’t have to worry about checks that bounce or invoices that don’t get paid, so it’s well worth it. Merchant accounts with services like Square or Quickbooks GoPayment can be easily obtained if you don’t currently accept credit cards.
Reduce Your Spending Going out
Make a thoughtful purchase.
What do you need this season for your retail or e-commerce store, supplies and staff for your service business, or vehicles for your catering company? Analyze previous sales figures, conduct background research, and make sales projections. Take a safe stance.
Secondly, try to work out payment terms.
Request an extension of your payment terms with your vendor, preferably to Net 60 or Net 90. Alternatively, if you have a large bill, you can ask for instalments. In any case, if you’ve been a loyal customer in the past, it never hurts to inquire.
Use a credit card to make a purchase
As a result, you’ll have more money in your bank account to spend over the holidays. Choose vendors who accept credit card payments or inquire about this option if you’re unsure.
Open a credit card account.
A line of credit from your bank is similar to credit card but at a much lower interest rate than a credit card. If your credit is satisfactory and you have a good working relationship with your bank, you should ask for a credit line as soon as possible.
Order fulfilment by a third-party vendor can be arranged in this manner:
Why bother stocking up on inventory if you’re running an e-commerce business? Instead, try to find vendors who ship products once the order has been placed by searching the internet. You don’t keep much inventory, and you get paid in cash before spending it. Vendors may charge more for the product and the fulfilment service, so your profit margin will be smaller, but you’ll be tying up far less money and reducing risk.