Anyone who has been in business understands one undeniable truth. If there is no money in the bank, you are in deep trouble. I am not talking about the trouble you get into if you forget your partner’s birthday. No, no, no. This is worse than that.
This is BIG trouble. Huge. Anyone who has been down this track will tell you, no money in the bank means your business is going down the gurgler and fast. When I say gurgler, I mean going out the back door sideways. Liquidation. Not a pleasant word.
Can anything be done? Well, yes. If you take care to follow the points below early enough you just might be able to steer a course towards success and prosperity.
I say might because I do not know your personal circumstances and whether your business has already gone to far for saving.
If you don’t follow these points you might wake up one day and realise you do not have a business.
If you follow the 9 points below and get professional advice you can hopefully sidestep the bad news and go on to bigger and better things.
Hopefully you never experience the sinking feeling one gets when you look at the bank account and realise there is no money left.
So if you find yourself running out of money take immediate action and consider the following;
1. Where is my money – Cash Flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of the business and as such a number of business inputs and outputs will affect this.
2. Who owes me what – Debtors Collection
Try and keep debtors to less than 45 days if at all possible. Your business should not be the bank for everyone else.
Now is the time to get on to those hard to collect debts. After all, it’s your money. You have a valid reason for making the call. The only difference is that your money is in someone else’s bank account. Not good. Go and collect it.
Don’t be put off by excuses such as the boss is not here to authorise it, or the accountant is away. Keep asking when the money will be transferred to your bank account. Don’t hang up until you have a date locked in. Oh, and don’t forget to be nice about it. Keep it conversational, but stay on track. You don’t want them refusing to take your calls in the future. That is not good. Anyway, they are probably a good customer. It would be good to keep them.
If the money does not appear in your bank account on the promised date, ring them again. Let them know they promised to put the money into your account.
3. Who do I owe money to- Creditors
A lot of the amounts owing will be to your suppliers. You don’t want to upset them. So, if you are having trouble paying them, talk to your bank about a temporary increase in the overdraft for say 3 to 6 months. Also talk to your largest creditor/supplier and see if they can extend trading terms for you to get over this period. No one wants to loose a good customer. If you do it nicely you could end up having a great customer/supplier relationship for a long time.
4. Who has leant me money – Bank/Financier
Arrange to meet with your Bank as soon as possible. Ask your Accountant to prepare an updated P&L with budget comparatives and a 13 week rolling Cash flow forecast. It is a good idea to also have your business plan ready as well.
Keep the bank informed about your progress because you can bet head office will be keeping a close eye on things.
Remember, your banker is your friend. This is really important. Keep in regular contact with you banking advisor and shout him or her a coffee every now and then. You will be amazed what a friendly banker can do for you if they have confidence in you and your abilities to manage the business.
5. Leasing/Hire Purchase commitments – If you have a Finance Broker meet with them and provide similar information as for the Bank above. If you are behind in your monthly repayments you really need to let them know that you are on top of things. You can bet their credit people will know and when they ring your broker he can tell them the things that have been put in place to manage your account. Once again, the broker does not want to loose a customer and should be treated as a good friend.
6. The difference between a good business and one not so good is your Staff
Some of your staff will be on the ball and have picked up something is not quite right. It is up to you whether you tell them or not but make sure the good staff don’t leave because they are worried about the future of their job.
7. Lock up the Cheque book – Managing Costs
Do a review of all your business costs and see if there are any items that can be deferred or cut altogether. Staffing is usually one of your biggest expenses. It may be appropriate to ask staff to take some more holidays while you get things sorted or perhaps to reduce the number of days worked for a few weeks. You will need to be careful here, as staff will not want to feel they are being taken advantage of.
8. What am I selling – Inventory
If you are holding inventory and have some stock that has been around for a while, consider discounting to clear. Alternatively, work with your sales team to make an effort to clear this stock. Clearing out of date or old and dead stock is one way of generating some quick cash.
If your BAS and superannuation payments are not up to date it may be a good idea to talk to your accountant. You don’t want the ATO breathing down your neck.
While business isn’t always easy, one thing is for sure: if you can put the above into practice you will grow in confidence and stature to a level previously unattainable. The above is a summary of just some things to be considered when your business is experiencing cash flow difficulties. Start now, don’t delay.
It is up to you to consider your personal requirements and seek professional advice suitable to your particular circumstances. The hardest part always is picking up the phone, so don’t delay.
David Cotton is a Turnaround specialist and Chartered Accountant. He can be contacted on 0424 025 209 for a confidential no obligation conversation.