Cash Flow Turned to a Trickle?

  • a trickleDo you drop what you are doing as soon as the mail comes because you are looking for checks?
  • Do you go to the bank as soon as you get paid because you need that money NOW?
  • Do you have to decide which bills you can let slide because you don’t have enough money?

If any of these things are happening to you, you are  being distracted by cash flow issues. Not having enough money is demoralizing, time consuming, and exhausting. It also has happened to every one of my clients at some time or another. Below are some short term and long term solutions for you to try.

SHORT TERM

  • Take an hour and call those who are late in paying you. If they don’t answer (people who are late in paying tend to NOT answer), leave a friendly, clear message. “I see you have an outstanding balance of $300 on our invoice #123. I’m going¬† to email you a copy of it in case you didn’t receive it. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!” Then email that invoice immediately and request payment ASAP.
  • Apply for a business credit card. This enables you to purchase the supplies necessary to keep running your business through this lean time. ***DANGER*** If you have a personal credit card which you can’t pay off and you are paying interest on, don’t take this step. Credit cards are only helpful if you know you will pay it off in full every month.
  • Call a few of the companies that you owe money to. Let them know you are experiencing some cash flow issues. Let them know what you can afford to pay and when, and then do it.

LONG TERM

  • Spend Less: You are likely buying things you don’t need (latest iPhone? pizza for the whole company every Friday?) Examine every habit and bill and eliminate those that are not critical to your success.
  • Earn More: Can you raise your prices? Over time, your supplies, labor, and overhead costs creep up. What you charged last year is not necessarily still a profitable price. Look into this periodically.

Every small business encounters cash flow issues, but they are stressful and they keep you from running your business. Do your best to keep a cushion of cash, so when the payments are slow, you can keep doing what you need to be doing.

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Let’s Get Paid!

Nobody likes to pay bills. It’s timefeminine money consuming and not nearly as fun as making money. It’s one of my clients’ favorite jobs to foist upon me; I pay a lot of bills.

I’ve noticed there are two kinds of invoices: those I can pay right away, and those that confuse me. The confusing ones get put into a pile that I need to ask my client about. They will likely not get paid for weeks. How can you keep YOUR invoices out of the confusing pile? I’m glad you asked. Please make sure your invoice contains the following:

  • your company name and address (this should go without saying, but, sadly, it does not)
  • your phone number (in case I have a question)
  • your email address (in case I have a question but I am shy)
  • the word “invoice” (the words “transaction” and “sale” do not stimulate the pay gland in us bean counters)
  • an invoice number (I want to know whether I have paid this thing before, and a unique number is the best way to ease my worried mind)
  • a clear description (what am I paying for?)

Once you have made sure your invoice contains all of this information, then you have to be sure it is received. Emailing an invoice is fast and cheap; give it a shot. But there are people out there who will not take the time to print it and make sure it gets paid. Pay attention to which customers pay late and see if they do better with a real life paper invoice delivered by their friendly mailman.

Cash flow is a huge issue for most small businesses. You need your cash to flow in with the minimum amount of effort on your part. Take a few minutes right now and make sure your invoice is doing the job it needs to be doing.

photo credit: dlxlxry via photopin cc