Business owners and management professionals alike know the importance of maintaining positive cash-flow. It serves as the bloodline of a company, no matter its size, or, even its asset position. In fact, some businesses learn the hard lesson that too much tied-up in assets is a liability. Having to sell such leverage just to meet obligations isn’t exactly a sign of good management. Another irony is found in two of the biggest reasons business fail: too little business, or, too much business.
It is certainly strange the latter exists, but it’s nonetheless a reality. In fact, a proprietary study conducted by U.S. Bank provides proof — 82 percent of business failures result directly from poor cash management. Even though these entities earn more than enough business to keep their doors open — a lack of proper management is far too destructive.
Reasons Why Your Business Stays Cash Poor
The fundamentals of cash flow aren’t complicated to understand, but rather, to execute. The movement of funds in and out of a company is what constitutes cash flow — it can be positive or negative. When money is left over after all expenses are paid, that is positive cash flow. Conversely, when outflow exceeds inflow, it constitutes negative cash flow — often a death knell of businesses experiencing the same.
Cash flow is one of the most critical components of success for a small or mid-sized business. Without cash, profits are meaningless. Many a profitable business on paper has ended up in bankruptcy because the amount of cash coming in doesn’t compare with the amount of cash going out. Firms that don’t exercise good cash management may not be able to make the investments needed to compete, or they may have to pay more to borrow money to function. —Inc.com
Many businesses struggle with keeping expenses in-check, and, that’s normal. It’s due to the dynamic ebb-and-flow of a free system in which goods and materials costs can rise or fall as market conditions fluctuate. However, when cash flow is continually poorly managed, it manifests itself in a number of ways. Here are some of the most common reasons why your business stays cash poor:
- There’s too much tied-up in inventory and materials. Glance back to the first paragraph and this demonstrates a trap into which some businesses fall. That is, acquiring assets of value which must be liquidated to meet an obligation. The entire point of acquiring business assets is to retain same, not to liquidate, especially for day-to-day operating expenses.
- You’re not constantly examining business-to-business expenses. One of the most common bits of consumer advice circulated is going over every one of your monthly bills, one line at a time. The reason, of course, is to be vigilant and discover any unauthorized charges, or, find slight up-charges in normal line items. Businesses ought to do the same because it’s easy to let recurring, monthly bills be paid on autopilot without any real scrutiny.
- Accounts receivables stay sparsely busy. This is perhaps one of the most unpleasant aspects of doing business — collecting money owed. For some companies, it’s left to a single person or small team. For many others, it’s the responsibility of the owner. Every dollar that’s in the receivables column is one that isn’t working for your business.
- There’s poor cash-flow forecasting. What the probable future looks like is very important. While you probably won’t be able to forecast to the penny (even a lot more), it’s worthwhile to have a glimpse into the future, especially when cash-flow is anemic.
- Growth is reducing cash-flow. Here again we see irony. When a business is growing, it surely must have positive cash flow — right? Not necessarily. There are a number of tricks a company can use to ostensibly grow. Even in a healthy environment, growth can still be a drain on cash, and slowing growth can actually improve cash flow assuming your margins and overhead are in ling.
Another dynamic which can wreak havoc on a business is out of sync credit accounts. When vendors expect to be paid but accounts receivables aren’t set to accept payments before those dates, it necessarily reduces a business’ cash position. Obviously, not paying vendors on-time is something to be avoided because it can cost your company in terms of creditworthiness and reputation.
You might be the heart beat of your business, but cash flow is the “life blood”.