Get Your Money Flowing Again
The lifeblood of every firm is its cashflow. Without cash, there would be no way to pay suppliers and staff, and business would grind to a standstill.
In this checklist I’ve compiled a lot of suggestions for getting your cash flowing again. Hopefully, one or more of these ideas will help you get your cash moving in the right direction again.
But first we’ll have to talk a bit about B/S versus P&L cashflow problems.
B/S versus P&L
A balance sheet (B/S) provides a snapshot of what a company owns (assets) and owes (liabilities). If a company doesn’t own enough cash, it may run into cashflow problems, even if the company is very rich and has a lot more assets than liabilities. This can happen even if your company is very profitable.
A Profit and Loss statement (P&L) summarizes a company’s income, expenses, and the profit or loss over a given period. A company can run into cashflow problems if it has to pay more expenses than it generates in income and therefore runs at a loss.
Before thinking through your cashflow issues, please make sure that you thoroughly understand where your cashflow problems are coming from. Different underlying causes can lead to very different effective solutions.
I have, for instance, encountered several entrepreneurs who felt that last year’s P&L summarized the viability of their businesses. They felt sad and frustrated because their last P&L showed a loss, and their business lost a lot of cash.
My first suggestion to all of them was to normalize their P&L. This can include both adjusting income for one-off sales (like selling a building, or even an entire business activity) and adjusting losses for unusual expenses (like moving to another office building, paying the costs of a major reconstruction, or any expenses that you could consider to be investments, like the one-time updating of your product).
A normalized P&L will often be a much better indicator of what’s going on in your business than the numbers you get from an accountant.
Once you know what’s going on and what kind of cashflow issues you’re running into, you can check out the following suggestions to see if there is a way to fix your cashflow issues, at least for the immediate future, until the underlying causes are taken care of.
I have not included obvious recommendations like ‘increase your sales,’ as I didn’t want to include a lot of very standard business advice in this checklist, and as that is often only possible if your business survives the next couple of months.
- Find a good financial business advisor and pay him/her to figure out the best options for you, and to negotiate more options and better rates. A great advisor may know more and better alternatives than we as entrepreneurs do ourselves.
- Make it a point to check your receivables every day, or to have your team do this. Increasing your awareness of what’s going on can help a lot in coming up with solutions.
- Call your debtors with outstanding invoices every single workday, or have your team do this.
- Hire a debt collection company to collect your money from the hard cases.
Speed Up Invoicing (B/S)
- Shorten the time between delivery and sending out the invoice. Send out invoices the same workday.
- Or send out invoices before delivering your products and services. And even better: deliver your products and services after your customer or client has paid the invoice.
- Send partial invoices when accepting a new order and send another one every time when you’ve completed a part of the project.
- Delay paying your creditors for a while.
- Renegotiate your payment terms with your suppliers.
- Do the same for credit cards and other loans, where possible.
- Check whether you can increase the limit on your current account at the bank.
- Check what finance options your bank or another bank can offer you, like business loans, current accounts, and mortgages.
- Refinance existing loans, spread out your payments, change payment schemes, arrange a certain period of no or less payments.
- Find friends, relatives, or acquaintances who want to loan you money at a higher interest rate than what they now get from their banks.
- Investigate whether Revenue Based Financing might be sensible for your business. Be sure to work with a very reputable firm.
- Sell any assets that you don’t need anymore.
- Investigate a sale and lease-back construction for your real estate, machinery, cars, and other equipment.
- Sell a percentage of your stake in your company.
- Find investors for your business on crowdfunding platforms.
Cut Costs (P&L)
- Do an 80/20 analysis and see where you can safely cut costs.
- Read through all the bookkeeping entries for every expense every week, so that you’ll be in touch with what’s going out and will be able to cut costs wherever it makes sense.
- Ask employees and freelancers to work less hours.
- Ask employees and freelancers to cut their salaries and/or rates.
- Rent out your team to other people (for instance for turn-key projects), especially if they can keep working in the same team configuration.
- Figure out other ways to offset the cost of your team from other businesses and/or projects.
Increase your Revenue (P&L)
- Sell any excess stock from your warehouse.
- Offer your best clients a special deal to quickly generate cash.
- Call your best customers/clients from the last couple of years, talk to them, and ask them how you can help them right now.
- Try to sell cheaper, more current, easier to sell products and services, with a less complex and less innovative profile, and shorter lead times.
- Think of a new product/service and find launching customers who want to pay you to develop it for them.
- Think of a new product/service and use crowdfunding to sell it.
- Sell retainers at a discount, for instance: if you buy now and pay for x number of hours for next quarter/year, you get a discount of 20%.
- Give extra bonuses to stimulate your customers to make quick decisions, especially if those bonuses are valuable for your clients, but don’t cost you a lot of money to provide them.
- Improve the quality of your offer for your existing or new clients.
- Optimize your marketing funnels by, for instance, adding urgency and scarcity to your offers.
- Figure out ways to encourage your clients to pay you before you have to finance any costs and investments that you make on their behalf.
- Slow down the growth of your business, if necessary. Fast growth often devours cash.
- Stop investing and pioneering for a while and spend any available money on keeping the existing business afloat.
Ask For Wisdom
- Brainstorm with entrepreneurs who operate in the same sector, perhaps in another geographical area. The advice from other entrepreneurs from the same sector that your business operates in may be very valuable, especially if your cashflow issues are connected to issues in the market that they run into too.
- Mastermind with entrepreneurs who work in entirely different sectors of the economy. Their suggestions can be invaluable in opening your eyes to entirely different ways of doing things.
- If you’re so inclined, pray for wisdom. The remarkable story of Jesus, Peter, and the fish with the silver coin in its mouth seems to indicate that cashflow issues can sometimes be solved in very surprising ways.