Many small businesses have become extra innovative and resourceful when it comes to cash flow. Here are some ideas to help make it through the next few weeks or months.
Rearrange your 2020 budget
There are a lot of things you may not need to spend money on this year. They can be re-appropriated to cover payroll if the revenue slows down. Here are a few obvious ones:
- Travel expenses
- Transportation expenses
- Conference fees
- Office utilities should be reduced if you are working from home
- Office supplies that you won’t need to spend on if workers are working from home
Keep in mind that certain transportation expenses and utilities may be covered under the forgiveness portion of the SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP).
Trim the fat, then go a little leaner if you have to
Some of these may not be too palatable, but they may help to save your business.
- Cut executives’ pay as much as possible during this temporary time
- Freeze hiring
- Offer early retirement
- Ask workers if they want to voluntarily reduce their hours
- Offer extra days of unpaid leave (and require a minimum if you need it to avoid layoffs)
- Cut training expenses
- Cancel dues and subscriptions
- Slash marketing costs
- Cut contractor expenses
- Cut employee benefits
- Put a hold on 401K matches, if allowed
- Cut all other unnecessary expenses
Keep in mind that decreases in payroll and employee benefits may affect the forgiveness portion of the SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP).
Get the cash flowing
Get your creative entrepreneurial juices going and find a way to boost revenue.
- Move your service to delivery if it works for your industry
- Move your products to those that are in need. Designer masks, anyone?
- Move your service to a virtual version
- Offer a new service
- Acquire and sell an item in need
- Got extra space? Find a renter
Get a tax refund
The new laws provide for a couple of ways you can get a tax refund.
- File your 2019 return ASAP if you’re due a refund and use that money in your business.
- If you have losses from 2018 and 2019, check with your tax professional to see if you will benefit from amending those returns to take advantage of the carryback provisions of the CARES Act.
Speed up your cash flow
There are literally hundreds of things you can do to permanently improve your cash flow. Here are a few:
- Negotiate with your vendors to extend credit or term out your payments to them.
- Work on collections and get your accounts receivable balance lower.
- Invoice faster and tighten the pay terms.
There are many options right now to borrow money. PPP might be the best game in town, but it’s not the only one.
- Take money out of your 401K to use in your business.
- Use your stimulus check in your business.
- Use your bank line of credit if it is still available.
- Take advantage of the EIDL, PPP loan, employee retention credit, or the deferred taxes option from SBA and the Treasury.
- Borrow money from a relative or friend.
- Check locally in your bank, credit union, city, county, or state for small business programs.
- If your insurance premiums are based on Revenues or Payroll, such as Workers Compensation, you may be able to request a refund of premiums mid-term.
Every penny counts for some small businesses, so use any and all of the ideas above so you can ride this situation out.
And if we can assist you with your cash flow projections or creating or modifying your budget, just reach out.
Money and Marriage
One of the biggest things that can cause fights in a marriage is money. No matter where you are in a relationship, it’s a good idea to discuss these major money topics so you’ll know where you stand.
Show me the money: Combine or keep separate or both
One of the best ways to avoid conflict is to put your money into three separate piles: yours, your spouse’s, and a joint set of accounts. In this arrangement, each of you has control over some money that is all your own. The household spending will then come out of the joint account, and you both will make contributions to it on a regular basis.
As a couple, you’ll need to discuss who will pay for what as well as what your regular contribution will be to the joint account. This is no small discussion. The more thorough you are, the less conflict you’ll have over money.
One spouse or partner will normally handle the joint finances, and it’s typically the person with the most accounting knowledge. However, you both should have access to this account in case of emergency.
Savings and future purchase goals
Do you have goals about upcoming large purchases? These might include:
- A home purchase or improvement
- Children’s education
- Health care needs
- Saving for retirement
- A car purchase
- A second home purchase
- A vacation
- Another item such as a boat, furniture, technology gadgets, a plane, or something else
- A nest egg or cushion
If so, calculate how much you need and make a plan to set aside the money you need in the time frame you agree on.
Do you like to spend more than your spouse? Or is it the other way around? When money is flowing, there is usually no problem. When money is tight, that’s when the problems come in.
When there are conflicts in the area of spending, the best course is to focus on priorities. If you can agree on your priorities and goals, it can often shift spending habits.
You may want to set a budget to stick as close as possible to expected spending limits. Start by recording current spending in these areas, and then agree on the amounts you want to spend in the future.
- Rent or mortgage payment
- Utilities, including electric, gas, water, garbage, phone, internet, cable
- Food and supplies, including grocery, kitchen items, liquor, and eating out
- Entertainment, including travel, vacations, local events, holiday decorations, Netflix subscriptions, tech gadgets, books, etc.
- House maintenance including repairs, cleaning, lawn care, appliances, and decorating
- Automobile, including gas, insurance, licenses, and maintenance
- Clothing and accessories, including dry cleaning
- Health care, including pharmacy, doctor’s visit, and HSA contributions
- Personal care, such as haircuts, nail care, etc.
- Tuition and/or education expenses
- Contribution to retirement and savings accounts
- Charitable contributions
- Taxes, including federal, state, local, school, and property
- Paying down credit card or student loan debt
What does retirement look like to both of you? Having this conversation will be enlightening. Know that dreams and goals can change over time as retirement approaches.
You’ll want to have an idea about what you’d like to spend during your final years so that you can make plans to start accumulating that wealth now. The sooner you start, the more years you have to build up your retirement assets.
Monitoring your progress
Keep an eye on your account balances to make sure everything is as it should be. Review bank and brokerage account statements and/or your budget once a month or at least once a quarter so there are no surprises or trends that sneak up on you.
When you reach your goals, reward yourself. Managing money is hard work, and you deserve to pat yourself on the back when a goal is achieved. If there is anything we can do to help you make your financial dreams come true, please reach out any time.
As we move into the fall season and the final quarter of the year, it’s a perfect time to commit to a project in your business that will help you reach the year’s end in better shape. Here are five ideas:
1. Back-to-School Time
If payroll expenses are one of the higher costs in your business, then it makes sense to boost your team’s productivity and maybe also your own. Fall is back-to-school time anyway, so it’s a natural time of the year to take on a course, read a business book, or hire an organizer to help you get more from your workspace.
If you spend a lot of time doing email, consider taking a course on Microsoft Outlook® or even Windows; learning a few new keystrokes could save you tons of time. If you need more time, look for a book or course on time management. Look for classes at your local community college or adult education center.
2. A Garage Sale for Your Business
Do you have inventory in your business? If so, take a look at which items are slower-moving and clear them out in a big sale. We can help you figure out what’s moving slowly, and you might even save on taxes too.
3. Celebrate Your Results
Take a checkpoint to see how your revenue and income are running compared to last year at this time. Is it time for a celebration, or is it time to hunker down and bring in some more sales before winter? With one more quarter to go, you have time to make any strategy corrections you need to at this time. Let us know if we can pull a report that shows your year-on-year financial comparison.
4. Get Ready for Year’s End
Avoid the time pressure of year’s end by getting ready early. Review your balance sheet to make sure your account balances are correct for all transactions entered to date. You will be ahead of the game by getting the bulk of the year reviewed and out of the way early.
Also make sure you have the required documentation you need from vendors and customers. One example is contract labor that you will need to issue a 1099 for; make sure you have a W-9 on file for them. If we can help you get ready for year-end, let us know.
5. Margin Mastery
If your business has multiple products and services, there may be some that are far more profitable than others. Breaking these numbers out to calculate your profit margins or contribution margins by product or service line can help you see the areas that are adding the most income to your bottom line. Correspondingly, you can determine if you have any items that are losing money; knowing will help you take the right action in your business. Refresh your financials this fall with your favorite idea of these five, or come up with your own fall project to rejuvenate your business.
Many businesses operate with seasonal peaks and valleys. Retail stores flourish in their busy holiday season. Construction contractors are busy when the weather is good. Accountants are very busy from January through April, but also experience a quarterly peak in July and October.
Your business many have its own calendar of busy and slow times. If your business goes through slow times, then your cash flow may suffer at certain times of the year. But having seasonal sales is only one of the reasons for a bumpy cash flow.
You might also have a business where annual payments are made for many items such as equipment purchases, software licenses, insurance renewals, and other large costs. On the revenue side, it could be that your clients pay you annually, which can be hard to predict.
There are many solutions that can help to smooth out the seasonal bumps, and here are a few ideas for your consideration.
Plan for Prosperity
When income and expenses go up and down and up and down, it’s really hard to know if you have enough money for obligations coming up. Creating a budget can help a great deal. Consider creating two budgets: one that shows the ups and downs and one that averages a year’s income and expenses into twelve equal parts.
With both budgets, you’ll be able to see which months will be deviating from average and by how much. From there, it’s easy to create some forecasts so you can stay on top of your cash requirements.
Cash vs. Accrual Basis
It might help your business decision-making to convert your books from cash basis to accrual basis. This is a huge decision that should be made with an accounting and tax expert, as there are plenty of ramifications to discuss.
In some cases, the accrual basis of accounting will help keep those annual payments from sneaking up on you as 1/12 of the payment can be accrued on a monthly basis to a payables account. This also keeps your net income figure steadier from month to month.
If your clients prepay their accounts on a yearly basis, you can book the income monthly and keep the difference in a Prepaid account. This spreads your revenues out and recognizes them over time.
If you feel accrual basis accounting is a little too much of a commitment, your accountant can still work with you to help you avoid the impulse of spending too much during the cash-rich busy season. Perhaps the excess cash can be put into a savings account until it’s needed. You can draw out 1/12 each month as you need it. A little planning such as the above suggested forecasts will help you determine how much you can take out each month. You can even name the Savings account “Do Not Spend!” or “Save for a Rainy Day.”
If it’s just too tempting to have all that excess cash building up in the good times of the year, try one of the ideas above to take back cash flow control and smooth out those bumps.
The technology side of the accounting industry is rapidly changing and expanding. Literally hundreds, if not thousands of new companies and new software applications have sprung up to help small businesses automate their processes and save time and money.
The best way to profit from all of this innovation is to first identify where you can best use the technology in your business. Here are three places to look:
What business tasks are you still using pen and paper for? Look what’s on your desk or in your filing cabinet in the form of paper, and that will be your next opportunity for automation. For example, are you still hand-writing checks? There’s an app (or two) for that.
Sticky notes and to do lists have been replaced with Evernote. Business cards you collect can go in a CRM (customer relationship manager). All of your accounting invoices and bills can be digitized and stored online.
Make a list of all the manual and paper processes you do every day and look for an app that can make the task faster for you.
Take stock of what systems you already have in place. The opportunity to fill the gap is where you might have systems that should talk to each other but don’t. If you need to enter data into two different places, there may be a chance to automate and/or integrate the systems or data. For example, your point of sale or billing system should integrate well with your accounting system. A few other examples include accounting and payroll, CRM and accounting, inventory and accounting, project management and time tracking, and time tracking and payroll.
The more your systems integrate and work as a suite, the better.
It could be you have your systems automated, but the systems are not the best choice for your business requirements. If your systems don’t meet many of your business requirements, it may be time to look for an upgrade or a replacement.
If you are performing a lot of data manipulation in Excel or Access, this might also signal that your systems are falling short of your current needs. Look where that’s happening, and you will have identified an opportunity for improvement.
Look in these three areas in your business, and I bet you’ll not only find an app for that, you’ll also find some freed up time and money once you automate.