When it comes to building a successful business model, the processes you instill for managing your business' money are as important as the strategies you implement. Money management is hard, even when you're trying.
Keeping that in mind, below are are five money management tips that can benefit any business. If you place importance in each of these areas
Don't borrow what you don't need
Despite that 71 percent of small-business owners in a Bank of America study reported having sufficient access to lines of credit, 45 percent of respondents said lack of cash flow was a top business concern. Though many non-traditional small-business lenders now provide easy access to short-term capital, such borrowing may cost your business more than you might realize. Manage your cash flow proactively with billing processes and payment systems that expedite accounts receivables and inherently support consistent cash flow.
By accepting mobile payments, for example, you can process a customer's credit or debit card payment securely on your smartphone or tablet device from any location, as soon as work is complete. Many mobile payment processors also provide the capability to use your merchant account for online sales, so customers can pay securely through your website if they prefer. Such tools require very little investment on your part, and give customers the payment flexibility they may need to pay you. Though you'll pay nominal fees to offer clients the technology, they're generally far less expensive than the interest rates associated with borrowing cash when your financial resources are constrained.
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Set the tone for payment expectations
Communicating formalized expectations for your billing policies will help you establish a cadence for your business' accounts payable, accounts receivable and collections processes. Provide your clients with written documentation detailing when and how invoices are issued, when payment is due and which forms of payment your business accepts. If you extend an early payment discount, or impose late fees, explicitly state the implications of both.
Make invoicing cost effective
Aside from being a less expensive alternative to paper invoices (which cost you in the form of paper, printing supplies, postage and time), electronic invoices delivered via email empower you to track the "life cycle" of each client's billing experience, including whether a client received your email and opened it.
With such transparency, you can proactively identify whether an invoice was lost before the client account becomes delinquent, and efficiently retrieve electronic "paper trails" to address invoice questions. If you choose an electronic invoicing system that allows customers to pay with a credit card when they open the invoice, you can eliminate the time delays associated with receiving paper checks in the mail, depositing at the bank, and waiting for the funds to clear.
Analyze where to invest your time
Wearing every "hat" in your business may seem like an easy way to keep expenses low, but where you invest your time presents costs and value. Assess the miscellaneous tasks you handle, including those related to invoicing, bookkeeping, running sales reports, managing your inventory, facilities or marketing.
Analyze what you would pay a third party if you outsourced each specific task. Identify what's truly providing cost efficiency, and what's robbing you of the opportunity to invest your time and energy into more valuable businesses functions. When you do outsource, make sure the work fits the resource to ensure maximum return on investment.
For example, a bookkeeper will likely be more cost-efficient than paying a certified public accountant to handle your basic monthly financial needs; a freelance web developer will be more affordable and likely as capable to handle your one-off website needs compared to a web development firm.
Related Article: The Keys to Business Financing Success
Don't forget about taxes
Taxes take on a whole new meaning when you own a business. Simplify the process by calculating what you will owe each tax entity (including the Federal and state governments, and perhaps, your local city taxes) at the first of the year, for each quarter.
Establish a bank account dedicated solely to tax obligations; contribute the appropriate amount you need to save weekly, based on what you'll owe each quarter. This basic process guarantees that you have enough money to fulfill your tax payments on time, and allows you to see how much liquid cash you really have on hand at any given time, less your taxes owed.