Dealing with Cash Flow Problems

October 27, 2010

Working capital can make or break a business. Businesses that have customers lining up and stay busy can fall apart simply because it lacks cash flow. When you pay attention to your cash flow and understand how it flows in and out of the business, you can turn around cash flow problems fast.

The main principle to remember is a business needs to have more cash coming in than going out.

Managing Cash Flow

Consider creating a cash flow statement, which is a great tool for forecasting how much cash flows in and flows out. If you don't know how to create one, ask a bookkeeper, CPA or other finance professional.

Cash flow statements identify upcoming expenses so you know when you need to cover those. Having this information showing you times when you're low on cash will help you be proactive and plan for it.

It's not required that you have a full-time finance professional. Outsourcing is a good option because you don't pay a full-time salary or benefits. Better to invest in hiring help than running out of cash flow and going out of business.

Here are eight tips for managing cash flow to give you more ideas on what you can do.

Sometimes the situation calls for getting a loan or exploring other financing options.

Exploring Loans and Financing

When you work with payment, do what you can to delay payment within reason. For example, use a credit card to pay for expenses. Don't pay an invoice the day it arrives. Wait until it's closer to the due date. It allows you to control timing of expenses and receivables.

If your business cannot get the cash flow balanced or you want to grow, it may be time to look into loans or financing. This doesn't always mean going to a bank where requirements can be tough to meet.

Private lenders can act like a bank except they have more flexibility and fewer rules. They can do loans and various types of financing such as factoring (also known as accounts receivables and debt factoring).

You can also talk to your vendors and suppliers about a discount or a payment plan. They may prefer to get paid now at a discount than wait for the full amount to come later. You could try bringing in cash by selling buildings, machines, inventory, equipment or finding a cheaper lease.