Cashflow Tips for Your Expanding SME

As an owner of a small business for over ten years, I’ve seen my fair share of cash flow crises. It’s the one thing that all small and medium (and large) business owners experience somewhere along the line, and dread.

Here are some tips we’ve compiled to help SME business owners plan ahead, and may help avoid the cash flow crunch:

ONE: Cash Flow Forecasting

The first thing to do is to predict where and when the business’s cash is coming in to cover what is going out, and make some profit on the side. Imagine if a client didn’t pay on time and plan for that. Set realistic earnings targets a year into the future, planning ahead week by week. List your SME’s income and expenditure on a spreadsheet, taking factors such as the peaks and troughs of trade, the overhead costs of running the office during the various seasons and staff leave, amongst other factors, into account.

TWO: Accounting Software

Cloud based tools allow SME’s to scale up and migrate their software as the company grows. Depending on your business profile, some of the most popular cloud-based tools out there are Xero, Freshbooks, Quickbooks and Sage, which provide solutions that are affordable and easy to use. They feature time-saving features such as automated entries, invoicing, bill payments, expense reports, financial reports and reconciliations – all key to keeping your cashflow fluid.

THREE: Strong Business Process

By definition, a business process is an activity or set of activities that will accomplish a specific organizational goal. Ensuring that your business has a strong business process, and is focussed on growth and  financial success makes the company more streamlined and efficient – which will translate directly to  your cashflow, as you will be getting the maximum out of your company to earn the best turnover for the least amount of input possible.

Ensure fiscal control by segregating duties in the financial department –  i.e. separate people working on the bank reconciliations and invoice billing.  If the SME is small, the business owner should always check the bank reconciliation, making sure they keep up to date with company finances. Enhance the business process by, for example, integrating CRM programmes that facilitate and streamline one’s marketing and client relations strategy, or by using cloud based invoicing which link your marketing and sales teams.

FOUR: Optimal Payment Terms

Always remember that your clients have different business priorities to your company’s. The longer they can delay paying your company, the better for their business. Negotiate terms with your clients that suit both sides – and bargain hard. On long-term projects, explore progress payments, never accept back-to-back payments (you get paid when the client gets paid) and make sure you are getting the most agreeable terms possible from your suppliers. Negotiate the best deal woith suppliers, but keep them on your side by settling their bills within their terms too. Business is all about relationships, and building up a loyal supply base is one of the secrets to success.

Offering clients incentive to pay early is a good way to ensure bills are settled timeously – small discounts or free delivery for early payment goes a long way to fostering good client relations, and getting the payments in quicker.

Make sure that you are using the most cost effective manner of payment – bank charges on card transactions can be steep, online payments may take days to clear – ultimately you need something to investigate the most effective payment method for your business needs.  You can speak to your bank relating to the most efficient services provided and the costs per transaction.

coffee-cup-mug-deskFIVE: Funding Your SME

When your business needs funding, the first place to go is the high street banks -still the largest funding source for SME’s. There are also a number of challenger banks out there, offering great deals. Should you need alternative funding sources, then consider  financing though companies like TradeRiver or FundingCircle (who provide a thirty second eligibility check, with no impact on your credit rating, and has a £60million facility via the government-back British Business Bank) or BoostCapital (online application and an answer within 24 hours, with access to the funds within two days).

SIX: Deliver the Goods

Make sure the customer has no excuses not to pay. Deliver a good quality product, on time and within the brief. Realise that without customers you don’t have a reason to exist. Customer complaints should be taken seriously as these will alert you to problems that could indicate a serious leak in your cash flow. Disputes hold up payments, which leads to cash flow problems.

Listen to your clients – if they have suggestions to improve your User Journey, or your product, implement them. You should see the difference in your bottom line. Ask your happy customers to write company review on TrustPilot or Which.co.uk or s similar website. Good reviews are what drive sales. Sales translate into cash. Regular cash coming in helps your cash flow.

SEVEN: Make Your Cash Work

SME business savings are often a blindspot when it comes to the banks, and now there are an increasing number of alternative savings accounts out there that are tailored towards the SME market. If you have your business’s cash savings stored in a savings account earning next to nothing, we at StongJones suggest you shop around for a better deal. There are many banks such as Investec, ICIC, SBI as well as the challenger banks which are offering competitive rates. There is a growing awareness amongst financial institutions of the need to cater for SME’s, recognising that they are the future of business in the UK.

Finally…

Being an SME owner comes with many challenges. Well known businessman and entrepreneur Sir David Tang once said that the three most dreaded words in the English language were “Negative Cash Flow “. However, if one can get the basics right, and gets a good operating system in place, then your business has a far better chance of surviving the first few crucial years, and will be well prepared for future expansion.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Follow us on Twitter @akonihub or connect with us here.

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Andy Murray: Tech Startup Champion

Winning gold for the second time at the Rio Olympics has cemented the Team Great Britain hero’s place in the annuls of sporting icons. The current reigning men’s senior singles Wimbledon champion, has a string of tennis titles to his name, 39 to be precise. He has recently added a title of another kind to his name: that of Advisor in the business of tech startups.

Even if his flag-bearing skills are in question, (and please forgive me, I couldn’t resist including this clip) his business skills certainly aren’t.

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Being a wily Scotsman, Andy Murray (@Andy_Murray) is putting his talent for spotting opportunity to work – only this time it’s off the court – by investing in tech.

“Giving recognition and support to British entrepreneurs is really important to me, especially those who are the driving force behind growth-focused businesses,” Murray said in a statement.

“Every one of these entrepreneurs is passionate and dedicated to succeeding and I’m excited to have invested in their future growth.”

His talent for investing in tech startups has cemented a long-term relationship with Seedrs, where he is an advises on areas of strategic interest, as well as being an active investor himself. The Seedrs platform allows people to invest upwards of £10,000 into companies that they like the look of in exchange for equity.

Murray has invested in fifteen startups to date – with focuses as wide ranging as a dog-tracking GPS device (Dog Tracker Nano), to Beeline – a GPS navigating device and app for cyclists to beauty – blow LTD – a London-based beauty on demand service.

“Andy is a great example of an investor who understands early stage investment and the importance of building a diverse investment portfolio aligned with a wider investment strategy. Seedrs was named the most active investor in private companies in the UK last month, and our continued growth and leading position in the market are testament to our reputation and the support from people like Andy,” said Jeff Lynn, CEO and Co-founder of Seedrs.

If his tennis career is anything to go by, this man is bound to succeed.

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He’s been in the game since the tender age of 3, when his mother, Judy, would take him to their local tennis courts in Glasgow. He played in his first competitive tournament at age five and by the time he was eight he was competing with adults in the Central District Tennis League.

The world-ranked number two has competitiveness in his genes – his brother, Jamie is a two-time Grand Slam winner and a Davis Cup champion, currently the world No. 4 doubles player and a former doubles world No. 1. His mum, Judith “Judy” Murray (née Erskine) is a Scottish tennis champ herself, having won 64 titles in Scotland during her junior and senior career.

The young Andy Murray could have easily followed in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Roy Erskine, who played professional football for the Hibernian Football Club in the 1950’s – deciding to focus on his tennis career in, despite having been invited to train with Rangers Football Club at their School of Excellence.

In 2012, by beating Novak Djokovic at the US Open, incredible tenacity and grit resulted in Murray being the first British player since 1977 and the first British man since 1936, to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. In 2013, Murray was the first British player to win the Wimbledon Championships, and entrenched his influence over SW19 winning again in 2016, becoming the first British man to win multiple Wimbledon singles titles since 1935.

On or off the court, this man is a true champion who is bound to conquer whatever he turns his attention to, because he has a fiercely competitive will and the work ethic to back this up.

Feature image: http://cdn.crowdfundinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Andy-Murray.png

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Follow us on Twitter @akonihub or connect with us here.

 

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How SMEs are using FinTech and cloud tools for Growth and Profitability

How SMEs are using FinTech and cloud tools for Growth and Profitability

There is much talk about the disruption of FinTech innovation, and not much in terms of understanding the business impact. In particular, small and medium-size enterprises, who can benefit in terms of financial leverage, use various online tools to increase productivity, streamline processes, improve reporting and the business balance sheet. In the age of digital innovation, FinTech is providing solutions that can benefit small enterprises as much as it does the retail market. We aim to present a few pragmatic options for you to explore.