New Year, new flow

Cash flow management key to steering a clear course of business in 2018

A typical new year’s cliché is the commitment to resolutions – whether they be to start new healthy habits or break bad ones – something that is usually accompanied by the setting of new priorities for the year ahead. As much as this age-old tradition of self-improvement forms the basis for personal growth and success – for entrepreneurs, this sort of structured thinking is key to setting the tone for a productive year in business.

One of our competition judges, Kobus Engelbrecht of Sanlam / BUSINESS/PARTNERS says that for the year ahead, stringent cash flow policies should be top priority for entrepreneurs – especially where low economic growth forecasts paint a less than positive outlook.

“The successful management of cash flow, including the commitment to honouring debtors, creditors and payment deadlines, will play a vital role in determining the success of a business,” says Engelbrecht.

Engelbrecht lists the following tips for entrepreneurs looking to prioritise cash flow in 2018:

Spend time on forecasting – detail is key

Accurate forecasting is one of the best ways to ensure that your business stays on top of its finances over the next 12 months. When looking forward, it is important to first review historical financial statements in order to effectively predict potential dips in sales or increases in expenses.

Be real, and accurate

Though the temptation to be eternally optimistic is always present for entrepreneurs, it is more important that cash flow statements and forecasts are kept as real and accurate as possible. When income is overestimated, there is heightened risk because this can provide a false sense of security in the business. As such, figures should always be based on historical sales data – and any deviations should be derived from realistic and probable factors.

Regular updates

As a once-off review is not nearly enough to keep a tight hand on cash flow, entrepreneurs should review their business’ cash flow statements regularly. This will allow for the early detection of any potential problems that may arise.  

Get savvy with payments

Technology is an entrepreneur’s friend – often providing a range of solutions at minimal (or at least reasonable) cost. Why then, should payment systems be any different? Entrepreneurs should tap into technologies that will make life easier – both for the business and their customers. It is also recommended that clear payment terms be set out from the onset with customers and third party suppliers to ensure timely compensation.  

Plan for Plan B

While planning ahead and keeping a tight grip on cash flow throughout the year are both smart methods of business management, neither of these will be effective if there is no plan B in place for when trouble suddenly strikes. This is especially true in a volatile economy where the economic tide can shift without warning. It is a good idea, therefore, to have a blue-print plan to guide the business through any rough patches it may come across.

Stay on top of the game

The world is moving at an alarmingly fast rate and entrepreneurs would do well to keep up to date with trends and best practices, such as putting in place efficient cash flow forecast monitoring, monitoring the industry landscape and keeping an eye on interest rates.

Keep it simple

Budgeting and cash flow forecasts may appear complicated and overwhelming in the beginning, but they need not be. In some instances, a simple spreadsheet may be more than enough to effectively manage an annual budget. Regardless of whether the entrepreneur employs an accountant to draw up the financial statements, they should make a conscious effort to know exactly what these statements say and project, at all times. 

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