The goal of any business is to be profitable by having a sustainable mix of products, services, and customers. Big businesses, especially multi-national brands, tend to have contingency plans and emergency funds if they hit a rough patch—be it from an internal issue or an external force such as a challenging economy. Due to their size and sheer volume of revenue, big businesses can generally weather stormy periods without extensive damage. However, small businesses tend to experience added pressure in tough times because there is less revenue and they have less wiggle room.
Of course, not all small businesses will face this challenge, and many organizations will find financial success and longevity without any bumps in the road. In finding the smoothest path, small businesses need to be smart about their operations. If you are a small business owner, do you know what it takes to stay afloat?
Why your cash flow is critical
At the end of the day, small businesses run and thrive on money – with cash flow at the top of the priority list. When you have enough cash on hand, your small business is healthy and can run properly. With inadequate funds, you can start to run into trouble, but the real question is, how much is adequate? According to the Small Business Administration, you should have the equivalent of six months to a year of operating costs in reserve. A recent Inc. magazine article, “5 Tips for Forecasting and Maintaining Cash Flow” by Sara Hottman, examined several key strategies that every small business should know. Summarized generally, it’s important to do the following:
- Know your break-even analysis. To kick off your budget process, you need to know how much it costs to provide your products and services. This equation should be calculated annually – expanding your focus beyond your daily expenditures. Additionally, John Welch, a San Francisco-based CPA and attorney who specializes in small businesses, says: “In an uncertain revenue world, the idea is to keep fixed costs to the minimum to run the business, and then really manage variable costs.”
- Take a second look at your fixed expenses. Are you paying the right amount of rent on your space? Or, are you getting the best price on your employee health insurance plan? Sometimes business owners can find significant savings on fixed expenses with a fresh pair of eyes and some negotiating skills.
- Make monthly-check ups a priority. Instead of waiting until tax time (and facing a potential tax bill surprise), get an idea of your income and expenses on a monthly basis. This way you’ll be prepared.
- Examine your variable costs every six months. Whether it’s your employee lunches or your ink toner, take a look at what you are spending at least twice (or maybe even more) times each year. It’s a great opportunity to find new ways to stay lean.
Solutions like software compatible computer checks can save you money
If you’re looking for ways to make your small business more effective and efficient, look to proven solutions like software compatible computer checks. Custom computer checks (pre-printed with your company information, banking details, and necessary company logos) can be paired with accounting software programs such as QuickBooks® and Peachtree®. Checksforless.com offers fully customizable laser computer checks that are compatible with 4,500 accounting software titles.
An automated accounting system replaces the old system of writing manual checks, logging expenses into multiple written ledgers, and inputting figures into a spreadsheet. Within the accounting system, you simply fill out check details, load business computer checks into the printer, and print. All your transactions will be updated seamlessly, and provide you with real-time data letting you know where you stand financially. With one single step, you have updated financial information and the power to quickly access the snapshots you need, including the foundation for a break-even analysis. These accounting programs also provide critical tools for budgeting and forecasting.
In short, stay engaged and be proactive with your small business. The more you examine the logistics of your organization, the more you’ll find ways to work smarter and faster. And in doing so, you can save time, minimize expenses, and maximize your profit potential.
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