Make regular cash flow forecasts
Tracking your cash flow is essential to keep your business safe. As part of a good cash flow management, you should create a cash flow statement and make projections. By bringing all the information you have together in a cash flow statement and, separately, creating a cash flow forecast, you’ll be able to conduct a good cash flow analysis and have a much greater awareness of likely opportunities and potential threats.
It implies that you ensure to keep good records by taking the time to log company income and expenses, and keep the information timely. Having a clear picture of your company’s financial position will help you spot issues and decide how to avoid cash flow problems.
Keeping a cash buffer, like a rainy-day fund that your business can access in an emergency, can also be a good practice, in case a key machinery breaks down or a big invoice becomes overdue.
Analyse your customers’ creditworthiness
We often think of new business in terms of getting new customers to choose us as their goods or services provider. But when it comes to preventing cash flow problems, it’s also important to choose the right customers.
To do so, ensuring local visibility and knowledge in the long-term is key, such as calling on local partners to gain insight and build relationships.
It’s also important to evaluate potential clients using alternative intelligence. You should dig beyond their financial ratings and look into whether their strategy and culture are in line with your own. You can also consider whether they have risk coverage and cash flow protection, like trade credit insurance. This usually indicates strong corporate governance, the ability to take smart risks and an avenue to manage potential exposure.
Manage unpaid invoices to limit bad debts
Carrying bad debt can quickly become burdensome. Not only does it monopolise resources, but it can also hinder forecasting and the bottom line. A potential solution to cash flow problems in business – and open to potential opportunities – is to adopt a forward-looking strategy for minimising debt.
It all boils down to ensuring you have defined – and provided your customers with – the right information. First, set yourself up for success in two ways: implement standard terms and conditions. Every client should be aware of this agreement, including any penalties for late payment, from the onset of the relationship. Next, proactively decide when it makes financial sense to chase down an unpaid invoice.
The burden of proof is on you and there are considerable costs associated, so knowing your ‘tipping point’ will save resources in the long-term.
Once you’ve put the proper measures in place, you should build a relationship with your principal contact within your customer’s organization. Instead of waiting for a bill to become overdue, you can then initiate a transparent dialogue around objectives and issues management. For more tips, you can also read our article on how to maintain good customer relationship when facing unpaid invoices.
Get ahead of customer insolvency
With interest rates and complex trading conditions on the rise, debt is becoming more difficult for companies to manage. After two years of declines, we expect a broad-based acceleration in business insolvencies globally: +10% in 2022 and +19% in 2023. Corporate collapses can prove catastrophic for unprepared small businesses in particular.
You should ensure you understand your market by equipping yourself with data on business contexts, collection practices and the legal system, especially if you’re dealing with a customer in a foreign market.
Here are four steps to protect your business against customer insolvency
- Analyse continuously. Ensure you have the data to make informed credit line decisions.
- Exercise caution. Know how to identify early warning signs so you can manage customer debt proactively.
- Understand your customer. Become familiar with the political and legal systems in your market and ensure you adhere to local regulations.
- Have a plan B. Contingency planning is key. This is most effective at the local level and should involve insolvency risk.