Tuesday, August 2, 2011

14 Ways to Improve Profit and Cash Flow

#1) Bank Accounts over $250K?   Sweep Accounts?, etc.                                           
Does your business have any bank accounts with an excess of $250K? Any sweep accounts being used? Bank accounts are only protected by the FDIC of up to $250K.     
#2) Increase Collections                                     
Start tracking your receivables very closely. See who pays on time, who pays inconsistently, and who pays late (consistently). Be proactive and contact the inconsistent and late payers before the invoice becomes overdue, and then steadily keep the pressure on. This takes time, but the pay-off is in improved cash flow and ultimately, improved profit maximization.

#3) Reduce Expenses
Stop spending money on things that don't add to the bottom line.

#4) Manage and Calculate Cash Flow
Look for ways to reduce cash outflow, while increasing cash inflow. While the Statement of Cash Flows is usually part of the monthly process of analyzing financial statements, if cash is tight maintain a daily cash flow chart or projection spreadsheet. When you manage your money that tightly, you will spend less and look for ways to increase income more (and focus on profit maximization).

#5) Invoicing Clients
If you invoice your clients, then it is wise to do your invoicing daily.                   
If your work is spread out over time, send a progress bill. By using either method, you can receive a more consistent cash flow.                

#6) Consider Reducing Inventory                      
Reducing inventory will help reduce cash outflows, but do not reduce inventory to the level that it will hurt sales. Develop more favorable terms with suppliers (for example, the supplier holds your inventory on their floor or they give you extended payment terms) to lower the cash drain that inventory can cost. Consider streamlining the supply chain to improve your inventory turn cycles.               

#7) Negotiate Better Deals                    
In a weak economy when many businesses are struggling, anything can be negotiable. From business loans to leases and everything in between, lower payments, extended terms, and better rates can be negotiated.                  

#8) Take a Closer Look at your Business Debt.                                               
Can you consolidate loans (credit cards, equipment loans, line of credit, etc.)? Can you negotiate better rates?                                      

#9) Don't Pay your Payables Too Early                                     
If your supplier's terms are net 30 days, pay your bill in 30 days. Even if you have the cash to pay, don't pay - keep the money in an interest account until you have to pay the bill.                                             

#10) Consider Consolidating Suppliers                                        
By consolidating suppliers, you may receive a better price and/or payment terms.   
#11) Sell More to Existing Customers                                         
Acquiring new customers can be expensive. Consider focusing on increasing revenue from existing customers and you'll cut promotional expenses and increase profits at the same time.                                          

#12) Consider Outsourcing
This can help you focus on the key elements of your business and reduce personnel costs by outsourcing some of your back-office functions, such as human resources or technology services.

#13) Go Open Source
Free and open-source software can be far less expensive to obtain and maintain for a small business owner. For example, you could spend hundreds on programs like QuickBooks, Microsoft Office, and Photoshop, or you could get Gnu Cash or Open Office absolutely free of charge. The interfaces are generally of great quality, and will contain all or most of the familiar tools you're used to using in industry-standard, professional software. In all likelihood, you clients will never know the difference, and you'll save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in software licensing fees.

#14) Return Slow-Moving Inventories
Identify inventories that aren't turning over, and ask the suppliers to take back some of these supplies or products at cost. Getting these materials off your books will put cash back into your account.