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Avoiding the cashflow surprises that could kill your business

Posted 7 years ago in Small business by Xero
Posted by Xero

We all know that cash flow is king. But just how much sway does it have? Well, you might want to ask the nine out of 10 small businesses that have failed because of cash flow problems. That’s, right, according to D&B, 90% of small businesses close their doors because of poor cash flow management.

Cash flow management isn’t rocket science. Put simply, it means doing everything possible to ensure that money flows into your business as quickly as possible and exits it as slowly as possible. It also means keeping an eye on the future and taking steps to mitigate any potential issues that may creep in down the line.

Of course, it’s not all that simple. Hence the high business failure rate tied to cash flow problems. If you’re to avoid becoming just another statistic, check out these tips for avoiding surprises.

1. Profitability Doesn’t Equal Cash

Profitable businesses are just as likely to close their doors for cash flow reasons as unprofitable ones. If your costs are high or you’re reinvesting your profits back into your business then your cash flow can quickly become compromised.

2. Forecast, Forecast, Forecast

Get as much foresight as you can into when cash is forecasted to enter and exit the business. Cash flow forecasting is deeply important in this regard. Your cash flow forecast will not only help you understand your future cash situation it can help you spot any surprises and take steps to mitigate them before it’s too late.

3. Revenues isn’t Realized Until it’s in the Bank

Your monthly budget may be balanced and your P&L statement looks great, but if revenue doesn’t change hands (in the form of a client payment) before your monthly bills must be paid, then you may have a cash flow problem, albeit short-term.

4. Understand Seasonality

Business seasonality has a big impact on cash flow. If you run a seasonal business then many of your outgoings (inventory purchases, staffing costs) are made before you sell anything. Plan ahead and analyze trends closely so that you can identify highs and lows and manage your stock and hiring accordingly. Check out these tips for surviving business seasonality without cash flow problems.

5. Plan for the Unexpected

Unexpected expenses and emergencies such as illness, a natural disaster, the loss of your star sales person, and so on, can all impact your bottom line. Have a plan to prepare for these eventualities, whether it’s having a financial cushion, a succession plan, business insurance, or cross-training key sales personnel.

6. Become a Pro at Invoicing and Collections

Late paying clients are a real problem for small businesses. Here are just some of the stats:

  • Only 50% of companies pay on time (D&B)
  • 64% of small businesses report having invoices go unpaid for at least 60 days (NFIB)
  • 14% of small businesses cite late payments are their biggest concern (Kauffman Foundation)

Look for ways to overcome this burden by invoicing promptly (as close to the sale as possible), setting up invoice reminders,  and practice good invoicing hygiene. Collect and chase payments as soon as it looks like your payment terms may be in jeopardy.

7. Be Ready for Growth

With growth comes additional costs – inventory, equipment, marketing campaigns, etc. You can prepare your, without incurring cash flow issues, by breaking through some of the barriers that impede small business growth, including cash.

Anna Eschenburg is the senior marketing manager at Fundbox. Fundbox offers business owners a simple way to fix their cash flow by advancing payments for their outstanding invoices, giving small businesses back the power to control the money in their cash.


December 10, 2015 at 11.41 am

“64% of small businesses report having invoices go unpaid for at least 60 days (NFIB)”

At 61 days it is wise to get a third party involved. The power of a third party collection letter should never been underestimated.

October 23, 2016 at 4.47 am

Wouldn’t that incur a cost from the third party to collect the outstanding payment, costing me more than the original cost?

October 23, 2016 at 9.41 am

This days that can also be automated with software that automatically send email and sms reminders to your debtors

Gavin Bottrell
December 10, 2015 at 10.39 pm

The statistics that you provide really put the magnitude of this problem into perspective.
Gavin Bottrell
Bottrell Business Consultants

October 23, 2016 at 9.43 am

One other important aspect I strongly believe: make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you! Online invoicing with online payment options are so important to introduce in business!

Bob B
October 25, 2016 at 10.27 am

With new clients, let them know firmly up-front what is expected of them as to payments, partial payments, over-runs, etc. You may go as far as letting them know that a charge will ensue after so many days.

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