When you first start out in business, you soon learn about the importance of cash flow. While you may have thought, in your naivety, before you started your business that what mattered in business was profit, you soon discovered that this wasn’t always the case. Sure, you might have been in the black for the year as a whole. But there were times during that first year when you dipped precariously close to the red and ran out of cash. As a result, you risked not being able to pay your suppliers, your colleagues and even yourself.
Cash flow, therefore, became your new focus. It was the thing that you realized that you had to focus on if you were going to avoid another disaster. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to improve the rate at which money flows into your business. Let’s take a look.
Reduce Your “Days Sales Outstanding”
“Days sales outstanding” or DSO is a technical piece of jargon used all the time in the business world. It’s just shorthand for the amount of time you’re waiting for your customers to pay you. For many small businesses, DSO is large, meaning that at points during the month, they start running out of cash.
Small businesses often feel intimidated by their larger clients and are sometimes hesitant to demand payment quickly. But when a service has been delivered as specified, it’s time for the client to pay up. Take a look at your current payment arrangements with your customers. How long do they have to pay right now? If you currently offer a three-week window for payment to be made, try reducing this to two weeks for all new clients. Even if customers don’t stick to the two-week payment schedule, cutting down the window often still means that businesses get paid faster.
Make Immediate Payment Possible
When clients don’t pay on time, it’s not because they’re trying to torture you or that they don’t have any money. It’s usually because they are lazy and can’t be bothered to go through the hassle of setting up a payment. After all, it takes a long time. This is why it’s so important for small businesses to make use of merchant services. Merchant services allow them to accept credit card payments in person, online or through their digital invoices. Some companies, like Wave Accounting, have found that including an immediate payment option speeds up client payments by an average of three days.
Do A Credit Check
Occasionally you’ll get a client who doesn’t want to pay up front in cash. Instead, they want to pay you in a series of installments. When a client asks to do this, it’s a good idea to have a credit check done on them by a third party credit check agency. You want to find out whether the client actually has the means to pay you, in the long run; otherwise, you risk not getting paid for the services rendered. When payments are late, or not paid at all, your cash flow will suffer.