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Managing Cash Flow

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Cash flow is your business’s lifeblood, and managing it effectively is the key to its long-term solvency. The first mistake that business owners make is thinking that receivables will always come on a regular schedule. A little optimism is always good for business, but too much can be lethal.

Keep in mind that your buyers can and will miss payments. It is your responsibility as a business owner to make sure that these lapses are covered. Do not live from paycheck to paycheck. Keep a revolving emergency fund to hold you afloat during lean times.

One of the main reasons for business failure is neglecting to accurately forecast future cash flow. If you don't know what your buyers owe you and what you owe others, you will not have a precise understanding of where you are now and where you will be in the next months. Make it a habit to prepare cash flow projections. Start by doing it weekly and then progress to longer periods. Seeing your cash flow on paper enables you to identify possible trouble even before it happens, and zoom in on opportunities to improve revenue.

The formula for a positive cash flow is simple - your must receive your receivables before you pay for your payables. Encourage your customers to pay ahead of time by offering incentives such as discounts. Follow up immediately when buyers are slow to pay, and consider changing your payment regulations (like shifting to cash on delivery).

To effectively manage your payables, retain your money for as long as you can without defaulting on any of your bills. There are many ways to do this, but one of the simplest solutions is to enroll in an online payment system. This way you can pay all your bills with one click on the day they are due. The benefits are twofold - you cut processing costs and use your funds as long as possible.

In today's turbulent economic climate, freelancers need to be increasingly more prudent with their finances. Cash is very much king.

Kirsty Annely
26th March 2009

© 2009 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Image: Piggy savings bank by alancleaver_2000

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