Finances and cash flow can be one of the biggest headaches for smaller businesses.
It takes every bit of energy and effort to keep up with the full-time task of running the show, let alone trying to find the time to ensure the cash keeps flowing.
There's so much to think about, from ensuring that your pricing structure is right and that all the hard work really is paying off, to keeping customers happy and continuing to bring in new business. At the same time you need to keep on top of invoices and chase up late payments.
It's easy to let the job of keeping an eye on the financial side slip.
But it is a key part of success. Without a good cash flow it will be a constant struggle to keep your business running smoothly.
A lack of cash is one of the main reasons that firms, even those with the best business ideas, fold.
Here are some top tips on keeping on top of your finances:
Step back and take a look at the figures. Do they really add up? Are you charging enough for your product or service? Are you paying too much for your supplies? It could be time to increase your prices or try and negotiate better deals on what you purchase.
Ensure you make payments as simple as possible for your customers. Find out what method they prefer and ensure you offer that - from cash to cards, Direct Debit and bank transfers.
Create a simple billing procedure and ensure all your customers know your payment terms upfront.
Include all the relevant information on invoices so there is no unnecessary delays. If customers use a purchase order make sure you include it and keep things as simple as possible with a clear breakdown of costs.
Send invoices out promptly - as soon as the job is sorted.
Offering a small discount or other incentive in return for prompt payment could help to speed things up and encourage a quicker response.
Have a system for chasing up payments - don't be afraid to call and speak to someone rather than just sending email or paper reminders. People find it more difficult to ignore a person than an electronic message or sheet of paper.
Keep on top of your bills so you don't end up in debt and owing large sums to suppliers. They could simply stop supplying and create chaos for your business.
Make sure to negotiate payment terms with suppliers that suit the way you run your business.