Positive cash flow is desirable for everyone in business. It is achieved universally through generating substantial revenues, controlling costs, and structuring capital wisely. Some tips and techniques are shared below:
Successful businesses excel at making sales. You know the saying, “the rich get richer?” Well,the corollary is that those who have revenues get more revenues as a factor of customers wanting to be associated with a successful brand. One thought you should consider is to go after markets that are less susceptible to the uncertainties of interest rates and the economy. If you were a homebuilder (you’d be an industry famous for tracking closely with the economy), you would be wise, for example to pursue both upper-income retirees and “move-up” families. These two demographic groups tend to be less affected by economic turns and have demonstrated a time-tested pattern of purchasing homes in most any economy. Knowing the segments of your market well enough to follow suit and service the buyers with money to spend will position your company to operate for maximum profitability.
Successful executive teams know that targeting buyers with focused offerings is key to penetrating your ideal market. Regardless your market dynamics, the goal is to increase volume. With higher volumes come higher velocity cash flows. This increased velocity creates the favorable setting for financing terms that suit your financial model. Yet, it is clear that profit margins must be maintained else increased velocity exacerbate losses.
The focus of controlling costs is to optimize expenses as investments–not eliminate them! Cost management evaluates not only the amplitude of the individual expense, but its impact on organizational performance. While the general principle is to control the growth of costs, there are strategic advantages to be gained from choosing to incur the right expense for the right reason at the right time. Another major shortcoming in the financial management of many companies is the effort to wring cost out of processes and retain all of the benefit of the exercise in the hands of a greedy few. Passing along savings to customers is a great way to build a customer base advocacy. Not all of the profits, mind you, …but enough to become even more competitive.
If your organization does not have a process to monitor and eliminate waste, it needs one! Sharing items like technology, administrative labor, equipment, and offices/desks is “low hanging fruit” in this area. Most resources do not need to be dedicated to one person or department because they cannot be utilized enough to justify the additional expense. Look at ways to speed up the delivery of your product/service to market–scheduling and workflow management process improvements drive profits to the bottom line quickly, as well as freeing up needed cash flow.
Monitor invoices–make sure that payments are for things ordered and received by specification and terms. Evaluate reporting systems. Dashboard feedback on expenses, margins, and cash activity help executives manage rather than being managed.
Get a god fix on the financial capital structure of your business and how it compares to competitors. Doing so will drive planning relative to debt capacity, valuation, growth, and many other categories. Taking the approach that debt is always a short-term tool and is to be repaid as soon as possible will increase a company’s capacity to take on debt when absolutely necessary. Think through cash reserves and how they speak loudly to others as to your management acumen and company viability.
When preparing pro-forma projections of anticipated cash flows, make sure that worst case scenarios are considered. Money on deposit is a precious commodity and those who have it are in a position of strength. Having products or services in development that can be brought to market quickly is an asset for those well-capitalized, a liability for those who are not. Your unique debt to equity ratio should be stronger than your industry–and should reflect the commitment of the executive team to run the business according to thoughtful metrics and attention to details.