As anyone running a business will know, it’s all too easy to slip into bad habits when it comes to financial management.
However, just as you’d spring clean your house, September is the time to also look at spring cleaning your business finances, and ensure that you’re on-track after the good intentions you no doubt started at the beginning of the financial year.
1. Review your business plan
They say the only benefit of not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise! However, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a business plan, and sticking to it. Use September as a period to take stock and review your original plan and also the time to face any nagging issues you’ve got, whether it’s underperforming staff, difficult clients or unreliable suppliers. We all face these issues, and chances are they won’t go away.
2. Create – and stick to – a budget.
Creating and sticking to a written budget is extremely important for business owners, but often something that goes out of the window when times are good. Budgeting for all your costs is key, and if you don’t already do this, or if its fallen by the wayside, then use September as an opportunity to start again. You should review your budget on a monthly basis to ensure you’re on track, but if cash flow seems tight, then do it more often.
3. Keep on top of debtors
Are your current debt levels manageable? Debt for any one supplier should be at a level you’re comfortable with and it’s important to spot the warning signs if you think they’re in trouble themselves financially. Now is the time to look at how you can move money around faster by improving your credit policies and billing procedures. Slow payers can cause real problems to your cash flow if not kept on top of, so look at ways of making your processes as efficient as possible.
4. Update your books
Few of us like admin work, but now is the time to look at your bookkeeping, and get up to date. Set aside time on a weekly basis to do this, as it will save you a huge amount of time and money later on. It will also give you a clear picture of where your business is financially, particularly when it comes to bank balance and debtors, allowing you to react accordingly.
5. Be more frugal (but not tight)
It may also be useful to look at areas you can cut back on without detriment to your business. This doesn’t need to be anything dramatic; I’m talking about 100 small things rather than one big thing. Do you really still need subscriptions to all those trade magazines, can you use recycled printer cartridges, is there any room for negotiation on your building insurance and loan payments, can you shop around for a more cost-effective courier? The list goes on, but you’d be surprised at how much you can drive down your variable costs by simply being savvy.
6. Prepare for downtime and inform creditors
Unless you’re a greetings card manufacturer or gifting business, then chances are you could face a slow-down over December and January. You should plan for this, not only in terms of business development, but also from a cashflow perspective. Use September as a chance to review a best and worst-case scenario. If you think you’re going to be late paying creditors, let them know in advance. This is particularly important for credit cards, the tax office and loans – it’s always much better to be open and honest, and chances are they’ll be more flexible than you might imagine.
Christian Oey is founder and CEO of nobankruptcy.com.au, the only company of its kind in Australia specialising in a unique debt relief program for individuals and businesses.