Whilst some SMEs are preparing to wind down over the holiday season, for many Australian businesses this is their busiest time of the year and they’re preparing to make their biggest profits over the Christmas holiday season.
Industries such as retail, hospitality, manufacturing and logistics often see an increase in demand in the lead up to the festive season. Those businesses that maximise profits and return on investment over this time of year are the ones that are prepared and managing cash flow is the key factor in their success.
As the holiday rush approaches, companies need to ensure they have the necessary funding in place to meet this increased demand and continue to provide first class service to their customers. The Christmas cash flow crunch is real and there are some strategies that business owners should be thinking about now.
Forecast cash flow
When you’re expecting a period of growth it’s vital that you plan for it and forecasting your cash flow is essential. It’s vital to have a realistic forecast so you accurately estimate the cash you’ll need during the holiday season.
The best way of predicting the future is to look to the past. What happened last year at Christmas time? When were the seasonal peaks and what were the expenses and payments you encountered then? Knowing when your cash inflow and outflow are the highest can help you set aside a cash buffer for when you need it. It is critical to recognise the difference between cash at bank and sales revenue, because if your business is selling your goods or service on credit terms, the cash from those sales may not be realsied at bank for up to 60 days after the sale.
Once you’ve determined increased inventory, staff and marketing costs it’s important to work out where that extra capital is coming from. With traditional financing options such as bank loans, lines of credit or business credit cards becoming harder to access in the current economic climate it’s crucial to think about this early.
Alternative financing options such as invoice financing might be a better option for your business. Popular overseas, invoice financing allows businesses to be paid up to 90% of their outstanding invoice value upfront with funds accessible usually within 24 hours. When a customer pays and the funds are received by the debtor finance provider, they’ll remit the remaining 10% minus a small fee to compensate for early funding.
Manage your orders
As a business owner it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the holiday season especially as large orders start to mount up. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you can’t fulfil orders or overstretch yourself financially as this poses a risk to cash flow. Plan ahead to make sure your business has enough stock and capital or the ability to get it at short notice. Consider what facilities you could use as a buffer for short term busy periods.
A fresh start
Christmas is a great time to clear overstock of excess inventory and free up cash. Consider repackaging your products to make them more appealing for the holiday season. Or invest in a new marketing campaign to attract a different market of buyers. Efficient marketing can drive sales without costing you a lot. Look at new digital strategies such as social media promotions and email campaigns to attract customers and boost revenue.
Now is a good time to see if you can improve your cash flow by overhauling expenses. See if you can reduce outstanding invoices, negotiate better terms with suppliers or manage expenses more efficiently. Doing this audit now and freeing up working capital is also going to set you up better for success in the new year.
The Christmas holiday period can be an exciting time for businesses and a lucrative one but it’s vital that owners plan ahead and properly prepare for their funding needs. You don’t want to find yourself in a Christmas cash flow crisis so make sure you’re one step ahead heading into the holiday season.
For more information on invoice financing and how it may help your business over the holiday season visit OptiPay