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Cash Flow in Your Small Business

people in a meetingCash flow in your small business is the most important financial statement for the business owner. Cash flow is simply the money coming and going from your business each month. Sources of cash flow are cash sales, accounts receivable, and credit card sales. You may also have cash flow from a business loan or other cash infusion into the business.

A small business must be able to project its cash flow month by month which is difficult in a new business.

Cash Flow and Cash Reserves

cash flow illustration

Recent events have highlighted the need for small businesses to be able to manage cash flow. Cash flow represents the amount of money coming into the business and going out during a month. Cash flow is represented by income and expenses due in any given month.

Cash Flow Includes:

-Receipts from sales of goods and services

-Interest payments

-Income tax payments

-Payments made to suppliers of goods and services used in production

-Salary and wage payments to employees including the owner

-Rent payments

-Any other type of operating expense

Many small businesses depend on a steady stream of income each month in order to pay bills. By making a cash flow statement, the business owner can project the amount of income that might be lost during pandemics, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, new competition, owner's health issues, or recession.

Thus, when planning cash flow you should also plan for a cash reserve to use when income decreases. It will show the amount of cash needed each month to meet obligations.

If you have rental property, your monthly income is generated by rent payments from tenants. Since there is usually turnover among renters, the rental income may vary from month to month but your bills do not. Thus, you have to save money when the income allows, and use those saved funds to make up lost income from vacancies.

The same is true for all service businesses, the income varies from month to month while the obligations remain relatively the same. The income variation can be extreme as when there is some kind of interruption in normal business such as with a pandemic, or other natural disaster.

small business cash reserves

Cash reserves

can be provided for in several ways:

-Insurance. Business insurance may provide for lost income as a result of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flooding, fire, or tornado. It does not cover loss income because of economic conditions such as a recession.

-Savings. Establishing a savings account for emergencies and lost income is probably the best way to provide for cash flow shortages. You can add to the fund every month and draw on it only for emergencies.

-Prepayments. Ask your customers to prepay their rent or service fee in advance by offering them a discount. For example, our veterinarian offers a discount for prepaying for an annual plan for routine quarterly vaccinations. It gives him cash in advance and guarantees a portion of his income for the year. Customers like it because it saves them money and they do not have to worry about it for a year if their own income becomes stressed.

-Line of credit. Establish a line of credit at a bank or credit union and use it only for emergencies. You will be able to withdraw money from the line of credit as you need it and pay it back as you get the funds.

-Credit cards. By keeping a credit card with little or no balance, you can use the remaining credit for emergencies. Be aware that banks may reduce your available credit limit in times of economic distress.

Personal loan. You may be able to get a personal loan to cover some of your expenses, but if your business income is suffering, such a loan becomes less likely to get approved.

-Borrow from your personal savings. This would be the last resort and should be documented as a loan from you to the business. Remember too, that your personal obligations will also continue and you should not be causing stress in both areas of your life.

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