Your business cash story is a big deal. It contributes to business continuity, survival, and growth. Profits are what it all comes down to ultimately, but cash plays its own part in this narrative. Cash is what we see appearing and disappearing from our bank accounts.
Sales are vanity, profits are sanity, cash is reality.
This blog shows you how to navigate those financial waters, in times of choppiness as well as prosperity. In other words, whatever size and shape your business is, whether it’s in the private or not-for-profit sector, it’s all about the cash. So, if you can handle your cash flow, you have got the key to success.
Firstly, we will look at the benefits of managing your cash flow and paying attention to cash flow forecasting. And secondly, I will share the ABC framework which will help you build and use your cash story.
So, CASH is the name of this pivotal game. As business people, we have to learn the rules of the game to be able to play it well.
Benefits of a business cash story
Your business story is merely your business plan. It’s unique to your circumstances, your path, your journey. It is a way for you to be aware of what’s going on in your business, and what the future might hold. It’s there for you so you can have a better idea of whether to continue with your current actions or choose to pivot.
If it is your first time engaging in this type of planning, don’t beat yourself up over it. Sit down, and put together a plan. Grab some help if needed. Once you write your cash story, like any first draft, revisions and rewrites are perfectly fine – dare I say, even essential. So, get your thoughts down. It doesn’t have to be the final version. Just remember, your business cash story is unique to your business, and your circumstances. So, shape your story to reflect those circumstances. It’s not worth replicating somebody else’s work.
Once you translate your business future into numbers, once you put together a plan, you get a different point of view. You get the numbers that reflect what’s going on in your business. This gives you power and confidence, accompanied by numerous options. What is more, it gives you the energy to continue as you navigate your business towards reaching your goals.
Pick a suitable time frame for monitoring cash flow
When it comes to cash flow management, as with everything else in business, you need to have a plan. Of course, cash is a variable. It constantly fluctuates. So, predicting the future might seem far-fetched. Not many things in life can be accurately predicted, but it doesn’t mean we need to forget about them.
Therefore, start coining your business cash story. Are you planning to create your business cash story over a short cycle like three months, six months, or maybe a year? You decide.
I believe six months is the minimum period that you should be looking at. Three months might be dealing with the more immediate results. However, things change. The consequences from business actions aren’t always immediate. For example, that business pivot, or that marketing spend takes time to produce positive results.
All business has peaks and troughs. There are times of the year when business is quiet and not much is happening. There are times when it works at its highest speed. For example, ice cream doesn’t sell as well in the winter, as it does in the summer. Different businesses yield different results all the time. So, make an effort to stretch the time frame and include as much information in your business cash story as possible. That way, you can be sure that your plan is as realistic as possible.
ABC framework for your business cash story
Every new beginning can be challenging. If you are just starting with your business cash story, you need to make sure you understand what you need to do, and how to do it. For that reason, further in the blog, I will introduce you to the ABC framework. If you haven’t heard of it by now, the ABC framework stands for:
- A: Approach
- B: Building
- C: Choice
It is constructed in that way in order to help you manage your cash more effectively, thus creating a viable business cash story.
Before you get down and dirty with your numbers get your approach sorted. In other words, calibrate and set your mindset dial to positive. Then, grab your numbers by the scruff of the neck!
Your approach is critical. The thoughts of your cash future may make you nervous. You may get that knotted feeling in your stomach and want to hide under your duvet. But do not fear your numbers.
Your cash future, your cash story reflects your business future, your business story. This can make a lot of businesses nervous and scared about what the numbers are going to reveal. However, it’s important to note that cash numbers come second, what always comes first is your story.
This is where we get involved with the numbers. You need to figure out two key subdivisions to cash flow: cash coming into your business, and cash going out of your business. Once you figure out both segments, analyse what’s in front of you, and then make your decisions accordingly.
Your business story will show what you are selling, and who those customer groups are. This will (hopefully) be where most of your cash comes from. Translate that into:
- how much you are selling will give you the quantity
- what your selling price is
- when you get the cash i.e when you get paid
Other sources of cash are your own funds, and money you’re borrowing like grants, or another similar combination.
For many, it is easier to put together where the cash goes. For example, typically it’s things like paying suppliers, buying goods and services, paying for marketing activities, and paying yourself. Don’t leave yourself out of the equation. You need to cash out of the business for yourself and your family.
Don’t draw conclusions, or make decisions until you’ve actually put the cash story together. Once you’ve got the first draft, take a step back, see what the cash picture looks like and then make your choices and decisions.
What do those choices look like?
Here’s a selection of some choices that you might want to make:
- Delay payments
- Defer capital programmes
- Cancel payments
- Change customer payment terms
- Revisit your business model
- Challenge costs and assumptions
- Loans and HP
Remember, if you want business continuity, create a sensible business cash story. Consider the following: does cutting back on marketing impacts the ability to sell and supply; does cutting back on your staffing costs puts a strain on your ability to deliver. Cutting prices affects volume of sales, which can be good and bad, so choose carefully.
If you want to get through a financial storm, survive, prosper and grow, build and manage your business cash story. Look ahead and call upon your friend that you can always rely on in times of turbulence, calm, and prosperity – your numbers.
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Plan it. Do it. Profit