Managing cash flow is crucial for self-employed individuals to ensure the stability and success of their businesses.
Budgeting helps hone a business owner’s focus on performance and income versus spending. Other ways to improve your cash flow include managing your invoices and receivables keeping a close eye on expenses and financing options.
This article covers ways you can manage your cash flow better when employed, which is the tax status of most new businesses before they are incorporated.
Create A Detailed Budget
If your business is financially challenging, creating a budget is the first thing you need to do.
When you take the time to budget int, resting revelations occur. For example, you will probably find you’ve been spending more than you’re earning or overspending during months when less income is received. It’s better to be informed and in control rather than deal with the fallout of sudden cash flow shortfalls.
When you carefully look at expenses and see what needs to be trimmed, leave everything on the table. For example, underperforming small businesses may need to save money by downsizing office space. Or letting go of your commercial office and setting up remote working for you and your team.
If your type of offering needs a workplace, you can consider flexible leasing arrangements or co-working spaces where there may not be a lease.
Additionally, if you’re downsizing your office space, you can sell your office equipment and use what’s available in the co-sharing environment.
How to create a budget
Creating a budget is crucial for managing your finances effectively, primarily when you are self-employed. Develop a comprehensive budget outlining your fixed and variable expenses, forecast income, and an emergency or contingency fund.
Categorize expenses into essential and non-essential to prioritize payments during lean periods.
- Fixed expenses – e.g., rent/lease, utilities, insurance, loan payments, subscriptions.
- Variable expenses, e.g., marketing and advertising, office supplies, travel expenses, meals and entertainment, and professional fees (accountant, lawyer, etc.)
Project your future income to anticipate potential cash flow gaps when considering your current expenses and when they are due.
Consider seasonal fluctuations and irregularities in income. With this awareness, you may find time to consider a side hustle.
Set Aside Emergency Funds
Establish an emergency or contingency fund to cover unexpected expenses or periods of low income. Having a financial cushion can help you weather temporary setbacks.
Consider a Line of Credit
Explore the possibility of obtaining a business line of credit to cover short-term cash flow gaps. With a line of credit, you can draw down and repay as and when required to cover shortfalls in cash flow. Use it judiciously and pay it off promptly to avoid accruing excessive interest.
Invoice Promptly and Follow Up on Payments
Send out invoices promptly after completing a job or delivering a product. Follow up on overdue payments to ensure a steady cash flow.
Use Technology for Invoicing and Accounting
Utilize invoicing and accounting software to streamline financial processes. Automated systems can help you stay organized and track your cash flow in real time.
Choose a service with an app so you can send out an invoice from your phone to speed up the task. You can also receive alerts of payments.
Offer Discounts for Early Payments
Encourage prompt payment by offering discounts to clients who pay invoices early. Be discerning with whom you work with. Choose clients who pay promptly and reward them accordingly.
Negotiate Favorable Payment Terms
Negotiate payment terms with suppliers that align with your cash flow cycle. You will want to ensure you are considered a valuable customer so your suppliers provide discounts and the best deals.
Seek extended payment terms or discounts for early payments when dealing with vendors. Negotiate either longer payment terms or a cheaper rate for paying early.
Diversify Income Streams
Managing cash flow when you’re self-employed is an ongoing challenge. You think you’ve got it all sorted out, and then you lose a supplier or customer and, with it, the favorable terms that have helped you manage your cash flow.
To ease the burden with your primary offering, explore additional sources of income to reduce dependence on a single client or revenue stream. Side hustles can turn into full-time businesses.
Diversification of income streams can provide stability if one income source is temporarily disrupted.
Monitor and Control Expenses
Regularly review your expenses to identify areas where costs can be reduced. You may have a new budget; however, over time, more payments will be required, so you need to manage your existing outgoings for their relevancy.
Cut unnecessary expenses and make a date in your calendar to regularly renegotiate contracts with suppliers if possible.
Build Strong Client Relationships:
Cultivate strong relationships with clients to encourage repeat business. It is easier to sell to and retain a customer than acquire a new one. Plus, selling to an existing customer will cost less, and satisfied clients are more likely to pay promptly and recommend your services.
Regularly Review and Adjust
Periodically review your cash flow management strategies and adjust them based on your business’s evolving needs. Be flexible and adapt to changes in the market or your industry.
By implementing these steps, self-employed individuals can enhance their ability to manage cash flow effectively, reducing financial stress and promoting the long-term success of their businesses.
Keep Business and Personal Finances Separate
According to Inc. Magazine, small business owners must maintain separate business and personal expenses accounts. Otherwise, you risk putting too much of your personal funds into your business. With a business bank account, you can automatically transfer data to your tax and financial statements, making the accountant’s job easier and cheaper.
Pay Yourself the Market Rate
Inc. also advises small business owners to not undercut their own salary. Many small business owners try to low-ball bids beyond a figure that allows them to make a living wage. Charging too little harms cash flow and makes sticking to a budget tough. Later, you will have to charge customers more for your products or services.
Get Financial Advice from a Professional
There is so much to do when you are in business for yourself. It is okay not to know everything. If you are not a financial professional, it makes sense to consult the services of a financial planner for small business owners when you get in a bad situation.
The Small Business Administration has retired business professionals who can provide advice on budgeting, marketing, and financial planning. Their advice is free.