This is the 2nd part of a two part series on small business financial planning. You can read the first part here – Financial Survival Tips for Small Businesses – Part I.
You will find that most of your customers have the money to pay at least some of what they owe you immediately. To keep them current, and the number of accounts receivable in your files to a minimum, you should call them on the phone and ask for some kind of explanation why they’re falling behind. If you develop such a habit as part of your operating procedure, you’ll find your invoices will magically be drawn to the front of their piles of bills to pay. While you should maintain a courteous attitude, don’t be hesitant, or too much of a nice guy when it comes to collecting money.
Something else that’s a very good business practice, but which few business owners do is to methodically build a credit rating with their local banks. Particularly when you have good cash flow, you should borrow $100 to $1,000 from your banks every 90 days or so. Simply borrow the money, and place it in an interest bearing account, and then pay it all back at least a month or so before it’s due. By doing this, you will increase the borrowing power of your signature, and strengthen your ability to obtain needed financing on short notice. This is a kind of business leverage that will be of great value to you if or whenever your cash position becomes less favorable.
By all means, consider joining your industry’s local and national trade associations. Most of these organizations have a wealth of information available on everything from details on your competitors to average industry sales figures, new products, services, and trends.
If you are given a membership certificate or wall plaque, you should display these conspicuously on your office wall. Customers like to see such seals of approval and feel additional confidence in your business when they see them.
Whenever you can, and as often as you need it, take advantage of whatever free business counseling is available. The Small Business Administration published many excellent booklets, checklist and brochures on quite a large variety of businesses. These publications are available through the U.S. Government printing office. Most local universities and many private organizations hold seminars at minimal cost, and often without charge. You should also take advantage of the services offered by your bank and local library.
The important thing about running a small business is to know the direction in which you’re heading; to know on a day-to-day basis your progress in that very direction; to be aware of what your competitors are doing and to practice good money management at all times. All this will prepare you to recognize potential problems before they arise.
In order to survive with a small business, regardless of the economic climate, it is essential to surround yourself with smart people, and practice sound business management at all times.