“Entrepreneurs believe that profit is what matters most in a new enterprise. But profit is secondary. Cash flow matters most.”
~ Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker writes that entrepreneurs believe profit is what matters most in a new enterprise. But profit is secondary. Cash flow matters most. Hands down, managing cash flow is the biggest challenge for business owners. The definition of “cash flow” is the processes of money coming in and going out of your business. The goal is to have more cash flowing in than going out, also known as profit. Another way to look at it is, “cash today, gone tomorrow and repeat.”
Most businesses view the amount of cash coming in as a key measurement of a successful business, but it is the day-to-day expen-ses incurred that keeps the lights on, brings in the products, pays the staff (your main asset), bills, and the suppliers/vendors you need to serve your clients or customers. In the early stages of a business, profit certainly is important but it is only one part of a successful business gauge. How is your cash flow or available liquidity within your business? Liquidity is the term for available cash on hand that you use to pay for the expenses mentioned. Have you heard the term “cash is king”? This is still very much today’s reality.
Successful business owners are good at what they do and that is why they can earn money from their skills. Part of their success is the ability to quickly recover from mistakes and implement new strategies when things go awry.
So why are so few business owners equipped for success? A new business is often overwhelming. There are several reasons why a business can succeed while an almost identical business fails. My goal with this book is to arm you with keys to avoiding the common pitfalls that many companies face. A business owner’s skill is making money with their craft, sales, or services, yet they might be lacking in managing the day-to-day business details. A business owner might not understand how to handle everyday tasks well, whether it results in mismanagement, overpaying for basic expenses, encountering unexpected expenses, or handling unforeseen changes in the economy. Over time, these deficiencies can put a small business in danger of failure.
As an entrepreneur, we are all building our own empires. It is just a matter of scale. – Rinette Lagace
Gabe is a friendly, go-lucky guy. He is very welcoming and takes the time to visit with people; he is happy to share funny stories of the many odd encounters he experienced operating the locomotive. The stunning scenery is always changing. This was his bliss: being in nature and experiencing it at its best, and yes at times, at its worst.
Gabe ended up asking for his family’s help to tide him over his business’ seasonal slump—people only wanted to travel in the spring to fall seasons which made the winters tough. Often, Gabe was unable to pay his regular payments so his family was integral in getting him by until he could build his business.
Can you relate to Gabe? Have you experienced similar situations? Hats off to you if you were well prepared and planned for slowdowns! Unfortunately, most people get caught up in debt and start spinning, or they go to family for “temporary” financial aid, or perhaps a couch to sleep on.
If you manage to get through the business building stage, there is the next stage: Survival. How do you continue running your business each day without “burnout”?
I recently attended a Xero conference, (Xero is bookkeeping online software) at which they provided statistics from a study on the length of time it takes to receive payment from customers. Here are the results of that study:
By offering a variety of payment options, specifically online ones, it was much easier and faster to receive payment. The more convenient you make it for customers, the higher the likelihood of receiving payment. You can also consider mobile payment solutions such as Square or Apple Pay which are great options for smaller businesses. Compare the fees involved in offering all these payment options and shop around. Remember, these expenses are a normal cost of doing business and if this allows you to receive payments from your customers in a timely fashion, then it is more than worth it! I will discuss payment options in detail in Chapter 2.4.
“The true definition of procrastination is,
the art of screwing yourself.” – Philips Benjamin
For many, procrastination is the reason for so much more in our lives other than just staying on top of your books. For most business owners, it is due to the lack of time available to stay on top of their books or they do not possess the knowledge to do this themselves. For some, they just do not want to know how bad their situation really is. As they ignore the pile of paperwork sitting on the table, it becomes like an insurmountable task that they dread and put off until tax deadline draws near.
Not knowing where to start can be enough for anyone not to take action. And I can guarantee, “you will never be going to feel like it”. Do your children want to clean their rooms or help with the chores? Do you feel you have to motivate them with threats of losing privileges, desserts, etc.? I know it sure took a lot of energy out of me to motivate my children to help with the chores or do their homework. In fact, I have some great “crazy mom” stories that are really funny to share today. Bottomline, like our children, we will need to take the necessary steps to “force” ourselves to accomplish tasks which do not excite us. The key is simplifying the process.
It does not have to be hard and there are so many little steps—actionable steps—which you can do to make the pain of books and bookkeeping less daunting.
Let’s start with the “why.” Why is it important to stay on top of your books? Do you care? Why or how can it make a difference?
Hopefully at this point in the book, you will understand the “why” or at least understand the importance of staying on top of your books.
In case you forgot, it’s about saving money and making money so that you can be successful and live the life you choose, all the while, having happy customers.
Your Financials Tell a Story
Words don’t teach, experiences and the sharing of our experiences are what help others discover a way through.
I would like to share a story shared by counsellor I have worked with, Adrian Juric. Adrian shared a story that was profound.
As Adrian was walking through the forest with a friend, the friend described themself as feeling “all twisted up”. There was much turmoil in this person’s life and they felt torn between allegiance to different people in their life. As Adrian and his friend proceeded down the path, Adrian saw a relatively straight stick with some nubs left on it where branches had fallen off. He asked his friend to pick up the stick and break it in two. This was a simple task as the stick did not present much resistance.
Later down the trail, Adrian spotted a stick, all twisted up, kind of gnarled-looking, so he asked his friend to pick up this second stick and break it. This stick would not break. Adrian then pointed to first the stick, which was easily broken. It had an easy life, there was limited turmoil. Looking at the second stick—the one all twisted up— this stick obviously had a difficult life. It had twisted while growing in order to reach for sunlight under difficult circumstances. As Adrian pointed out, “See how this twisted stick was resilient?”
This is why business owners who have struggled, perhaps nearing or suffering bankruptcy, can find a new way when they keep trying. They continually, and against odds, reach for the sunshine. Just like the strong, twisted stick. Their determination, and resulting resilience, empower them to keep on trying. This is what it means to be a business owner. Not everyone is cut out for the challenge, but those who are know that there will be challenges, learning opportunities, difficult times, yet have the courage to find their way through. Of course, there are also moments of great celebration!