If you’re a small business owner, you need to keep a firm grasp on your cash flow so that you can thrive during the high tides and survive during the low ones. One way to do this is to save money for your business. Here are a few good tips to apply, plus a few options if you do find yourself in a bind.
Use Proper Accounting and Invoice Software
While you don’t necessarily have to jump into something as heavy as QuickBooks, you do need reliable software that will allow you to keep up with billing clients and tracking expenses. Sending an invoice made with a Word template won’t allow you to easily keep up with when clients are supposed to pay you and makes reporting for yourself and your clients a time-consuming headache. Making sure your getting paid on time will keep your business’s cash flow running smoothly.
Track and Analyze Results
Are you spending money on any kind of online marketing strategies or services? If so, you need to be tracking data that can help you see the results of your online marketing. The simplest way is to use Google Analytics.
After setting up the standard tracking code on your website, you will want to set up Google Analytics goals. The destination goal is the easiest to use – start by grabbing an order confirmation URL, your contact form’s thank you page URL, or another URL that signifies your business has made a lead or sale. With the destination goal setup, you will tell Google Analytics that whenever a visitor lands on that specific URL, they have completed a goal.
Once you have this set up, you can go through your Google Analytics to see the traffic sources that drive visitors to your website who make a conversion. You might find that particular social media networks, landing pages, or search engine ads translate to more conversions than others, allowing you to allocate more time and money to the strategies that work versus the ones that don’t.
Review Your Bills Carefully
When I worked as an office manager at a small furniture company, one of my duties was to review the incoming bills. At first, I thought this was a bit time consuming when I could have been doing other things. But it was amazing the number of times companies billed us wrong – in their favor.
This is why you have to review your incoming bills carefully. This is especially true when you have signed up for auto-billing. If you don’t pay attention to your charges carefully, you might not notice when a service you use has upped their fees, or maybe you have gone over a specific limit that put your business in the next tier of billing. Keep an eye on cell phone bills especially, and particularly when you have gone out of the country, as there are lots of crazy charges that can appear.
Cancel Before Free Trials End
Free trials are abundant and tempting, but many of them lock you in (at least for the first month) if you don’t cancel in time. Each time you sign up for a free trial, set up a calendar reminder a few days before that free trial ends to review whether it is something you want to keep or cancel. This will ensure that you don’t forget before your card gets charged and that you actually need the item / tool / service.
Review Recurring Subscriptions
This is a good one for both your personal finances as well as your business finances. Anything you have a recurring subscription to should be reviewed regularly (quarterly, bi-annually, or annually). It might be something as small as a $9.99 charge on a monthly basis, but if you have 10 small recurring charges at that rate, that’s almost $1,200 annually. This includes recurring payments for newspapers, magazines, ad placements, tools, services, and so forth.
Start by looking at your financial statements and seeing what you are charged for on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Then ask yourself three simple questions.
- Am I using this subscription?
- Am I seeing results from this subscription?
- Do I have something else that could easily replace the functionality or benefits of this subscription?
If you answer no to either of the first questions, or yes to the third, then it might be time to cancel.
Going forward, each time you set up a recurring payment for something, put in regular reminders on your calendar to review that particular subscription and ask the above-mentioned questions. This will ensure that you are only paying for the things you use that are bringing actual results for you and your business.
What To Do When in a Bind
No matter how much you try to save and make sure that you have steady income for your business, there still might come a time when you are in a bit of trouble. Fortunately, there are services that can help you when money is tight in your business.
Popular online services for businesses that get paid online are Kabbage, CAN Capital, and PayPal Working Capital. Both will look at your business’s income over the last year via connecting to your PayPal, bank, or other financial accounts and determine what amount you are eligible for. The key is to look for the one that will loan you the amount you need with the easiest payback terms and lowest interest rates / fees. Most will allow you to find out the amount you are eligible to borrow and see payback structures, interest rates, and fees without having to commit to the loan.
How do you save money in your small business, and what do you do when you hit a financial snag? Please share in the comments!