How to advance your business
Updated: Jun 16, 2018
A key part of your business plan should be to improve the financial position of your business. There are many aspects to this and it is well worth considering all of the points below in your strategy.
If you haven't already done so, consider talking to an accountant or business adviser about your financing needs and options. An adviser or accountant may be able to suggest other ways of improving your cash flow or provide options for sourcing funding internally.
Some ways you can improve your financial position and cash flow include:
Recover outstanding debt
Chase up as many outstanding payments as you can. If you don't have the time, consider outsourcing your debt collection with a reputable debt collection agency. Before you make a sale, always make sure you have a condition of sale agreement in writing that outlines your terms and conditions. Include how long your debtors have to settle the debt and any percentages applied for overdue payments.
Analyse all of your expenses and figure out which of these you could reduce or rearrange. Some options include:
arranging a deferred or periodic payment plan for larger expenses
switching insurance companies, banks or suppliers to get a better deal
modifying the quantity and/or timing of your stock purchases to coincide with higher cash flow periods
switching to cheaper alternatives for consumables such as managing your energy use.
Selling unwanted assets can be a good way to get some cash and reduce your storage costs. You could also consider leasing your main assets to help spread the cost over a longer period.
If you’re selling on terms such as retention of title, or leasing out valuable goods, consider registering a security interest on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR). Registering a security interest in goods that you’re selling can help you recover the debt if a buyer doesn’t pay or becomes insolvent.
Applying markdowns to full-price products or services can attract sales and shift surplus stock or discontinued products. If you're offering markdowns, ensure you always comply with pricing legislation. See the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for more information on pricing and your obligations.
Increasing prices can be a valid option for businesses facing rising costs, even if it's not popular with customers. If you consider this option, ensure your prices always comply with pricing legislation. Check the ACCC for details about pricing and your obligations.
Look at your current debts and see if you can combine them into a low interest and low fee product. When considering refinancing your current debt arrangements, make sure you shop around to see if you can you get a better deal elsewhere.
Use new marketing techniques
Putting more effort into marketing doesn't necessarily require spending more money. For example, using the internet and social media can be a cheaper and smarter way of getting your message across.
Offer additional payment options
Offering additional payment options such as credit, e-commerce, or additional payment systems (e.g. BPAY, BillPay or PayPal), can open up different markets and improve your bottom line.
Look for government grants
Generally, the government doesn't provide finance to people who want to start up or buy a small business. However, you may be eligible for a grant in certain circumstances, such as business expansion, research and development, innovation or exporting.
Invest your own money
Investing your own money or that of your family or friends may give you a better chance of obtaining finance. Generally, lenders require a certain amount of equity invested in the business (self-finding) before they will lend you money. Before you decide on this option, you should first carefully consider how this arrangement can affect your relationships.
Keep track of your cash flow
A cash flow statement lists all your incoming and outgoing cash items for the next 12 months. This will help you plan ahead and make sure you can cover your expenses.
A good accountant will help you set-up and manage a cash flow statement. It is also important that you have a bookkeeping system with cloud capabilities to keep track of your cash flow.
Improve your cash flow
There are simple ways you can improve your cash flow, such as:
making sure you send a correctly formatted invoice at the time of purchase
embed an on-line payment option on your invoice
Ask customers to pay you by direct debit and outline the advantages to both parties of doing so (cash-flow smoothing)
following up on outstanding customer accounts as soon as you can
reducing your expenses – you could try finding cheaper suppliers or consolidating your debts for a better rate. Options include organising a periodic payment plan for larger expenses.
To cope with changes in your cash flow, you could also consider taking out a business loan. Before you do, it's a good idea to assess your financial needs.
This article is intended to be a guide only. None of the comments contained in the article are intended to be advice, whether legal, financial or professional. You should not act solely on the basis of the information contained in this article because many aspects of the material have been generalised and the tax laws apply differently to different people in different circumstances. Further, as tax and related laws change frequently, there may have been changes to the law since this article was published. Specific advice should always be obtained from a tax professional.