Updated: Feb 11, 2020
Make no mistake, cash flow is a huge deal for ALL business owners. Some consider it to be the most crucial aspect of their business. It’s so essential it causes significant anxiety and adversely affects attitude. Sounds important! Let's get into it.
First off, what is anxiety? According to Health Line, anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, giving a speech, or dealing with cash flow shortages may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. Anxiety is a negative emotion and has a harmful effect on a person’s attitude. A business owner’s bad attitude can have a tremendous negative effect on the operation of their business.
Anyone who has ever run their own business knows what I’m talking about here. The panic feeling that starts in your gut and pulsates throughout your body resulting in a pounding headache while you worry endlessly about how you’re going to cover payroll, order materials, or hire new employees.
Anxiety is one of our emotions that have allowed humans to develop into the dominant species on the planet. According to Thierry Steimer, a Clinical Psychopharmacologist at the Geneva University Hospital, Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland,
“Anxiety is a psychological, physiological, and behavioral state induced in animals and humans by a threat to well-being or survival, either actual or potential.”
That’s a fancy way of saying that anxiety causes a lot of shit to happen inside the human body. What I find interesting in Steimer’s definition is that anxiety kicks in whether a threat is real or not. Humans have interesting ways of making mountains out of molehills. That little voice in their head that keeps telling them the problem is more significant than it is. This ‘conversation’ they have with themselves can develop into something called pathological anxiety and should be treated by a medical doctor.
So, anxiety is stress, and stress is your body’s way of responding to threats. What could be more threatening to a business owner than a lack of cash flow? Not much. The thought of losing their business is horrifying. Not being able to pay debts, or their employees are direct personal threats. Their business is how they provide for their family, how they see themselves, and their purpose in life.
Here are some general tips on improving your cash flow skills:
1. Manage invoices
Send invoice reminders and provide incentives (the old carrot and stick strategy). Offer discounts to people who pay early. Charge penalties for late payments.
Take advantage of supplier discount offers. If there's no incentive to pay the invoice early, pay it whenever it makes the most sense to maintain good cash flow.
2. Increase revenues
Sell more! It sounds simple but also maybe THE reason you are in the cash flow predicament in the first place.
Develop or redefine your marketing plan. My guess is if you’re having trouble selling you have no marketing plan because you never thought it was necessary. How is that working for you?
Up your salesmanship skills by hiring someone from the outside.
3. Be smart about how you spend
Reducing the flow of cash going out:
Eliminate unnecessary expenses
Streamline business processes
Buy more efficient equipment
Ask suppliers for bulk rates and discounts
Any one of the above tips to grow sales, decrease costs and gain capital will help you increase your cash flow. No brainer right?
Additionally, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of websites, blog posts, articles, and groups that have published all sorts of lists on cash flow management. Just Google cash flow management tips. There is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming and counterproductive figuring out which list is the best. My suggestion is this, develop a system that works for you and whatever you do, keep it simple, or you will never follow it.
The best advice I can share with you….
My buddy Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. This is true when it comes to cash flow in a business. Hey business owners! If you are enjoying the anxiety in your life keep doing what you're doing! If you are ready to find a better way, a healthier way or dare I say, a happier way than consider some advice from Aristotle who said,
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Which habits do you need to change? Specifically, your habits towards processes. Processes for invoicing, collecting, marketing, selling, and spending will be essential. (If you need help with these processes, contact me.) A word of caution here. Change, in general, will bring on an emotion called vulnerability, and you’re going to have to fight through those feelings to improve.
As mentioned earlier, a business owner’s bad attitude can have a tremendously negative effect on the operation of their business. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap!! Your attitude will ultimately determine how successful you will be in life. Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right. That’s called attitude!
Did you know that 50% of the knowledge you need to run your business in 5 years doesn't exist today?
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