|Rich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites. Recent books include The American Family Survival Bible and Annuity Facts Revealed: What You MUST Know Before You Invest.|
It’s Time for a Business Financial Check-up
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that a business’s financial health is critical to its survival. Business owners know they will always experience peaks and valleys in growing their businesses. Whether you recently started your business or celebrating 15 years of operations, its financial health will determine how far you can go. If you want to take your business to the next level, working on the financial wellness of your business needs to be a top priority.
Here are the critical areas of concern to consider in your financial checkup:
Check Your Liabilities
Carrying debt is harmful to your business’s financial health. If you have debt, create a cash flow plan to pay it down. If you think you will need to access financing in the future, establish a line of credit with your bank. If that’s not possible right now, consider asset-based financing or invoice factoring to avoid interest-bearing debt.
Build Your Business Credit
The need to access financing is unavoidable for most growing businesses. While lenders will consider your personal credit standing to establish credit, they also want to see how your business manages credit. Look for ways to start building your business credit by establishing trade credit accounts with vendors or suppliers who will report your payment history to the credit bureaus. When you can, obtain a business credit card from your bank.
Keep Your Personal and Business Finances Separate
To build business credit, you must keep your business records separate from your personal records. That will not only simplify your tax preparation; it will also help you avoid the ire of the IRS. Start with a separate checking and savings account for your business. You may also want to consider organizing your business as a separate entity, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or S-Corporation.
Check all Your Vitals
Checking the financial wellness of your business needs to include a regular examination of its vitals. That helps to ensure your business is on track, and it also helps avoid any surprises.
Cash flow: Check on the timing of your payables and receivables to increase control of cash going in and out of the business. As you project your cash flow, know your cash flow trends for the year. Ensure you have access to cash flow to cover shortfalls (i.e., reserve fund, line-of-credit, factoring accounts, etc.)
Balance sheet:Keep a handle on year-over-year changes to your balance sheet, including assets, liabilities, and inventory. Are they trending favorably? Always look for ways to improve your balance sheet.
Expenses: Track your expenses from month to month and year over year. Establish expense control procedures.
Sales: Examine your revenue sources and any trends or shifts in their composition. An important gauge of the business’s financial health is the cost of sales and whether it’s going up or down.
Business plan: Review your strategic initiatives for performance and effectiveness. Are the initiatives being executed? What’s working and what’s not working, and why? Make any necessary adjustments to their execution.
Operations management: Review all functions and processes. Are our resources and staff being utilized optimally? Can efficiencies be improved by outsourcing certain functions?
Build a Reserve Fund
No growing business is immune to temporary cash crunches. Having access to capital to cover seasonal shifts or even growth spurts should be a top priority. If you have an established business with good credit, a line of credit with your bank can be your best option. If your business doesn’t have a credit history or you want to avoid taking on debt, it would be essential to allocate any cash surpluses to a reserve fund until you have enough to cover six months of overhead expenses.
When you become mired in the details of running the business, it isn’t easy to see the forest for the trees. You become more reactive than proactive, which could be the difference between success and failure. It’s your responsibility to give your business a regular financial wellness checkup and then allocate the proper resources to keep it functioning while keeping your eyes on the big picture.
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