Probably the most stressful topic at the moment in your business
Businesses - We ensure we have cash flow projections and different scenarios of the future for all of our businesses for a range of scenarios that could happen.
People - It’s equally important that everyONE we work with has cash flow projections for themselves
Most people manage their business based on what they have in the bank . . .BUT THIS DOESN’T WORK.
You could have cash but haven’t made any profit . . . OR you could be very profitable but not have much cash . . .
This is the hardest thing for small business owners to come to terms with.
P&L and Cash flow difference
P&L - view this as a record of what’s happened in the past, important to know what you did.
Cash flow - A prediction of the future, planning ahead and working out what we need to do in sales or what expenses you can spend before getting in to trouble
If I sold 1000 widgets at £1 each today, when I raise the invoice, it’ll say I’ve made £1000 in sales. This is unlikely to hit the account instantly, especially if I offer 30 day credit.
Last month I could have made a sale that just hit my account today, it could tie me over for 2 months, I could feel okay not making a sale for 2 months . . but I could still be losing money.
Amy Beck - InQbates Financial Director
Amy is InQbates financial director and she solves this mystery for not just us but for all of our businesses!
What she uses Regardless of business size - Business financial tracker which anyone can fill in and use! All you have to do is be disciplined enough to fill this in accurately and regularly
Click here for a copy of the Business Financial Tracker
Step by Step Filling in the Template
If you're starting from the 1st Feb as we recommend, put in the balances of the accounts as of the 31st January, and list all of the accounts also at the bottom of the sheet.
1. Go back 6 months and check in case you have annual costs to ensure you can include them. Go back to Feb, run a CSV ( spreadsheet) from your bank from 1st Feb - 7th Feb. Once it’s listed out, go through the statement line by line, each transaction, regardless of what it is, but it in.
Debits from the same thing ( eg Facebook) if these are deducted in 3 separate transactions you could group these together.
2. Forecast, if you know a charge comes out at a set time each month for the same amount, you can make a note of this and include it in the correct place in your spreadsheet in the future.
EG marketing consultancy I pay £500 on the 1st each month. The box of the 1st in each month in the spreadsheet I can add in this £500 in advance. I can do the same for annual costs, for instance insurance I paid in October, I can add that in for next October as its an expense that is coming up.
3. A key thing we do, once we have a gauge on what we need to put away for VAT each week, we move this into a seperate account ready to pay this out, and plan this in.
4. Net of the week (cash) = everything that came in - everything that came out
Current Account = Balance + Net of the week
VAT = ready to pay out when needs be
Total Cash = Whats sat across all accounts (if this is green, the total cash you have is positive)
5. Can add in predicted sales, you don’t know what you’ll do yet, but if you know your monthly average, you can add this in and take into account your growth % if your steady increasing sales. Recognise what changes with activity eg, predicting half product sales, half sales = half postage.
6. Can look to identify gaps in your Toal Predicted Cash
If you keep this data correct and up to date, you can check this bottom line and either breath a sigh of relief that your in the green, or help you understand where the gap is, what expenses you could cut back on or how much of a loan or grant or funding you may need to cover your predicted gap.
Experiment to understand, Dedicate time to find out what would happen in each scenario. If I closed for 2 weeks what would happen, if I didn’t have any sales for 2 months what would this look like. . . the more you experiment the better your understanding will become.
This document can also be used for forecasting and making decisions, for instance if someone asked for a credit extension, you can check here if your business can actually afford to do that.
Most of these have cash flow software and a button that will create one. The problem with these is that you don’t have as much ownership over them.
They are normally based on averages and are only as good as the information that it has . . Past performance tracking is one thing, but being able to add in predicting the future, based on the best and worst case scenario, real time tracking, finding the gaps and testing ways to cover them in key!
Ownership is very important, the act of fully understanding and putting it together is what makes the difference. Even if a bookkeeper is filling it in and keeping it up to date, if you started it initially and can use it for predictions, it’s super valuable to you.
I have an accountant, wont they do this for me?
Unless you have someone that works internally in your company, OR you pay a management consultant that goes through this sheet with you monthly and you analyse it together, simply . .. no, they won’t. Any external body / accountant will not bring anything of use to you for scenario planning and cash flow forecasting that's as accurate as you’ll need it to be. They would need your industry data and company knowledge along with a huge input from yourself.
This isn’t what your accountant is for and isn’t what you pay them to do for you. Their information is useful but it isn't strictly tailored to you, your activity and your company. It is an internal process that needs to be done.
Your accountant will probably deal with your statutory requirement, year end, corp tax return, maybe bookkeeping services etc. They’ll show you what’s happened . . . however it is not their job to predict your business future, how your business is doing cash wise, your financial planning, budgets etc.
Top 10 things to FIND, SAVE and MAKE cash quickly
1. Identify wasted spend - is there something you’ve been paying for you thought was cancelled, you've never used or no longer use? Do you need to reduce a subscription because you’re not using it for the foreseeable future given COVID circumstances e.g. sky sports for personal use or an over requirement printer ink subscription you hardly use? No matter how small, get it cancelled or changed.
2. Delay making payments and get new agreements with suppliers - HMRC is an immediate one and any other large direct expenses take a look at. Agree new terms with suppliers. ALWAYS speak to them and get agreement. Do you usually pay a bill when you get it just to have it done/paid? DON'T - Check its due date, make a note and get organised - the difference could be bigger than you think.
3. Now maybe the time to look for new suppliers, new software etc. These may be cheaper or they may be just better. You could’ve been using the same people, the same software, the same accountants(!) since you’ve been in business and never had the time before to really assess them for efficiency and cost. You might not save on the direct cost but if you take time in choosing new people or practices what you can make up for in efficiency will reap financial gains later on.
4. Variable expenses and the current situation e.g. fuel to drive back and forth to work, food at home and going out expenses reduced at this time for at least two months. Any related expenses that vary with work, adjust your cash flow, assess the effects.
5. Move cash around - tax pot, VAT pot etc. You can now utilise that cash BUT only when cash flow shows that you can pay it back when its payment is required.
6. Once you've gone through the points above, identify your worst case and find the gap. This isn't money making in itself but knowing the gap means you can get to grips with the expense of the intervention you require. Most of the interventions on offer at the moment come at some cost, if the gap is £2k or £10k or £100k you can gauge the full expense of the intervention required and choose the ones that cost the least.
7. Look at new cash e.g. those interventions mentioned above e.g. small overdrafts, 0% borrowing, new loans and financial help. Please refer to what would Amy do?
8. New cash making opportunities – you might see a big 8 week space that you might have no money coming in (with how you currently do business at the moment) and now you know the costs. You need to think of any money making opportunities that could utilise your skills, your business, your people to generate new cash with what you do best.
9. Set your strategy, set your goals, set your budget and forecast into the future.
10. Identify if you want a different future. You're not sure where to start, you want to start again or you want to grow?
It’s almost impossible to follow the above, and not save 5% - 10% quite easily. The current circumstances are difficult, and you need to use the theory don’t ask, don’t get!
To view the COVID 19 What Would Amy Do document click here
This is updated regularly as new government guidance and advice comes out. Check our Update posts for the latest information.