Business Survival Guide

Now, more than ever, every business should have a robust cash flow forecast for at least the next three months identifying their expected cash flow in and out & exactly what is driving it.

This will allow you to have the clarity of where you will be week, by week and month by month so you can make regular decisions on your revenues, profits, costs & cash.

The following guide will help you to identify where you can reduce your costs, increase gross margins and maximise your cash position as well as detailing what information you should have in place to assist you with decision making.

Know where you are and what you need to do

If you don’t have clarity on where you are, where you need to be and what you need to do to get there, you are leaving too much to chance.  In the current economic climate, that is very risky.

If there is a chance that you may consider funding at some point, having these in place will identify early that you have a problem (no funders like last minute), assist with you chances of success and speed the process up.

You should have the following in place as a minimum:

  • Up-to date management information (performance by KPI)
  • Up-to date financial accounts
  • Clarity on: assets & liabilities, creditor & debtor ledgers and status, tax liabilities

Reduce costs – business

  • Review all overheads – what can you cancel, defer, downgrade or re-negotiate
  • Talk to utility providers about alternative tariffs & change providers if possible
  • Talk to banks/ funders about interest rates, payment holidays etc
  • Review landline, broadband and mobile tariffs and providers
  • Review expenses policy and ensure adherence
  • Review all direct debit & standing orders and delete where possible
  • Talk to all suppliers to see how they may be able to assist – renegotiate contracts where possible
  • Talk to HMRC if needed
  • Talk to your landlord about rent levels & holiday options
  • Review staff overheads and what can be done in the short term (with HR advice) – can you flip to contractors, furlough employees, reduce pay, reduce hours
  • Switch banks to reduce bank charges and even secure a switching incentive

Reduce costs – personal

  • Review all overheads – what can you cancel, defer, downgrade or re-negotiate
  • Talk to utility providers about alternative tariffs & change providers if possible
  • Talk to your lenders (loans, mortgage etc) about reduced rates, payment holidays or consolidation of any debt
  • If you rent, talk to your landlord about rates or payment holidays
  • Reduce/ eliminate any non essential payments or subscriptions – magazines, satellite TV, sports clubs, gym memberships
  • If you are a two car family, can you manage with one (cancel insurance & road tax)
  • If you have a mortgage and the ability, consider over paying on your mortgage to reduce interest
  • Look to switch banks to reduce rates, generate a switching incentive

Margins/ Sales

  • Look at segmentation reports (profitability league tables) for products, customers & sectors – identify low margin business that needs attention
  • Can you:
    • Raise prices
    • Exit the product/ customer
    • Reduce costs
    • Substitute for a higher margin offering
  • Introduce new (higher margin) products
  • Sell more volume of the higher margin products
  • Can you move you offering on-line
  • Can you sell a lower value product to more people
  • What problems do your audience have that you can solve whilst they are sat at home
  • Can you re-engage and sell to your lapsed customers
  • Can you up-sell or cross-sell to current customers
  • Can you offer a delivery service or a different product/ service to your customers

Cash

  • Reduce cash tied up in stock or work in progress
  • Chase all overdue debt (manually or use an agency or automated software)
  • Move new business onto part payment up-front
  • Carry-out credit checks for all new clients and large spend existing ones
  • Review & renegotiate payment terms to debtors
  • Move clients onto direct debit mandates
  • Send invoices out on time & look to use repeat/ automated invoicing
  • Review & renegotiate payment terms to creditors (pay to terms if you have to)
  • Review and update your cash flow forecast regularly (at least weekly) – if you haven’t got one, make it top priority!
  • Monitor bank activity/ cash reserves daily
  • Do you have any assets that you can sell?
  • Talk to your accountant, bank manager, mentor or local council official to understand what grants are available

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