January is one of the busiest times of the year for the retail and hospitality industries. However, businesses operating in other sectors often find that sales slow and customers take longer to pay invoices during the holiday season. Many suppliers also close for an extended period at this time of year, meaning that small businesses may need to pay suppliers prior to the break in order to have productsto sell while their suppliers are closed.
Whether your business is large or small, well-established or in start-up mode, it is prudent to take a planned approach to managing cashflow during the beginning of the year. Here are few tips for keeping on top of cashflow management during the January holiday period.
It is easy to let your business admin slip over the holiday period, with all the personal commitments around Christmas and then taking a well-earned break. However, this is the most important time of the year to stay on top of your invoicing. You may find that many customers will be slow to pay because their businesses are closed over the Christmas/New Year/January period.
If you’ve been thinking about moving to a cloud-based accounting system, it’s worth making the transition before the end of the year. Software like Xero and MYOB allows you to set up automated reminders for overdue payments, even if you’re away from the office.
Be clear with customers that you expect them to pay within the pre-arranged credit terms over the holiday period. Consider contacting regular slow payers a few days before payment is due to confirm that they’ll be paying on time. The phone is usually a more effective method than email; if you’re not comfortable having this conversation with your customers, your bookkeeper may be able to assist.
If December and January are traditionally quiet months for your small business, take a close look at expenses to see if there’s any spending that can wait until February or March, when you’re back into your regular trading rhythm.
End of year celebrations and staff bonuses are two common areas that many business owners don’t plan for and can create a cashflow squeeze. This burden can be eased by setting up a regular fortnightly or monthly payment plan at the start of the year so you’re contributing to these costs throughout the year.
With many small businesses facing cash flow shortages due to the holiday period, it’s a good idea to have a strategy for accessing additional capital if you need it, such as a line of credit. Invoice finance can take the pressure off when cashflow is tight.
Invoice finance is specifically designed to turn your unpaid invoices into cash to pay supplier accounts and other operating expenses. Australian Invoice Finance can approve and make available a new factoring facility to access additional funding and avoid cash flow shortages over the holiday period and throughout 2019.
If sales are a little slow in January, use the time wisely to hit the ground running when things pick up in February.
For business owners, the January slowdown is a great time to work through the to-do list you’ve been compiling. This might include taking a thorough inventory, searching for more suitable funding alternatives, completing a comprehensive competitor analysis or researching the market for new products and suppliers.
Greg Charlwood, Managing Director, Australian Invoice Finance