If you're an entrepreneur intrigued about hacks for cash flow and money management, you're not alone. A 2017 study by Guidant Financial of more than 2,700 current and aspiring women entrepreneurs found that 35 percent of respondents saw cash flow and lack of capital a key concern in their businesses.
To help you shorten your learning curve and spruce up your spending, savings and all-around money savvy, here are a few simple steps you can take. The money management tips below can help foster a fresh mindset to power your finances.
Pay Yourself First
You keep your bills, vendors and employees all paid on time, every time. But where do you fit in the payment equation? Paying yourself first is a strategy that's easy to forget when you're forging ahead with your business goals.
Debbi King, the author of The ABCs of Personal Finance, wasn't always the go-to gal for money advice and admits that even she fell into the trap of not paying herself first. Today, however, she makes sure she's number one on her payroll—and socks a bit away in savings as well.
“It's okay to spend, but it is vital to save at least 10 percent out of every dollar you make," says King.
To establish your own “pay yourself first" strategy, here are a few tips to help you with both stress and cash management:
- Salary: Make sure you're drawing a reasonable salary from your business to fund your life outside of work.
- Retirement Planning: Set up an employer-sponsored retirement plan like a SEP-IRA or 401(K) plan to help fund your future, starting now.
- Build Cash Reserves: It's easy to pour everything into your business, especially at critical growth stages. Consider King's advice and stash a portion of your revenue—beyond operating costs—away for a rainy day.
Consider Your Funding Sources
“So many new entrepreneurs get excited and try to do everything at once and end up crashing with a huge pile of debt left behind," says King.
Having both current and future earnings in my head helps to elevate where I spend my time so that I'm not bogged down by the tyranny of the urgent and can lean into the wealth of the strategic.
—Laura Gassner Otting, consultant and author
To keep your business growing without racking up those massive debts, wisely consider all of your cash flow and money management options.
The following tips can help women entrepreneurs explore funding options for their businesses:
- Professional organizations: Tap into local chapters of women-led organizations to help connect you with female-friendly investors.
- Working capital terms: If you want to boost your early-pay history with vendors to better your business credit and improve payment terms, consider working capital loans. These loans will pay your vendors up front and allow you to repay the loan over time.
- Term loans: If you have major purchases on the horizon, a term loan can help you get the materials you need and for a predictable expense. Set terms will let you know how much your payments will be month-to-month and help you grow your business while planning expenses.
- Business charge or credit cards: There are a variety of business charge and credit cards out there: Look for ones that fit what you value most, from cash back to travel benefits and rewards points. Keep balances in check.
Reframe How You Think About Money
You've set strategies to pay yourself first and are exploring how to use non-cash funding options to fuel your growth wisely. It's time to reframe how you think about money to help improve your money management and cash flow.
“I think of terms of current money and future money," says Laura Gassner Otting, consultant and author of Limitless. "When I need a certain amount of current money, I can negotiate on that to earn more future money."
For Gassner Otting, “current money" is the money she needs to run her business, keep her employees paid and live a fulfilling life. “Future money" is the earnings of tomorrow she's planting the seeds for today.
She takes most of her current money in immediate cash flow, like retainers and bulk book purchases. This practice allows her to be more patient for the future money to come through as she cultivates relationships, builds referrals for new speaking engagements and creates opportunities for future revenue streams.
“Having both current and future earnings in my head helps to elevate where I spend my time so that I'm not bogged down by the tyranny of the urgent and can lean into the wealth of the strategic," she says.
Consult With a Pro
There's no shortage of women entrepreneurs ready to support other women braving the business world. Don't be shy about asking for help when it comes to your business finances.
Your best cash flow and money management tips can come from periodic check-ins with accountants, bookkeepers and financial advisors. Even if you love handling the money running your business, there's no harm in having a second, impartial set of eyes on your books and taxes each year.
A tax professional can help you uncover tax savings like deductions and depreciation strategies you might have missed on your own. A financial advisor can help protect your business on all fronts, from insurance to savings and your employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Ask your network for referrals and most importantly, don't outsource your business finances 100 percent.
"Know everything that is happening and ask questions to understand," says King.
The more you know about your cash flow and financial situation, the better money management tips your professionals can offer as you'll have ammunition to ask better questions.
Read more articles on managing money.
The information contained herein is for generalized informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute investment, financial, tax, legal or other professional advice on any subject matter. THIS IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS ADVICE. Therefore, seek such advice in connection with any specific situation, as necessary. The views and opinions of third parties expressed herein represent the opinion of the author, speaker or participant (as the case may be) and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions and/or judgments of American Express Company or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions. American Express makes no representation as to, and is not responsible for, the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or reliability of any such opinion, advice or statement made herein.
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