Protect your money

When you are running a small business, every dollar counts. That includes cash that comes into your business and cash that goes out. It’s how you charge your customers for what you provide them, and keeping a watchful eye on what you are being charged by others.

It’s also about protecting what you have which includes cash, receivables as well as physical items such as assets and inventory. Maybe your customers are paying on time, but you could be losing money in other areas. It’s important to keep an eye on everything related to money in your small business.

Here are a few items to always pay attention to:

Cash Flow:

As a small business, you need to protect your cash flow at all cost. As a collection agency that works with small business, we are having conversations every day with small business owners just like you that are having issues with cash flow. And one of the main reasons is that customers are not paying on time or not paying at all. There are so many reasons a customer may hold up on paying you. Some are legitimate such as going through a trying time or they just plain forgot. But as we know, other times they are refusing to pay for other reasons. Continue reading “Protect your money”

How to keep your business going when you’re not there

When you are running a small business, you might be in a position where you are doing almost everything. Depending on the circumstances such as amount of business, labor shortage or it is just the nature of your business, one day you could be at your desk and the next, out seeing a customer.

The fact is that many small businesses are running because the owners are actively involved in the day-to-day operations.

But what happens when you cannot be at your business?

There are a whole host of reasons that could cause you to be away from your small business. Everything from an injury or illness, vacation and time away such as your kid’s college visits, to major surgery. You could be away from your small business for a day or two, or months depending on the issue.

How do you make sure your small business runs when you’re not there?

Continue reading “How to keep your business going when you’re not there”

Tips for conducting a monthly review of small business finances

If you are like many small businesses, you don’t just sit at your desk all day and shout orders to people. You are doing everything. And depending on the time of year, as you well know, your level of hands on activity can vary depending on the seasonality of your business. If you are in lawncare or a pool construction company, you might be full steam from April well through October.

Collection agencies that work with small business hear from owners and other all the time when things such as cash flow start to suffer. And because many in business get too busy to take care of the back end of their operation sometimes, finances begin to take the first fall.

We strongly suggest a regular review of your small business finances. In fact, even if you are very busy, you should at least sit down once a month and make sure everything is in order.

Below are a number of regular items for your review.

Review all your bank statements.

This should be one of the first things you do each month in your review. Make sure you sit down and review all your bank statements. This also includes any credit card statements or other revolving accounts you might have for the business. Check for regular activity to make sure the amount you may have authorized is in fact the amount on your statement. And of course, check to make sure there is not any unauthorized activity on your accounts.

If you have anyone other than yourself using a company credit or debit card, make sure they are providing documentation on every item or purchase they use that card for.

Review accounts payable.

Make sure you are putting a careful look at the money that goes out the door. Check all your incoming invoices for accuracy and make sure there is no duplication or other items tacked on to any of your vendor invoices without explanation or authorization. If you have any doubts, make sure you contact your vendor as soon as you can to resolve any discrepancies in amounts or service.

Review procedures with staff.

Depending on the type of your small business, you may have more than a handful of people that have access to cash and other forms of payment. First, make sure you have systems in place to make sure everyone knows how any form of payment should be handled. Second, make sure you are conducting regular reviews with those team members to make sure there are no mistakes or mishandling of money. This includes everything from any retail operation and checks or credit card payments that could be handled out in the field.

Pay your bills on time.

You probably understand where we are coming from here because we’re a collection agency. And you would be correct. You need to pay your bills and your vendors on time. We can think of at least two reasons. First, as a small business, you know how important cash flow is to the success of a business. In all likelihood, your vendor is another small business. But two, if you do not pay your bills on time, it can cost you more money in possible late fees, now you have to cut a check for may two months of service and it causes you more time to get caught up which can take you away for running and growing your business.

Invoice on time.

It all depends on the type of business you are running but you need to make sure you are invoicing on time and at the very least, every month. You cannot go more than 30 days without sending out your invoices. First, your customers expect an invoice but second, delaying any type of invoice will only hurt your cash flow and snowball from there.

Cash flow.

Speaking of cash flow…If you do one thing on a regular basis, it should be monitoring your cash flow. Nothing can hurt your small business quicker than ignoring cash flow. As we mentioned, the first step is to make sure you are invoicing on time. No exceptions. But you also need to review what cash foes in to your business and what is going out. You should sit down with your bookkeeper or whoever you have keeping an eye on your accounting.

What’s that? You don’t have anyone monitoring your accounting or paying your bills?

Get help!

If you need help in your small business, then get help. A couple of ways we recommend getting help.

First, if you do not have a bookkeeper, then find one. If your business cannot support someone full time, consider hiring a person part time or outsource it. There are plenty of qualified bookkeeping services out there. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or your industry association for referrals. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and if numbers are not your strength, get a bookkeeper.

Second, when it comes to cash flow, many times the cause of poor cash flow is customers not paying you. If you have tried to get your customers to pay with internal resources or you just don’t have the time or those resources, you need to consider working with a reputable collection agency. Find a collection agency that works with small business, one that mirrors your values as a business and uses tact and respect when dealing with your hard-earned customers.

Finding a collection agency that also has a low-cost solution to your accounts that are past due is also a plus when you’re a small business.

Need more tips on keeping more of your hard-earned cash?  Check out more articles on our blog.

How to get paid faster

As a collection agency that specializes in working with small business, we get a number of questions from professionals we meet. But the one that always seems to come up is, how can my small business get paid faster? Afterall, that’s pretty much why we’re talking in the first place. They haven’t been paid for the services they have provided.

While a larger business may be able to absorb late and non-paying customers for a period of time, a small business as you know, relies heavily on cash flow. And it becomes a real issue quickly if customers are not paying.

Here are a number of items to consider if you are trying to lay the groundwork for faster paying customers:

Credit:

If you are in the business of issuing credit, you should establish your terms up front to make sure your customers are well aware of how and when you‘d like to get paid. While you will have a section of those customers plainly ignore that policy, you have done your part in communicating how they need to pay up front. For example, if you are invoicing another business, your terms may be to pay in 15 days while they only cut checks every 30 days. That’s something you’ll need to work out with them. Continue reading “How to get paid faster”

Big money mistakes your business is making

Do you always wonder where all your money went in your small business? Are you constantly frustrated that when you check your bank statements, that you have less money than you thought you had? Do your customers pay you late or not pay you at all?

You are not alone. Many that are running small businesses will tell you that they have gone through a period of time where they did not pay as much attention to their finances as they should have.

And collection agencies that work with small business will also tell you that for many, cash flow is a top concern of those running a small business. We get calls all the time from owners and others that feel they could be doing much better with cash.

While customers not paying you on time is a big concern, there are several other things when it comes to cash that you should keep a close eye on. Continue reading “Big money mistakes your business is making”

How can I increase my profits quickly?

As a collection agency that works with small business, we are always in a discussion with our clients and others about how to increase profits. As you might imagine, when your business is owned money, and that money continues to be late, or doesn’t show up at all, your profits are going to suffer. Not only will your profits take a hit, but your cash flow and your ability to meet your own financial obligations. In short, it can cause a chain reaction in your business.

And while making sure your customers pay you on time is one of the best ways to keep your profits going in the right direction, there are other ways to ensure that your business is not running on fumes month after month. Continue reading “How can I increase my profits quickly?”

Where Can I Find Unclaimed Money?

We bet if you turn your mattress over, clean out your car and check the laundry, you’ll be sure to find at least a few dollars. That’s a good start. And guess what, there are even more places that you can find lost and unclaimed money for both personal and business. And it might be more than just spare change.

Each year, there is an estimated $58 billion in unclaimed money in the United States. And there’s got to be a few bucks for you lying around somewhere.

For both individuals and families, there are countless sources of unclaimed money out there just waiting to be spoken for and if you do a little bit of homework and research, you may just find a piece of that pie.

Here we list the more common places to look as well as why a small business should also keep their eyes open for unclaimed money. Continue reading “Where Can I Find Unclaimed Money?”

What happens when I turn over my customers to collections?

For a business that has worked very hard to acquire a new customer and put additional resources into keeping that customer, the thought of having to send that customer to collections, often causes them to take a pause. For many in business, it’s a big step to have to take when it comes to having to use the services of a collection agency. The biggest fear? That business will lose that customer forever and they will tell others that you sent them to a debt collector. And, they still won’t get paid.

For many small businesses, it takes tremendous effort to acquire new customers and you do not want to have to get to the point where there is any bad vibes between the two of you. They asked you to perform a service and you have earned their trust. That’s a big step. And now they are a loyal customer. And of course, you enjoy the revenue. Continue reading “What happens when I turn over my customers to collections?”

Eat something that frightens you

By Mike Hiller:

I’m a foodie so when I hear ‘Eat something that frightens you,’ the words get committed to my long-term memory bank. Must have happened across this advice from the radio or I read it in a paperback book maybe. Can’t say that public speaking, or confined spaces, heights, or things that go bump in the night, or even spiders scare me all that much. Killed plenty of creepy crawlies in the name of machismo; let a few go in the name of feminism too. You’ve seen tarantulas for sale at exotic stores as pets. Many of their various species are in fact quite docile. Continue reading “Eat something that frightens you”

Budget Basics for Small Business

You may be one of them but we find that there are many small businesses out there that do not even have a budget. And as a collection agency that works with small business, we find that kind of troubling.  A budget can mean the difference between being profitable and, well, not making a profit. And we all know what happens when our business cannot turn a profit.

Having even a simple budget can make all the difference in the world. Your budget is essentially your roadmap for the year or a given period of time, as we are sure you are aware of. And while you might be aware of what a budget is, you still might not have one. Continue reading “Budget Basics for Small Business”