Running a successful business is all about maintaining stable cash flow. In fact, according to a study conducted by a U.S. bank, 82% of businesses that fail is a result of improper cash flow management.
While it’s unfortunately true that not all businesses are destined to become successful, it absolutely pays to be proactive when it comes to managing cash flow, especially when it involves the payment of invoices. That being said, adhering to smart invoice practices, should always be front and center in the operation of your business.
As mentioned, one of the main reasons why many business owners experience cash flow problems is due to poor invoice management. Payables slowly pile up even before clients have an opportunity to pay their invoices. In the end, numerous entrepreneurs end up exhausting all of their resources chasing payments from their clients.
If cash flow is a big obstacle for your business, you might want to reconsider your invoice-management strategies. On that note, here are some effective ways to improve your business’ cash flow:
- Bill Invoices Immediately
No matter how much we wish our clients would pay their invoices earlier, it still can’t be done, especially if your clients are dealing with late-paying customers themselves. According to a recent study, clients tend to pay their invoices a week or two after the set deadline. Knowing this, it makes perfect sense to send out your invoices at an earlier date each month.
The end goal in doing this is, the earlier you send out invoices, the faster the you’ll receive payment and the better it will be for your company’s cash flow. If you are currently sending out invoices manually, consider switching to automated cloud-based invoicing. This will lessen the effort you need to get your invoices into the hands of your customers, and speed up your entire invoicing process.
- Get Your Clients to Pay Invoices Faster
There’s nothing more damaging to a company’s cash flow than delayed invoice payments. This is why it’s important you consistently follow up on your late-paying customers. Easier said than done, right? Even so, there are strategies that can help you manage late-paying customers.
- Set reminders to help your clients remember their dues. You can set up a reminder a week before, on the day, and even a few days after the set deadline. If payment hasn’t been received in spite of a constant reminder, best to call them personally and remind them.
- If there’s one thing that can lift the spirits of clients, it’s discounts and incentives. If your client pays their invoices a few days in advance, they may be motivated to keep this behavior up once they realize they will be rewarded with a discount. The earlier your clients pay their dues, the better it is for your cash flow.
- To avoid conflicts, be sure you’re upfront with your customers regarding late-payment terms and conditions. Conversely, as a business owner, it is a good business practice to attach a late-payment fee for late payments. Let your customers know it’s not personal, and you are doing it strictly for business.
- Shorten Payment Terms
The longer your payment terms are, the longer it will take for your clients to fulfill their invoices. It’s best you establish shorter payment terms in order to ensure you receive your much-needed cash in timely manner which will allow you to pay your own business dues on time.
It’s also important you give clear instructions on when you want an invoice to be paid. If need be, provide a specific date to avoid any confusion.
Companies generally impose a standard 15-ay to 30-day payment term on their clients. However, if you feel the need to adjust your payment terms, go ahead and do it without any reservations. Just be sure you are prepared to explain in a reasonable and realistic manner why your terms are set-up the way they are.
- Offer Various Methods for Payment
Essentially, the more options that are available for payment, the more convenient it is for your clients to pay their dues in a timely manner as stipulated on their invoice. It’s worth noting that most businesses these days take advantage of electronic banking systems that facilitate wired payments.
You can offer integrated payment methods such as credit card payments, PayPal, or online bank transfers. Be sure your payment options guarantee better cash flow for yourself, while also catering to the needs of your clients and customers.
- Make Your Invoices Better
Poorly constructed invoices are one issue that business owners often overlook. Best your bills and invoices be created and laid out in a way that provides clients with a clear picture of what they’re paying for.
They should also contain the date when the invoice was made, items purchased, quantity, and the price of the goods. Businesses should avoid overcrowding their invoices with designs or overwhelming colors that can confuse customers. The simpler and more detailed the invoice, the better it will be.
- Apply for Business Loans
There are times when cash flow issues become inevitable. If you find yourself in this situation, there’s a strong likelihood a business loan will be beneficial for you and your business.
Funding sources such as invoice financing, can improve your business cash flow. With a short-term loan, the lending companies will provide you with a lump sum you can repay in installments.
While the idea of taking out a loan can be daunting for some, small business loans can provide your business with many benefits, providing you with capital for:
- Business expansion
- Acquiring new equipment
- Stocking up on inventory
- A new, profitable project
- Cover off-season cash flow gaps
- Payment for sudden, unexpected business expenses
Boost Your Company’s Cash Flow with Invoice Financing
Collecting payments from customers isn’t always an easy task. But with proper invoicing techniques, you are more likely to be able to manage any invoice-related issues that may come along, while improving your company’s cash flow.