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EXPERT ADVICE: How to manage cash flow in a crisis

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Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, including the jewellery industry. Get it wrong, and you’ll find yourself in trouble very quickly. Here, Rick Smith, managing director of business rescue and recovery consultants Forbes Burton explains how to keep your cash flow in check….

Cash flow stumbling blocks are of course common and the sad reality is that more than half of SMEs, in general, don’t survive longer than five years and poor cash flow is a very good indicator of things going downhill. Of course, the issue isn’t solely limited to new companies, as any business can be hit with cash flow woes. No matter how prepared you think you are, there’s always more time you can spend working on your business.

Fortunately, there are five easy steps you can take to improve your cash flow and the efficiency of your business in general.

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First step: Time

Schedule an hour or more to work ON instead of working IN your business. Start thinking about the effect this is already having or will likely have, type or write down your thoughts, break those thoughts down into sections and then apply the 3 ‘Ws’ What? Why? and What if’s?

 

Second step: Expenditure

Revisit your past three months bank statements and apply the 3 ‘W’ What, Why, What If’s. Is there anywhere savings can be made? If there are any gaps where you could cut down your costs, what’s the best way to go about it?

 

Third step: Income

What is owed and by when does it need to be paid? Check to see who owes you money and see if they can pay. However, remember they may be in the same pressured situation as you. Tact and empathy should not be forgotten in a crisis.

 

Fourth step: Delay

What operations can be delayed? Can you arrange deferred payments to HMRC or to bank facilities? Speak to your suppliers and people you owe money to. You may find they are much more helpful under the present circumstances.

 

Fifth step: Plan

Now you have the information to hand you can plan your monthly cash flow for the next year. Create a few different scenarios, one of which should be a worst-case. This will help you find out where you can plan to cut costs rather than making rash, on the spot decisions.

 

It’s vitally important to have a plan in place to protect your cash flow, especially in the middle of a national crisis. It can sometimes be difficult to plan your future in the short and long term, so professional help is often what is needed and there are many ways it can be remedied. It’s always best to review the state of your business regularly, so be prepared ahead of these issues raising up as concerns.

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The author Stacey Hailes

Editor, Professional Jeweller

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