Financial management

Profitability and cash flow checklist

- January 18, 2012 3 MIN READ

Profitability and cash flow are everything in business. What can you do to improve yours? This handy checklist is sure to give you some areas to think about.

  1. Raise your prices: You’ll be surprised how few complaints you get if you increase your prices by 5-10 percent. A slight increase each year is less noticeable than one large increase.
  2. Sack a customer: You know those demanding customers that take up all your time but buy very little? Ask them to leave so you’ll be free to focus on your top customers. (Not sure how to start? You’ll find some tips here).
  3. If it’s not selling, drop it: There’s no point offering a product or service if it doesn’t sell. Get rid of it and either try another product or put more emphasis on the products and services that do well so that you can sell even more of them.
  4. Shop around and negotiate: This goes for your bank and all your suppliers. Any savings you make on costs go straight into your pocket. After you’ve identified the supplier with the best price, bargain with them and try to get an even better one. Don’t pay their first price without seeing if it’s negotiable.
  5. Put lots of information on your website: This will help reduce the amount of time you spend on the phone answering customer queries.
  6. Issue invoices promptly: Get your invoices out as quickly as possible so you get paid quicker.
  7. Incentivise creditors to pay faster: Offer a small discount to clients prepared to pay within a week and your profitability and cash flow will improve.
  8. Take advantage of discounts: You love prompt payers and so do your suppliers. Take advantage when companies offer discounts to customers that pay quickly.
  9. Run credit checks: Before taking on a major new customer, check their credit worthiness and references.
  10. Use email: Cut postage costs by migrating customers to email.
  11. Don’t overstock inventory: You can free up cash flow and profit by not holding excessive stock.
  12. Add a new product or service to your range: Then bundle the new product or service with your existing offering and watch revenue grow.
  13. Consolidate your loans: Transfer the balance on your credit cards to save on interest, or consider getting them all rolled into one loan.
  14. Cap your phone: Capped phone plans give you a fixed monthly cost and offer great value.
  15. Stay abreast of technology: New technology can make your business run more efficiently and save you money (even though implementation is sometimes expensive).
  16. Check your invoices: Don’t just pay up blindly, make sure your suppliers aren’t over-charging you.
  17. Re-use: Reduce costs by re-using any materials you can.
  18. Buying power: Team up with another small business and use your combined buying power to get discounts.
  19. Standardise and simplify: How do better systems and procedures improve profit margins? Fewer mistakes lead to less wastage.
  20. Clean up: A tidy, organised work environment means you’ll spend less time dodging obstacles and finding lost files and more time attending to customers.
  21. Survey your clients: Finding out what your clients like about you and what they don’t will help you decide where you should invest your time and energy.
  22. Outsource: Outsourcing key tasks can free you up to focus on the most profitable areas of your business, without the expense of hiring staff.
  23. Form a joint venture: As a soloist you might be too small to compete for large contracts, so find businesses with complementary products or services and bid together.
  24. Make an acquisition: Buying another business can be a quick way to grow revenue. The key is managing the integration.
  25. Go global: Australia is a relatively small market and taking your business offshore can open huge sales opportunities. There are even government grants available to help with the costs.
  26. Buy second hand: You don’t always need the newest, shiniest gizmo in order to run your business. Second hand purchases cost significantly less and are fantastic value.
  27. Copy: There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you see something that works for someone else, incorporate it into your business.
  28. Customer satisfaction: The cheapest and most reliable form of advertising is word of mouth.
  29. Say no: Some jobs are marginally profitable or high risk. Don’t be afraid to avoid them.
  30. Go upmarket: Customers are prepared to pay for high-quality products and services. Make sure you’re seen as the premium alternative and set your pricing in a way that reinforces this.
  31. Advertise online: Online advertising is relatively cheap and its effectiveness is much easier to measure.
  32. Benchmark your business: Comparing your business to competitors will show you what you’re spending on certain items versus your industry norms, and will point out where you need to cut expenses.
  33. Develop and maintain your customer database: Selling to your existing clients is far cheaper than trying to find new ones. A good database is a big asset you must exploit.
  34. Sourcing: See if you can source products directly from the manufacturer at below wholesale price.
  35. Logistics: What does it cost you to fulfil customer orders? How could you reduce that?

Phew. What a list! Have we forgotten anything? Please add your profitability and cash flow tips below.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"