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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entries in cash flow (4)


Starting up in the global marketplace

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Staying realistic when all those around you are billionaires.

One statistic doing the rounds is this: to build an audience of 50 million, it took radio 38 years; for TV, it was 13; the net took four; Facebook was there in six months.

The drama is not so much the audience growth; it’s the speed with which new communication channels have become dominated by the few.

The early automobile industry consisted of thousands of producers. It was 50 years before it was down to a dozen or so global players. Once the assembly line forced up capital costs, the number of players started to shrink.

Not so with the internet. Most of us could set up an online presence in a few hours, probably for free. Yet a handful of large firms already dominate the space. Facebook. Google. Amazon. When it comes to delivering content, the new elephants are already in your living room.

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The simplest way to increase the value of your business

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How a dollar turns into more than a dollar

Here are four simple financial objectives in any business: generate more cash, cut interest costs, reduce debt and boost value.  Your product and marketing strategies address these objectives at the revenue and expense lines. But for any company, be it highly successful or struggling, a focus on cash flow can also aggressively optimize all four targets.

The fact is boring stuff like cash flow management boosts your wealth. Every dollar you create or save is worth more than a dollar.

Before you switch off, check out a real example

A client runs a successful business. Nonetheless, last year it had in excess of $100,000 in outstanding debtors stretching out past 120 days. He is a positive person. His view: it’s probably a hassle to fix it and I can afford it. The reality: it’s not that hard to fix and the return on doing so is worth the trouble.

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Your top customer is not always your best customer

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Who’s your most profitable account?

The most common ranking of customers is by percentage of sales. Most businesses have a few standouts. What makes them so? 

It is not always the size of their operations. Your product may just suit them perfectly. Or the sales team on that account delivers a superior service. There are other reasons. Maybe you do not monitor their receivables closely, and they know that you help their cash flow by allowing their account to age out to 90 days, when others are paying on time.

All these things have costs associated with them. Maybe it is free add-ons or complimentary backup services that make your product the perfect one. That costs money. The sales team may be your most expensive. Those cozy payment arrangements can be costing you in working capital and overdraft expenses.

Try ranking your customers on their net contribution to profitability. How do they stand on a fully-costed basis? 

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Cash flow 101: keeping it simple

Think like your accountant

When you look at a complicated cash flow statement in an annual report, it might look like accountants do anything but make it simple. Yet if you want to take some fast action when cash is tight, the basic structure of a cash flow statement makes a very handy checklist.

It’s made up of three very simple categories. Cash is either raised or spent in:

  • operating activities
  • investing activities
  • financing activities

In plain English, those three things mean what you do, what you’ve got and how you fund the first two. That’s pretty much all there is to cash flow. It’s not exactly rocket science. 

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