In a 2020 Small Business Credit Survey released by a collective of Federal Reserve Banks, it was reported that 66 percent of businesses faced financial challenges in 2019. Yet 57 percent did not apply for financing or third-party funding.
The top reasons given by those that either did not apply or approved funding but declined it included:
- Cost/interest rate too high
- Unfavorable repayment terms
- Amount offered was too small
- Collateral requirements
- Found enough funding from other sources
When business owners used other funding methods, they often relied on existing business reserves, personal funding resources or personal credit cards.
Business owners looked to use the funding for expansion, operating expenses, debt reduction or repairing/replacing capital assets. Getting funding is more difficult for smaller businesses, younger businesses and minority-owned businesses. Service-based businesses, which lack collateral, also have a tougher time in the funding process.
Despite all these statistics, the need to raise funds to cover expenses and fuel growth is ever-present. What other ways can a business create and free-up cash to move forward?
When preparing for growth, consider that growth consumes resources at a frightening pace. Pre-funding your growth can reduce financial stress and give you time to reap the rewards of growth. Here are 21 strategies you can use in your small business today to fund your goals.
You can boost cash by capturing all the opportunities you have for sales. When times are good, it’s smart to focus on your bread-and-butter work and say no to other work. When you need a cash boost, these strategies can unearth gems of opportunity.
1. Increase prices
Forty percent of businesses the Fed surveyed saw profits decrease in 2019. For those that saw higher business costs, 39 percent said they did not raise prices. Although raising prices is easy, how you raise them matters. For price increases under 10 percent, the client likely will not notice. Think about how much your favorite cup of coffee has changed in price. For price increases more than 10 percent, a communication and enrollment strategy helps adoption, because you get the client’s emotional buy-in to accept the increase.
2. Use upsells
This is the “Would you like to super-size that?” strategy. The idea is that by “upselling” a better or larger service, the client gets increased value, but your costs for providing the upgrade do not exponentially increase.
3. Use cross-selling
Think of this as the Nordstrom moment, “Would you like me to grab a belt that would complete the outfit?” This creates packages across service types that provide value and increase your sale.
4. Get clients to buy again
The most challenging sale to achieve is the first one. If the client is happy, they often only need a reason to buy again. A strategy that promotes regular repeat purchases creates residual income for the business, because there are no additional client acquisition costs.
5. Generate client referrals
One way to grow is through client referrals. Better yet, cultivate your customer’s voice to become a raving fan of your work.
6. Collect your account receivables
A quick way to generate more cash is to follow up on your unpaid invoices. Although you can sell your account receivables to a collection firm (where you’ll only get a fraction of the value), a better option can be putting a strategy in place that promotes prompt and quick payment. This gets your clients excited to pay early instead of having to hunt them down to pay their invoices, which opens up your cash flow.
7. Get paid first
Shifting payment forward in the delivery stage is an effective way to improve cash flow. Requiring a deposit or upfront payment is a standard practice in every industry.
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Balancing a checkbook or budgeting is the training most small business owners have when managing the business’s cash flow. Improving your cash management reduces stress and frees cash.
8. Review and release subscriptions, memberships and perks
When the money flows, it’s easy to add in perks or sign up for subscriptions because they sound good at that moment. According to a 2017 survey by creditcards.com, 48 percent of participants signed up for free trials that were automatically renewed without their knowledge. If you need to free up cash flow, see which subscriptions and memberships you aren’t actively using or that can be put on the back burner for the time being.
9. Renegotiate monthly costs
When money is tight, begin by reducing your standard monthly costs where you can. Expenses such as rent, utilities and technology are areas you can work to renegotiate or find other low-cost providers.
10. Stop ineffective marketing
Marketing is one of the essential investments you can make in your business. But few small business owners track the effectiveness of their marketing. Evaluate the results of leads and clients your marketing efforts bring into the business. Keep what works and release what doesn’t.
11. Identify money leaks
Money leaks often trickle out in a “nickel and dime” way. Make it a yearly practice to look for the little ways that money is leaking out of your business by auditing your recurring expenses. Pay special attention to costs that have gradually increased over time or expenses that are not adding value to the business. One example could be your internet service. When you start with a new provider, you often have a promotional rate for the first year of service. After that time period, the service frequently increases its prices without notice. The yearly audit helps identify these increases and puts you back in control.
12. Predictive cash flow management system
This is my favorite game-changer for small business cash management. When you can see how cash decisions impact you in the future, you have the power to make more informed decisions.
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Your return on investment and how well you use the resources you pay for is all about cash efficiency. From technology to your teams, it is likely that you are under utilizing using your resources to some extent.
13. Refine routine processes
One of the challenges for service-based businesses is establishing a routine process around the work done in the business. When you and your team are able to do more with the business’s resources, you improve your productivity and profitability. Even the most customizable service has a baseline process of steps used repeatedly to create a consistent experience.
14. Implement time-saving technology
Automation and other technologies can complete tasks in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost.
15. Lease, don’t own
Although it can be tempting to own, it can be cheaper long-term to lease. Pay for what you need instead of unnecessarily tying up your cash into long-term investments.
16. Sublet unused space
For unused physical assets, consider turning them into a break-even or money-making opportunity.
17. Subcontract to other businesses
If the unused resource is your team or your time, consider subcontracting for another business. This is a short-term solution to keep the cash flowing that also keeps your team and your costs covered while you rebuild your business.
These options can generate those much-needed funds when traditional sources are not available.
18. Low-cost SBA loans
The SBA loan program helps banks lend to more entrepreneurs by reducing the risk for the lending institution. Your local SBDC also provides free counseling on accessing capital.
19. Corporate grants
In recent times, large corporations have funded grants to help support small businesses. Look for corporations in your supply chain or that support marginalized groups.
20. Friends and family
An old standby for business owners is getting family members to invest in your business. To preserve your personal relationships, have frank and honest conversations with your would-be investors. This creates clear communication lines and roles for everyone involved while giving you access to the capital you need.
GoFundMe documented 21 different crowd-funding sites depending on your goal and need. Even your client base can be part of this growth, pooling their resources to help you reach your goals.
Using these strategies capitalizes on every opportunity, improves your investments’ return and allows you to self-fund your initiatives.
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