We’re more than halfway through the year, and you might be wondering what else can you do to put your business to the next level.
As a small business owner, the next two quarters will determine how you’ll make this the best year ever. With it comes end of year struggles – in terms of how you can keep your business afloat for the rest of the year and how you can push forward next year.
When the last quarter of the year comes, you’ll also be dealing with EOY struggles in the form of many distractions during the holiday rush. The tendency of business owners is to be overwhelmed with short-term tasks when long-term planning is also crucial. You have to keep your eye on the big picture so that you can move forward with bigger business plans.
We made this guide to give you a heads up on what to expect during EOY. Here are the common struggles that happen during the end months of the year, with tips on how you can overcome them.
1. Invoices Going Unpaid
Unpaid invoices are a big concern for small business owners all throughout the year. Almost half of invoices are known to be paid late and many more business invoices take 60 days to be cleared. It gets worse during the holiday season because many businesses close down or have limited operations. Wait times for payment become longer due to this, and you might have difficulties receiving payments.
Solution: Be Wise When It Comes to Invoices
You can ask for your clients or customers to pay early so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor during the holidays. You can also negotiate upfront payments, require a deposit, and be clear on payment terms to lessen the chances of having unpaid invoices.
In case there’s no denying that payments will definitely come in late, consider factoring invoices. Factoring involves an invoicing company that pays you a percentage of an account receivable (usually 70% to 90%) so you don’t have to wait to get paid by a customer. The invoicing company takes on the responsibility of collecting invoices from the customer. Once the invoice has been paid, the invoicing company will pay you back the remaining payment, minus fees and interest. Factoring invoices can help improve your cash flow at the moment so you can keep running your business. Do take note that going for this method can create additional costs as the invoicing company will charge fees for it. In one way or another, factoring invoices can also help you meet overhead costs while your business is growing rapidly.
2. Having to Purchase Materials or Inventory Upfront
Another challenge that small business owners face is having to purchase materials upfront. The need to buy materials for the holiday season can create a cash flow crisis. You’ll have to consider getting a line of credit or business loan to tide you over and repay the loan when cash flow starts coming in.
You also have to take on a risk of buying more inventory to cater to a higher demand during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year. It comes with risks because you might be buying more than what will be sold. And if you buy less, you might miss the opportunity to supply the needs of the market. You might also be left with unsold products that are going to be obsolete by the end of the season.
Solution: Even Out Expenses All Throughout the Year
You can make a strategy as to when to buy more materials or inventory and when to buy less of them. Once peak season starts, you don’t have to be anxious of buying more inventory because you’ve already prepared beforehand. You can also delay cosmetic improvements and account for them when it’s no longer busy. Do heavier investments at the first or second quarter so that they can be fully used all throughout the year. Then you can focus more on short-term goals when things start getting busier in your business.
3. The Need for Additional Staff
If some people go on a break from work or business during the holidays, other small business owners might be scrambling to get additional staff in order to keep things running. The costs of hiring include interviewing applicants, training new staff, paying wages, and other advertising costs. It may come to a point that it’s hard to keep up with everything, and costs may rise over the profits received during peak season.
Solution: Prepare Everything in Advance
To keep your head above water, prepare months in advance before November. Retailers and other business owners would even prepare as early as July. Consider preparing all advertising and marketing plans so that you can easily breeze through them once the holiday season begins. Hire additional staff ahead of time and streamline training for everything to go smoothly all throughout the peak season.
4. Unexpected Costs of Doing Business
There might be higher bills to pay as your business is at its peak during the end of year. Other things to consider include wages to pay, overhead costs to manage, and contingencies you haven’t accounted for. If you aren’t prepared in advance, the strain in your cash flow could hinder you from enjoying the holidays.
Solution: Prepare and Manage Buffer Money
It’s a rule of thumb among business owners to secure 3 – 6 months working capital in the bank. In case that there will be unexpected expenses, you can tap into this savings as needed. You can replenish your savings if profits are good. You can also go for quick financing in secured or unsecured forms if you don’t have back up money.
The important thing here is that you have to account all expenses for you to know where the money is going or which costs are leaking away money from your business. You can determine which costs to cut down, what factors to settle for that could be enough for your business, and how you can maximise income generation. The best way forward is still to never use your buffer money if you can help it, and find other ways to grow this potential capital.
5. Managing Cash Flow
Cash flow is definitely a big factor which can be overlooked amidst the rush of things. If you don’t manage your cash flow well, it can be detrimental to your business. Take for example buying more stocks than what will actually be sold, or paying more for staff and equipment when you have an inaccurate projection. You need to have a clear view of how money moves in your daily operations and make the most out of the boost in profits during peak times.
Solution: Plan Your Cash Flow System
Prepare a Cash Flow Statement which gives you a view of your cash situation. It gives you a snapshot of the incoming and outgoing cash. Incoming cash may include profits, financing, or other income streams. Outgoing cash may include your bills, payroll, inventory, costs and debt.
Another thing to prepare is a Cash Flow Forecast. It will help you look ahead and estimate how much you’ll earn in a month, quarter or year. This is an invaluable tool that can help you predict problems before they occur and take steps to mitigate them. You can create a cash flow forecast from your sales projections, customer payment patterns, inventory plans, and other expenditures.
Once you get a good grasp on how your money is moving in business, you can gain better control of how you spend your cash and lessen unnecessary expenditures. The numbers can give you a dose of motivation to stay disciplined in spending. You’ll also be able to forecast how much you’ll earn in a week, month or year ahead. This is how you’ll know where your money is going, how much you’ll earn, and when it is more favourable to grow your business.
Other Tips that Can Help You for EOY
- Find a mentor that can help you through the ropes of surviving challenges at EOY.
- Anticipate everything in advance by reviewing what happened in the past year or reading more about local trends that happen during peak season. List them all out and create an action plan on how you are going to deal with it in your business.
- Be a part of communities to get a feel of what the market needs. You can also learn techniques about handling small business challenges from the members of your community.
- Make a weekly, monthly and annual plan for your business – including branding, marketing, advertising, finance, operations, inventory, and project schedule.
- Take advantage of business and financial management tools that can help you keep track of everything.
- Don’t slash off prices that much. You can still sell things for a good profit if you find the right conditions in the market.
- Don’t neglect the power of partnerships or collaborations. Influencer marketing can help get your brand out there. Partnering with relevant brands can also boost your marketing and sales.
- Always keep an eye out for good talent and take good care of them. Good employees are hard to come by, and they’ll be the precursor to success for your business.
Tools That Can Help You Manage EOY Challenges
Quickbooks: This app comes in handy when you need to manage your accounts. It helps you send and track invoices, manage expenses, view profit and loss reports, and stay on top of everything.
Mailchimp: MailChimp is a free tool that allows you to stay in touch with your customers. You can also install the app on your smartphone and manage your marketing strategies on the go. You can build a customer database, track subscriber activity, preview all your campaigns, check reports, and a lot more through this application. You can also manage customer engagement and evaluate campaign results to help you stay ahead in business.
Thrive: This business app tracks and analyses your business performance in real time. The user-friendly interface gets you access to current sales, profitability, and social media data. You can gain a good understanding on the developments affecting your business with this tool. It also helps you make informed decisions regarding your business’s direction and future projections.
Square Point of Sale: This free point-of-sale app helps you facilitate tap-and-go cards plus mobile payments. You’ll have the means to accept credit card, debit card, and mobile payments from your customers. It also tracks your business inventory and sales. They do get a fee of 1.9% for each transaction. The money will be deposited into your account in one to two business days. All you need to do is install the app on your smartphone or tablet, and pair it with a chip reader.
Invoice by Wave: Use this app whenever you need to create and send invoices. You can send customised invoices from your phone and receive a notification when you’re paid. It makes your life a whole lot easier as it can track and duplicate previous invoices with just a click of a button.
As a small business owner, you can gear up for the EOY by getting a small business loan to finance your needs. Bizzloans offers hundreds of financial products from dozens of lenders who are here to support your business.
Whether you need to purchase inventory, implement fitouts for the holidays, or pay additional staff during the end of year rush, you can count on a line of credit or unsecured loan to help you push through the busiest time of the year. Get a small business loan by clicking the button below.