First published by SmartCompany on 4 June 2020 as CFOs share tips to keep your cash flow smooth and constant as lockdown eases
Cash flow is the lifeblood of business, so how can you make sure you are keeping your cash flow smooth as the global economy suffers during the COVID-19 crisis?
On top of managing your invoicing, keeping up to date with your tax obligations and maintaining a good relationship with your bank, there are other ways to improve income streams, increase your flexibility and create greater efficiencies.
To uncover the opportunities, SmartCompany spoke to small business CFOs about managing cash flow in the current environment.
1. Bring your cash flow forward
Research and development presents a clear pathway to business growth, but it can be an expensive outlay, especially in tough times. If you are eligible for an R&D tax refund, you can tap into it throughout the year and boost your cash flow with R&D financing. Rhys Godbee is CFO at Cohda Wireless, a company which develops technology for connected autonomous vehicles and smart cities.
He says borrowing against the company’s R&D spend creates a steady cash stream that it pays back with its tax refund.
“We’re in the investment stage. So, while our revenue has been increasing, we’ve still been investing, so we’ve had a cash burn,” says Godbee.
“This year, we’ve used R&D finance to access our R&D tax incentive funding early which bolsters our cash balance, and then we pay it back when we get the refund towards the end of the year,” says Godbee.
2. Tap into stimulus packages
Accessing government stimulus packages can also help to keep your cash flowing. For example, if your business has a turnover of less than $50 million and employs staff, you may be eligible for tax-free payments via the government’s $6.7 billion cash flow assistance package.
Have a conversation with your suppliers. Think about what you need and negotiate the costs.
Godbee says the JobKeeper scheme is also worth applying for so you can keep staff on.
“We have had a downturn in revenue from comparable periods, so we are eligible for the JobKeeper payment,” he says.
“We’re also getting the government’s boost in cash flow for employers, based on the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) tax. It was $50,000 in April and it’s another $50,000 across all months from June to September.”
3. Apply for grants
As well as the federal government stimulus package, there are a range of state-based grants that can bolster your cash flow during COVID-19, says Amit Shah, Virtual CFO of specialist startup consulting firm The Startup Shop.
“They don’t get a lot of publicity, because they’re not massive amounts, but they are being processed quickly.
“People are seeing money in their account within seven to 10 days, which is an incredible turnaround for $10,000,” says Shah.
Check your eligibility for grants in your state. Local councils, such as City of Melbourne and City of Sydney, also provide financial support packages for eligible small businesses.
4. Prepare to negotiate
Negotiating payment terms with your suppliers can also help to keep your cash flowing.
Shah recommends identifying the top 10 costs for your business and how you can lower them.
“Our experience is that people are very flexible right now in terms of discounts as they want to keep customers over the longer term,” he says.
“We’ve had people get deferrals from utilities as well as reductions on software products and on general subscriptions.
“Have a conversation with your suppliers. Think about what you need and negotiate the costs.”
5. Cut the fat
As well as looking for discounts, Shah suggests trimming excess costs for the short term.
“Businesses have been really good in the last couple of months by cutting fat from their operations,” he says. “Ask yourself: ‘Do I need 10 licenses for certain softwares? Do I need so many desks in the coworking space?’
“Some of our clients in the hospitality industry in particular are looking to see how lean they can be,” adds Shah.
“It’s not necessarily about liquidating everything, but it’s being able to turn some of the excess stuff into cash if they don’t need it to run a business right now.
“It’s an early spring clean to get some money in the door.”
Interested in R&D financing and want to know how much you can borrow? Use our calculator to find out how a Radium Advance could help your business.