Cash flow is everything to a new company with limited resources. Because Small businesses must have a sound process by which the flow of funds can be easily tracked. Here are 10 creative and sensible ways to grow your business with little cash flow:
1. Create a process: Small business owners should put a priority on organization regarding any money related to the company. Create a system. Whether your business is a sole proprietorship or has a staff of one hundred, a standardized process will provide you with a clear understanding of how, when and where money is coming in – allowing you to maintain control over this critical aspect of your company. The process should always be focused on ways of streamlining accounts receivables to improve cash flow. Two highly recommended books to get you there are: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and Built to Sell by John Warrilow.
2. Embrace social media: Little cash flow shouldn't stop you from making a name for yourself in with your target audience. With the proliferation of social media sites and the comfort level of a growing league of consumers with this type of platform, it's easier than ever to get the word out about your product or service. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, and YouTube are all free yet highly-respected and trafficked online communities. As well, the creation of a company website is a must. Any serious business should have a functional website as well as a social media presence. Find where your ideal customers are online. Make a plan to connect with them and make it easy for them to find you online. You can't afford not to have a website and not to learn about viral marketing.
3. Get to know your customers: Make them want to talk about you by learning how to sell offline. Like social media, traditional word-of-mouth marketing is an effective form of advertising. The power of word-of-mouth marketing is all about people liking and trusting "you" or the "brand". It is very important that, across the board, you and your staff are consistent in your message and brand presence. But ahile you work hard to get people into your business, keep in mind that it's doubly harder to keep them. Give your existing customers a reason to come back.
4. Engage in partnership marketing: Know what you or your brand haveto offer and find others with similar target audiences. Think of it this way: If there is another brand out there that already has your target audience, why not leverage the opportunity to speak to them? With this model, the other business makes your offer available to their customers as opposed to you trying to gain access to them on your own. Partnership marketing is about smart collaboration for the purposes of supporting each other's marketing objectives; it's not about merging to create one business. You can even think of participating with daily deal companies like Groupon or Living Social as partnership marketing. It's a cost-effective way to reach more people in shorter time.
5. Learn to do the things you need to do on your own: You can develop better processes for your business and become a more effective manager when you learn to do every aspect of every job in your company. A successful business person is able to jump into any role that needs to be filled at a moment's notice. The flip side of doing this is to delegate; but, if you don't understand the work you are delegating then you might lose precious time and money. Eliminate the need to rely on others and learn everything that you can about the day-to-day actions required to run your business.
6. Build a support system: If necessary, don't be afraid to ask family and friends for help. In general, people want to be useful. This is even more true when these people are family and friends. Whether it's skilled labour, casual labour, administration, short-term funding, or emotional support, you'd be surprised at the amount of help you receive simply by just asking. If you want to offer something in return, consider a trade, swap or barter for services, or negotiate an instalment plan that is realistic for the business.
7. Find alternate source of assistance. Hiring volunteers and interns could be one of the smartest moves you make. Throughout the year, many high school students require to complete at least 40 hours of volunteering for events, organizations, businesses, etc. Additionally, at least 84 intern hours per school term are required by college students in streams, including administration, bookkeeping and accounting, marketing, childcare, journalism, public relations, to name a few. The opportunity for free help should not be overlooked. Through this model, you are able to gain needed help and they gain much-needed experience and, possibly, turn into valued staff. It's a win-win situation.
8. Be frugal. There are so many ways and places to find excellent used office supplies, furniture, equipment, and more. Scour online classifieds such as Kijiji and Craigslist for the items you require. Because it can take time to find exactly what you are looking for, consider enlisting help from staff, family and friend because everybody loves a bargain.
9. Barter: You know the basic principle from grade school: I'll give you my ham and cheese sandwich if you give me your chocolate chip cookies. The importance of knowing your products and services comes into play most poignantly when bartering with other businesses, vendors and suppliers. The internet is perfect for bartering. There are many websites geared for just this purpose. Of course, you can just call up any vendor or supplier whose product or service you need and propose to provide something of equal value in return. No cash involved. Don't be afraid to ask.
10. Honesty and transparency: As a business owner, it's likely you've experienced the ups and downs of cash flow. You may have even been in a situation where cash was so tight that you weren't able to pay your staff, let alone yourself. A business in its infancy can benefit from having an open door communication policy all across the board. Be honest with your staff about your business situation and make sure to provide a plan of action where a solution to the cash flow problem is conveyed. By doing so, you will be encouraging openness and transparency fostering an environment of collaboration, high performance, high morale and mutual respect.
Hanna Guerra is the president and founder of The Busy Genie indoor playgrounds, located in Etobicoke and Oakville, Ontario. The centres offer weekly drop-in play, stress-free parties, bilingual programs including full-service daytime, after school, and special occasion care for children from toddler ages through grade school.