Starting up your own company means becoming somewhat of a de-facto expert on a lot of things, including business financing. With limited resources available to most start-ups, making the right moves with your funds can be critical to the success or failure of your business. Finances fluctuate all the time, so it’s important for you to budget and save to cushion the blow of a bad run. Downturns, bad months and delayed payments from clients can sink an unprepared business. Understanding basics like how to do a financial projection, find funding and how to raise your credit score are musts.
Overestimate Operating Costs
If you’re in the arena of project work like a lot of small businesses, then you’ll already know that results and timescales can vary hugely from client to client, and the possibility of going over budget is huge. Often, small agencies are the ones who end up temporarily footing the bill while clients dispute and argue internally over unforeseen changes, and this can be a huge problem. So it’s always better to budget slightly above your anticipated costs to create a cushion, or building in a non-negotiable contingency budget on an estimate to make sure you’re not left exposed.
Understand Your Unique Risks
Having a clear-eyed and realistic snapshot of your company finances at all times is essential in order to be able to make decisions and plan for the future. So be ahead of the game when it comes to knowing about changes in regulation at a national level that could affect what you do. The SWOT analysis shouldn’t just exist inside your business plan – monitoring threats and opportunities should be a part of regular operating procedure. Exposure to varying seasonal demand for your products or services is also vital to know where you stand with emergency planning and what business insurance cover you need. Figure out exactly how liquid your cash flow is and aim to save a portion to cover unforeseen expenditure.
Large Purchases Should Be Pre-Planned
You’d be surprised how ad-hoc the approach of a lot of small outfits is when it comes to those occasional, big-ticket purchases every business needs to make – the software upgrade, or piece of critical equipment, or perhaps renovations to an office or shop. These decisions must be carefully timed and the risk balanced with reward before each move is made.Data is absolutely your friend here – you need to know up to the minute budget figures and a reasonably accurate projected income to be able to know if it’s the right time to make investments.
Time Is Money
Never is this truer than when you work for yourself and run a tight ship – your time needs to be fully factored into any budget planning, especially if you invoice directly for your time. If you’re losing time on things, you are also losing income and creative focus. Make sure that you under-promise to over deliver. Add a little extra time onto a project estimation for a client – bring it in ‘early’ and you’ll get a reputation as someone who can deliver, which may very well lead to more opportunities. If the time runs over, you haven’t lost anything as you’re still ‘on time’ with the client and you won’t have to navigate any awkward conversations about additional time to bill for.