Harmony Seyram ATTISE’s Business, Money & the Life:Let’s talk money, debt, and the surging financial struggles

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The past months for me have been rigorous conversations with seasoned business people and financial moguls. Every bit of financial advice and intelligence has now become imperative. In building a business, one advantage is recognising what’s important to success and its growth. Money is a critical aspect of running a business; and most of the time it happens to top the list of challenges for many businesses – moreso now in a global crisis. Here’s the question: is money the root of all business’s inability to achieve results?

The fact is that no business has financial freedom, they only have controlled finances; and money is not at all a strategy to winning in business. It’s admirable how some western businesses in the current crisis are strategising their businesses to opportunities instead of prioritising cash, and still changing the status quo.

Foremost, businesses need more than just money – financial intelligence will increase the financial possibilities available to your business. Acknowledging the phrase “money is not everything your business needs” is the beginning of your financial winnings and intelligence. “Change your focus from making money to serving more people. Serving more people makes the money come in” – Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich dad, Poor dad.

The financial struggles

Business struggles happen. That is no news – but those obstacles often reveal opportunities for growth; and although they mostly hinder business opportunities, it all depends on the business leader’s ability to test his/her strength, resilience to not accept defeat – and a matter of his/her perspectives.

This is most challenging to all businesses; and as crucial as it is, I will make it very simple and honest as possible.

The first thing to realise is that you are not alone – locally, many businesses may be experiencing the severity of the global financial crisis. If your business is currently facing financial challenges, note that many business-owners out there are faced with the same difficulty. It is normal for businesses to not make the expected revenue under certain financial situations.

Let me emphasise this line again: ‘businesses’ financial struggles are real and a menace’. It’s a phase many businesses fall out of, or steps-up to survive. It is most challenging, especially, for smaller brands because even the ‘big companies’ are faced with the same financial struggles; and this could either break or make them.

As a business owner, I have tasted failure; almost every owner has. I’ve also made mistakes, quite a few silly ones too; and I have pretty much succeeded a few times. These lines are as well known to every entrepreneur. Along the way, I’ve been able to understand some of the recognised reasons why some businesses struggle through financial crises; and more importantly, how to face or pull through them.

Presumably, 6 out of 10 local businesses will fold-up sooner or later…such a burdening truth. But the 4 out of 10 which succeed will motivate other business owners to keep stepping up the stairs; striving business leaders need some good ‘knockouts’ on their ‘expectant reality’ checks now and then to embrace the post-pandemic journey ahead and keep the groove on; to work smarter, harder; and stay dedicated and daring to what they bargained for.

Some keys to getting through these rough moments are:

Set a financial goal

How much will it cost to achieve your business goal amid and post-pandemic? Some goals are cost-free, but some business goals have real costs. The difference here is knowing your ‘cost-cash and income-cash’ and planning toward it. Setting a goal provides your business with a real test for growth and targets, boosts your savings and investments decisions, and serve as a progressive reference. A financial goal goes a long way to inform your business financial standings, what you need money for, what you don’t need it for, and gives you financial independence.

Money without a plan is money ‘gone soon’.

Cash flow management

Many businesses struggle with cash flow, leading them into serious financial problems. Having a constant cash flow is not at all easy – worse in a not-so-friendly era, I must admit. Most business owners have been there or are likely to. Retaining profits is difficult at such a time, but most business leaders find a way out. It all depends on your model and strategies.

While businesses are bound to face cash flow problems, they do not have consistent cash flow because they’re not making profits. It’s a hopeless situation at the moment. They do not have cash built up from profits, nor any retaining profits. This may be because businesses usually spend upfront. They will usually incur costs rather than bring cash in.

Some business experts described cash flow as the bloodline of businesses. It is that important. It is the life that holds the business down and gives it promising growth. Without a cash flow or financial projections, businesses are bound to fold-up. So, there is a need for knowing how to manage their cash flows strategically, and then not to run out of cash and stay in business.

Every business owner must know and identify falls in their accounting balances. You do not need a professional accountant when you have financial problems and have to identify negative cash balances. As a business person, you need the basis of every aspect of managing your business. It is key to inform your future business decisions. Learn it, if you have to. It does not prevent you from having a free financial adviser from your bankers. It will save you costs, and earn you some good experiences too.

Operate a weekly budget if possible

A monthly financial plan will certainly be quite an impediment for businesses in this era, and perhaps too long to effectively monitor expenditure – they may end up incurring unwanted debts and spend above their intended budget. It may also not apply to very large businesses.

Get a weekly operational budget. For many business owners, the process of budgeting is limited to figuring out where to get the next cash to meet every week’s expenditures.

There’re many financial obligations to meet in a given week, so it’s already hard to find the time to do long-term financial planning. Weekly budgeting is one powerful financial tool available to businesses, and a good way of adopting proper financial management skills and discipline. This will enable you to easily control cash flow and not go ‘mad’ trying to find more cash for the business to stay afloat.

Side-businesses

Developing a side-business in a pandemic is a great way to earn the extra cash needed to support your existing business, or for wrapping-up. It is very strategic. Most entrepreneurs have or had side-businesses which aided the growth and sustainability of their businesses. I have had one or two side-businesses which have been ‘saviors’ in many financial difficulties. They may not be major, but they were surely a financial cushion during a great fall.

There are hundreds of side-business options to look at, most of which are easily accessible. While they generally require little or no capital, it is reasonable to find one that requires no capital at all – especially when you are facing shortfalls in your cash flow.

Debt

Debt is a friend of businesses and their owners. You can never escape it. Nobody loves to be in debt, as it simply takes away your peace of mind and financial freedom. Business debt is something almost every business faces, but how do they get into debt? A good example is a surge in the coronavirus crisis. Staying afloat takes money.

Managing the debts

There’s an adequate way for debt management on the professional level. Some professionals can manage your debt situation with some level of guaranteed results – or, even better, very good results. But we looking at managing it at a cost-free level, where you can avoid getting to employ a professional debt management company or personnel.

Here are a few tips:

Cut out cost

Priorities, priorities, priorities – ‘cut out cost’ is the most commonly used term amid this pandemic. This is very important to surviving financial menace; what has value, what comes first, what needs no attention is key to good business financial management. Never spend out of your expenditure list. Make a weekly or monthly budget to guide your spending. This is necessary to keep the business going. Know what is a priority to your business and cut out unnecessary costs.

Practicing this will save the business from failing to get a good feel of what success is, and avoid debt post-covid.

Spend wisely, it’s your best chance!

Restructure or adjust the budget

If your initial budget for a monthly expenditure is not working, revisit and adjust it. There is no crime in revisiting a budget and ruling out things you think can be done away with for a while, it is wisdom. Financial management is one of the most important practices business owners need to adopt more quickly than any other skill. With this, you are assured of financial freedom.

Increase income

What is a business without a good income? Good income is the fuel to success. How do you increase your income? Look at your services; how can you increase the use or purchase of your services or products? There are sales promotions; make use of client recommendations, special service offerings etc., and strategically develop plans toward your income.

Building relationships

This may be not what you want to read, but businesses are not people; people build businesses. The business serves the needs of people. Even though we may have some people express their thoughts on why businesses are referred to as entities, they are still run by people; they are human-focused.

During this massive ‘broke’ business economic era, people have become more intelligent in what they invest their time and money into. They have become so focused and selective that some businesses even choose their customers.

Because the ‘business economy’ isn’t booming, businesses are hard-up – skint: hence, the need to invest in external activities such as building relationships has become crucial. This is because, those relationships have many benefits which, in the short- and long-terms, give their businesses the growth and rewards they dream of.

>>>The writer is the CEO of Commec Group, a business development consultancy. She is a multiple award winning Business Development Consultant and a Writer. For business and engagements: [email protected] / www.commec.group

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