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9 Cashflow Management Strategies for Businesses of All Sizes

Updated: May 1

Managing cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, big or small. It's the circulatory system that keeps the heart of the business pumping — ensuring you have enough liquidity to operate effectively while planning for growth and scalability. At Ascern, we specialise in CFO Advisory and one of the key aspects we consistently focus on is effective cash flow management.


In this extensive guide, we are going to delve into 9 practical cash flow management strategies that are essential for businesses of all sizes.



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1. Measuring Cash Flow: Understand What's in the Pipeline


Understanding cash flow starts with measurement. You can't manage what you can't measure. The concept of Free Cash Flow (FCF) is particularly helpful in this regard.


What is Free Cash Flow?


Free Cash Flow (FCF) is the cash a company generates after accounting for capital expenditures that are needed to maintain or grow its asset base. It's a critical metric because it reveals the actual liquidity position of the company, untainted by non-cash items or accounting accruals.


How to Calculate Free Cash Flow


Calculating FCF is not as daunting as it sounds. Here's a simplified equation:


FCF = Operating Cash Flow - Capital Expenditures

This calculation reconciles net income by adjusting for non-cash expenses, changes in working capital, and capital expenditures. Understanding FCF can give you a more in-depth insight into your business's health than simply looking at net income or revenues.


FCF and Share Price / Business Value


One common misconception is that a positive free cash flow automatically indicates a strong share price. This isn't necessarily true. A company might have a strong FCF but could be over-leveraged, underperforming in terms of revenue, or facing other financial issues. Thus, while FCF is a crucial metric, it shouldn't be evaluated in isolation.


2. Forecasting Cash Flow Part 1: Making Predictions to Secure the Future


As the adage goes, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." When it comes to cash flow, planning or forecasting is a pivotal exercise.


Why is Working Capital Management Essential?


In essence, working capital management can significantly improve a company's cash flow and earnings quality. Working capital management is primarily about resource utilisation—how effectively a business uses its short-term assets and liabilities to maintain liquidity and support growth.


Tracking Cash and Cash Needs


The core of working capital management lies in meticulously tracking the cash and understanding the cash needs. Forecasting is an invaluable tool for predicting cash inflows and outflows, which can then be used for effective cash flow management.


Steps for Effective Forecasting


A detailed forecast should ideally extend beyond a rolling 12-month period. This would involve:


- Identifying regular inflows and outflows, such as receivables and payables.

- Estimating seasonal variations and accounting for them.

- Keeping an eye on the cash balances and making real-time adjustments to your plans.


By having a robust forecasting model, you can optimise your inflows and outflows, ensuring you always have adequate liquidity to meet obligations.


3. Working Capital: The Importance Can't Be Overstated


Working capital is essentially what's left when you subtract your current liabilities from your current assets. It's the buffer that allows your business to meet its short-term obligations.


Cash Flow and Working Capital


Cash flow plays a pivotal role in determining your working capital. To put it in simpler terms, cash flow measures the money that moves in and out of the business during an accounting period.


Why Working Capital is Vital


Without adequate working capital, you might find yourself unable to capitalise on new opportunities or, worse, unable to meet your current obligations. It's the grease that keeps the operational wheels of a business turning smoothly.


4. Working Capital: Strategies for Improvement


Now that we've grasped the importance of working capital and cash flow, let's focus on strategies to improve them. Just like you'd trim the sails to improve a boat's speed, you can adjust various financial practices to optimise working capital.


Tackling Liabilities


Reducing liabilities is a straightforward way to improve your working capital. This could mean speeding up the payment of debts and cutting down on unnecessary expenses. For example, negotiating better payment terms with your suppliers can be a boon for your working capital. Here are some negotiating tips that can come in handy.


Managing Assets


On the flip side, managing assets more effectively can also yield improvements. This often boils down to increasing sales revenue and optimising inventory management. The latter is crucial because inefficient inventory practices can tie up significant amounts of cash. Here's how inventory management can improve your cash flow.


All-encompassing Management


Working capital isn't just about assets and liabilities; it involves a more integrated approach that also includes inventory management, as well as management of accounts receivable and accounts payable. Effective working capital management means monitoring these components to create a more efficient operation overall.


5. Maintainable Free Cash Flow: A Long-term View


We've established that free cash flow (FCF) is an important metric for a business. But it's not just about a snapshot; you need to consider the bigger picture — maintainable free cash flow.


Why Maintainable Free Cash Flow is Important


Maintainable free cash flow is crucial because it shows how much cash your company can consistently generate over the long term. This provides a realistic and sustainable model for business growth, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions.


How to Maintain Your FCF


First, you must consistently track your FCF to understand its fluctuations and trends. You don't have to do it manually; many financial websites provide summaries or graphs of FCF trends for public companies. Second, look for ways to optimise your operating costs and capital expenditures. Keeping these low can help maintain a healthy FCF.


6. Creating a Cash Culture: More than Just Numbers


One of the often-overlooked aspects of cash flow management is the company culture. Implementing a cash-aware culture can have a transformative effect on your business.


Educating Employees


Informing your team about the importance of cash flow management creates a sense of collective responsibility. When everyone understands the critical role that cash flow plays, it becomes a collective effort to improve it.


Encourage Mindfulness


Encourage employees to be mindful of expenses and to always seek ways to save money. Small savings in various departments can add up to significant improvements in cash flow.


Continuous Improvement


Cultivating a cash culture means you're not just setting a standard but are engaged in continuous evaluation and improvement of your cash flow management processes.


7. Leverage Technology for Cash Flow Management


In this age of digital transformation, technology is your friend. Advanced software and analytics tools can do wonders for cash flow management, allowing real-time tracking and forecasting.


Real-time Tracking and Reporting


Gone are the days when business owners had to wait for the end-of-the-month reports to understand their financial position. Modern accounting and cash management software offer real-time tracking, enabling immediate adjustments to improve cash flow.


Forecasting with Precision


Forecasting is not merely an educated guess; it's a science when done correctly. Utilise machine learning algorithms and data analytics for more accurate and efficient forecasting. The better your forecasts, the better you can plan for the future.


8. Keep an Eye on the Market Rates


Interest rates and market conditions can affect your cash flow significantly. For instance, a rising interest rate could increase the cost of your loans, thereby affecting your cash flow.


Importance of Market Rates


Understanding market trends can help you plan your borrowing and investment strategies more effectively. Keep an eye on national rates and consult your financial advisers for tailored advice.


9. Seek Expert Advice


Last but certainly not least, consider seeking expert advice for managing your cash flow. At Ascern Advisers, we specialise in CFO Advisory, helping businesses optimise their financial strategies.


A Stitch in Time Saves Nine


Prevention is better than cure. An expert can help you identify potential issues before they become major problems. Moreover, they can provide strategies to accelerate your cash flow tailored specifically to your business.


Elevate Your Business


A well-managed cash flow can elevate your business from a struggling startup to a thriving enterprise. Partnering with experts like us can provide you with valuable insights and strategies for long-term success.


Effective Cashflow Management


Effective cash flow management is more than a financial requirement; it's the lifeblood that fuels your business growth. It involves several interrelated components—measuring and forecasting your cash flow, optimising your working capital, maintaining free cash flow, creating a cash-conscious culture, leveraging technology, and staying aware of market rates. But you don't have to go it alone. At Ascern Advisers, we provide expert CFO Advisory services that can help you navigate the complexities of cash flow management, enabling your business not just to survive, but to thrive.


By implementing these strategies, businesses of all sizes can better position themselves for sustainable growth and profitability. So why wait? Start implementing these proven strategies today, and take your business to new heights.


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If you're keen to implement these Cashflow Management Strategies in your business, try our Cashflow Mastery program:

  • Completely free

  • 4 weeks long

  • Regular weekly emails directly to you

  • Step by step explanations on how to manage your cashflow

In this program you'll learn how to forecast and manage your cashflow the same way our CFOs do - we give you our template and teach you how to use it!


If you find it more useful to have a CFO to do that for you, don't hesitate to reach out to us.


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Remember, managing your cash flow effectively is not just an operational necessity, but it can set your business apart from the competition. Take the next step today.


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