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The latest guide in our Business High Five series, The SME Guide to Understanding your Financial Health, is an overview of how you can improve your business finance operations.
In this guide, your SME will be able to make use of insights on:
- The Importance of understanding your financial health
- What does financial health look like for SMEs
- How is SME financial health measured
- Common mistakes to avoid for the best possible financial health
- Services, Tools and Tech available to help
The Importance of understanding your financial health
All the decisions you’re making for your business impact your bottom line. It’s important to regularly review the financial status of your business to make sure you’re on the right track and to help with future decisions.
When a business is financially healthy it’s more likely to succeed. Every business needs internal financial controls to help ensure its money is properly managed. While outsourcing experts and using financial technology can be a good idea, it’s also best for you to know how to protect your bank account and your assets.
What does financial health look like for SMEs
The “financial health” of an SME is open to interpretation, depending on the industry, the stage of the company’s journey or the challenges it has faced. But there are some proven metrics that business owners, leaders, investors and other stakeholders can use to objectively assess the health of any company. Implicit in the financial health concept is the question of whether a business has “healthy” income, cash flow statements and a sound balance sheet.
Related: 5 Reasons why access to funding is important
How is financial health for SMEs measured
There is no standard set of metrics for determining an SMEs financial health, as most small businesses are privately held and are not required to release official financial results to the public. The good news though is that there are some well established methods to measure a smaller organisation’s health. Learn more about the most important indicators by downloading our latest guide.
Try to avoid these common mistakes for the best possible financial health
- Lack of cash reserves
- Not having a cash flow forecast
- Not having a margin of safety between borrowing and debt servicing
See more here.
Related: 4 Ways to improve your business’s cash flow
Services, Tools and Tech available to help
As a business owner and entrepreneur, financial management may not be your area of expertise. This is why it’s advisable to consider using technology partners who can simplify, and often automate, specific tasks. It can also be worthwhile investigating local support service providers to outsource the more complex or labour intensive tasks to.
Download the full SME Guide here.
What can 60 days of cost-free* funding do for your business?
To help SMEs get the funding they need to grow their business sooner, rather than later, we offer a 60 day delayed repayment option to all first-time customers. So if you apply for funding today, you won’t have to start repaying for 2 months. If prompted enter promo code LULA when applying.
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Running a business is a long game that requires flexibility, adaptability and money. To keep it running in the right direction and meeting your growth trajectories is an ongoing commitment. Just as you’ve gathered the funds to get started or your profit is looking good, there comes occasions when extra funding is needed. It goes without saying that access to funding is vital for your business. Particularly funding that can keep up with needs intrinsic to your industry changes, challenges and requirements. Here are 5 reasons to keep in mind on why access to funding is important for your business.
1. Research and development
2. Fast access to funding helps secure cash flow
3. Good liquidity helps SMEs trade through turbulent time
4. Funds on tap allow businesses to respond quickly to growth opportunities
5. Unforeseen costs
Research and development
While not every business needs research and development in the earlystages, every business needs to stay relevant and innovative. Especially SMEs because they have to keep up with unexpected challenges and competitors with better resources. On the other hand many business owners still rely on thorough research to get ahead of the competition, often leading to having to finance the process. Ultimately, research and development is necessary for accelerating innovation and sustaining relevance, and it requires funding.
A few meaningful ways to start your R&D funding include approaching venture capitalists, seeking government assistance, alternative lenders such as Lulalend and using crowdfunding.
Fast access to funding helps secure cash flow
The money that moves in and out of your business is important. Any sudden changes can impact your business negatively. Which is why positive cash flow is so important. If it dries up it’s difficult to recover and this inevitably affects all aspects of your business. Anything from seasonal slowdowns or recessions can strike at any time and it’s important to be prepared. With fast access to the right funding you’ll be able to keep a positive cash flow problems arise. Consider flexible options such as Lulalend’s revolving credit facility which is useful to business owners across all industries. This allows you to keep up with the kind of cash flow challenges that affect your business directly without applying for funding every time.
Related: Understanding business credit assessments
Good liquidity helps SMEs trade through turbulent times
SMEs generally don’t have big cash reserves to fall back on, so when sales drop they need a safety net to meet day to day operating costs. Ideally a business should have anywhere from a month to six months of cash on hand in case of emergencies. Liquidity requires having accessible funds and together with cash flow, it’s crucial to the survival of small businesses. Keeping a close eye on liquidity allows business owners to make smart decisions about their finances and a healthy ratio helps creditors determine your creditworthiness to secure your business the credit it might need. SMEs need to track the financial health of their businesses and measuring liquidity helps to strike the right balance.
You can look to financing companies to secure additional funding when the chips are down. This can afford you the flexibility to get through unprecedented cash flow crunches and buy you time to improve or rebuild your usual ebb and flow.
Funds on tap allow businesses to respond quickly to growth opportunities
A new, recovering or growing business needs money to fund expansion strategies. When a business begins to grow, new locations, products, equipment, more marketing or employees might be required. Consider businesses in the construction industry for instance, where upfront investment may be required to fund projects. These activities add to the existing costs and may need additional funding. At this point profits may be slim and whatever the stage your business is in, outside financing might be an important driver of success to reach those new levels of growth and business development.
Related: 4 Ways to improve your business’s cashflow
There’s no telling when an accident might jeopardise your hard earned work. From fires to floods, natural disasters and as recently experienced in South Africa, destructive protests and looting, or even staff injuries. You have to stay prepared. While insurance might cover most events, premiums still need to be paid and money for salaries still needs to be available during repairs. Even for less disastrous accidents such as malfunctioning machinery or outdated machinery, equipment breaking, just needing to be upgraded or systems being hacked, funding can come in really handy.
Funding allows businesses to plan ahead. In today’s rapidly evolving financial services industry, it’s good to know the options you can rely on. Importantly, it’s good to build good credit and relationships with alternative lenders like Lulalend that can offer you the flexibility you need to access funding easily and efficiently.
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Your business model is your business’s plan to make a profit. It’s an outline of how your business plans to make money which allows you to identify your target market and their needs, the expenses you should anticipate as well as the products and services your business plans to sell. Business plans are important for both new and established organisations, as they help businesses attract investment and talent. Importantly, they help assess whether things are working the way you want them to.
To keep ahead of trends and changes, it’s important to review and update your model. Here are 4 ways to consider reviewing your business model.
1. Customer value proposition
Customer value proposition
Do you still resonate with your customers and are you taking their feedback into consideration? Reviewing your value proposition is a great way to establish your relevance in meeting your customers’ current problems, or how you can make adjustments to your product to keep improving their situation. Doing customer research to establish what your customers need can help you in this process. It can give you quantified feedback on the specific benefits of your products. You can find some useful tips for this on our blog post How to Drive Sales Through Customer Retention. It could also spark ideas that you may have overlooked initially. Remember to solve real and important problems for your customers, maintain your differentiation from competitors, and remind your customers why they should trust your brand.
It’s imperative to understand your profitability for the success of your business. The profit your business makes should be used to help secure growth opportunities. Analyse how your business brings in money and opportunities for growth. Start with a profit and loss statement. If you don’t already have one in place, you can start by individually listing how your business generates income and spends money. Also, consider doing a pricing review to understand if you’re making enough margin to be profitable. Once you’ve consolidated the audit, you can try to eliminate work that costs you money and focus on opportunities that generate income. To get a good idea of how to approach this, have a look at Freshbook’s step-by-step outline on how to check if your business is profitable.
Related: How to Drive Sales Through Customer Retention
Take some time to consider if the resources currently available to you are appropriate for your business model and how it’s evolving. Do you have access to the right people, and are you meeting your financial goals? Whether the answer is yes or no, it’s always a good idea to review this aspect of your business. Consider your capacity and demand management, your resource utilization as well as your progress and time tracking. It’s important to establish your actual resource availability and to get a realistic view of your demands and capacity to deliver. Understand what roles and skillsets you need and streamline communication between your employees and the business, as well as with your stakeholders. If you’d like some ideas on how to get started, Planview – a portfolio and work management solutions organisation – has great advice on resource management best practices.
To run a business, processes are used every day. In the quest for efficiency, it’s important to review them and keep the ones that make sense, and improve the ones that don’t. With rapid changes in technology and the evolving demands of your target market, dysfunctional processes can lead to breakdowns in communication, increased costs, or unhappy customers to name a few challenges. Make this an important step to review to help streamline your tasks and business activities. To get started on this consider these steps recommended and outlined on Mindtools:
Step 1: Map the process
Step 2: Analyse the process
Step 3: Redesign the process
Step 4: Acquire resources
Step 5: Implement and communicate change
Step 6: Review the process
Related: How to Write the Perfect Business Plan
Running a business is hard work, but regularly reviewing your Business Model can make planning for the future easier. Make it a priority to keep up with the ever-evolving needs of your clients, talent, and expectations of any investors so you can stay relevant. Try not to overlook the components that make you successful and how you can upgrade them. Remember, if any of your adjustments need financing that you might not have at the time you can always get in touch with one of our Funding Specialists at Lulalend to find out how we can help you meet your business objectives.