It’s always interesting to speak to business owners about their cash flow. I was at a launch in the technology eco-system this week and was chatting with 3 owners of fast growing businesses. I asked them what were the two biggest issues that weighed on their mind that week. The responses all had 2 things in common: sales and cash. I asked who was responsible for generating revenue. Sales & marketing, the CEO, the entire team were the general consensus.
“So who’s problem is cash flow?” I asked. All said it was them. “Who sends your invoices and chases collections”? was my follow up. “Our accountant handles all that” were 2 out of 3 responses. The third was “my finance person does that. I get a report every day/week”.
I watch their body language as I continue, their eyes widening and leaning in slightly forward as I describe how a tablet, laptop or phone can give them a window into their cash flow through Bilbus. Advance notice of the ‘iceberg’ ahead as a major customer decides to delay payment to smoothen out its end of quarter cash balance.
No cash, no payroll, PR or popping corks!
Too many businesses wait to the last minute to do something about their cash flow. “I know we need it, but I have so many other things to do”, responded one of the owners. “I’ve been sitting on a tax form that will see me refunded thousands of pounds and I never seem to get around to it”, added another.
I know what they are going through. I’ve been there. There are so many things to deal with that the boring details of invoicing, payments, form filling, applying for funding all can be left to someone else or put off for another day.
Customer acquisition and sales is always a key for us.
But I’ve also been beyond. I’ve sat in my bank relationship manager’s office begging for cash to make Friday payroll and purchase stock for the weekend. I’ve scrambled around at the last minute to chase up other customers whose invoices are not due yet in the vain hope that they will pay early and give me some short term relief while a cheque waited to clear.
In those days, I was the sales guy, accountant, payments clerk, punching bag and in-house IT. As time went by, I began to outsource. First went tax, then bookkeeping, then marketing, payments clerk and IT. But even though someone else was responsible for delivering an invoice, I always checked each one. And every payment above a certain amount went through me. Even when we outsourced the finance function, I wanted to know what was in the bank, what was coming in and who owed me money. One of my best friends, who was ran a small foam and plastics business spent 50% of his week calling on his customers to chase up his invoices.
Bilbus was built to give a business control of cash.
No matter who actually handles invoicing, collections and payments. More and more accounting firms are offering outsourced “virtual” finance team services and taking over invoicing, reconciliation and even strategic forecasting. But as strategic advisors, they recognise that business owners need to be intimately aware of their cash. They want their clients to be better equipped to make informed decisions, and plan ahead for the ‘iceberg’.
Before they can do something to solve a cash flow gap, businesses need to know where their cash is (and will be). And then promptly act to navigate around the gap before it is reached.
Captains of their own cash flow.
Bilbus is a working capital financing hub that helps small businesses invoice, collect and match to commercial lenders via a single dashboard. Businesses use Bilbus to automate invoicing and collections, increase cash flow visibility and strengthen credit applications. Get paid faster, borrow smarter: e-Financing for the e-Invoicing generation.