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With signs that the global financial crisis is over and the Australian economy forecast to grow strongly in 2010, it's time to get set for growth. The Commonwealth Bank’s Symon Brewis-Weston explains how to fine-tune your business finances so you can pump up the volume.

It's official — according to Ken Henry, head of the Australian Treasury, "What people have called the global financial crisis, that has passed, I think it is safe to say".

For small-business owners, that's cause for celebration. Yet it's also a good reason to re-examine your business finances and make sure you're in shape for the upturn. Because nothing tests a business like rapid growth — and it seems that growth is what we're going to get.

So here are some tips to help you re-engineer and stress test your finances ready for the year ahead.

Step 1: Take control of cash flow

It all starts with your business plan. Put together some growth scenarios and see how they affect your cash flow and your working capital needs. Then make sure you have a system in place to monitor your cash position and track your progress.

Tips
  • Make the most of today's powerful online business banking tools. They can give you complete visibility and control of your cash flow around the clock, and integrate with your payroll and accounting systems.
  • Take care when selecting a business transaction account. Your account is the hub of your business cash flow system, so it should give you easy access to your cash, with a range of options for moving money in and out fast. As far as possible, it should also have fee concessions, so you can focus on managing your cash, rather than worrying about the cost.
Step 2: Accelerate receivables

Without careful management, accounts receivable can quickly get out of control. After all, a sale is not complete until you’ve been paid in full. That's why you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you, while minimising the time you need to spend processing each transaction.

Tips
  • Electronic receivables solutions like BPAY, direct debit, cards and EFTPOS put cash in your account faster and make it easier for customers to buy from you. They also make it easier to track and reconcile payments, slashing paperwork and administrative costs.
Step 3: Create a safety net

Every business needs a little extra cash from time to time. If you're expanding rapidly, you may also need some longer-term capital for new assets. So it's important to plan ahead and make sure you'll have access to the cash you need when you need it.

Tips
  • A business credit card, overdraft, or line of credit can provide a short-term cash injection. You only pay interest on the money you use, so you can keep costs under control. In the meantime, you have the confidence of knowing that there's a cash flow safety net if you ever need it.

Symon Brewis-Weston is the Executive General Manager of Commonwealth Bank Local Business Banking, a specialist division dedicated to the needs of small business clients. For further information please visit http://www.commbank.com.au/business.

Important information: As this advice has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should before acting on this advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

 

Published on: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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