I’m not an Economics Major! What do I need to know about Small Business Finance?
No, you don’t need to be an economics major, but you do need to understand the basics of small business finance and good financial management. And if you are an economics major, Great! You have a big head start.
Do you need a bunch of spreadsheets? Not today, but as you plan your business and it begins to grow, you’ll know how to use these! When you’re starting out, there are five basics areas where you need to learn as much as you can:
In very simple terms you need to keep track of the money that comes in and the money that goes out. It may sound a simple, and it might be in the beginning, but you’re not starting this business to run for a month. Hopefully you’re starting this business to last for a long time.
It’s a very good idea to put a smart small business finance accounting system into place from the beginning, and get it set up to grow with your business. You will find a resource page below with some very good basic accounting systems that are affordable and easy to use for small business finance.
Credit and Collections:
You need to make sure you get paid for your product or service. How this happens can vary greatly based on the type of business you run. If you’re just starting out, you will probably not offer your customers credit terms, more likely it will be cash on delivery.
For this you need a payment tool that your customers trust (always look at your customer’s point of view first) and one that will allow you immediate access to your cash. There are many online payment tools and gateways, like PayPal.
One important note, it is an extremely smart idea to use a payment tool or gateway that also offers you the ability to download transaction details into your accounting package. This saves you loads of time manually entering information into your small business finance software package, and has many additional upside advantages.
This is where most people have problems with small business finance, and the largest reason for business failures. Let me explain it this way.
Can a profitable business fail? YES, and many do! Cash is KING!
You must have enough cash coming in to pay your expenses. In the beginning this will be from your own pocket or from your small business finance loan or credit facilities. But eventually, and in most cases sooner rather than later, the start-up funding will run out. You need to be focusing on cash flow from Day ZERO, and eventually when the business is running on its own income you can focus more and more on profitability.
You will need to buy things for your business. In the beginning it’s important to focus on how you pay for these items. If you’re using your credit card, no problem, but watch the finance charges. Try and keep the outstanding balance on your card down to a minimum.
If your making most of your purchases online, then find a good payment tool or gateway that you can use to pay for purchases while at the same time collecting money from your customers.
Don’t worry, this is not a huge issue in the beginning, because if you’re like most new businesses there will be very little to analyze.
But keep in mind; this will become more and more important as your business begins to grow and you have less and less time to dedicate to finance. You will need to again select an accounting package that can grow and expand with your business giving you easy reports to understand.
In the beginning you really just need the ability to watch your finances and do short range forecasts of your cash flow. Most accounting packages have this as a basic part of the package, if not; keep looking for a system that offers this from the beginning.
Get the Small Business Finance Basics right, and the rest will follow with much greater ease. Ignore the basics, or do them wrong, and you’re asking for problems later on that will distract you from your main function as a business owner which is finding and keeping customers!