10 ways to improve your business cash flow

For a business to grow sustainably (and to successfully make it through the financial bumps in the road), cash flow needs to be a priority. And not just when times are tough and cash is tight. Making sure that you’re maintaining an optimal level of cash on hand at all times; this is essential to success.

So how do you do this? To improve your cash flow in the immediate but also for the long-term, here are 10 essentials.

Know your break-even figure

You need to know what number you need to reach each month to cover all of your outgoings. Once you know this, you can make better spending decisions and keep your cash flow at its optimal level.

Create a budget and stick to it 

While profit is important, you also need to focus on spending. Create a budget to ensure that you’re making more on each sale than you’re spending – this can help you be more mindful about where your money is going and it can help you make impactful changes.

Build a cash reserve

Set aside any excess money you make every month into a business savings account. Financial experts recommend keeping 3-6 months’ operating expenses in a cash reserve, but you can decide how much you want to keep available.

Automate your bookkeeping 

Using software such as Xero and QuickBooks can help you improve your cash flow. You can send out invoices immediately, get your clients to pay via Direct Debit, reconcile payments easily, and generate reports with a click of a button.

Offer discounts for early payments

If you have certain clients who pay late and miss payments, offer them a 2-5% discount if they pay early. Not only does this incentivise them to pay, but it also ensures that you don’t suffer from dips in your cash flow too. Win-win.

Negotiate extended payment deadlines with vendors 

It’s good to set up extended payment deadlines in the event that you can’t pay what you owe vendors right away. For example, you could negotiate a 60-day turnaround for all payments or include a clause in the agreement that allows later payments a certain number of times in the year. While it may not be needed, it is good to be prepared in case you ever need to use this option.

Consider financing (when it makes sense)

Your focus should be building up a cash reserve for emergency situations like the Coronavirus crisis. This means that, in a situation where you have unexpected expenses or you need a large sum, you should consider short- or long-term financing options instead.

Consider leasing supplies, equipment, and real estate instead of buying

While leasing may end up being more expensive than buying in the long run, choosing to lease supplies, equipment, and real estate for a certain amount of time will help you to maintain a steady cash stream for day-to-day operations.

Seek advice from an accountant 

The best way to improve your cash flow is to seek expert advice. Whether it’s getting an accountant to advise you on spending and saving or hiring them to completely manage your financial matters, they will help you make the right financial decisions. After all, you have to spend money to make money!

Improve your inventory

What is your inventory turnover? Surprisingly, there could be a lot of cash tied up in your inventory so check your inventory regularly. Are you buying too much? If so, sell it at a discount and start buying less of it. This is something that your accountant can help you figure out.

While it’s obviously very important to improve your cash flow right now (thanks Coronavirus), it is also essential for your business to have a healthy cash flow all year round. Keeping a robust cash flow takes vigilance, but it will help protect your business during turbulent times, not to mention, it will also help you sleep soundly.

arrow to title

How do I land the right clients for my business?

While sometimes it’s necessary to take on clients at a lower price than we want – especially when we are building a portfolio – it is not a strategy that will help us grow our business in the long term. What will help us grow the business that we want and in the direction that we want, is to win the right types of clients at the right price. Clients who value our service and will pay what it is worth.

Are you struggling to land clients at the right price? Chances are, it might be something that you are doing (or not doing), so here is how to rectify that.


If you’re not currently doing the following during your sales process, start implementing these now.

  • Do – make it easy for the prospect to book a call

This is such a simple thing to do, yet it has a massive negative impact on your ability to win more clients if you don’t. Make it easy for your prospects to book a call with you and they will.

  • Do – understand the emotional drivers of the prospect at the start of the fact-find

95% of our purchase decision-making takes place subconsciously, so by identifying what the emotional drivers are for your prospect, the better you can empathise with them and position your firm as their solution.

  • Do – set up a follow-up meeting

You don’t want to leave your prospect wondering if they’ll hear from you. Email them letting them know what they need to do and when they need to respond by if they want to proceed, or the next action if not.

  • Do – sign them up and onboard them (or put them back into the sales funnel)

Many accountants don’t put unconverted leads back in their sales funnel and that is a big mistake. We need to nurture leads into customers over time, and these are contacts who are interested and see the value of your service! You need to stay in front of these warm leads until they are ready to buy.


If you’re currently doing the following during your sales process, stop it!

  • Don’t – skip the pre-qualification meeting

The aim of the pre-qualification meeting is to fully vet the opportunity and make sure that it ticks all of your boxes. Don’t be tempted to skip it! Get the prospect to fill out a questionnaire and charge for an initial meeting. This will help you to determine fit and to evaluate whether there is a real opportunity.

  • Don’t – do the new business meeting if the prospect hasn’t sent you the information you need

You can’t show the prospect that you fully understand their needs and challenges if they haven’t sent you the information you need, so don’t go ahead with the meeting. You need this information to convert them, so don’t waste everyone’s time if you don’t have it.

  • Don’t – take too long to get a quote to the client

If you take too long to get a quote to the client, you run the risk of losing them altogether. Don’t do this. Avoid frustrating the prospect by providing them with a quote swiftly after you have buttered them up.

  • Don’t – use the proposal document as options to the client

The client wants to move forward at this stage, so don’t confuse them or set them back in the process. They should have already met with you and discussed all potential solutions, so the proposal document is where you’re pitching the final idea.

Get paid what you are worth

Growing a practice sustainably isn’t just about winning more clients. It’s about winning good clients; the types of clients that you love to work with and who see the value from your service and are more than willing to pay you for it. To start landing clients at the right price, make sure that you start doing the Dos and avoiding the Don’ts above.

goals + Habits = success

Goals + habits = SUCCESS

Two sports teams both have the goal to win the game at hand, but only one can. This shows that just having a goal doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to achieve it. To win or achieve your goal, you need to have the right positive habits day in and day out. In the case of the sports team, it’s the one that trains regularly, eats healthy every day, and has the right mindset to keep going when times are tough.

To help you understand why many of us don’t achieve the goals that we set out to, this article explains why daily habits are the key to getting us to where we want to be.

Goals are great for short term accountability…

Have you hit a weight loss goal but then gained that weight back on not long after? Have you resolved to quit something or to start something only to revert back after a few weeks? Have you ever trained to run a marathon but then never run much after that?

If you can relate to one of the questions above, it’s probably due to one of these 5 reasons:

  1. Goals are temporary – they are great for an initial push but people tend to revert to habits.
  2. Goals can negatively affect motivation – if you don’t reach them within a specific timeframe, they can make you feel bad.
  3. Goals limit you – not many people surpass their goal as they are satisfied once they’ve hit it.
  4. Goals demand discipline – discipline can be hard to maintain over a long period, so when people lose it, they tend to give up all together.
  5. Goals can be unrealistic – if the initial goal is unrealistic, this can lead to a loss of motivation and negatively affect performance.

While goals are great for short term accountability and for that initial push to improve performance, on their own, they don’t help you to sustain this performance.

…habits are what help us sustain performance in the long term

Just like the long-term success of a sports team, it’s having the right habits that is key; having the right habits to support their goals.

When it comes to business, if you want to grow sustainably, you need the right mindset and the right habits to sustain your performance over time. So how do you do this?

  1. You need to set your goals – when setting both personal and professional goals, don’t forget to use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
  2. You need to shift your mindset – know your ‘why’ for setting this goal/s and think of this goal as a marathon and not a sprint. You won’t achieve it overnight so be okay with doing a little each day.
  3. You need to develop the right daily habits – split your one big goal into short term goals (e.g. monthly and weekly goals) and focus on hitting these. Plan these activities into your schedule and link them with existing habits already as this will make it much easier for you to get them done.

Start achieving what you set out to

If you set yourself goals AND put in place the necessary habits you will need to achieve them (just focusing on getting a little done each day), soon these will build and you’ll see your business moving forward.

Remember the sports team. You might win one game or hit your goal once, but the key to long-term success is having the right mindset and daily habits.

Spinning top and planet

How to pivot your business so that you stay in business

As we keep plunging deeper into a global recession, it can be tempting to panic and dither with decisions, but that’s not going to help. In fact, it’s the businesses which move quickly that will survive and thrive during this time.

So how can you be one of those businesses? One that actually grows during a recession?

In short, you have to adapt (and make quick decisions!). Here is how to pivot your business to make sure you stay in business.

A 7-step guide to pivot your business

Get into the right mindset for decision-making

You won’t make good decisions for the future of your business if you are in a scared, stressed or anxious state. Take time out, prioritise self-care and deep thinking time, and you’ll make far more creative decisions for it.

Think about what you can change for the good

You may need to adapt your business to survive, so think about what you can change to become relevant. Can you change your product or service? Can you change your intended marketplace for your product or service? Can you change how you deliver your product or service?

Do your research

The answers are out there, so do your research. Ask and listen to your clients – what are they telling you they need? From your own experience, what is your business or friends and family wanting or needing to buy and why? How are habits and hobbies changing as people stay home more? What is social media telling you that people are doing or thinking about?

Conduct a STEEPLED analysis to look ahead

Try to think about what this ‘new normal’ will look like. Use the STEEPLED analysis and think about what each factor will mean for you and your business (e.g. follow each example with a ‘so what’ for your business):

S – Social – e.g. more people are staying/working at home.

T – Technology – e.g. more older generations are adopting technology to stay in touch.

E – Environment – e.g. people can see it recovering.

E – Ethics – e.g. can’t be seen to be profiteering.

P – Political – e.g. will this change Brexit, Tory government etc?

L – Legal and regulatory – e.g. how will rules, protocols change?

E – Economic – e.g. what happens with a recession?

D – Demographic – e.g. higher than the average death rate.

Evaluate your potential options

Once you have done your research about the current market and you’re in the right mindset to adapt your business, you now need to evaluate your options. For each option, think about:

  • How connected is it to your ‘why’ or ‘purpose?’
  • How easy is it to implement?
  • What will change or stay the same?
  • If you chose to move forward with this, what would you and your business have to do?

Conduct a risk analysis

Once you have chosen what option you are pursuing, conduct a risk analysis:

  • Consider some ‘what if’ scenarios – e.g. what if schools close again and people have to work and provide childcare?
  • Review your risks – e.g. operational, reputational, project delivery, political, environmental, financial etc.
  • Rank these risks – are they high, medium or low risk?
  • Review their impact – what would be the impact on the business if this risk happened?
  • Outline your red lines – which risks can you accept or avoid? Which risks need to be managed?

Put together your business plan

Last but not least, if you’re going to pivot your business towards success, you need to have a plan. So what is your “to-be?” What are your new goals and achievements? Once you have these, you need to outline:

  • How you will measure your progress.
  • How much investment you will need.
  • Who you will need to support you with this.
  • Who in your current circle of people is critical or now not needed.
  • Your first steps to making this happen.

Don’t wait any longer, act now.

You need to decide now, what you want to happen with your business. The longer you leave it to make a decision with what to do with your business, the more chance you won’t have a business going forward.

As we said previously, it’s the businesses who make good and quick decisions who will survive and even grow during the recession. Be one of those.

Katie Donno giving thumbs up

Is employing family members good for business?

Employees are sometimes afraid to voice their opinions. The same goes for disappointments, frustrations or general ideas, especially when it comes to changing the way things are done. As you can imagine, this can be damaging to the growth of a business; it can even stagnate it completely.

Working with family members, however, is a completely different story. Having such a deep relationship and history promotes honesty that you just don’t get from non-family employees, and this can be very good for business.

Yes, complete honesty can be a good thing! Here’s how working with family promotes honesty and why that’s so important.

Working with family promotes honesty…

Employees are the beating heart of any business; they are the key workers on the frontline and they are knee-deep in the day-to-day running of the business so they know what’s working and what’s not.

This insight is extremely valuable to every business owner, but not many employees share it. Why? Because not all businesses make their employees feel ‘safe’ enough to voice their concerns or to pitch new ideas.

This is where working with family members is extremely beneficial. It promotes honesty because:

  • Family members are not scared of getting fired (technically they can, but it is unlikely)
  • You know how to communicate with each other better (you both know the best way to speak to each other and how you will best respond)
  • You can have business meetings in more relaxed settings (for example, a relaxed meeting over dinner better promotes honesty)
  • You both want each other’s best interests so will listen (listening is often the weak link in communication)
  • Family members are trusted to go with their ideas and to run with it (you know your family members, so you put more trust and responsibility with them. In return, they feel psychologically safe to take initiative and voice their ideas).
  • Family members aren’t scared of making mistakes (many employees don’t take initiative because they are afraid of repercussions. Family members aren’t as they know that you will help them to learn from their mistakes).

…and this is great for business

Honesty is essential for building integrity in the workplace which in turn is essential for businesses to evolve and grow. You may not think that the success of a business is all that affected by honesty, but you’d be surprised. Here is why it is so important:

  • Honesty results in closer relationships – if employees are honest with each other, they can develop deeper and closer relationships.
  • Honesty is the foundation for trust and confidence – with trust in the company and confidence in leadership, employees are far more productive and happy.
  • Honesty nurtures wellness and reduces stress – voicing concerns and new ideas not only has mental benefits but it also allows employees to identify problems and work better as a team.
  • Honesty fosters an environment for self-accountability and responsibility – if your employees feel safe to be honest, they will be more willing to take on more responsibilities and to hold themselves accountable for their work. As you can imagine, this results in better individual performance but also as a team.

Honesty is the best policy

As the saying goes, honesty really is the best policy in the workplace. It has major benefits for all your employees and your business as a whole. While working with family members promotes honesty a lot more naturally than working with non-family members, fostering this same environment should be a goal for every business.

Girl holding a wad of money

How can I increase my profit margin?

As author Dough Hall correctly put it, “if your profit margins arent rising, chances are your company isnt thriving.” Makes sense when you think about it. If your profit margin is the actual money you get to walk away with after a transaction (your revenue minus your costs), you want to be continually improving this number.

To help you increase your profit margin, especially at a time where you’re unable to increase demand, here are 10 strategies that you can start with.

Raise your fees

This is the most obvious way to increase your profit margin as the more money you make on each sale, the wider your margin. If you haven’t raised your prices in a while, consider doing so.

Reduce operating expenses 

Think about how you can streamline your operations to reduce costs. Can you lower your overheads by reducing wasteful spending? Would you benefit from automating administrative tasks?

Upsell services to existing clients

Your clients already know and trust you, so they are going to be significantly more receptive to other offers that you have. Upsell your other services that they could benefit from and you’ll see this is a great way to improve your profit margin.

Increase the productivity of your staff

Increasing the output of your staff is a great strategy to increase your profits. From setting the right targets and motivating them to training your staff and helping them develop the right skills, you can do a lot to boost their performance.

Identify and fix bottlenecks

In which areas are processes too slow? In what areas is there waste in your business? Bottlenecks cost you money and decrease your bottom line so comb through your processes and see what needs to be improved. Examples of waste are not utilising talent, waiting for work from others, and poor communication channels.

Invest in savvier practice management software 

While cloud-based systems and software cost initially, they can save a lot of time and money when it comes to those administrative and manual tasks. If you train the right staff on the right software, things like client enquiries, relationship management, email management, invoicing, and social media scheduling become a lot less painful.

Improve inventory turnover 

Markdowns are known profit-killers, so avoid them at all costs. One way to do this is to better manage areas like inventory. Review your inventory turnover and make better decisions around purchasing, sales and marketing, and you’ll reduce the need for markdowns.

Increase the perceived value of your brand 

You need a strong brand, one that centres around the emotional and lifestyle values of your target audience. If you have a brand that connects with your audience and you position yourself as the go-to-expert, you can charge a premium for your services.

Improve your bottom line

You don’t have to make drastic changes to increase your profit margin and it’s not all down to increasing your demand either.

The best way to continuously improve this number is to make effective tweaks to your business over time. They may seem like small changes in the moment, but these all build up and pave the way for wider profit margins!

laptop with title on

How to prepare your virtual teams for the long haul

The pandemic may have forced hundreds of businesses to convert from co-located teams to 100% virtual teams in a matter of days, but that was just temporary, right? That’s what many of us thought. For a while there, it was just about getting through the next couple of weeks and then months, but now, another lockdown is here and it’s time to face reality. It looks like working as a virtual team is for the foreseeable future, and again, we are without a playbook for when things will return to normal.

So how do we do it? How do we accept the new reality and start preparing our virtual teams for the long haul?

Step 1: Identify the most critical team problems

At first many people were working remotely for the first time, and in a time of crisis. Most businesses focussed on “making do” until they could return to normal, but to prepare for the long haul, you need to review any issues you have and identify necessary changes.

What poses immediate, serious threats to team survival? Are the team’s objectives still relevant or at odds with reality? Is your team culture and cohesion as strong as it should be? Are team members struggling due to a lack of psychological safety?

Step 2: Address these issues

To ensure that your team members are working as productively as they do in the office and in line with the current reality, you need to immediately address the issues that you identify in step 1.

For example, if the biggest issue is that your team’s objectives or work are no longer relevant to the current reality, re-prioritise their work to something that matches the new overall goal of the business. If it’s cohesion that’s a problem, try mixing personal chat threads with business ones and run a quarterly non-work-related workshop where everyone can bond on a deeper level.

Step 3: Focus on long-term care

Step 3 is the most important step in preparing your virtual team for the long haul, as without it, issues will just arise again as people start to struggle. As we said previously, people are trying to work through this crisis so you need to focus on their long term care. You need to be thinking about how you can keep them healthy and avoid these relapses.

A few ways that you can switch on your long-term care mode is to:

  • Always give clear and concise goals and work briefs.
  • Help team members know their role within the team and how this relates to the overall business goal.
  • Foster psychological safety.
  • Hold regular one-on-ones with team members to make sure they are healthy and to prevent burning them out.
  • Communicate as much as possible and make sure that each individual knows what is expected of them.

Think ongoing attention and preventative care

To prepare your virtual teams for the long haul, you need to regularly check-in on the health of your team members. If you do this, then you can identify any issues or symptoms of a struggle early; both of which will help you to give them the attention and care that they need to prevent these from escalating into bigger issues down the line.

It really is that simple: identify issues, address these issues, and make a routine to provide the support needed to prevent these issues from arising again.

How to recharge your batteries

How to recharge your batteries

Whether a post-lunch slump or screen fatigue, we have all experienced an energy drop during our working day.  For a quick recharge, try some of these tips to increase your energy levels without that caffeine fix!

Tip 1 – Keep Hydrated

Dehydration is the most common cause of fatigue and when working on an all-engrossing piece of work, we can often forget to keep our fluid levels topped up.  When experiencing fatigue, drink a small glass of water and take a glass (or refillable bottle) back to your work area to keep you topped up for the rest of the day.

Tip 2 – Make a playlist

Whilst many have a playlist to help them with exercise, we don’t do the same for working.  Create a playlist that you find energising for those times you need a boast and consider a playlist as background to help maintain energy levels whilst you work.

Tip 3 – A breath of fresh air

Whether a short walk or more rigorous exercise, even 10 minutes outside and away from your desk will help restore energy levels.  If possible, being outside in a green space is even more beneficial.

Tip 4 – Change your focus

If you are finding a task draining then temporarily swap to a task that gives you energy.  Alternatively, rethink how you are tackling the task, is there another way that you would find less draining?

Tip 5 – Try a brainteaser

Sudoku, brainteasers, quick quizzes, crosswords, dingbats; the options are endless.  If you are someone who enjoys a puzzle then taking a short break to indulge in this hobby is likely to recharge your batteries and enable you to return to that task with renewed vigour.

Tip 6 – Talk to someone

Having a call or video call with someone who has a positive outlook can help boost your own energy levels as well as ensuring you keep in touch with those that matter.

Tip 7 – Give yourself a reward

If you have a task that does not allow you to try any of the above techniques (due to tight timelines) then give yourself a reward for completing it.  From taking the rest of the day to do a task you enjoy or even taking some time for yourself to that cupboard treat you have been resisting all week, a reward can renew energy through the added motivation it gives.

Additional Tip – Being mindful of your energy levels and the energy needed for particular tasks

Understanding your own body clock and those times of the day where your energy is at its highest and when it drops and tackling tasks that suit those energy levels will help reduce mild fatigue that is often experienced.


Crying and swearing emoji

Another Lockdown

Yesterday the Scottish and English governments announced national lockdowns with schools being closed. The net result being all of England and Scotland must stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons. Wales has already been on a lockdown since mid December.

If you had been looking at the daily cases of COVID-19 it was becoming increasingly obvious that the current restrictions were just not working. This email sets out what you need to know from yesterday’s announcements. To read the English government announcement click here.

The Stay At Home Order

People cannot leave their homes apart from for essential medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work for those who cannot do so from home. If you do leave your home for a permitted reason, you should stay local. They are saying that exercise should only be once per day. Unlike March’s Stay At Home order this seems a little less restrictive as children’s parks can still remain open.

Help for businesses

Help has been announced today for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. This has only been announced today so please click here to find out more.  And the furlough and self-employed grant schemes are still running across Jan to April 2021.

What has to remain closed until February

  • All schools, colleges and university. Learning will move online. But schools will remain open for key workers and vulnerable children.
  • Outdoor sports venues such as tennis, golf and outdoor gyms
  • Non-essential retail – but can still operate a ‘click and collect’ service.
  • Amateur Team Sports
  • Entertainment venues
  • Restaurants, pubs and hotels – but can offer a takeaway service
  • Beauty and hair salons

What about nurseries?

  • In England these can stay open, but in Scotland and Skye they will close.

What is defined as essential retail? Here are a few of the main categories, but the full list can be found here

  • Food shops, supermarkets
  • Banks, building societies, post offices
  • Medical, dental and veterinary services
  • Agricultural supplies
  • Repair services
  • Fuel stations

Any other key changes?

  • Restaurants and pubs can still offer takeaway food but can no longer offer takeaway alcohol.

The government is pinning all its hopes on getting the first dose of the vaccine out to the top 4 priority categories by mid-February. With a view that when this has happened restrictions can be slowly lifted as the most vulnerable in our society will be protected.

What does this mean for you and your business?

  1. Find out whether these lockdown announcements mean you can trade for the next 6-7 weeks
  2. Review your resourcing requirements but also how many of your staff will now have childcare duties
  3. Rethink your business plan, cash flow plan and also revisit your contingency plans