Business owners the world over know that a smooth cash flow can be critical to a business’s success. But, achieving the optimal flow of money coming in and going out isn’t simple. Cash flow can be difficult to manage since you often don’t have control over the money flowing in. However, the way you handle accounts payable can help smooth out your cash flow.
Here are five ways to help you meet your accounts payable responsibilities with an eye to smoother cash flow.
Renegotiate Your Accounts Payable Terms
Has your business established itself as a good customer – paying suppliers in full and on time? If so, consider requesting more flexible payment terms when contract renewal time rolls around.
Maybe you could arrange extended payment terms during the slow season to accommodate sluggish accounts receivables. Or reduce the cash leaving your business by requesting discounts for early payments or bulk purchases during traditional busy seasons.
Remember to watch out for special offers from your suppliers’ competitors. Use these offers as opportunities to ask for a price match.
Apply for a Credit/Operating Line Before You Need It
If your business doesn’t have a credit line/operating line, apply for one now, even if you don’t currently expect to use it. Don’t wait until it’s a struggle to pay your business bills. If you wait, your business credit may have suffered due to late or partial payments to suppliers or other creditors. Not to mention the added stress of hoping for a credit line approval in addition to worrying about paying the bills! Instead, applying for a business credit line while your records show good cash flow could strengthen your credit application.
A credit line helps smooth out cash flow by giving businesses a financial source that they can tap to meet immediate accounts payable obligations. You’ll only pay interest on the money borrowed against the credit line. Depending on the terms of the credit line, your monthly payments could be interest only, or a set percentage of the total amount borrowed. You can pay the balance off at any time, such as when your accounts receivables are flowing in well. Like a credit card, a credit line is a form of “revolving credit,” so when you pay your balance off (or down), you can then borrow again up to your credit line limit as needed.
Delay Payments Due Until Last Possible Date
Although you may get anxious about making payments early, when you’re trying to deal with a cash crunch consider holding off making payments until the due date. Doing so gives your business more time to collect on outstanding accounts receivable – providing the cash to make your payments. And if you’re making payments from your credit line, which charges interest from the day you withdraw the funds, you’ll pay less in interest with a delayed payment.
Pay Suppliers with Credit Cards
It seems simple, yet paying suppliers by credit card is one of the best ways to smooth cash flow and deal with accounts payable woes. That’s because unlike credit lines or operating lines – which charge interest from day the money is borrowed – credit cards have what is known as a grace period for credit card purchases.
A grace period refers to a time frame during which interest accumulates but isn’t charged as long as the outstanding credit card balance is paid in full by the due date. So you’re essentially borrowing money interest-free during the grace period. If you use this strategy, pay close attention to both the credit card grace period as well as your supplier due date to make sure you won’t get charged additional interest for late payments to either.
For example, say you owe your supplier $1500 on the 15th of the month. They process your credit card payment for the 15th, which falls at the beginning of your credit card grace period. Depending on the credit card issuer, you may have a grace period of anywhere from 21 to 25 days. And take note – grace periods may not apply to credit card cash advances and balance transfers.
Liquidate Assets You Don’t Use/Need
If you need a fast solution to paying your business bills, consider liquidating assets for cash. Does your business own equipment, supplies, machinery, real estate, vehicles or other assets that you could sell? Although it may seem drastic, selling assets may prove a quick method of gaining cash to cover upcoming accounts payables while you work on a longer-term accounts payable strategy.
Keeping on top of your accounts payables can help improve your business’ financial health. It could have a positive impact on your business credit, and establish or improve the relationship with your suppliers.