Financial Death Traps Your Business Needs to Avoid

The past year has strained the finances of SMEs in wholly unexpected ways. Business owners should now be especially mindful of their cash flow and be prepared to take action to safeguard it.

Annie Button outlines the most common financial failures of SMEs and how they can be averted.

Running a business is tough, regardless of what sector you work in. But if you’re not careful where your finances are concerned, you could be making the situation harder than it needs to be. These are some of the common financial pitfalls that many businesses slip into and how to avoid them. 

Failing to have a budget in place

A business budget is vital for managing future expenses and controlling your finances. But so many businesses operate month to month without any plan for the business’s earnings. 

To ensure that you’re not spending where you can’t afford to, or paying too much in one category, you should have a budget in place that is conservative – in other words, keep your income estimates on the low end of the scale and your expenses on the higher side, so that you’re not caught out at the end of the month. 

Too many people on the payroll

As a business, you want to grow and scale up – it’s a sign that you’re doing well and, for most businesses, it’s the ultimate goal. But having too many people on the payroll too soon could mean you’re overspending where you can’t afford it. Many entrepreneurs find themselves in need of help and they hire too many people too fast, which causes problems where the budget is concerned. 

A compromise to ensure you’re not doing everything yourself is to look into hiring people on a part-time basis or contractors. Freelancers are also an alternative that can help you save money without compromising on your business, as you will only be paying for the work they carry out rather than a full-time salary.

A compromise to ensure you’re not doing everything yourself is to look into hiring people on a part-time basis or contractors.

Suffering from a cyber attack

A cyber attack can impact your business in multiple ways, from its finances and operations to the reputation of your brand. Cybercrime can be incredibly costly to resolve, not just because of the remediation work required to clean up the system but also because of the reputational damage it can cause. 

There’s also the issue of compliance and adhering to GDPR regulations that could mean your company is fined for failing to protect customer information. 

It’s vital that you secure your network and make sure that staff have cyber awareness training, and by investing in proactive rather than reactive cybersecurity technologies. You should also enforce secure password policies across the business and use firewalls to protect data. It’s also a wise decision to back up your data regularly and have protocols in place should an attack occur. 

Failing to separate personal and private finances

A common mistake that can be detrimental to businesses is merging personal and private finances. It’s important to consider your business a completely separate entity from yourself from the start, as it can cause complications in the future if you don’t. 

You should set up a separate bank account where all money earned from the business is paid into and any business expenses are paid out of. Likewise, if you require a credit card, ensure that your business has a separate one so that it’s easier to track payments. 

Not saving for a rainy day

Issues with cash flow can be a real problem, even for successful businesses, if payments aren’t managed properly. And while it’s nice to believe that everything will run smoothly from day one, chances are there will be unexpected events or emergencies in the future that require funds to keep the business afloat. 2020 has possibly reinforced this point even more for so many businesses.

To ensure you’re never in a difficult situation, it’s important to have money tucked away for such situations that you can lean on when times are tough, without having to resort to credit cards and loans. A good rule to follow is to assess what your basic responsibilities are and average out the cost, then put three months’ worth aside in a contingency fund. 

Final thoughts

There are so many potential risks when running a business and it’s all too easy to assume that your business won’t suffer if you cut a few corners. But ultimately, in order for your business to thrive and stay in good financial shape, it’s critical that you consider all eventualities and prepare for them accordingly, whether that’s having savings in place, protecting data from threats or being savvy about how you hire staff. 

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