A Creative Cutting-Edge Way To Look At Cash-Flow Strategies

Cash-flow strategies

When you hear the word cash-flow do you freeze up and get fearful that there won’t be enough? I know I used to worry and still do sometimes, about the flow of money in and out of my business. In this article we’ll take a look at simple cash-flow strategies and perspectives to help you manage it all!

Being a small business owner, we’re often experiencing ebbs and flows, and it’s not like being a salaried employee that gets a regular paycheck every two weeks. There is flux, and you can’t always foresee big expenditures or predict how well a promotion is going to do, either.

So how can you reframe the concept of cash-flow so that you always have money when you need it in your business, while remaining practical about the ongoing expenses of running your business?

Let’s find out…

Why Cash-flow Is At The Heart of Business and Why Heart-Centered Entrepreneurs Need It The Most

Cash heart

I love the analogy that cash is the lifeblood of business.

In a sense, cash comes into the heart of your business without much purpose… it’s like the de-oxygenated blood that’s just coursed through your body when it returns to your heart.

Once cash enters your business, you give it meaning. You give it a job and energize it before it can go back out and bring oxygen to the rest of your body and business.

If you’re not being conscious about what “job” you give the cash that comes into your business, you’re going to have less than stellar results… and you might wonder where all the money that comes in seems to go.

I believe that heart centered entrepreneurs need to be even more cash-flow conscious than the really cold calculating business people out there. Why? Because your work is so needed in the world, and I don’t want to see you get taken out because of a lack of cash in the bank when you need it.

If your heart doesn’t get blood in or out on schedule, you die. The same goes for you business: without the right amount of cash in and out and your business goes bust.

That’s why figuring out the best way to plan for and manage your cash inflows and outflows is so incredibly important. Not to mention that it can really take the pressure off and help you think long term in your business, so you’re not stuck living client to client.

That’s the equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck, by the way.

How To Manage and Plan Cash-flow Strategies In Your Business

The great thing about your business is that you decide what needs to happen: you can decide whether to take on a new team member, relaunch a product, or stop using a recurring service to decrease expenses.

With that ability to make decisions in mind, you can plan for your ideal business vision, and also for when things don’t go as planned.

In the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, the concept of putting away a percentage of all money that comes into your business as profit is explained in more detail. The essence is that if you treat your business bank account like “free money” that can be used for anything until it’s gone, then you’re always going to find things to “re-invest” in.

On the other hand, if you have a few different business bank accounts for the different planned expenses that you take on, then you can save for them in advance.

For example, if you want to hire a new part-time team member, why not put aside 10-15% of your incoming cash-flow into a new bank account earmarked for that purpose? Then when you’re tempted to hit buy on the next information product shiny object, you’ll remember that this is not for training but for hiring.

The same goes for taxes, paying yourself (you are paying yourself right?), and building up a rainy day fund. We can’t always control how well a launch or upcoming month of business will do… but when you know that you have a little extra in the bank to keep your business’ lights on, then you can be a little more daring and creative and get the big wins.

This also helps you get out of the needy “I must take every client that comes my way” space. This helps you say no to projects that aren’t in alignment with your business’ vision.

So take a look at how you can start to save the money that comes into your business, by giving it a “job” and then watch what happens when it goes back out into the world. Or into your personal bank account, which is equally important because if you’re not taking care of yourself first then your business is not going to be around for very long.

That is the power of energized cash-flow, with heart.

How Comfortable Are You With Your Cash-Flow?

I know that money can be a touchy topic for many of us to approach, but I’d love to know what your relationship to your business’ cash-flow is like.

Do you feel like it flows a little too fast once it comes in? Do you want it to flow in more regularly and less sporadically?

Leave a comment below and let me know, I’m here to help!

28 Comments

  1. Jessica on August 27, 2014 at 11:04 am

    As a business planner I talk about money all the time with my clients, but I’m not perfect about how I track and allocate it. It’s a difficult thing to master. I love Profit First (and was proud to be one of that book’s editors!) and the idea of creating different accounts for different purposes. It allows us to be very deliberate and methodical about money and create a healthier relationship with money in the process. Thanks for the post Nathalie!



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Yay Jessica – love that you got to be an editor on the Profit First book, how fun is that?! And yes – it’s amazing what having different accounts can do and how it forces us to get more intentional with our allocation of money in our businesses. (And personal lives, too!)



  2. Steve Szubert on August 27, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Love the concept of giving money a job, effectively making it an employee, which means you control it rather than it controlling you. Very empowering.

    If the business gives a job to half the money that comes in (for examplr), that means we are left with only half the money to live off. Seems scary at first. But what happens is our powerful subconscious mind will find a way to restore balance – and double the income of the business so that we have enough to live off. Again, very empowering.

    Thanks, Nathalie.



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Yes Steve! Love the example you gave about giving the money a job, and also finding ways to increase the income so you can see how it all comes together as a total at the end of the day. :)



  3. Kat Bern on August 27, 2014 at 11:18 am

    This is great!

    The idea of putting away a percentage as profit seems like a business equivalent of “paying yourself first” in Automatic Millionaire by David Bach.

    And I loved THAT idea, so I think I’ll introduce this one too… straight away!

    It’s a great reminder to plan your company’s expenses, just like you would in your personal finances.

    Thank you for this reminder, Nathalie!



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Thanks so much Kat! So glad this resonated, and yes – it’s funny because personal finances and business finances have a lot in common, but if we’re not careful we can start to look at “business money” like play money and not manage it as we could/should. :)



  4. Wendy Schultz on August 27, 2014 at 11:21 am

    This is a scary subject for me as I would like to make the leap from a full time steady paycheck job to being a full time entrepreneur. As the one in the household with the higher paycheck, this has a lot of implications if I can’t get the money I need. How did you transition from a steady paycheck to being an entrepreneur full time?



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Great question Wendy! I actually started my business right out of college, so I didn’t have a steady job to leave. That being said, I recommend ramping up and testing your business idea to see how much income you can generate before you let go of your full time job right away.



  5. Carol Lawrence on August 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Love this…. “Once cash enters your business, you give it meaning. You give it a job and energize it before it can go back out and bring oxygen to the rest of your body and business.”

    I also agree that heart centered entrepreneurs are so needed in the world. Thanks for another great post!



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Thanks so much Carol! So happy this was useful and yes – we all can use a little more heart. :)



  6. Ana Micka on August 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Thanks Nathalie – know your numbers, especially your cash flow is my mantra!

    I work with entrepreneurs who would rather scrub toilets than focus on their finances. I do the math for them! Budget, cash-flow, income calendar, and your other key metrics presto-magic personalized and able to show your path to profit.
    No stress, no guilt, and best of all no toilet scrubbing. And I have a free video and templates that help you create your business cash flow.

    Love this topic – so important! Thanks for posting!



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Thanks so much for sharing how you help people Ana, love that there’s someone out there who can help take the ickiness out of money stuff for other entrepreneurs. And funny that you mention toilet scrubbing – I think money is way more fun to think about personally, but I can also see how it causes headaches!



  7. Nadine on August 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Hey Nathalie,

    I loved this post! It is definitely a touchy topic – I even hired an excellent money coach to help me with this and having handholding through the process helped. I just purchased the “Profit First” book and look forward to more gems inside!

    To your success.

    Nadine



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Awesome work on hiring a coach to help you through this process Nadine! Love that you’re already on the right track. :)



  8. Sasha Stone on August 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    This is a great point Nathalie. I’m actually working on two different business models simultaneously, one that is client dependent and one that isn’t, so I don’t have to stress so much about my clients’ comings and goings anymore. After all, they are human too, which means they travel, get sick, and multiple other issues that interrupt their regular flow with our business. I experienced such a dependency on a tiny group of high paying clients, that when they all seemed to leave town/get sick at the same time at the beginning of the year, I actually couldn’t pay rent anymore and had to move out of my apartment!

    Thankfully, everything is back on track and I’m being a lot smarter about my cash flow. It actually gives me great joy to put money in my tax savings account, knowing that when tax time comes around I will be able to pay it effortlessly. A huge help for me for my personal finances as well as my business finances was to use the budgeting software called YNAB. This software requires you to give each dollar that comes in a job, so nothing is left floating arbitrarily in space. I actually wrote a blog article about it a few months ago: http://sashamariestone.com/2014/01/07/financial-clarity-leads-prosperity/

    I find that when I know where my money is going, I get excited about paying off debt and saving. This allows me to make better choices in the moment (like not spending so much money at Whole Foods!!) so I can achieve my financial goals and keep raising the bar as I go along. Exciting!

    Thank you for your clear insights. I look forward to reading that book.

    With love and gratitude,
    Sasha



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Haha Sasha, I hear you about Whole Foods – I can load up on “goodies” there way too easily. I also love use YNAB, so glad you’re making it a habit and you’re also making big process and building toward less client dependent business, as well!



  9. Emily on August 27, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    What a great article! I am a financial advisor, and I LOOOOVE talking about money! Personally, I felt a huge weight lifted when I started using different accounts for different purposes. But, over time, it got a little bit dicey with keeping track of more than 1 account. I’ll offer that keeping money in a separate (general) business account and using a tracking method such as YNAB software (www.youneedabudget.com) or a spreadsheet is like taking this concept to the next level! Hint: you don’t look at your balance to make business decisions…you look at the budget! Giving your money a job is an incredibly empowering act, and comes from a place of abundance vs. lack. Have fun!



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Absolutely Emily! I’m a huge fan of YNAB – we use it in our personal finances and we use a spreadsheet for our business (along with other tools like Xero with our accountant) and it’s been really awesome to have a way to track things. :)



  10. Kathy Catlin on August 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Great Post Nathalie! I am a beginner at all this and just started my business in the spring. I am starting slowly with just a few clients as I work toward retiring (in June 2015) from my full time job.

    At this point I get so excited about each paying client I haven’t thought about a focused money plan until this post. Additionally, I don’t even know how to prioritize what to spend the money on!

    I love the suggestion to be attentive to the energy we give it. I will start to put money in a separate account so when I eventually do have a plan I will have money to make it happen!

    Thanks!



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Awesome Kathy – so happy you’re learning these lessons early on, I wish I had. :)



  11. Emily wilke on August 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    How do you pay yourself first if you are not bringing in enough to cover expenses. We are keeping good track of records and only buying what we really have to, but my business is only 1.5 years old and still growing. There is definitely a pattern of growth! But it is still a work in progress. Any suggestions?



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      I hear you Emily! My business didn’t make enough to pay me the first year either, and then it was a steady upswing from there. One of the things that Mike mentions in his book is that when you put a percentage aside for profit, you’re forced to get creative with “what’s left over” instead of the other way around. I think that’s a great way to look at it, kind of like working with a budget. But I also appreciate that the early days in business don’t always allow us to do that. Saving a small percentage might still be good practice and you can scale that up as income grows!



  12. Kristina on August 27, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I’m watching Mike teach about managing your money for maximum profit right now on CreativeLive and it has totally changed not only how I think about money, but how I will run my business from now on. Serious game changer. I have always been terrified of money, but this approach is so straightforward. Thanks for sharing this message.



    • Nathalie Lussier on August 27, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Yay so happy to hear that it’s having such a profound impact on how you see money Kristina!



  13. Lily on August 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Hey Natalie,
    Thanks for the article.
    I’m a bit in the dark here as to what you mean by giving the money a “job”.
    To me it doesn’t make sense to have a 5 different accounts for 5 different “jobs”… or am I missing the pot here?

    I’m stingy with money in my business… i pay myself what i need and a wee little extra cause I can… but for the rest I leave it all in my business.
    Yes, it makes the balance look nice, and saving it for a rainy day or not to worry about next month… but not using it for anything is clearly not the answer either.
    Yeeeelp! I feel i’m thinking small… like fear to expand to actually make more ;) Hope I’m making sense.

    As always, I love your topics… whether sensitive or not… we can all learn something about everything.



  14. Kimberly on August 30, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Nathalie thank you so much for recommending Profit First, I can’t wait to read it. Money stuff can be sooooo delicate and I love how you suggest setting aside money for things like hiring for your business.

    I’m always reinvesting in new courses and I’m going to start setting aside a little more moohlah for those new peeps I want to bring into my business.

    Big hugs!



  15. Javier on November 11, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Thanks Nathalie. I think this is my next step. I need to implement some kind cash flow strategy.

    I have a website about animals and I have visitors but I dont earn money in this moment.

    Regards!



  16. Anthony English on February 24, 2015 at 7:00 am

    A friend of mine has a successful accounting business and converted a general store in a sleepy Australian country town into a restaurant, cafe and general lifeblood of the area. He told me something similar to what you say here, Nathalie: “Pay yourself first”, because if you pay yourself last, guess what? There’s no money left.

    I decided to apply this principle to my sleep as well, since I don’t want to steal from my sleep to run my startup IT consulting business. I wrote a blog post on this theme of paying yourself first:
    http://goo.gl/wwQmuP

    I really like your idea of giving your money a job, like an employee you have to pay. Maybe a regularly-scheduled bank transfer is just the way to do it.

    – Anthony (Sydney, Australia)