improve cash flow in business

Structuring Your Business to Thrive in Trying Times

It is no secret that markets go up and down. Some climates are easy to conduct business in and some are an absolute nightmare. The past decade has been uncommonly profitable for most industries. However, COVID really derailed some businesses that could have potentially positioned themselves better.

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Business Models and Industries

Depending on the type of business you run and the industry that it operates in, there will be a variety of different struggles and different factors that increase and decrease a companies profit. For the sake of this article, we’ll cover a few industries: Manufacturing, Industrials (such as construction) and transportation (primarily trucking and freight brokerage).

1. Manufacturing Companies

Owners of manufacturing companies are no strangers to market troubles. In fact, manufacturing has been one of the most problematic industries to operate. US based manufacturing has declined at a rapid rate as the industry has increasingly just shipped products that have been manufactured in China.

2. Construction Companies

Construction has been a market that typically does better coming out of a market recession. This is largely due to the fact that interest rates have been lowered and many people have been laid off. Oftentimes, these people will still have the ability to hammer nails and therefore go to work for construction companies.

strong-modular-construction

Consumers typically build more homes when there are low interest rates (after a recession) and the government will typically spend more money on fixing the public infrastructure and pay construction contractors to build new public buildings such as high schools and city centers.

3. Transportation Companies

Transportation is seen as a far more defensive industry than either construction or manufacturing. However, it is not immune to downturns in the economy either. The staple of the transportation industry is businesses shipping products to other businesses. This means that lumber, wheat, oil and other commodities all have to be transported via train, semi truck or occasionally by pipeline to their destination and this happens when the economy is working well.

maintain-your-truck

Unlike construction, transportation is a very asset intensive business which means that the transportation business owners often take out loans to buy trucks, fix trains and construct pipelines. This means that, similar to manufacturing businesses, this industry is very sensitive to the Fed hiking interest rates.

Distressed businesses

When the interest rate hike happens, it increases expenses for many businesses. This means that companies that are barely profitable end up being insolvent. These companies will often attempt to find ways out of the cash flow hole that they find themselves in. However, this typically doesn’t end well. There are a number of ways to minimize corporate debt and increase the amount of free cash flow in a business.

1. Monitoring Cash Flow

One of the primary ways that business owners try to get out of debt is by eliminating expenses that don’t clearly manifest themselves in more sales each month. This typically means that they cut the marketing expense.

The problem with this is that you may have a bit more cash left over after month one and two, but when there are no more customers coming in, it ends up harming the business an increasing amount on months 3+. This rarely helps businesses with negative cash flow become solvent again.

improve cash flow in business

2. Hiring a turnaround advisor

You may find that it makes sense to hire a turnaround advisor. Many business owners suffer from the idea that they know better than everyone else how to run their business. While this may or may not be true, the majority of these same business owners know very little about cash flow, debt restructuring or offers in compromise.

Many business owners will find that a turnaround advisor is worth ten times their fee. Unfortunately, some don’t find this out until it’s too late and there is very little business left to save.

Rising rates and fewer customers

The majority of the struggles that small and mid-sized businesses face can be summarized into two separate categories; Not enough customers and rising rates. We’ll unpack each of these individually.

1. Fewer customers

As economic markets and job markets weaken, consumers have less cash and less free income to spend. When this happens, many businesses find that they are unable to purchase as many products and services as they did previously.

running small business in loackdown

When these tough economic times do hit, consumers will still spend on utilities, essential products such as groceries and clothing. However, if you are manufacturing golf equipment, you may find that your consumers can no longer find the discretionary income in their budget to buy the products that you manufacture. The same is true if you are a construction company that remodels homes. These consumers just may not have the cash to spend on your service.

2. Rising Rates

When the economy has been performing well for a period of time, the federal reserve may elect to raise interest rates. This means that banks have to pay more interest to the Fed and therefore need to charge more interest to small business owners and individuals on their loans.

If you are a business owner, you may find yourself purchasing business assets or even a competitors business on a loan. If rates are high, you’ll obviously have to pay more interest which can be difficult.

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