Three Types of Female Business Owners Respond to Trouble With Cash Flow

It happens at some point in the life of every business: cash has been coming in, things are going well, and then all of a sudden, things take a turn for the worse. Whether it’s a bad time of year for the business’ particular product, or a rough patch in the economy, weathering slow cash flow can be tough. But how the business comes out of the slump depends on how the business owner handles it.

Research by Jane Out of the Box, an authority on women entrepreneurs, has revealed there are five distinct types of women in business. Each of these five types has unique approach to running a business-and as a consequence, each of them has a unique combination of characteristics and factors. This article profiles three of the Jane “types” and the different ways they may handle cash flow issues.

Go Jane Go is a successful business owner with plenty of clients-but she’s struggling to keep up with demand. She may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well, because she’s eager to make an impact on the world and may really struggle saying “no”. Because she wants to “say yes” to so many people, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. As a result, she may be running herself ragged or sometimes feel guilty about the list of goals not yet achieved.

Although Go Jane Go feels totally competent when it comes to running her business, a slowdown in cash flow can occur when Go Jane Go is not paying enough attention to money. She may be behind in sending bills because getting the work done seems more important. Or she may be reluctant to raise the money issue with clients who are late in paying, because she doesn’t want them to be embarrassed or to create conflict in the relationship.

Here are some things Go Jane Go should consider when faced with cash flow challenges:

• Clients want to pay. Your clients value and respect you and they want to pay you well for the work you’ve done. In fact, as a Go Jane Go, you may have even had clients offer to pay you MORE than you asked, because they can see how much you go above and beyond. Relationships are a two-way street, and your clients want to help you succeed. So, give them the outlet by billing them in a timely manner so they can uphold their half of the bargain.
• Falling behind on billing or reminders also can cause relationship problems. You not sending invoices in a timely manner or not following up on overdue payments may cause an internal problem for your customers, too. If they are corporate types, they may get in a tangle with their accounting departments if they submit bills from you too late. And, if they are smaller businesses or consumers, a forgotten invoice can cause cash flow problems on their end, as they scramble to find the money to pay you. Take good care of them by keeping your financial house in order and helping them do the same.
• You don’t have to do this alone. One of the easiest jobs to outsource is bookkeeping. And those experts are probably better at the task than you are. If your books are a mess, bite the bullet and admit it. And even if your books are in great shape – get help. You have a unique gift to share with the world and you maximize your ability to do so when you delegate other tasks. Best yet, your bookkeeper can follow up on late invoices too – just give him or her a system for how to do it so it is in keeping with your (probably gentle) values.

Merry Jane. This entrepreneur is usually building a part-time or “flexible time” business that gives her a creative outlet (whether she’s an ad agency consultant or she makes beautiful artwork) that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule. She may have a day-job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. She realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she’s happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments.
Merry Jane usually has an income other than that her business provides, so business cash flow challenges may not be as difficult of an issue, per se. However, many Merry Janes do wish their businesses made more money. In order for that to happen, money has to become a focal point for Merry Jane, rather than simply waiting and watching how business growth evolves. Even as cash flow becomes a priority, however, it’s imperative for Merry Jane’s happiness that more money does not mean more work – her life balance is too important.

A few things Merry Jane should consider if she sees her cash flow slow down:

• A little attention could go a long way. Think about WHY cash flow is slow. Has there been a downturn in sales in the business? Have you invested in materials, equipment, or software that will help make money in the long run but are chewing up available cash in the short-term? Until you know whether the problem is slow revenue or high costs, you won’t know the strategy to fix it.
• If revenue is slow, leverage your connections, both on and offline. Finding new clients is often the toughest aspect of business for Merry Jane. Reach out to your existing customers with a plan that gives them more of what they want while also helping you grow your base. Think about the upcoming holidays – can you make an attractive offer that gets them to buy gifts from you? Or, maybe your business lends itself naturally to referral. If so, what “Thank You” gift can you give them when they find you another customer?
• If costs are high, it’s time to plan. Stop spending temporarily and map out how many sales you need to cover the costs of the equipment, materials, or software you bought and make it all worth it. Turn this into a game; play with the numbers. And as you calculate how many sales you need to make your costs pay off, keep in mind that you can also raise your rates! It’s fun to watch the number of sales go down as your price per sale goes up. Balance it all – the fair price for your product or service, the number of sales you need, and the amount of money you wish to have flowing in each month to arrive at a plan that works for your business and your lifestyle.

Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business, but may have ended up with one due to frustration with her job or a layoff and decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business. Although Accidental Jane may sometimes struggle with prioritizing what she needs to do next in her business, she enjoys what she does and is making good money. About 18% of all women business owners fit the Accidental Jane profile.

Although Accidental Jane didn’t necessarily set out to start a business, she now finds herself full-swing into entrepreneurship and everything that goes with it. So she may feel unprepared to face cash flow issues.

Because Accidental Jane is successful, and overall has just the amount of work she desires, cash flow issues are most likely to result from marketing peaks and valleys caused by Accidental Jane herself. A typical pattern for Accidental Jane is to network her way to a sufficient amount of work. Then, when she’s happily working, she’ll stop actively marketing her business, only to realize as the work draws to a close, that she needs to start marketing again.

Therefore, Accidental Jane’s key to avoiding cash flow issues is to find ways to keep her marketing efforts running at a continual, low level. This will iron out the peaks and valleys so the work flow is steadier. Accidental Jane can get creative with this, making it a game to develop creative marketing approaches in her business that require little time on her part. This might include developing an effective referral system, launching a weekly “tips” email to keep awareness of her business high, running periodic “specials” during the off-season, etc. Best of all, with simple, systematized campaigns, Accidental Jane can recruit part-time help to make sure the marketing is happening even while she’s enjoying the work she loves to do.

Every business owner can learn from Go Jane Go, Merry Jane and Accidental Jane when it comes to cash flow problems. A variety of techniques exist for dealing with slowing cash flow, and each one provides some help for entrepreneurs who want to keep their businesses in the black.

10 Things You Should Know When Selling Your Business

Most business owners will spend years building up their business. When it comes time to sell they need to get the most from their hard work. Here are some things to consider when it’s time to sell your business.

1) Most businesses put on the market don’t sell. Only about 20% sell. The problems relate to the business itself- is it profitable, well run, in a good industry are common concerns. Another big contributor is the owner. Is the owner asking too much for the business, is he driving away potential buyers because s/he is the only one able to run such a specialized/complex/unique business?

2) It takes a long time to sell a business. Some sell in a couple of months, most take longer. The average is about a year. Be patient.

3) The seller will need to finance the sale of the business. Even if the business is sold via an SBA guaranteed loan, increasingly they want to see some element of seller financing also. It occasionally happens that the sale is all cash. You can improve the odds of that by making the business a great deal.

4) Pricing your business is part art and part science. If you get more than one valuation, you will get different numbers. If you look at all the different businesses and take an average for mainstreet businesses they sell for 2.1 times the seller’s discretionary cash flow. This varies by industry, of course, and a bunch of other variables. Most business brokers will perform a valuation as part of their listing service for mainstreet businesses.

5) The type of buyer will make a significant difference in the price they’re willing to pay. Inexperienced buyers may pay more than someone with industry experience.

6) The landlord can stop the sale by not approving a new owner. You should spend some time warming up the landlord to the idea that you want to sell. Most buyers will want market lease rates and a long lease to make sure their investment in your business is secure.

7) Banks will not typically finance the purchase of a business. They might finance the physical assets like machinery or equipment. Other lenders might lend on your accounts receivable. There are only two sources of loans for goodwill that I would suggest: the seller and an SBA loan if the business and buyer both qualify.

8) Business sales are like fashion. Internet sales are getting a lot of interest in 2010, but real estate, construction and related businesses are very difficult to sell until people have some confidence that the housing and construction markets are in recovery.

9) Only about 3% of people who say they are going to buy a business really do. This isn’t a moral character issue, it is the fact that most people get overwhelmed with the risk of running a business. Most people can’t tolerate the uncertainty and risk.

10) No surprises. Expect that you must show the faults of your business, all businesses have some issues. If the buyer finds something in due diligence that wasn’t previously disclosed, the trust is gone, and the buyer flees. If you let the buyer know the problems, they can then decide if they have the skills and resources to address the issues, and will give them confidence to proceed.

Of course, using a qualified business broker can help the process along, and help guide you and the prospective buyers through the many issues that arise. You need to focus on running your business, not selling your business. Many businesses have suffered because sales fell off as the owner tried to sell the business and neglected the day-to-day operation of their business. Don’t fall into that trap.

10 Ways to Ensure That You Don’t Join the 97% of Small Business Owners That Fail in the First 5 Year

o Business plans
o Marketing strategies
o Cash flow forecasts
o Passive income streams
o Social networking
o Copywriting and more

I know how overwhelming it can be learning about all of these things and working out what to do first, what to do next and how to do many of these things when you’ve just finished your training and are so excited about being able to help others change their lives. All the business speak and tasks that you need to think about, plan and do, can feel overwhelming and oftentimes be intimidating too at the beginning of your journey to build a successful business!

As a beginner working for yourself and building a successful business, you do not need to know or worry about everything just yet. Right now, you just need to know the basics to get you started and to see your initial results.

So there’s no need to feel overwhelmed about any of these things or think you need to spend mammoth amounts of time learning about writing business plans and all these other business related tasks. If you are passionate about your future business and committed to success, even as a beginner you can create rock solid business foundations by just following these simple tips:

1) Always take responsibility for what you are doing, decide what you want to do and what feels right for you to do. Take help and advice from others but don’t follow their suggestions blindly. What works for others may work for you too but if their advice and suggestions just do not feel right to you, you don’t have to follow them. Follow your own instincts and do what feels right for you.

2) Know that it will likely take 3-6 months before seeing real results from all of your effort and hard work, but after that point the results will start to snowball.

3) Focus on creating your own personal rock solid foundations and investing in yourself first and foremost. Too many people invest so much time and money to complete their training, gain their skills and qualifications and then forget to continue to invest in themselves and their future success. Without rock solid foundations you will be moving forward blindly and making your first business building blocks in credibly hard for yourself.

4) Decide if you want to work for yourself on a self-employed basis or build a business. There is a big difference between the two and knowing which you are doing will make a big difference to the building blocks you will put in place and also to your future financial success too.

5) Before you begin to look for premises, find clients, spend time and money on creating leaflets & websites and much more, make sure that you know why you want to create a successful business on an emotional level. Ask yourself what it will feel like and give you emotionally to create a successful business.

6) Ask yourself what is in it for you materialistically – how much money do you want to attract, what materialistic things would you like to have in your life, where would you like to live, what would you like to be able to do.

7) Decide what business arena you are working in – all too often small business owners stumble into a particular business arena because someone else tells them it is a good idea, or they decide they want to work for themselves and begin their business working for themselves in the same business arena they were working in as an employee only to find a few months down the road that they are not happy and don’t actually like the arena they find themselves in – whatever business arena you choose, ask yourself if you really enjoy reading about it, hearing about it, talking about it, learning about it.

8) Decide how you want to offer your products or services to others, look at what you really enjoy doing and think out of the box. If you are in the helping arena with your business, you may offer one to one services, you may though enjoy offering group workshops more or online video and audio services. You can offer products and services in so many different was – check in with yourself that you really enjoy the way you will be offering yours.

9) Check that your vales align to your business goals and dreams, if you build a business that is out of synch with your own values, it will be very hard work for you as you will be working against yourself. if you are not sure what your top 5 values are take some time to look at them before you begin your business and then write them down and pop them on your wall so that you can look at them often, and check that everything you are doing is aligning to them.

10) Check that your beliefs are not in conflict with your dreams and plans for your business. if you believe:

You do not deserve to be successful
You are not experienced enough to be successful
You are not expert enough to be successful

You wont be successful. if you currently have limiting beliefs at this stage you re-frame and release them before beginning your business, if you begin with limiting beliefs they will challenge you and potentially block your success. If you will just do these 10 simple but powerful things listed here, you will make a strong start to developing rock solid business foundations that will benefit and enable your success over the long term.