Cash flow, which refers to the movement of any money in or out of a business, is a subject we’ve discussed extensively. Not to be confused with bottom line profit or loss, cash flow management is about ensuring that you have enough funds at any given time to keep your business operational, whether that means keeping enough on hand to pay suppliers and staff, or simply keeping your costs lower than your income.
BA major aspect of good cash flow management is appropriate and thorough budgeting. Most good entrepreneurs will incorporate some leeway into their budget so they can cover any unexpected costs if they arise, such as repairs or even seed money for an unusually large deal. And in most cases, particularly in the early days of a business, most, if not all or more, of the budget ends up being used. But occasionally, whether it’s because sales were better than expected or costs were kept low, an entrepreneur will find themselves with more money than they were expecting.
Such unexpected leeway can be a fantastic opportunity for your business, but if you get too excited and don’t plan things properly, you could spend that money and have nothing to show for it. If you do find yourself with some spare cash at the end of the year, here are 10 great ways to reinvest it.
If your business is in its early days, then one of your top priorities when you find a bit of spare cash should be to invest it in a business asset. A business asset is anything your business owns that increases its value. This includes tangible things, such as property or equipment, as well as intangible things such as patents or trademarks.
Simply put, a business asset is the next best thing to cash that you can have, as it can be sold (by itself or with the business as a whole), allowing you to recoup most, all, or more of the cost of the asset itself. Additionally, investing in an asset should improve business operations, such as by investing in a machine that can produce better quality goods, or one that will allow you to produce a new product.
As you probably know by now, bookkeeping can be a lot more complicated than it first seems, and it doesn’t even seem that easy to begin with. But, for both legal and planning purposes, bookkeeping is a critically important aspect of any business, so it is extremely important that you make as few mistakes as possible. When you are just starting out, you may not have the workload or budget to justify hiring a professional bookkeeper, but the utility of investing in bookkeeping software should not be underestimated. Not only will such software make it easier and quicker for you to budget for expenses and follow up on unpaid invoices, it will also serve as a comprehensive and reliable overview of your accounts for any audits, loan applications, or bookkeepers that may come along in the future.
These days, most people setting up a new business will be on-top of their social media, their Facebook page filled with information on contact details and opening hours, and their Instagram highlighting how great everything looks. In the rush to establish a strong social media presence, email marketing can often fall by the wayside, either because it is seen as outdated, or because the subscriber count is so low.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to getting high-quality subscribers on your list, but it is definitely something worth investing time and money into. Statistics such as a potential 4,400% ROI or 320% more revenue from automated emails compared to non-automated illustrate that email is still a marketing powerhouse. You won’t see the impact on day one, but investing in email software can yield huge returns in the long run.
Access to Marketing Data
One of the biggest advantages to running a business in the modern world is that you have access to so much data, often for free. If you have a question, odds are somebody, somewhere has already answered it. If you’re looking for studies on consumer behaviour, or the most effective marketing techniques, you can easily find material that was published as recently as this year.
The problem with being able to access so much information so easily and quickly is that it means everything changes quickly too. Laws are adjusted, policies change, and consumer behaviour can change at the drop of a hat. Accurate information is in high-demand, so if you want the most accurate, you’ll have to pay for it. Most market research companies, or businesses that carry out research in their own field, will only make that information free to the public when it is no longer valuable. By paying for the most accurate information, you will give yourself an edge over your competition, and avoid running a campaign that is not fit-for-purpose.
Although you obviously want to avoid flushing money down the toilet, you also shouldn’t be so afraid of loss that you never take any risks. If you already have part of your budget allocated for marketing, the likelihood is you are promoting posts on social media or paying for ads on search engines. Even if these seem to be working great, you should consider using some leftover funds to try out a platform you may otherwise write off. Whether that’s paying for blogs from an industry expert, targeting a specific group using in-app advertisements, or running an ad in the local newspaper, it can be worth finding out that something doesn’t work, just on the off chance that it does.
Create a Quality Resource
Whatever your line of work may be, potential customers want to know that they’re dealing with someone who knows what they’re talking about. Whether that means you’re offering advice on what’s going to be in fashion next season, or providing a list of “must watch” stocks, people want to be able to get something from you without giving you anything. Then, when the time comes to part with their cash, they’ll remember you as a source of good value.
If you are planning to use some spare cash to create a high-quality resource, the best way is to invest in something evergreen. This means it is not specific to a certain time, and will remain useful for the foreseeable future. For example, a florist could invest their money into creating a gardening manual, which will remain useful as the nature of gardening is not going to change. Providing this for free online will then attract the attention of more serious customers, which will have knock-on effects such as improved brand recognition and SEO rankings
There is much debate among business leaders as to whether or not employees should be considered “assets” of a company, remember our earlier definition of an asset as anything that adds value to a business. While many say that employees are their greatest assets, others argue that they are not “owned” by the business. Either way, everyone agrees that good employees add value, including the employees themselves. According to research by Unum, 39% of workers placed help with career progression as one of their top five workplace benefits.
Even though it’s supposed to be fun, team building exercises are not always the most well-received activity by a team. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking a meal together or trying to escape from a room, there are usually some team members who enjoy it a lot more than others. But whether the naysayers are lying or everybody bonds over how lame the event is, research has shown that team building events do work, yielding improvements in areas such as interpersonal skills, role clarification, goal setting, and problem solving.
Many recent studies have shown that the younger an employee is, the more likely they are to prioritise financial security. One of the biggest aspects of this is student loans, with 80% of graduates stating they would like to work for a company that helps them repay their debt. Despite this, only 4% offer such help. Even in Ireland, where student fees are substantially lower than the US, they have risen dramatically over the last decade, and are now the second-highest fees in Europe. Barring some unforeseen policy changes, debt repayment is likely to remain a popular benefit in the near future.
At the end of the day, business is ultimately about making a profit, which means keeping sales high and costs low. Your staff are inherent to achieving both of these goals, so if you find that you have done so, it only makes sense to reward them. You can do this as a one-off payment, but recent research suggests that smaller, more regular rewards are best at motivating employees and improving productivity, so you may want to set that money aside and use it gradually instead.
Having money left over if your budget is not something you should get used to. It is a rare opportunity, but one that can be very useful. The most important thing to realise is that there is no “right” way to spend the money. Every business is different, and could benefit from that money being used in different ways. So take the time to examine your options, determine which area of the business could benefit most, and spend wisely.