Keeping your business’s cash flow in check is a fundamental skill for any business owner looking to secure long-term financial success. But, let’s face it, it can be a real headache for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), not only in South Africa but the world over. A recent study by Intuit showed that a whopping 61% of small businesses wrestle with cash flow issues. Furthermore, it is worth noting that approximately one-third of these businesses are encountering difficulties in fulfilling their financial obligations, including vendor payments, loan management, meeting payroll obligations, and even covering their personal financial requirements.
In light of these challenges, Kyle Ballard, Head of Accelerators for the Durban Chemicals Cluster (DCC) says that SMEs need to find innovative ways to ensure financial stability and foster growth. “SMEs face substantial challenges when it comes to financial management. The need for a healthy cash flow, as well as the difficulty in securing funding, can pose significant hurdles to their growth. This is why it becomes essential to think innovatively and make the most of all the resources you have at your disposal.”
To assist SMEs in unlocking their cash flow potential, Ballard offers five strategic approaches:
1. Financial Analysis: Begin by conducting a thorough financial analysis to gain insight into the factors affecting liquidity. Once identified, prioritise these elements and create a checklist for immediate cost reductions. This checklist should encompass a wide range of areas within the business, including operational expenses, employee-related costs, inventory and raw materials management, as well as financial expenditures. This approach aims to identify and address inefficiencies to enhance the overall financial health of the company.
2. Negotiate Payment Terms: Negotiating payment terms with suppliers is a powerful tool to keep more cash within your business. Most big businesses are prepared to adjust terms for SMEs; sometimes all you have to do is ask! This improved liquidity not only positions you to meet financial obligations but also reduces financial risks.
3. Credit Management: Manage your credit policies, including assessing the creditworthiness of customers and setting appropriate credit limits. Additionally, ensure a streamlined invoicing process and prompt payment collections to maximise available cash flow.
4. Enter Business Awards, Competitions, and Accelerators: Participating in entrepreneurial awards not only provides SMEs with a cash injection but also offers a valuable platform to enhance business visibility and reputation. Similarly, Accelerator programmes, such as the DCC Accelerator, offer the opportunity to compete for cash prizes, capital investment interventions, and funding opportunities, increasing the potential for financial growth. The bigger “prize” lies in the opportunity to pitch your business to and unlock commercial opportunities with prominent customers, potentially becoming a direct supplier and gaining direct market access.
5. Partner with Big Business: Collaborating with larger corporations can be instrumental in securing the financial support SMEs need to thrive. Business Accelerators, like the DCC Accelerator, often facilitate introductions to potential investors from the public and private sectors. These partnerships can take various forms from investments to loans with preferential terms. Leveraging the specific insights that big businesses within your sector possess can be a game-changer for all involved parties.
Ballard underscores the significance of these strategies, and says, “Unlocking cash flow is paramount for SMEs to realise their growth potential. Through negotiation, strategic partnerships, and participation in initiatives like Accelerators, SMEs can bridge the financial gap and secure a brighter future.”
Black-owned SMEs within the local chemicals sector looking to fuel their growth and overcome cash flow challenges have a multitude of strategies at their disposal, including the entering of a business accelerator. This increases the likelihood of establishing strategic partnerships with leading chemical companies such as FFS Refiners, H&R, NCS, and Sherwin-Williams, who are actively seeking new local suppliers and creating opportunities for mutually advantageous commercial ventures. Interested parties are invited to submit their applications using the following link: https://durbanchemicalscluster.org.za/business-accelerator-2/. The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2023.