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How to Avoid Cash Flow Risks by Spotting the Blind Spots ?: A Boutique Owner’s Success Story

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Do These Cash Flow Challenges Sound Familiar?

Do you lie awake at night worrying about cash flow risks – whether you’ll have enough to cover bills and other financial obligations, if you can seize opportunities, or if one unexpected expense could derail everything? Maybe your bank balance swings wildly due to inconsistent revenue. This uncertainty leaves you anxious and stressed, struggling to cover fixed costs. You constantly worry, ‘Will I have enough income this month?’ Planning is impossible, and you feel constantly on edge.

Perhaps you are observing high expenses on the profit and loss statement because of high overhead costs to run your business. This leaves you feeling trapped and overwhelmed, with little cash left for growth or emergencies. You’re thinking… “Most of our income goes right back out in expenses. How can we ever save or invest in growth?”

Possibly, you are worried there are no forward-looking financial plans in place. Consequently, there’s uncertainty and fear of being caught off guard by a shortfall, which may lead to going out of the business before you even know it or missing out on opportunities for business growth. And you are probably thinking : “I don’t know if we can afford to take on this new opportunity. We never seem to have the cash when we need it.”

Look, these are genuine reasons to be concerned about. And these are very common reasons too. These struggles often stem from what I call cash flow blind spots – areas of your finances where you lack visibility or haven’t implemented the right strategies.

What are cash flow blind spots and how do they create risk?

Cash flow blind spots are areas of your business finances where you lack visibility or strong management, increasing your risk of unexpected cash shortfalls, missed opportunities, and poor financial decisions. This transformation demonstrates how managing blind spots – a crucial aspect of cash flow risk management – not only reduced risk but created the foundation for sustainable financial growth, boosting her cash position by over 150%!

Common Cash Flow Blind Spots That Increase Risk

    • Inconsistent Revenue: Fluctuations in sales create uncertainty, making it difficult to plan and putting you at greater risk of cash shortfalls – potentially forcing you to make tough decisions under pressure.
    • High Overhead Costs: If fixed expenses eat up too much of your income, even a small dip in revenue could lead to a financial crisis, leaving you unable to cover essential bills.
    • Lack of Financial Forecasting: Without forward-looking projections based on real data, you’re vulnerable to surprises, increasing the likelihood of cash shortfalls, missed opportunities, or making reactive decisions that harm your long-term growth.

It reminds me of Phillipa, who owns a boutique… Case Study – Phillipa’s Lack of Financial Clarity

The Challenge

Philippa’s boutique, in the heart of Knightsbridge in London, was a tapestry of local charm with a turnover of £220,000 per year. Yet, her financial footing was as unsteady as the autumn weather, with profits oscillating between a robust £5,500 in a good month to a meagre £1,000 in quieter times. The fixed costs, like rent and utilities, steadfastly sat at £11,500 every month, often leaving her scrambling to cover essential bills, constantly worried about late payments, and never knowing if she’ll have enough to avoid a crisis.

Without clear insight into her cash flow, Philippa faced significant risks. Sitting in her quaint back office, surrounded by unsold inventory, Philippa’s usual upbeat demeanor was shadowed by concern. “I feel like I’m trying to hit a moving target blindfolded,” she confided, her voice a mixture of exasperation and weariness. The pressure was tangible as if the storied London Bridge itself was resting on her shoulders, threatening to collapse with every delayed invoice.

The Solutions

I guided Philippa through a journey of financial discovery. By starting with a simple, clear cash flow forecast that translated her past sales into a map of future expectations, we uncovered several cash flow blind spots that were putting her business at risk. Here’s how I addressed them:

    • I established when and if she would run out of money soon. Understanding cash position was the crucial first step to effective cash flow management. Without this visibility, Philippa faced the risk of unexpected cash shortfalls and potential negative cash flow that could have had dire consequences.
    • I secured funding to cover the cash flow gap to pay for the next VAT and corporation tax and extra cash for working capital, so that the when it’s time to pay HMRC VAT, business had enough savings to do so. This addressed the blind spot of limited financial reserves, reducing the risk of late payments, penalties, and potential cash flow crises.
    • I tackled her monthly expenses, trimming them down to £7,500 by finding brilliant, more cost-effective ways to manage the shop, including working with her vendors and accounts payable department. High overhead costs were a significant blind spot, increasing her company’s vulnerability to revenue fluctuations.
    • I identified slow-moving products and put them on clearance to generate extra cash. This blind spot was tying up cash, creating the risk of missing out on new, potentially more profitable inventory and limiting her ability to respond to opportunities.
    • I looked at the cash conversion cycle from buying inventory to selling it and collecting cash – it was 97 days on average. So, I set out a plan of action to reduce the cash conversion cycle. A long cash conversion cycle was a hidden risk, limiting Philippa’s ability to respond to opportunities or unexpected expenses. Improving this process directly protects her from those risks.

Implementing a late fee policy encouraged her customers to settle their dues promptly, adding an extra £1,000 to her monthly cash flow. This blind spot in her collection processes increased the risk of cash shortfalls. By addressing it, she directly improved her cash flow security.

The Result

By addressing her cash flow blind spots, Phillipa gained both financial stability and greater control over her finances. Here’s how the risks she once faced were significantly reduced:

    • With diligent cash flow monitoring, managing, and maximizing processes – made possible by addressing her cash flow blind spots – Philippa gained stability, control, and significantly reduced her financial risks. We built a cash flow cushion covering the next three months without relying on new sales, giving Philippa a safety net. This directly mitigated the risk of unexpected shortfalls, reducing those chances by an estimated 75%.
    • Sales began to level out to a steady increase from £18,500 to £27,500 each month as we invested in paid ads focused on sellers’ products. This predictable revenue reduced the risk that a dip in sales could lead to a financial crisis, cutting her vulnerability to revenue fluctuations by approximately 30%.
    • Her timely payments to suppliers unlocked early payment discounts of 2.5% on invoices, bolstering her cash flow margins. This addressed the risk of cash shortages and improved her overall profitability.
    • There was no longer adrift in uncertainty. She knew precisely her cash position as she had access to a cash flow dashboard which was segmented into:

What Has Happened- PAST – info she received from a real-time cash flow statement.

What is Happening – PRESENT – info she received from real-time cash flow transactions. 

What Will Happen- FUTURE – She had access to info based on a realistic cash flow forecast. This real-time visibility eliminated blind spots and the associated risks of basing decisions on guesswork.

    • As a result of tight financial control, stopping cash leakage and identifying opportunities to generate excess cash, her bank balance started to increase rapidly from an average overdrawn account of £15,500 to £10,500 cash-positive. This transformation demonstrates how managing blind spots not only reduced risk but created the foundation for sustainable financial growth, boosting her cash position by over 150%!

Philippa smiled again, saying, “Finally, after so many years of running the business, I can pay myself a decent salary.” She is on a path to building a business, which not only survive but also thrive.

Your Next Step- WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE NEXT SUCCESS CASE STUDY?

Book a free cash flow blind spot assessment to uncover the hidden risks in your business and start building a more secure financial future.”

Testimonial

“Shishir didn’t just identify my cash flow risks; he created a tailored plan that gave me the confidence to invest in new inventory. Now sales are up 20%, and I feel empowered to make strategic growth decisions.” – Philippa, Boutique Owner