Cash Flow

Seven Typical Cash Flow Problems that Plague Tradies

When you first embarked on your career, it’s likely that you focused on developing your technical skills. You worked for others while gaining expertise in the profession with the goal of one day starting your own business.

If you have achieved that goal, you will have invested a lot of time and energy in acquiring clients. However, like many tradies, you may lack experience in managing the financial aspects of your business. 

After a few months or years of going it alone, you discover that there is a great deal more to it than simply completing the task at hand. You must care for present clients, seek new contracts, juggle a multitude of jobs, put out fires, and most importantly, maintain a constant income stream.

While you’re here:

Are you adequately insured as a tradie?

Trades insurance is a specialized form of commercial insurance that offers protection against the dangers that experts in skilled trade industries must deal with. Tools insurance, public liability insurance, employers’ liability insurance, and other types of coverage can all be incorporated into a custom insurance policy that is specifically designed for tradies.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and you may be unable to work until the situation has been resolved due to a dissatisfied client, accidental property damage, or an injury to you or an employee. You can continue working without any additional hassles if you have the appropriate insurance. Hiscox tradesmen’s business insurance offers protection against the unforeseen by paying for things like compensation expenses, legal fees, tool repair or replacement, and more.

How Crucial is Positive Cash Flow?

A healthy cash flow enables you to pay your employees, cover your expenses, and invest in equipment that will make your job easier.

In addition to covering fixed costs, your business must innovate and expand in order to investigate new opportunities and maintain a competitive advantage.

Here are a few of the most significant cash flow difficulties that trade firms face. (If you operate a small business but are not a tradesperson, it is likely that these requirements also apply to you!)

Failure to Bill Clients

Invoicing customers late frequently contributes to the significant cash flow issues that afflict many tradies. When you do not remain on top of invoicing and payment collection, you limit your cash flow, reduce your company’s flexibility, and impede your growth.

Ideally, clients should be billed as soon as the service is completed (sometimes in advance or at milestones during a job, depending on the scope of the project). Ensure you issue invoices on time and include payment terms on the invoice.

Late Payments

When your next contract demands supplies, your bank payment is due, and you need money for an unexpected piece of equipment to complete a task, you cannot wait for past-due payments.

Unpaid bills are a major concern for tradies; consequently, you must have processes in place to regularly follow up on payments. If you have the appropriate tools, keeping track of this may be made easier.

Several ways to reduce the number of outstanding invoices are outlined below.

  • As soon as feasible, submit an invoice; the majority of clients will pay when they receive it. 
  • If at all possible, bill clients on-site and collect payments immediately.
  • Ensure that you offer a number of different payment alternatives, including cash, credit cards, and bank transfers.
  • Be open about the price and terms of payment while working for friends or family. You wish to preserve your relationships.

Rapid Growth

Even though expansion is exciting and the reason you began your business, if it is not properly handled, it can be extremely costly and detrimental to your organization. It is one thing to manage oneself and a small group of trustworthy employees who can perform tasks with minimal oversight. However, a workforce expansion necessitating continuing hiring, management, and training is something altogether else.

When the chain of command grows longer and more managers are added, the problems intensify substantially. You spend less time “doing the work” and more time collaborating with your management team, financial backers, and key clients.

If you do not currently have a business strategy, now is the time to create one. Consider the benefits of a business coach or mentor; someone who is educated about business development will help you overcome challenges and achieve success.

Inadequate Gross Margins

Many tradies make concessions and put in a few “unpaid” hours yet generate a respectable profit. When your company expands and the payroll increases, you must be extremely careful not to accept reduced margins in order to get the sale.

Regardless of what you did to obtain the contract, your employees and vendors will still expect to be paid on a regular basis. Even though it may be tempting to acquire employment solely to keep staff on the payroll, you must exercise extreme caution to prevent mortgaging your future with an endless stream of low-paying jobs.

Out-of-Control Expenses

Managing expenditures is likely not something you were taught as a tradesperson. You are aware that you need a team of managers to oversee operations, but constructing the necessary infrastructure might be quite costly. Regardless of whether you obtain new employment, the infrastructure (administrative personnel, bank loans, etc.) must be maintained (paid for).

Due to the volatility of business cycles, it is best to avoid creating more infrastructure than you can manage and to always have a backup plan. Before an impending downturn, determine who and what you can cut quickly.

Poor Bookkeeping

The majority of new professionals have minimal expertise with bookkeeping. Unfortunately, bookkeeping serves as your company’s final scorecard, and the bookkeeper keeps the score.

Accounting is an easily outsourced task, and it is common practice to engage a professional to manage your bookkeeping.

Making sure you understand the fundamentals of your books is a good idea because it will enable you to identify errors and other potential issues while also providing you with a general picture of your business’s activities.

Bad Credit (Both Directions)

Inadequate credit management on the payables and receivables sides of the ledger strains your cash flow significantly.

Customers typically rely on you, as a business owner, to give favourable credit terms. Initially, when you are working on a small job for the customer, you may find that they pay on time. However, as the size of the contracts increases, the accounts payable balances and payment terms increase. Before you realize it, they owe you a large sum of money.

When your firm expands, though, will you be able to pursue larger contracts and negotiate better terms for your business? Even if this is beneficial for your cash flow, you still need to keep track of upcoming payments to avoid unpleasant shocks and disruptions to your cash flow.

Regardless of the size of the firm you are working with, it is essential to enforce your credit terms in order to prevent things from spiralling out of control.

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