In the Sovereign State of Small Businesses, cash is said to still be King. The old maxim is proclaimed to have sustained its relevance by Mrs. Melissa Barrett, Business Advisory Services Manager at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). Cash is thought to be the lifeblood of a business and entrepreneurs within the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) sector are being admonished that generating enough cash from their activities to meet their expenses as well having enough left over to repay investors and grow the business is a true indicator of the health of their cash flow.
Barrett says, “You need to manage cash well, so in periods where business is slow, your business won’t crash. Many businesses crash not because of low demand but because they did not make it a point of duty to manage cash well, so I want you to take that into consideration,” Mrs. Barrett said.
Many experts like Barrett champion the need for healthy cash flow within small businesses and this essentially speaks to the movement of funds in and out of a business. This movement and availability of funds is pivotal for a small business’ success and Barrett advises that “Cash is king and you should try to have a minimum of six months’ worth working capital, cash to pay your expenses or else you are going to run into trouble.”
This sort of trouble can unfortunately look like bankruptcy, which has been cited as being one of the results of poor cash management and therefore small businesses must take care. In fact, The Office of the Supervisor of Insolvency (OSI) reveals that “businesses which filed for bankruptcy in 2021 fall under the fashion, tourism, entertainment, mining, manufacturing, and airline industries. Among the entities, 39 per cent of filings were small businesses.”
Providing a contextual reminder for small businesses about the unprecedented times we are in, Barrett posits “The times are very unpredictable now. However, you can become very strategic in how you manage your business and for your business to continue and be sustained, money is at the core.”
Small businesses are generally advised to speed up collecting receivables and open high interest savings accounts. Barrett adds that capitalising on good cash seasons is another way of improving on cash management. “Once you are making money and you have cash in the bank, secure all the possible avenues. A line of credit, a credit card and loans – put it in your emergency fund, that same cash balance to manage for that period when things get rough.”
Referencing financial institutions, she points out “I know they will tell you, make relationships with the banks when you have money. Don’t go to the bank when you don’t have any money to look for funding, don’t let that be when you are initiating a relationship with the bank.”
Pressing the issue of making solid relationships with banks, she points out, “Remember banks are not like equity investors that are waiting patiently. You are paying interest and you are paying it monthly, so if you don’t have a cash flow to pay where is the bank going to get their money back from?”
The JBDC is positioned as a key voice in the MSME sector, and through its provision of business development support, the organisation aims to continue stimulating the ecosystem. Financial literacy is a key goal of the Business Advisory Services Unit. As funding is crucial to business growth, the Unit takes entrepreneurs through processes including start-up costs, costing your product or service, budgeting, record keeping, financial analysis and forecasting. The team also guides clients towards making their business attractive to investors with an effective pitch, as well as key strategically planning your business’ growth for export.