How To Master Your Cash Flow In Under 60 Minutes Per Day

free-above-city
14,619 designers received our email newsletter last week. Click here to sign up for free.

Let’s talk turkey for a few minutes.

More particularly… cash flow.

Icky, dirty, rotten, dreaded cash flow.

How’s yours going? Are you making the BIG bucks? Stashing plenty of dosh away each month so you can retire young, travel the world and achieve the ultimate freedom you’ve always dreamt of?

If so, you can probably skip this blog and just get back to it. Go on, off you go. ;)

If not and you’re sick of worrying how you’re going to pay the bills next week, worn out with the ‘feast or famine’ cycle or just want to master your cash flow so you can save more and sleep better at night, then this my friend is for you!

I spent about 10 loooooooong years in this cycle so I’m well versed with the pain. Oh the pain!! Insert <sleepless nights / tight chest / pit in your stomach / the thought of not being able to pay wages here>. It’s a killer.

So earlier this year I made it my mission to master it. You see we’ve doubled our growth year on year for the past 5 years (without capital) and it put a hell of a strain on our cash flow.

I decided though that my well being was far more important than growth, and it was time I mastered the art of mastering your cash flow.

Here’s how I mastered my cash flow and how YOU can too.

Step 1: Know Your Jump Off Point.

First of all, you gotta know where you’re at. By that I mean you absolutely MUST know where every single penny goes in your business…. in and out.

If you have a bookkeeper already, great! Get them to help you get your head around exactly every number in your business. Talk to your Accountant for advice too.

Export a detailed Profit & Loss statement (P&L), broken down by month for the last 12 months, and analyse every square pixel of data. I put mine into a Google doc so I could make notes.

See where you spend, where you could save, what memberships you could cancel, what prices you can negotiate and make notes in a Google Doc so your bookkeeper can do the grunt work for you.

Side note: If you don’t have a bookkeeper yet and you’re turning over $30,000 or more per annum, I would totally recommend getting a bookkeeper, like yesterday! I believe your time should be spent on high-value tasks like designing, marketing and bringing in new business… not entering data into accounting software! Capiche?

Time to allow: This may take you 1-3 days upfront but it will be well worth it later I promise. Once you get over this initial hurdle and have a good grip on your finances, it’ll only take a few minutes each fortnight to monitor.

Step 2: Create a Profit Plan.

After duplicating your actual figures in your Google Doc into a new sheet, it’s now time to create your Profit Plan. For me, it’s a mixture of a budget, a forecast and a profit plan.

I added a new column next to each month and set a budget for the upcoming months. It’s important here to analyse past figures across the whole year and set a realistic budget for future months. It’s also better to overestimate than to fall short.

I was able to plan out in fine detail based on projected profits when we could hire new staff, buy new equipment, cut back on things, pay out loans or credit cards, give pay rises etc all provided our sales team reached their sales targets, which of course I analysed and set too.

Power tip: Create weekly sales targets and do your absolute darndest to invoice your target amount each week to keep the flow in check. Try to avoid the feast or famine cycle by spreading out payments and projects to fit in with your targets (instead of your client’s unrealistic expectations), and avoid invoicing a swag of work all at once then nothing for 3-4 weeks.

Step 3: Create the System

Now that you know exactly where you’re at, you’ve slashed costs wherever you can and you’ve set a clear budget for sales, expenses and profits, it’s time to systemise it for your bookkeeper. It’s time to ‘delegate’ baby! (My favourite word… can you tell?)

I sat down with ours and went through in detail what I expected from her on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Here’s a summary…

Daily tasks: On a daily basis I wanted a report emailed to us by 10am every morning. This is the email report template that we use (feel free to steal it!):

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Monthly Target: $

Invoiced yesterday: $

Invoiced Month to Date (MTD): $

Cash yesterday: $

Cash Month to Date (MTD): $

Paid yesterday: $

Cash in accounts:

Trading Account: $

Savings Account: $

Tax Account #1: $

Tax Account #2: $

Credit Card Available: $

Notes: (Any questions, comments or notes go here.)

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Weekly tasks: Every Thursday, our bookkeeper gives us a weekly report with any payables that are due. We pay bills every Friday so each Thursday when I receive the report I allow 30 minutes to look at the week that was, check how much money we have spare, check the payroll then let her know what bills to pay the following day.

Mid-month tasks: On the 15th of every month, our bookkeeper has to put our actual figures into our projections spreadsheet so we know how we’re tracking. She sends us an update when it’s done with some notes and I then spend about 2 hours analysing it. It’s here I notice where we may have overspent in one area and where we can make it up in another.

By having a handle on it at every step of the way rather than waiting until the end of the month, it gives us much more control on our performance and allows us to pivot where necessary.

If sales are down, we know to ramp up marketing. It might be as simple as increasing our spend on Google Adwords or sending an email newsletter with a special offer to our prospect list to get some quick leads in. (Or dare I say, cracking the whip with our sales team!) ;)

Monthly tasks: The end of the month is the most exciting time for me. It takes about a week to get all the books in order and actual figures up to date, then our bookkeeper goes back into our Profit Plan spreadsheet and updates our actual figures against what we’d planned. And it’s here that we get to see how we fared for the month.

She highlights any expenses that went over budget in red and anything that came in under budget in green. Again, we make comments in the document and collaborate on what we need to adjust next month to improve. I’ve found that it’s always a work in progress… always.

It’s usually around this time when I madly scroll to the bottom line that I do a crazy happy dance around the office because we made another stellar profit – something which previously was very hit and miss. I mean like crazy, stressful, endless sleepless nights kinda hit and miss!

Sound easy enough so far? Stick with me…

So what exactly do you do each week? Here’s a breakdown…

  1. Spend 5 minutes each morning on the daily’s (25 mins per week).

  2. Spend 30 minutes each week on payables, including checking payroll if applicable.

  3. Spend 2 hours per fortnight checking your Profit Plan to see how you’re tracking.

  4. Spend 1 hour at the end of the month analysing how much you kicked cash flow’s butt and 5 minutes doing a happy dance about your new and improved bank balance! :)

That’s around 4 hours per week or thereabouts so there you have it! My super simple formula for mastering your cash flow in under 60 minutes per day!

Now don’t be fooled… This all may sound straight-forward and trivial to setup but let me tell you, it has completely revolutionised our cash flow… our business… our profits… and my sanity!

I now sleep right through the night without waking up and staring at the ceiling for 3 hours worrying about how I’m going to pay the bills. I find myself singing in the shower and get so overwhelmed with joy, sometimes I have happy tears streaming down my face. (I’m banned from Karaoke so it’s a sight to behold I tell ya!) And I no longer have that horrible pit in my stomach.

I’ve broken free from the ghastly cash flow hold. I’m finally happy. I’m free! And we’re making good money! I gotta tell ya… it’s a great feeling. 10 long years it took me but it doesn’t have to take you that long if you take the bull by the horns and follow my simple process.

By having a handle on your exact cash position every single day, it makes you work smarter, spend thriftier, save more and make better business decisions. It really does.

And you know the ironic thing?

We’re growing more in turnover AND profits than ever before. I purposely didn’t focus on growth, choosing instead to master our cash flow and our profits soared! Pretty sweet hey?

So let’s get this icky cash flow party started! Where are you struggling? How can I help you master your cashflow? Fire away! (I started solo 11 years ago and now employ 20 odd staff so chances are I’ve gone through your struggles before and can help you through it.) Sound off in the comments…

Like what you've read?

Subscribe to our M,W,F newsletter packed with awesome content just like this. We'll also throw in a free ebook just for signing up. Enter your email below. Download will begin immediately.

About Bianca Board

Co-founder of Web123, Australia’s small business website specialists, author of ‘How To Destroy Your Design Business in 12 Easy Steps’, and creator of the Web123 ProPartner Program a complete ‘web business in a box’ solution for graphic designers, Bianca is Australia’s design-business doctor. Her mission is to help designers, just like you, create a profitable business you love.

 More about Bianca’s Business: Bianca is co-founder of the Web123 Partner Program. Design, build and deliver client projects in the space of a day. Design it your way, totally HTML and developer free.

Comments

  1. Absolutely love this information! I have been doing pretty okay keeping track of my cashflow using expensify.com, but this has encouraged me to find a bookkeeper. Where does one find a trusty bookkeeper that loves to use modern tools?

    • Hi Steve, thanks for reading mate.

      Well isn’t that the million dollar question?! It took me YEARS to find a great one and I will never let her go. :D

      One thing I would highly recommend you do before you hire anyone is if you have a favourite, get them to do a few trial tasks. Write a letter of demand from scratch, do a few basic tasks in Excel, make them jump through a few hoops before you offer them the job.

      By doing this, you can really weed out the wheat from the chaff. A candidate might interview really, really well but you find they have terrible grammar on paper or no attention to detail with numbers. You can avoid disasters before they occur.

      Other than that, write a really specific job ad with what you want and if their cover letter and resume doesn’t meet your criteria, don’t go there. If it takes you 3 months to find the right one, so be it. Don’t settle for second best when it comes to this job – it’s far too important to get wrong.

  2. Thank you so much for this article Bianca, I really enjoy your articles.

    I’m pretty new to managing cash flow and knowing where I stand has really made me see things clearly, and now with your added tips it only gets better. :)

    • Hey Cassia, my pleasure. You’re so right, knowing exactly where you’re at adds a completely new dimension to being in business and doing it well. Be sure to keep that habit as you grow, it will pay you back tenfold! ;)

  3. Great article! Very useful takeaways. Just wondering what accounting software you advise a small design firm with big dreams could be using? Looking at Xero right now but wondered what you use. I’m an Australian designer so I guess I’m looking for software that suits Aussie laws.

    • Hey Drew, thanks for your comment.

      To answer your question, we use Xero and LOVE IT! I used to use MYOB and we also used Quickbooks before that but Xero runs rings around both of them put together. I love the online component of it, the monthly payment model, the simplicity and beauty of it, the integration to our bank feeds, it really has a lot going for it. I’m in Australia too and I’d say Xero for sure.

      (Geez, I think I need a kickback! Hehe)

Join the conversation

*