Cash, Debt & Credit. Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
“The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s going to make the difference between winning and losing!”
This is one of my favorite movie quotes from Al Pacino from the movie Any Given Sunday. I like it because it speaks to the business principal of doing certain things, however small they may seem, and the possibility that doing the little things will make a big difference.
I’ll run through a few practical business examples –
Not Utilizing Business Credit instead of Cash on Hand to make Purchases
- Unless there is an obvious reason to pay with cash / debit card / check (avoiding credit card fees for example), always opt to pay for expenses with credit card. Not only do you get the credit card points on the backend (tax free), but you get to stretch your cash reserves and build your credit score.
- Apply for a business credit card and moving all the recurring transactions to that credit card. If you max mid period, revolve it. Strategically ask for limit increases. Understand that in the short term your credit score may be negatively impacted by opening a new card but over a longer period of time your score will benefit by showing responsible use of that card.
Missing Recurring Payments and Carrying High Interest Debt
- Constantly missing recurring payments, whether the mortgage, utilities, credit cards or auto leases is a symptom of a lack of financial control over the business or personal affairs. Even if you don’t have the means to pay the obligation, communication is key. Actions speak louder than words, but words matter (and are free) and you should be using your words with creditors to come up with alternative payment plans / dates and forgive penalties / interest if possible.
- Carrying (High Interest) Debt usually means that you are spending beyond your means relative to cash flow and that you need to make immediate spending changes. Unless your return from the spend exceeds the cost of interest (unlikely) you will profit more from cutting or revolving the debt than the topline. This is a classic way to go bankrupt from too much growth by sapping your bottom line profits to financing charges.
Vendor and Creditor Relationships
- Find a small list of vendors to consistently buy from and transact with. This is overlooked, but just as you love your #1 client you should also love your #1 vendor. That does not mean you won’t or can’t switch vendors later, but building that vendor relationship helps to guarantee a high level of quality while minimizing risk.
- Vendors you consistently do business with can be negotiated with on volume. For example – office supplies. On any given day you can order from Staples, go to Office Depot or order from Amazon to get anything specific at that days lowest market price points. But by finding one vendor to order office supplies from, you can have them price match and then negotiate a rebate or discount in exchange for volume. Give your vendors a chance to fulfill the sale based on market price.
- Often times, companies are looking to “win” every transaction with their vendors and clients. For example, I know a client that constantly pushes and stretches their smaller vendors who are owed a few thousand dollars while simultaneously holding millions of dollars in their bank. On the one hand this is principal – you should do what you can to secure favorable payment terms. But on the other hand, that relationship can be damaged and future wins can be denied because of short term plays. You have to be cognizant what to really ask for. Don’t prioritize wins that are small or meaningless to you and a big loss to the other party. Rather look for wins that matter over a longer period of time and can provide reassurance to the other party in the short term. For example – in the current environment where many are not paying rent on time, if you have millions in the bank don’t ask for a short term delay in paying loan or rent forbearance, ask for a rate decrease that will save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Landlords and Banks will be grateful that you are making the payment and you will win a lot more $ through the rate increase than any short term savings on pushing the obligation out.
Be a good person and do ethical business with good people. Be upfront about what you want and can offer so that others will do the same. Everyone will win with this in the long run.
Scrappy Entrepreneur Financial Contributor Kirk Cole is Managing Partner at Simple Accounting Solutions and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is: https://kirkcolecpa.com/