the smart way to improve your cash flow

One of the biggest concerns for small and medium size businesses (SMEs) is juggling time and company finances, particularly as the economy slips further into a financial downturn and priorities shift. Business owners are always looking for new ways to give themselves a little bit of financial breathing space that won’t unbalance either their business or their books. Using a business credit card could be one weapon that could help to minimise the day to day problems that many businesses encounter, giving them the chance to reappraise their cash flow and give them more control over their daily finances.

A business credit card (unlike a personal credit card) can offer SMEs greater financial flexibility and provide an alternative to expensive loans or debilitating overdrafts. If your company only needs a relatively small ‘fighting fund’ to cover daily expenses or the occasional payment to suppliers, a business credit card could be the answer. By choosing a card that best suits your company’s needs, you can reduce the amount of ’empty money’ you pay on overdraft interest payments or loan interest charges. Business credit cards are easily managed and can certainly help a business to survive a lean month by ensuring suppliers are paid on time, thus keeping open other lines of credit essential to the operation of the business. If managed carefully it can also improve the credit rating of a business – something that, in the current climate, where banks are reigning in on business loans to minimise their exposure to ‘bad debt’, puts a business on much firmer ground.

In 2004, the Warwick Business School carried out a study of 2,500 businesses that looked into financial options for SMEs. The study found that business credit cards were the financial option of choice for 55% of small and medium sized businesses. 53% of SMEs had overdrafts, 27% used hire purchase agreements or leasing contracts and only 3% cited equity finance as their primary financial source. This study, although carried out before the current recession kicked in, is still applicable today and business credit cards are still an integral part of business life. The major benefit of a business credit card is that it gives a company a separate source of income from their main cash flow. It can also provide them with an extended, interest-free credit period when dealing with suppliers. This ‘grace’ period between payment to a supplier and the money being removed from the company’s assets via credit card payment can sometimes mean the difference between survival and closure for many small businesses.