Your 4Cs

Cash, Customers & Commitments… + Cash Flow

By Matt McDonald
8 Min Read

When navigating business shocks like the Coronavirus Crisis all business owners and leaders need to focus on the “4Cs” of your financial fundamentals: Cash, Customers and Commitments, all culminating in your Cash Flow Forecasting.

Cash is King

  1. How much cash do you have now in your bank accounts ?
  2. Are your bank reconciliations up to date ?
  3. How quickly can you collect your trade debtors (without disrupting strategic customer relationships), and how will change your cash flow forecasting assumptions ?
  4. What reserves can you call on and when / how, eg overdraft facilities, funds on deposit ?
  5. Deduct business credit card balances – they are “negative cash”, even if they aren’t due to be paid off just yet.

Stay Close to Customers

  1. How safe are your “confirmed” orders and pipeline ?
  2. What are your cancellation and “force majeure” rights and obligations in your Terms of Business ?  Consider separating the collection of cancellation fees and regular billings in your cash flow forecasting model.
  3. How can you communicate with them in a way that gathers facts about their plans and tells them what you are doing to work through this crisis, without alarming them and even triggering cancellations ?
  4. Might customers with limited financial reserves quickly become bad debt risks ?

Know Your Commitments

  1. Can you fulfill your customer orders (assuming that its in your interests to do so) ?
  2. How quickly do you have to pay off your trade creditors, and are your cash flow forecasting assumptions still realistic ?
  3. If business drops away, can you run off casual / contracted labour ?
  4. Can you ask your permanent staff to take unpaid leave, or even invoke “stand down” provisions ?
  5. If you need to make staff redundant, how much would you need to pay out and when ?
  6. Are you a small employer under the Fair Work Act, and how might those provisions give you relief ?
  7. Do you have any penalty clauses in your customer contracts ?
  8. Can you scale back orders already placed with suppliers, if necessary ?
  9. Do you have related party payments that you can suspend or cancel ?
  10. Are you currently up to date with your ATO and State Revenue payments (GST, PAYG, Payroll Tax etc), in case you need to negotiate a delayed payment plan in the future ?

Weekly Cash Flow Forecasts – Your #1 Business Crisis Tool

  1. If you don’t have a “week by week” cash flow forecasting tool in place, now is the time to set one up.
  2. Start by quantifying your fixed vs discretionary cash outflows and your likely customer receipts – you may want to allow a risk percentage for further order cancellations.
  3. If your business is unable to trade, you can figure out how many weeks you can stay in business by dividing your working capital (cash + collectible trade debtors – trade creditors) by your fixed weekly cash outflows.
  4. If you need to extend your “weeks in business” calculation, think about how you can reduce permanent staff costs or reduce non-essential expenditure temporarily.
  5. If you need help putting your crisis cash flow forecasting in place, ask your accountant or an expert like the Advisory Collective to help you – you will understand your business like never before once you have this tool in place.
Matt McDonald

Matt McDonald

Matt has worked as a CFO, Acting CEO, Company Secretary and Head of Sales and HR for 30+ years.

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