By Viresh Harduth, vice president: New Customer Acquisition (Start up and Small Business) at Sage Africa & Middle East
The goal of any business is to sell products and services, and to make a profit.
But one challenge that many small businesses face, according to research by SAICA, is balancing their cash-flow so that their income is higher than their expenditure.
One way to manage this is through cash-flow forecasting: by estimating how much money you expect to flow into and out of your business over a certain period of time, and making adjustments to ensure you never run out of cash and risk becoming insolvent.
Another way to ensure a steady flow of cash into your business is to establish and maintain your digital presence.
If you’re not online, you don’t exist
There’s a misperception that, because a business cannot sell its services online (you can’t fell a tree through the Internet), there’s no reason to have a website, an e-commerce platform or social media profiles.
But when last did you open a physical copy of the Yellow Pages to find a business in your area? Like everybody else, you’re probably researching businesses and comparing offerings and prices online before making a purchasing decision.
There are many business cases for having an online presence: it’s easier for new customers to find you; it’s easier to expand into new markets – locally and globally; it’s easier to engage with customers and to position yourself as an authority in your industry by regularly publishing useful content.
Having a digital presence means you’re open for business 24/7/365. It’s a fundamental part of doing business today.
Online today, more cash tomorrow
The most compelling reason for having a digital presence is the opportunity to effortlessly increase the cash-flow into your business.
Through a professional and secure e-commerce website, customers can view your offerings, and order and pay for your products, or book your services, instantly. By giving customers different payment options – such as card payments, bank and instant EFT, mobile wallets or even cash on delivery – you can easily increase the amount of cash flowing into your business.
Using solutions like Sage Online Tools, it’s easier, more secure and more affordable than ever to start transacting online. From one portal, you can set up a professional website and online store to reach more customers and increase your profits.
You can also integrate digital marketing into your website through social media and Google search, which will help to boost traffic and sales conversions. And by integrating your Sage accounting platform, you can update pricing, inventory levels and product data, in real-time.
If you’re in the business of tree-felling, start by publishing an article on what your customers could do with the wood from a large tree in their garden. Share it on social media, provide free quotes through your website and the option to book and pay for your services through your e-commerce platform. Little effort on your part could result in higher returns and more cash flowing into your business.
The bottom line is that if you’re not competing online, you may very well be invisible to your target market.