Cash flow management is critical for small businesses, despite tendencies for it to fall by the wayside. Even in times of “normalcy” and economic stability, 82% of businesses close their doors as a result of cash flow issues.

It goes without saying that now, more than ever, businesses literally can’t afford to idly wait for this pandemic storm to pass. The steps you take today will have a direct impact on operations tomorrow.

Of course, you know this by now. You may even be feeling the weight of loss already. As a fellow small business, we get it—we get how debilitating fear of the unknown can be.

What’s important though is how you talk yourself through it. Whether it’s your business or the last few packs of toilet paper on the shelf, don’t panic. Doing so will only cause added stress and increase the potential for money management missteps that could cost you in the long run.

Instead, think logically as you consider these seven cash flow management tips for business owners.

Update Your Forecasts and Budgets

“Think logically” comes into play right off the bat with the review of forecasts and budgets. Before making any rash decisions and cutbacks, sit down with your current numbers and projections. You’ll want to check in with new forecasts weekly, if not daily.

From your supply chain to customer base, forecast at least 3 months out with worst-case-scenarios in mind. The next 90 days are crucial for small business owners.

Contact Your Bank and Suppliers

Once you have more concrete numbers at hand, you can identify deadlines for outstanding expenses and opportunities for extension. Touch base with suppliers to get a feel for operational delays and gauge payment flexibility.

Now is the time to connect with your bank as well to see what they can do for you in terms of credit and loan payment assistance. If you’re worried about making rent as well, your landlord might be willing to work with you on a payment plan.

Defer Tax Payments

Both Canada and the United States have extended filing dates for the 2019 tax season to June and July respectively. This should allow you time to put any owed tax payments on the back burner and allocate funds to more immediate needs.

Cut Overhead Expenses

Tax aside, other overhead expenses you’ll want to talk a hard look at right now include things like office supplies and equipment, services, and insurance.

Rather than jumping to get rid of employees, see what leeway you have in the overhead cost department. You might be able to keep crucial help onboard, saving costs in insurance and salary decreases instead. In addition to ridding your books on non-essential services. 

Manage Your Inventory and Accounts Receivable

Unlike major CEOS taking a pay cut (or foregoing their salary all together), small business owners can afford to follow suit. Every situation is different but there’s nothing wrong with taking care of others and yourself during these trying times.

With that said, if you have staff on the payroll still, make sure they get paid. Maintaining a good relationship with the people side of your business is crucial for the long-term.

Keep tabs on your inventory because, at the end of the day, you need a product to keep your business running. Be diligent about identifying trends in what is selling versus what isn’t.

Identify the Potential for New Revenue Streams and Customer Incentives

When all else fails, get creative. Are there ways you can barter services with vendors who are also struggling in lieu of payment? Are there products you hadn’t prioritized before that are now taking center stage in website traffic and sales?

Since customer pocketbooks are also likely to tighten for the foreseeable future, identify reasonable discount, subscription, and trial-based tactics.

Take Advantage of Government Support 

Many governments are working to provide increase their aid-based efforts to small businesses as a result of COVID-19 (see resources for both Canada and the United States). Get familiar with the options made available to your business and work to get the necessary paperwork in order sooner rather than later.