[Updated 25 November 2023]
Do you sacrifice holidays to focus on keeping your business operating? If you are, you’re not alone. A recent survey indicated three-quarters of small-business owners regularly work through holiday periods.
At Business Advisory Services, we want to helping our clients maintain a work-life balance during the festive season.
Throughout this article, we’ll share some practical tips to help you enjoy some well-deserved time off.
Forecast your sales
New Zealand’s festive and summer season brings predictable warmer days, clear blue skies, and the chance to unwind. But for many small-businesses, cash flow is less predictable, and the outlook for them is more gloomy than sunny.
Forecast your cash flows well in advance of the summer break. If you haven’t prepared sales forecasts, review your current outstanding invoices (“receivables”). This’ll help you estimate when customers will pay you during the holiday season, and how much.
At the same time, forecast how much income you anticipate receiving from any work-in-progress you haven’t billed yet.
For many small businesses, “crunch-time” will be 15 January 2024. Many of them will need to file and pay their GST for the taxable period ending 30 November 2023.
An additional headache is that, for many, the second 2024 provisional tax instalment is due on the same day. This will hurt many small businesses. Their bank balances quickly evaporate after remitting paying Inland Revenue.
It’s best to determine the extent of your problems before they occur, even though the result may not be pretty. It’ll be easier to make the necessary arrangements before you run out of cash, rather than afterwards.
>> RELATED ARTICLE: We’ve previously written an article sharing four myths about business cash flow.
Determine your staff needs
If you employ staff or contractors, you’ll still need to pay their salaries, etc, including holiday pay. Similarly, you’ll have other fixed costs you’ll need to pay, such as rent, rates, etc.
Review your cash needs to ensure you’ll have adequate funds to pay for these overheads. Consider what staff you’ll require during the break. Will you need to maintain contact with customers? Will their absence affect your sales forecasts? Will you have enough staff to achieve your sales forecasts?
Postpone discretionary spending
Many people, including small-business owners, can’t resist the urge to splash out during Black Friday and Boxing Day Sales. They’ve worked hard all year and deserve a treat. But with limited cash, everything gets paid on the faithful credit card.
Postpone avoidable and unnecessary expenditure until your cash flow picks up. There’ll be plenty more sales throughout the year.
Postpone avoidable and unnecessary expenditure until your cash flow picks up. Ask yourself whether you need that brand-new espresso machine you’re so keen on buy. Be honest, do you need to replace the laptop or mobile ‘phone you only bought last Christmas?
Negotiate longer payment terms with suppliers. Delay hiring staff if you can’t keep them fully occupied. And don’t lease an expensive new car or equipment you don’t need yet.
Planning and forecasting your income and expenditure is essential. It’ll be much easier to prevent stress before you suffer it!
Contact your bank if you’re struggling to pay your bills
Don’t leave discussing your situation with your bank about until the last minute. The right time to talk with it is now, not after you run out of cash.
Tell your bank manager you might need help to tide you over during the holiday season. Forewarn it. Your bank will then have time to suggest ways it can support you.
Be honest and transparent about your circumstances and financial situation. Your bank may ask you for information to help assess your financial performance and financial position.
Keep talking with your bank. If it offers you an arrangement, such as a temporary overdraft or loan, you’ll need to ensure you stick to your agreement.
Prepare a short-term income and expenditure cash flow forecast.
Calculate how much cash you’ll need to pay your bills and taxes during the next couple of months.
Contact Inland Revenue if you have a current or forecasted tax bill that worries you. IRD prefer to know about your tax problems before your tax becomes overdue. IRD are much more tolerant and understanding these days. Be honest and discuss your financial circumstances with your accountant or IRD.
Negotiate an arrangement with IRD. Ask it if you can repay your tax via instalments. If you discuss your needs before your due dates, you’ll probably avoid penalties. And if COVID-19 has affected your business, let IRD know, and ask it to write-off interest.
Contact us at Business Advisory Services if you’d like help setting up a repayment plan. We do this more often than you may think. I guarantee that you won’t be the only one seeking IRD’s help. IRD knows it’s been a tough year for small businesses.
Tidy up your workspaces
Give all your workspaces warehouses a thorough clear-out before you break for the holiday season.
Archive old files and documents. Sell or scrap items and equipment you no longer need or no longer work. Transform your working environment into a more safe and pleasant area to work. Returning to work after a relaxing holiday to clean and organised workspaces will make a big difference.
You’ve prepared your cash forecasts and spoken to your bank and IRD. You’re ready for a well-earned break. You don’t need to sacrifice your valuable holiday.
All you need to do now, is slip on a shirt, slop on factor-25 and slap on a hat.
From the Business Advisory Services team, we wish you a safe and enjoyable festive season. And don’t forget to tell us about it when you get back!