Article | February 26, 2020
You have a lot of responsibility as a small business owner, whether you’re managing numerous people or are a self-employed army of one. You have to worry about expenses, numerous financial statements, tax season and more, all while trying to build your net worth. One of the biggest obligations that looms over the head of nearly every business owner is the thought of debt. Debt can greatly impact the growth capacity of a business, and even worse, it can cause a business to go under completely. Fortunately, there’s a great tool that can help you determine how much debt you can handle and help you understand your company’s general financial health. That tool? The solvency ratio.
Article | March 16, 2020
Small and medium businesses (SMEs) play a significant role in the development and growth of the economy of any country. They are also a vital part of the global economy. To stay afloat in an increasingly interconnected and competitive global market, SMEs also need to adapt to the latest technology. SMEs that fail to do so will eventually have to close their doors.
Article | August 18, 2021
Treasury management or more generally Supply Chain Finance management is still a neglected topic at many SMEs.
While large international corporations make the investment into expensive treasury management solutions (often part of their ERP solution) and even setup their own In-House Banks, this is considerably more difficult for the mid-corp segment and even more so for the smaller segment of the SMEs. Often SMEs lack the funding, time and expertise to deploy those platforms and often those platforms lack the flexibility required by an SME.
Nonetheless in this globalized competitive market with fast moving cash, even SMEs are in need of an effective treasury management. Every SME has its own specific challenges, due to its specific payment cycles and cash reserves. Nonetheless most SMEs (estimated to about three-quarters) still do their treasury management via (complex) Excel sheets, requiring a lot of manual effort. This gap forms a big opportunity (in Europe SMEs account for more than half of all gross value added) for incumbent banks and Fintechs to offer easy and user-friendly tooling for this. In recent years, more and more Fintech players try indeed to provide an answer to this gap, often via SaaS platforms, which connect easily to the customer’s banks (via Open Banking APIs) and for which the setup cost is limited.
The gains for an SME in optimizing their treasury processes can be very substantial. A good treasury management can reduce costs in multiple ways:
Reduce working capital by reducing the time to collect money from customers, by reducing inventory and/or by paying suppliers only at the payment due dates.
Reduce unpaid invoices by a better follow-up and good debt collection techniques
Reduce penalties (such as administration costs or late-payment interests) due to late payments and indirectly also improve the relationship with suppliers.
Reduce effort (resource workload) for financial management, like the follow-up of payments of incoming and outgoing invoices, automated generation of payment instructions for incoming invoices…
Optimized cash management allowing to keep on your current account only the required cash amount to run your business, thus allowing to invest excess cash, but also to avoid requiring short-term debt when too much cash is invested (and blocked in medium- to long-term assets)
Reduce foreign currency costs and exposure risks by keeping the right reserves of foreign currencies, applying hedging (like swaps or options) techniques, correctly taking forex rate fluctuations into account in future cash flow predictions…
Reduce transaction commissions for bank transactions, by selecting the right banking products, but also by using the right banking partner(s) (especially for international foreign currency payments big price differences exist between different banking parties)
Reduce cost of fraud by improving control, transparency and accountability via a pro-active, automated monitoring of all cash flows, allowing to detect anomalies as soon as possible
This can be achieved in multiple ways:
Setup and optimize the processes and tooling with the help of specialized services companies (like e.g. the offering of BelPay)
Setup or acquire software solutions (often in the form of SaaS offerings, i.e. Treasury in a Box) for cash & liquidity management, like invoice generation and follow-up (including invoice and payment matching), debt collection, incoming invoice processing (including payment), cash pooling, cash forecasting/capital planning… These software tools allow a more pro-active treasury management and reduce manual effort by automating certain steps in these processes. Examples of such platforms are HighRadius, Gtreasury, CashForce, Kyriba, Nomentia, Monite, Pair Finance, AiVidens… But there are also more specialized tools, offering only a specific service, like debt collection (e.g. Virteo, recovr, Pair Finance, TrueAccord, CollectAI, CollectionHub, inDebted, Attunely…), digitalization (through OCR) of paper invoices (e.g. Tangentia, Contract.fit, Metamaze, Klippa, SimpleOCR…), expense management (e.g. Payhawk, Rydoo, Expensify, Spendesk, Pleo, Circula…), account aggregation and payment initiation (e.g. Isabel 6/Ponto)…
Capture revenue by allowing customers to pay for products or services in a way that is most efficient for them and for the SME, allowing to increase sales, but also to ensure the best possible payment ratio. This includes solutions like digital onboarding and management of Direct Debits (e.g. via Twikey or DigiTeal), including a Pay button (e.g. via Twikey or POM) in invoices which allows to pay the invoice with a pre-filled credit transfer, card payment or other payment option, integration with PSPs (like Adyen, Mollie, MultiSafePay, Ingenico, Stripe…) for online payments, digital invoicing allowing to combine invoicing and payment (e.g. PEPPOL platform or offering invoices with immediate payment option via UnifiedPost, ZoomIt or Doccle), "Buy Now, Pay Later" solutions (like Klarna or AfterPay) or new solutions like PSD2 Payment Initiation or the upcoming new scheme of SEPA Request to Pay (SRTP).
Improve integration between accountancy software (and/or accountant) and the cash management solutions and associated bank accounts. Solutions like Silverfin, TOCO, Yuki, OkiOki, Billit, Furoo, Clearfacts, Billtobox, sevDesk, Candis… can provide (a part of) a solution to this.
Usage of solutions for cash management (e.g. international cashpooling, sweep accounts…) and more general treasury management services offered by banks to their customers. These can be incumbent banks or new Fintechs, which specialize in the niche of serving SME customers. Examples are Tide, Qonto, Azlo, Arival, Fyrst…
Reducing costs of international payments and forex transactions via new Fintech offers, like XE.com, TransferWise, CurrencyTransfer.com, WorldFirst, iBanFirst, Ebury…, but also via specialized software tools, like Kantox, FiREapps, Money Mover, Acumatica…
Get cheaper financing via specialized credit institutions and banks (e.g. OakNorth, CapitalBox…), by issuing commercial paper (short-term paper) or long-term debt, via crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending (e.g. Funding Circle, Auxmoney, LendingCrowd, Iwoca, Look&Fin, Crowdcube…), via Credit Lombard loans or inventory-based loans (e.g. Finventory) or via invoice factoring (e.g. Edebex, Previse, Optimum Finance, GapCap, BlueVine, BillFront, Crowdz…). There are also more and more marketplaces and comparators assisting SMEs to find the best financing option, e.g. Funding Options, BusinessComparison, Crowdz…
Improve risk management (like currency risk, interest-rate risk, market risk, credit risk, counterparty risk…) via trade finance, like bank guarantees (cfr. Ebury), via better authorization and fraud detection mechanisms (detecting patterns and anomalies) or by better assessing counterparty risk (e.g. DueDil, InsideView, PitchBook…)
Apply tax optimizations, by optimizing for different tax regimes worldwide and also optimizing for tax deductions (like e.g. generate revenue on entities which have collected losses in the past)
Clearly the Fintech market for SMEs is in full evolution, but still quite immature. As a result dozens of offers exist, making it very difficult for SMEs (which was one of the reasons in the first place they work with Excel) to select the best and right offering(s) for their company. As such there is a big market for consultancy and other services firms, specialized in helping SMEs to improve their treasury management processes.
Article | August 12, 2021
Starting a small business is challenging due to tough economic times in this pandemic. However, this time is both a blessing and a test to conquer.
The world economy has suffered significantly because of COVID-19. Additionally, the tough times exposed company owners to unforeseen and unfathomable difficulties and compelled them to devise novel business methods. As a result, starting a firm became more accessible, as new owners could enter the market with specific recession-savvy equipment and techniques.
Crucial obstacles to beginning a new small business during challenging economic times include:
A sluggish economic recovery.
Uncertain consumer spending.
Funding was becoming scarce due to tight credit markets.
According to The Wall Street Journal, numerous major financial institutions, including Bank of America, Chase, and Capital One, have tightened lending rules in response to the uncertain financial environment.
Despite the challenges mentioned earlier, a new small business can succeed with proper preparation and business strategy.
According to New Business Statistics, applications fell to slightly more than 1.1 million in the 4th quarter of 2020 before increasing to 1.37 million in the first quarter of 2021. Then the figure increased to 1.44million in the second quarter. More than 448,000 new company applications were lodged in June 2021 alone. Mentioned statistics show that launching a small business during this economic downturn is also possible, albeit with some caution.
This article will put forward a few tips to be considered when going for a new small business in tough economic times.
Create A Well-Researched Business Plan
2020 was one of the challenging economic times in history. The success of every firm is contingent upon its business plan; small business owners must have a well-researched business plan. Therefore, small business survival is heavily reliant on a sound and well-planned business strategy.
Since tough economic times have altered market demands significantly, you should build your company plan accordingly. Work on many business factors such as marketing costs and tactics, budget planning, pricing strategy, sales strategy, personnel capacity, and needed infrastructure, among others.
Difficult economic times may work to your advantage as well since fewer competitors mean less competition and lower overhead expenses.
Consider all the obstacles associated with the pandemic's time and tailor your business plan accordingly. If you intend to pitch your firm to investors, your business plan does not have to be complex.
Securitize Capital for Investment
The economy received a significant blow due to COVID-19, and many financial lenders tightened their lending requirements by demanding a higher credit score and income verification.
Numerous financing alternatives exist, including personal savings, personal or small business credit cards, bank loans, venture capital, crowdsourcing, and angel investors. Before considering pursuing any of the mentioned options, consider having your business plan examined by expert advisers, close friends, or a loan officer.
With a well-planned company strategy, it is feasible to securitize funds for investment. However, before getting funding, ensure that you have a financial backup plan in place for both your business and personal affairs. Then, budget carefully to ensure that you can afford the other critical payments.
Credit cards are the most often used form of financing amid tough economic times.
Enlightened Market Savvy
Evaluate your redesigned company plan and develop game-changing new marketing components that include innovation. By narrowing your focus, you increase your chances of success.
Keep a careful watch on your competitors to develop an intelligent marketing and promotion strategy and budget for marketing. Competitive assessments educate you about your competitors' strategies and advertising tactics. In addition, competitive analyses can provide you with the vision necessary to develop polished and intelligent marketing strategies.
You need to make a list of what you're giving. For example, what is the nature of your product/service? Who is your target audience for your business? Which social media platform would you utilize to promote your business?
By segmenting your clients, you may increase the effectiveness of your marketing. For instance, if your firm sells sports items, you should target young clients interested in pursuing a career in sports. This will ensure that your marketing approach is highly effective.
Utilize Cutting-Edge Technologies
Cutting-edge technology in businesses is the newest trend in reaching out to customers in a tough economic time. By leveraging contemporary technology, you may automate several areas of corporate operations, resulting in cost savings.
Utilize cutting-edge digital technologies such as cloud-based apps and software to streamline company processes while being cost-effective.
Online marketing, namely online advertising, may help you reach out to the relevant audience and offer your products and services.
Several advantages of contemporary technology include the following:
Increased brand visibility.
Additional payment options.
Easy remote operation.
More in-depth market research.
Act with Consummate Customer Service
When you give outstanding customer service, you may build stronger customer relationships. Conversely, as is frequently stated, one negative review from a client may jeopardize your entire existing customer.
It is critical to provide timely and pleasant service to your consumers, especially in tough economic times. Excellent client relationships do not arise by accident; they require much effort.
You can give excellent customer service and keep your clients satisfied by following the below tips:
Make your consumers feel valued for their patronage.
Anticipate and resolve client issues before they become a significant issue for your organization.
Attend to their inquiries and respond. They are deserving of being heard and appreciated.
Provide an excellent support network and a diverse array of client resources.
Anticipate what services the consumer will require in advance.
Develop A Robust Networking Infrastructure
Networking is pivotal for reaching out to consumers during tough economic times to start a small business. Connect with other entrepreneurs, meet your competitors, visit your suppliers, and keep a contact list of everyone you know.
Expanding your network enables you to establish relationships with people; in exchange, they may suggest clients to you and vice versa, thus assisting in the growth of your organization.
You can join a local business networking organization, attend business seminars, or become a member of professional associations. Exchange business cards, exchange information about your product/service supplied and seek out their experience or perspectives, which they will share with other small business owners, assisting you in expanding your network.
Often, the small business owner's networking activities provide the most extensive returns in their firms.
How can you start a small business with tough times?
You may establish a small business during difficult economic times and succeed. The key to success is building a well-researched and solid business plan, getting adequate finance, designing an intelligent marketing strategy, and cultivating vital networking.
How do you deal with tough economic times?
While difficult economic circumstances can make any company owner anxious about making choices, it is critical to be mindful of the economy and cautious with long-term planning. Concentrate on rivals' methods and entice clients away from them. Try to learn from their successes and mistakes and provide your consumers with something more or different from what your competitors provide.
How can small businesses engage customers in tough economic times?
Provide your consumers with unique discounts on your products/services. Respond quickly to their questions or concerns, establish a customer loyalty program, and engage them on social media.
"name": "How can you start a small business with tough times?",
"text": "You may establish a small business during difficult economic times and succeed. The key to success is building a well-researched and solid business plan, getting adequate finance, designing an intelligent marketing strategy, and cultivating vital networking."
"name": "How do you deal with tough economic times?",
"text": "While difficult economic circumstances can make any company owner anxious about making choices, it is critical to be mindful of the economy and cautious with long-term planning. Concentrate on rivals' methods and entice clients away from them. Try to learn from their successes and mistakes and provide your consumers with something more or different from what your competitors provide."
"name": "How can small businesses engage customers in tough economic times?",
"text": "Provide your consumers with unique discounts on your products/services. Respond quickly to their questions or concerns, establish a customer loyalty program, and engage them on social media."