Tag Archives: Money

5 Common small business money mistakes

Of all the roles, a small business owner takes on, often the most challenging is managing the business’s finances. You can improve your chances for success – and your profitability – by being aware of and steering clear of these common small business money mistakes. 

  1. Insufficient Cash

Insufficient cash is one of the leading causes of business failure. Startups often overestimate how quickly they’ll start making money, and underestimate all the expenses they’ll incur. But startups aren’t the only businesses prone to failure due to insufficient cash. Once you have a steady flow of business you can run into cash problems in a couple of ways. One is a failure to realize the difference between cash flow and sales. You can have plenty of sales on record, but unless you get paid in advance for those sales, you’ll have expenses to pay before you collect from your customers.

  1. Waiting Too Long to Seek Credit

The worst time to look for a business loan or line of credit is when you most need it. If your business is paying its bills late and is on the brink of failing, finding funding will be difficult or impossible. The time to seek funding is when your business looks solid enough to convince a lender you will be able to repay what you borrow.  

  1. Mixing Business and Personal Funds

Whether you are starting a new business, or you’re running an established business, mixing personal and business funds is a recipe for disaster. Assuming you are the sole owner and you buy business supplies with your personal credit card or use a business check to pay for a personal purchase, you’re going to have difficulty keeping track of how much money the business is actually making or losing throughout the year.

If there are times when you have to use personal funds for your business – or vice versa – the correct way to handle the situation is to make a formal transaction and document it. If you have business partners, get them to sign off on the transaction, too.

  1. Not Staying on Top of Record keeping

As a business owner, your focus is usually on winning business and making sure the customers get it in a timely fashion. Along the way there are so many things to do that it’s easy to let recordkeeping fall by the wayside. Receipts for inventory or other purchases get shoved in a folder, envelope, drawer, or the proverbial shoebox, until such time as you “get around” to recording them. Invoices for items you’ve purchased on credit maybe wind up in your inbox – with dozens of other pieces of paper.

Records for business travel may wind up on the back of a receipt or napkin, or stuck in a note on your smart phone. Receipts from people who still pay you wind up in the same folder or drawer, and credit card payments show up in your bank account based on the credit card used to make the purchase, with no convenient way of matching any one day’s credit card receipts to specific purchases made. 

  1. Under Pricing

Determining the right price to charge for products or services is seldom an easy decision. Charge too much, and you could lose sales to a competitor. Charge too little, and you won’t make much profit – or worse, you’ll lose money.

Small businesses – particularly those just starting out – often charge too little. Sometimes they rationalise that the low price is a way of “getting their foot in the door.” Sometimes the price is low because a new business owner isn’t taking into account the cost of his or her own labour, or hasn’t accurately determined all of the costs that have to be considered in setting prices. If you’re just starting out, remember to account for all your costs in figuring out what to charge, and check to see what competitors are charging for what you sell.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

References:

Attard, Janet. “5 Common Small Business Money Mistakes”. Business Know-How. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 June 2017.

12 Tips to be Financially Fit

Enough talk of financial doom and gloom. Try these 12 practical ideas to take your money status from out of shape to financially fit.

1. Prioritise your financial needs

Without a sense of priorities, you’ll have limited success in planning your budget. Decide what you most critically need to spend your money on, and develop a realistic spending and savings plan. If your children’s education is a key concern, then list it as a priority area and move that flatscreen TV down the list.

2. Call in the experts

A meeting with a financial planner is the first step on the road to financial independence; what follows is entirely up to you. A good qualified planner will take a holistic view of your financial situation and will suggest a plan to help you reach your goals by considering your risk profile, life stage, financial position and time available to reach those goals.

3. Clear and avoid unnecessary debt

Financially stretched or not, the last thing you need is excessive debt. This can be defined as debt that you have incurred to buy things that you don’t really need. Through careful planning with your financial planner, try to pay of all your expensive debt such as your credit card or personal loans. Anything bought on credit ends up costing you a lot more than the original price, so save up to buy something rather than paying it of – and save on interest!

4. No credit cards

With no monthly credit card payments, you will be able to purchase more things in cash, and you can avoid credit purchases and the interest payable that comes with credit. To remove the temptation of clocking up credit card debt again, leave your card at home or commit to only using it for emergencies.

5. Plan for your old age

You are not able to generate an income forever, so make sure your financial plan makes full provision for your retirement. Your planner can suggest retirement savings options that can accommodate your budget and financial goals. Ask your financial planner about the tax benefits of taking out a retirement annuity (RA).

6. Protect your income

Just as you should insure your prized possessions, such as your car or house, it is important to protect your greatest asset, your ability to earn income. This asset can disappear in a flash, for instance if you are disabled in an accident or if you lose the ability to work due to serious illness. Most people think it won’t happen to them, but it really isn’t worth taking that chance. A range of income protector plans or disability cover options are available from financial services providers to safeguard yourself if you are no longer able to work.

7. Quit pricy bad habits

Smoking doesn’t just spell bad news for your health. It’s also bad news for your pocket. Depending on how much you smoke, quitting the habit can save you about R600 per month (or R7 200 a year). Also, a non-smoker generally pays lower life insurance premiums and is healthier, which means fewer visits to the doctor and saving on medication costs.

8. The s-word…

If you want to achieve your financial goals and live your dreams, you simply have to start saving. If your employer offers you an annual increase, allocate a portion of it to savings before you get used to having the extra money in your pocket. Better yet, set up a monthly savings account debit order on the day you get paid! That way you won’t miss the extra money, as it will feel like you never really had it to begin with. You might think you can’t afford to save, but you will be surprised how you can make it work if saving is your priority.

9. Work on your spending habits

It’s easy to spend our hard-earned salary on less important expenses – money that could be used to achieve a particular goal, or for emergency savings. Because it’s so easy to “swipe the plastic”, leave your credit cards at home and try to only bring them out in emergencies. Watch out for cash leakage. If cash in your purse disappears – leaving you with nothing to show for it – take note of what you spent it on.

10. Plan your spending

Plan purchases. Only buy what you planned to buy. Make a shopping list and stick to it so you don’t overspend. When buying big, expensive items, do an online search for price comparisons. Always ask yourself: Do I really need this? If the answer is no, then put the item back and walk away.

11. Make sure you have a Will

Everyone should have a Will. Not only does will it indicate the beneficiaries of your estate when you die, it also helps to ensure that your last wishes are known and understood. For example, you may have very specific instructions on who should take care of your minor children should you die unexpectedly. Having a Will means that your family and friends will be comforted during a very difficult time in the knowledge that your last wishes were clearly communicated.

12. Plan for the longer term

Once you’ve put everything into place, set your vision on the longer term. It’s well and fine to plan one year in advance, but to really achieve your goals, you need to think further ahead.

By Karin Muller, Head of Growth Market Solutions at Sanlam

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Women have the right sentiment for investing

Woman_bSome recent studies seem to suggest that woman have the right skills and attitude to be great in taking on matters regarding their financial planning and investments. However, other studies seem to suggest that they lack the requisite confidence to do so. The evidence seems to suggest that woman should take the lead within their families in this department.

According to a report released recently by SigFig, a US based company assisting direct investors with their portfolios, female investors enjoyed returns of 12% higher than their male counterparts over the year the report covers. Assuming this performance trend continued over a thirty-year period, a woman with R100 000 (we’ll use rands, even though the report uses dollars) invested would earn R58 000 more than a man. Men were also revealed to be 25% more likely to lose money in the market than women. Why is that?

It would seem that men ‘churn’ (sell off and buy something else) their portfolios 50% more often than women. Churning is particularly detrimental to investment returns. For example, in 2014 frequent traders (or investors with an annual investment portfolio turnover of 100% and above) experienced average net returns of only 0.1% compared to the 4.7% enjoyed by other investors.

Overconfidence and cautiousness?

A likely reason behind the lower returns earned by men and their tendency to churn their portfolios is overconfidence. According to the study, men are typically one and a half times more confident than women that they will better the market in 2015.

All things considered, the proverbial playing field evens out later on in life. This is evident in how a typical 25-year-old woman invests in a similar way to a typical 35-year-old man, while a 55-year-old man invests in a similar way to your average 65-year-old woman.

Despite being more successful investors than men on aggregate, women tend to be less empowered when it comes to their finances. A Fidelity Investments Money Fit Woman Study indicates that 8 in 10 women refrain from discussing finances with people they are close to. Interestingly, while 82% of women feel confident when it comes to managing a monthly budget, this is not the case when it comes to long-term financial planning. So whereas women are confident they can balance a checkbook or manage the family budget without help, they are less confident regarding planning for their financial needs during retirement or selecting the right financial investments.

Indeed, a lack of confidence is a leading cause of financial illiteracy among women, despite it being a top concern of theirs. For example, while 77% of women cited feeling comfortable talking to a doctor on their own about medical issues, just 47% said they would talk with a financial professional on their own. However, 70% of women currently not working with a financial professional would be motivated to do so in the future.

Money and marriage?

All too often, one spouse will take care of the finances. And all too often, it is men who take the proverbial wheel in steering the course of their family’s financial future. According to Fidelity’s study, just 41% of partners make joint retirement investment decisions and only 17% of the respondents were “completely confident” that their spouse was able to take responsibility for the family’s retirement finances.

Couples should really decide together on their family’s needs and goals in both the short and long term. Together they need to agree on and take ownership of their financial plan if, ultimately, it is to work for them both. Eventually, when you are forced to live with the consequences of all the small financial decisions you made earlier on in life, this can lead to regret.

Women need to take advantage of their inherently more astute investment instincts and ensure that they are fully informed regarding their financial affairs, so as to take control of their tomorrow. It is only when you know what your tomorrow holds that you can truly welcome it.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)