Ask new small business owners in Canada what their biggest worry is, and half will tell you it’s cash flow unpredictability, the most recent American Express Small Business Monitor found.
Cash flow is particularly challenging for new business owners, largely because they can’t always get access to conventional credit and financing, says Paul Roman, vice-president, small business services for American Express Canada. “At the same time, they really need both longer- and shorter-term financing options to stay ahead.”
Roman offers the following advice to help startups keep the cash flowing:
Be prepared for unforeseen expenses. An equipment repair or unexpected large contract could put a big strain on cash flow. Make sure you have sources of flexible capital to address whatever might come up.
Monitor your cash. “It’s easy to think about driving top line results or pricing, but business owners often don’t draw the parallels to cash in a formal way,” Roman says.
Work on building relationships with suppliers and customers over payment terms. See if you can find ways to leverage payable or receivable cycles to your advantage.
Understand the financial tools you have. Whether you have a line of credit, cash savings or credit cards, you need to understand the annual percentage rates, flexibility and scalability of that tool.
Link cash flow back to revenue and expense forecasting. “People do one or the other well. But it’s the ability to link them together that’s important,” Roman says. “If you’re generating 16 per cent revenue growth for example, you should be matching that with expense forecasting and the impact on cash flow.”
Who’s using online lending might surprise you
You might think millennials would be the first to jump on the online lending bandwagon. But research from Capify, a New York-based online lending service focused on small to mid-sized businesses says otherwise.
“When we looked at our data from all industries and geographies in Canada, it’s clear that demographics are driving alternative lending choices,” David Frankel, chief marketing officer. “Most would think that millennials would be the quickest adopters, because studies have shown they don’t trust banks and want flexibility. But the reality is 65 per cent of our business in Canada is from Gen X business owners in the 35 to 55 age bracket.”
Once you get outside of major urban centres a curious thing happens however. “Then it’s the baby boomers that are driving online lending at a rate of three to one compared to millennials,” Frankel reports.
While it may seem counter-intuitive it actually makes sense. “What we see in the U.S. and Canada is that at banks they’re used to dealing with they simply aren’t able to access capital.”
Yellow Pages putting Apple on the map
Yellow Pages has made it possible for Canadian local business information to be syndicated to Apple Maps through its YP.ca digital platform, which it now provides to Apple. The data available will include business addresses, geo-coordinates, phone number category, websites, URL, hours of operation, photos, rating and reviews.
Bringing YP.ca local business listings to Apple Maps will increase visibility, traffic and leads, said Matthieu Houle, vice-president, digital media for Yellow Pages. “Our business listings content is now available to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch and Mac users, allowing them to search, find, contact and navigate to more than a million business locations in Canada using Apple Maps.
Mercedes-Benz Start Up names Awarded Designer for 2015
Some of Canada’s most fashion forward entrepreneurs had their night in the spotlight at the World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto. Following a special runway event, UNTTLD was named the Awarded Designer by Mercedes-Benz Start Up (MBSU). UNTTLD – a collaborative team of Montreal designers José Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger – competed with five other finalists including: Leinad Beaudet, Narces, Laura Siegel, Beaufille and S.P.Badu.
Now in its fifth year, MBSU is a Canadian program for emerging fashion designers, managed by IMG. Judges travel to three selected cities to scout out next generation Canadian talent. This year’s competitors were from Calgary, Montreal and Richmond Hill. From August to October, qualified candidates get access to fashion business experts so they can learn about the industry and elevate their profiles in the industry.
The Awarded Designer receives a year-round intensive mentoring, an editorial feature in FASHION Magazine, a fully produced solo runway show at World MasterCard Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016, and a $30,000 bursary.
In order to qualify candidates must be in business less than five years, have a business license and be selling either online or through retail outlets. “Since starting the growth in applicants has been exponential,” says Joanne Caza, director communications and PR for Mercedez-Benz Canada in Toronto.
It’s not just about making a bold fashion statement, she adds. “Applicants have to submit a business and marketing plan as well. We also have some great mentors like Olga Koel, vice president of merchandising for Danier to help entrepreneurs in fashion understand the hard questions and figure out the right answers.”