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There’s nothing like a crisis to teach an entrepreneur a hard lesson — the most recent example being the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, an event that taught companies like Roku exactly why it’s a bad idea to leave $487 million sitting in your bank account.
Hindsight is 20/20, and a good crisis is virtually impossible to predict, but the SVB collapse is a good example of why entrepreneurs must stay focused on business health fundamentals. The pinnacle of success for the tenacious and hardworking, a healthy small business is one that actively manages its finances, has access to credit and optimizes financial performance.
Keep these indicators in good shape, and a business is more likely to overcome challenges like a bank failure and keep growing without missing a beat.
A business requires a fitness regimen just like humans; in this case, it’s financial fitness businesses need to be focused on. And the first step in managing financial fitness is to measure it. Based on key indicators identified through decades of research from leading financial institutions, researchers, and small business data, the Business Health Score provides a window into a business’s current health and identifies areas for potential improvement. The goal is to offer entrepreneurs everywhere a free snapshot of where they are today and how far they can go if they take the right steps.
Related: A Guide to the Top Three Financial Reports for Small Businesses
Once you’ve measured your business health, dive into these three high-impact areas every owner can focus on to boost their score.
1. Create transparent financial workflows — and stick to them!
Where is your money going? How much cash are you leaving on the table? What kinds of risks can you afford to take? Financially fit businesses know the answers to questions like these, and they can act on that information with confidence.
Creating a durable, transparent financial workflow ensures you have this information at your fingertips. Here are some items to take into consideration:
- Separate your personal and business accounts. Mingling business dollars in your personal accounts creates confusion and introduces risk. A clear separation keeps things simple. Just keep your account balance below the $250,000 FDIC insurance cap!
- Draft (and regularly update) your financial statements. It’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day and neglect your bookkeeping duties, but solid financial statements can open doors to funding opportunities, awards and recognitions, and a business strategy designed for growth. Hello Alice offers a free Create Financial Statements program that provides step-by-step instructions on how to get your essentials in order.
- Use software that keeps you accountable. Not everyone has the time or perspective to stay on top of their finances, and that’s OK! QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xendoo and Bench, are all excellent platforms to keep you on track. Many of these options offer live support and on-demand advisers to help you lock in your financial best practices.
2. Monitor and improve your credit scores
A healthy business needs flexible and scalable sources of capital to grow, and for small businesses, that typically means relying on some combination of personal and business credit scores.
Maximizing your credit scores starts with knowing where you stand. Experian, Credit Sesame and Credit Karma are all excellent tools to monitor your personal credit score. Whether the scores are good, bad or ugly, it’s in your best interest to get them as high as possible. To do that, I recommend that you:
- Learn credit-boosting tactics and behaviors: Credit scores are ultimately a record of good spending habits and financial hygiene. Hello Alice has free guides on boosting your business and personal credit. NerdWallet, Funding Circle and the Federal Reserve also have great tips on how to get your scores up with good habits.
- Use credit responsibly. Getting a business credit card to cover everyday expenses is a good way to build a credit history and rack up valuable rewards. If your credit score is too low to qualify for traditional unsecured cards, secured business credit cards from Bank of America or Hello Alice are useful tools to build credit with on-time payments.
Related: How to Choose a Credit Card for Your Startup
3. Optimize your sales and marketing
When it comes to improving your company’s financial performance, you want to see good margins and predictable, recurring revenue. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get there. You don’t necessarily have to introduce new products or services, either. Instead, focus on maximizing your profit margins and sales volume with two strategies:
- Rethink your revenue strategy: Should you adjust your prices? Is it time to consider options like bundles or subscription packages? Hello Alice developed a free program to help you upgrade your revenue strategy in five steps. Check out the SBA’s Learning Center for another set of excellent digital guides.
- Double down on marketing: Finding that marketing sweet spot boosts sales and builds a pipeline of repeat customers you can begin to plan around.
Building a healthy business isn’t that different from taking care of your personal health. Practicing good habits can potentially yield huge results in both the medium and long term. Make the time to focus on financial management fundamentals and watch your small business thrive!
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