The Cash Management Project

cash flow cash management Jun 27, 2020

In the fall of 2018, I was working for an NGO that provided education loans to people around the world and I traveled regularly to Europe, Africa, and South America to meet with people who benefited from these loans.  It was hugely rewarding emotionally; I was doing good in the world.

At the same time, I needed more. More of a challenge. More of something that I could call my own. Something I could do part time to meet my creative needs.

I wasn’t sure what to do, so I spoke with my wife and most trusted advisor, Lisa. We brainstormed options for a few weeks.

A Niche to Call My Own

As Lisa and I talked, we discussed the consulting work I’ve done. I’m good at it and it pays well, so why wasn’t that the solution? There were two issues:

  1. Finding a niche in the market with significant need
  2. Creating a scalable business model

It has been challenging articulating what I do when I consult because what I do was different for each client. My consulting approach has historically been: What’s your problem? If I can help you fix it, I will. If not, I’ll let you know that I can’t and refer you to someone who might be able to help.

The benefit of this approach is I’ve been able to help many dozen businesses, each with different products and services and business models.

Being limited by time, I could only help a few companies at once, but I wanted to help dozens, hundreds, and even thousands! As many as I could.

While I was thinking about my clients and how I could help more people, I was also thinking about a niche. With a niche, I could focus and better serve people by bringing a lot of value about a specific topic.

So, I asked myself “What do my clients have in common?” I realized that:

  • All my clients used QuickBooks and I
    • Cleaned up the books for almost all of them.
    • Fixed errors and made sure they were caught up
    • Changed the chart of accounts to clearly tell the story of their business
  • As the books were cleaned up, I was able to see the problems they described to me
    • Huge and aging inventories
    • Accounts way past due
    • Declining profit margins
  • My clients all had cash related problems, but no one managed their cash
    • A retailer was literally going broke while sitting on a pile of assets
    • A manufacturer who couldn’t make enough of the key product had declining margins
    • A service provider needed 60-90 days of capital for every sale he made
  • Every client I worked with to implement a cash management system designed specifically for their business was able to improve key parts of their business
    • Products were better defined, and the pricing structure improved
    • Demand generation systems put in place
    • Excess cash put to work to increase profits

What I finally realized was that I did have a niche: Cash Management.

It spanned across the different departments of a business – sales, marketing, finance, and operations. The cash management work that I did came down to a few key things. I helped businesses:

  • Identify when their cash was coming in and how to bring it in faster
  • Understand when venders wanted to be paid and manage or adjust expectations
  • Look at how they sold and marketed products to optimize margins
  • Deal with inventory challenges related to their cash investment

I was thrilled! I could continue consulting but now with a niche, tell my story, and get a couple of clients.

101 Ways to Manage Your Cash without Finding New Clients or Firing Anyone

My brain started working on its own, churning up idea after idea of how to help businesses manage their cash.

“Cash management… there are so many parts to this topic.”

“Inventory management…. but that’s obvious. What about virtual inventory? Or consignment?”

“Who else is doing this? CPA’s…sometimes. But they are usually looking at historical data, not implementing changes to improve the business in the future.”

“How many ways can I think of to manage cash?”

And then it hit me.

I would create a list of 101 ways to help businesses manage their cash. I wasn’t sure that I could think of that many techniques that could really help, but I sat down and quickly thought of 40 or 50 solid ideas that each help a business manage cash. I set two rules for myself: No new clients and no firing anyone.

Why? Both rules are based on personal philosophy and experience of working with improving companies.

  • New clients are both the “easy answer”, and not always feasible. In fact, new clients can use more cash than they bring in during the startup phase. In some businesses growing sales of any type requires cash investments for any sale.
  • Firing people is perceived as the easy way to fix a cash crunch. If the business is declining, yes, headcount reductions can be in order. If someone is generally incompetent or doing something unethical or illegal, fire them. No questions asked.

But… the companies I worked with were stable or growing. They needed people to manage their cash and improve every area of the business. The cause of cash shortages was how they did their jobs. We found ways to put them to work to help the business manage the cash better and those changes paid for the employees to stay on and help the business grow.

That list is now up to 104 ways to help businesses manage their cash, and it’s still growing.

Cash Management – The Idea Grew, and Grew, and Grew…

I ran with the “101 Ways to Manage Your Cash” idea and started the list November 5, 2018.

I also talked to trusted advisers that I work with, to make sure that the idea made sense. The answers were “YES! Everyone needs this!”

As I was talking to people, a funny thing happened. The idea continued to grow, and grow, and grow.

  • Cash is worldwide. I’ve done business in 40+ countries. Is there a global need? Yes.
  • Implementing cash management techniques is one thing, but how do you get started? Basic education was needed.
  • How do I see the problems and find the solutions so quickly? I realized that I would need to show people how to think about cash and how to find problems.
  • Most business owners would need a mindshift in how they think of cash management. A shift from historical reporting and passively looking at cashflow to actively deciding what they want to happen with their cash and then making it happen.
  • What about the solopreneurs in the world? What about niches… manufacturing, real estate entrepreneurs, marketing agencies… each has specific needs

The Cash Management Project is Born

I realized that I was onto something. That cash management was much bigger than me. I decided that I needed to start a movement…

The Cash Management Project

The Cash Management Project started to germinate with great ideas from the wonderful people I know. Friends and associates from various countries wanted the materials translated and available in their countries. Bankers who told me almost every company they lend to needs this type of education. A community college asked me to do a presentation to business owners on the topic.

I don’t know where this project will go, but it’s needed around the globe.

I don’t know how big this project will get, but every business it helps in any way will be a win.

I don’t know who it will help, but it can help each person it touches.

I DO know why this project is needed: Because too many businesses are failing that could be saved by implementing basic cash management practices.

Let me share with you…

The Cash Management Project Mission is to…

Bring resources that help business owners worldwide manage their cash.

The Cash Management Project Vision is…

Business owners worldwide will have access to cash management resources

… delivered the way they want

… where they want

… when they want

… in a language they understand

… at a price they can afford

The Cash Management Project Goal is to…

Help 100 million businesses worldwide improve their cash management by 2030.

The Cash Management Project Cause

The Cash Management Project will support cash-challenged businesses globally.

The Cash Management Project Guiding Principles

Love people - they are key to everything we do

Practice what we teach

Use technology to expand our reach worldwide

Promote transparency, faith, and integrity

Help the world, one business at a time

The Cash Management Strategic Plan

Help business owners understand that cash management is a critical part of their company.

Identify cash management tactics that are easy to explain and can be used in a typical business.

Bring cash management products and services to businesses through multiple delivery systems.

Work with partners to significantly increase influence and reach.

Form a solid business base that starts with the United States and the English-speaking world.

Add additional languages and geographies as resources materialize, with products and services localized for content, delivery, and pricing.

Leverage technology to deliver knowledge and services, implementing for

  • Rapid growth
  • Multi-platform access
  • Global reach

Use key measurements and data to make decisions

 

How Do You Manage Your Cash?

So far, I’ve identified 104 ways to help businesses manage their cash.

I am sure that there are at least 105 ways, and probably a lot more!

  How do you effectively manage your cash? I’d love to hear your ideas and what is working for you.

Is there a topic you’d like to learn about? Contact me at [email protected] to introduce yourself, share ideas, or ask me questions about managing your business’ cash.

(Big picture question about the blog topic here.)

I’d love to hear any ideas you have.

(Ask 1 question such as: I’d love to hear any ideas you have on the subject. How do you put yourself in control of your cash when it comes in? What you do with it when you have it? How do you decide when it goes back out again?)

Is there a topic you’d like to learn about? Contact me at [email protected] to introduce yourself, share ideas, or ask me questions about managing your business’ cash.

David Safeer has helped businesses implement cash management systems that create business breakthroughs since 2002. He founded The Cash Management Project in November 2018, to help businesses manage and maximize their cash resources.  David writes, teaches, and works with diverse companies around the world.

Thinking globally, one business at a time.

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