If you are a small business owner, you will be well aware what I mean by the term “The Cashflow Rollercoaster”.
One month you’re on a high, business is good, the orders are flooding in and the money is great. But without warning, everything starts to slow down or even stop and you’re back to pinching the pennies.
Any small business can fall foul of the highs and lows of fluctuating cashflow, but it can come as a massive surprise.
I believe that I have found a way to tackle the dreaded cashflow issue.
I started my first business way back in 1995. I had just completed my training as a complementary therapist and decided that the best thing to do was to become self-employed, treating clients either at home or in a room I rented in a therapy centre.
I was so happy when my diary was full with clients, each paying on average £25 each. I was able to pay my bills on time while contributing to the family finances, and this was in the days before I had kids so my outgoings were pretty low.
What I was ill-prepared for was the weeks when clients cancelled, and they often seemed to cancel all in one go! I had to take a holiday occasionally but where was the money coming from when I was sitting on a beach or maybe even lying in bed sick?
In 1996 I became pregnant with my first child. In order to keep the money coming in, I worked almost to the point of giving birth and returned to work part time within two weeks after he arrived. It had been my dream to work for myself but now I found myself missing out on my son’s development and working myself into the ground in order to contribute to the bills.
When my son was around 6 months old, I was offered a very part time job. For one evening a week, I taught Aromatherapy to a group of mature students. My husband was able to look after our son while I went out every Thursday from 6pm-9pm and taught them very basic skills. Despite being nervous and not entirely sure what I was doing, I enjoyed it and was delighted with the regular money, no matter how small.
This got me thinking. I knew I wanted another child but couldn’t stand the thought of having to work so hard just before and after the birth, so I used the teaching skills I was developing and applied for a job as a lecturer at a local college. I got the job, and felt confident that I could work part time whilst continuing with my self-employed work.
After several months, my self-employed work took a backseat and I eventually gave that up, focusing instead on earning a reasonable, regular wage at the college.
Five years after the birth of my first son, I had my second child. This time it was totally different. I gave up work 8 weeks before the birth and took almost a year off with pay!
There was also a nursery at the college, so once I went back to work, I could drop him off at the nursery knowing that I was just a short walk away if I was needed.
But it didn’t take long for thoughts to turn back to my old life as a self-employed person. My hours were no longer flexible, I couldn’t work on my terms or take holidays when I wanted. I hated having to ask permission and explain myself to take time off, even for hospital appointments.
I could hear my old self-employed life beckoning me, and it was after my third son was born I decided to take the plunge and go back to being my own boss.
This time I went into business with my cousin, and we launched a small home bakery. But very soon I found I was at the mercy of the cashflow rollercoaster. Determined not to be outdone, I began to look at different ways to bring in a variety of income streams, with the idea that if we weren’t baking cakes we could still be earning money.
I set the ball rolling by joining a national networking site. We bought a license and launched our own local group. This helped to promote our business plus we receive a revenue from the monthly meetings.
We’re currently working with a business owner magazine who approached as they were looking for a small, home based bakery to create a resource that other budding bakers could tap into.
Speaking with the members of our networking group, I realised that many, if not all of them, were struggling with online marketing. I then had the idea to launch my own online marketing support page on Facebook. I also support this with an Earn and Learn Marketing programme of which I am an affiliate.
Since launching my first business almost 20 years ago, I have learnt that it is a variety of residual income streams that can provide the income needed to keep your original business ticking over.
So many small business owners fail because they just cannot ride the Cashflow Rollercoaster, but there is a way around it. Yes, it requires some work up front, but after that you can sit back to a certain extent and watch the money flow towards you!
With all this knowledge behind me, I feel more equipped to deal with any financial shortfalls faced by my business, and that lack of income shouldn’t stop me from doing what I love.