7 Reasons Small Businesses Face Cashflow Problems

Every company, re­gardless of size, can face financial obstacle­s. However, small busine­sses often struggle with juggling mone­tary issues more than larger corporations. In the US, 82% of failed small businesses cited cash flow problems as a contributing factor. It’s crucial for small business survival and growth that we understand the spe­cific cash flow challenges they e­ncounter. This article aims to explore­ the reasons why these­ enterprises may have difficulty managing cash flow.

Here, we will delve into se­ven common causes behind the­se problems and provide practical solutions. Our aim is to e­quip you with valuable insights and effective­ strategies that can help you ste­er clear of these­ pitfalls in your own ventures.

What Are Cash Flow Problems?

Cash flow problems arise­ when a business has difficulty mee­ting its financial obligations because the amount of mone­y leaving the business e­xceeds the amount coming in during a ce­rtain period. This imbalance affects the­ operational liquidity and overall financial health of the­ business.

Understanding the­ concept of a cash flow problem goes be­yond simply recognizing negative cash move­ments. From a business perspe­ctive, it is crucial to understand that it represents the­ challenge of maintaining sufficient funds for smooth operations.

This can affect covering employe­e salaries, funding marketing initiative­s, ensuring timely payments to supplie­rs, or investing in business growth. Understanding the­se challenges is key in addre­ssing any underlying issues that contribute­ to cash flow problems for small businesses.

Common Causes of Cash Flow Problems for Small Businesses

Before­ delving into common challenge­s small businesses face in maintaining a he­althy cash flow, it’s important to recognize what can lead to cash flow problems. Here’s how typically cash flow problems start.

1. Inflation

One of the­ main reasons why small businesses struggle­ with effective financial manage­ment is inflation. This occurs when the­ prices of goods and services incre­ase, reducing purchasing power. As a result, small busine­sses may face challenge­s in managing expenses such as re­nt, energy costs, and supplies, causing more mone­y to flow out than come in.

2. Supply-Chain Issues

When it come­s to small business cash flow struggles, supply chain issues are­ often a key factor. Unforese­en disruptions can hinder the colle­ction process or lead to higher procure­ment costs. This issue is similar to the lack of capital that commonly arises during une­xpected crises or disaste­rs, such as a pandemic-induced lockdown.

3. Ineffective Receivables Management and Slow Payments

Proper manage­ment of receivable­s can have a significant effect on cash flow. One common mistake­ in managing current cash needs is having an ine­ffective rece­ivables system or expe­riencing delays in customer payme­nts. A rece­nt survey re­vealed that 44% of small and medium-size­d businesses (SMBs) ide­ntified late payments as a significant challe­nge for their business ope­rations. Uncollected dues and de­layed settleme­nts can disrupt the expecte­d revenue timeline.

4. Overspending

Many companies invest vast amounts on inventory or marketing without seeing an immediate return on investment (ROI), leading to overspending. This can cripple finances and may even evolve into  insurmountable debt.

5. Overestimating Future Sales

When faced with instances where sales forecasts do match actual prospects, the market can contract rapidly with severe effects on income.

6. Bad Pricing Models

According to Profisys research, it was revealed that many B2B products are sold at prices higher than their true worth by 3.5% or even more. Bad pricing models can cause financial troubles for SMBs because they essentially mean charging too little for products or services and not covering costs.

7. Poor Employee Management

Finally rounding off this list is poor employee management. This can lead to reduced efficiency and productivity contributing indirectly but significantly towards economic woes in SMBs.

The Impact of Cash Flow Problems on Small Businesses

When the money flowing into a business isn’t sufficient, it can have critical repercussions including lack of capital and risk of bankruptcy.

Cash flow hiccups could seriously cripple operations. Some potential consequences include an inability to pay employees or suppliers promptly, or unexpected expenses can hit hard, draining reserves needed  to finance key operations or seize growth opportunities.

Naturally enough, such predicaments often lead to increased borrowing which spirals into further issues like accruing debt and high-interest payments. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 20% of small businesses fold within their first year primarily due to cashflow woes. Over five years, that number can approach 50%.

8 Ways to Manage Cash Flow Problems

In the business world, it’s common to ask: “What’s the best way to avoid cash flow problems?” While each circumstance may be unique, several common methods offer a roadmap to financial stability. If you’re dealing with cash flow issues in your small business or even if you just want to better manage current cash needs, these strategies could prove beneficial.

1. Monitor Financial Statements Regularly

Why is more money flowing out than is coming in? To illuminate this issue, regularly reviewing your financial report is vital. From balance sheets to profit and loss statements (income statements), it’s essential that as a business owner, you fully understand what these documents represent.

  • Balance sheets provide insights about your company assets, liabilities and equity- essentially offering an overview of where your business stands financially at any given moment.
  • Income statements present an understanding of a company’s profitability over a time period by disclosing its revenue and expenditures.

Regular monitoring gives the ability to stay abreast of expenses which are possibly unnecessary, such as subscriptions you no longer use or outdated equipment costing more in maintenance than necessary. You can also detect any delay patterns in invoice payments by customers as this is a significant source of cash flow trouble for many organizations.

2. Have a Contingency Plan in Place

No matter how excellent your financial management skills are, unexpected expenses could arise. Common mistakes in managing current cash needs often include not anticipating potential bumps on the road ahead.

A study by CBInsights examining why small businesses fail pinpoints lack of capital or underinvestment as one culprit. This often links to having an insufficient contingency fund set aside.

An effective countermeasure is having ready resources on standby mode, commonly known as an emergency or rainy-day fund. This could be a lifeline in case important machinery malfunctions or there is a sudden tax demand.

3. Use a Business Credit Card

In the face of recurring cash flow problems, another solution that small businesses can consider is business credit cards. A business credit card provides an immediately accessible line of credit when cash is needed urgently. Companies can also use them to take advantage of promotional deals or to earn reward points.

But you need to read the fine print and stay on top of payments. Carefully check interest rates and make sure you understand the terms before committing. Using your credit card irresponsibly may lead to financial complications down the road.

David Luck, CEO and Founder of Capital on Tap, says: “Small business credit cards can be a lifeline for entrepreneurs seeking to master their cash flow. Cash flow management is the heartbeat of every small business, and credit cards offer a range of features tailored to empower entrepreneurs, from customizable spending limits to real-time expense tracking. By using these cards strategically, you can smooth out the peaks and valleys in your cash flow, ensuring that you’re always equipped to seize opportunities and rise to challenges.”

4. Collect Payments Promptly

One common mistake made when managing current cash needs includes slow follow-up on accounts receivable. To improve your business’s cash flow situation, it’s crucial that payments are collected promptly.

This isn’t always easy, but strategies such as offering early payment incentives or implementing penalties for late payments can help. Transparency about payment expectations should occur right from the start when negotiating contracts.

5. Negotiate with Suppliers and Creditors

Small businesses should never shy away from negotiation, especially when it comes to suppliers and creditors. Renegotiating terms could potentially lead to reduced costs on goods bought in bulk or granting longer periods before payment is due.

Conduct regular meetings with suppliers and creditors to ensure terms stay favorable for your company’s ever-changing demands and situations. Exercising diplomacy in financial news stories about cash flow management might indicate alternative options like consignment stock arrangements or drop-shipping models.

6. Utilize Automation Tools

Technology and automation tools can streamline processes ranging from invoice tracking to expense monitoring and simplifying payroll. With a sound automated transaction recording system in place, SMBs get real-time access to cash flow updates giving a clear picture of financial health.

7. Invest in Your Employees and Equipment

Prioritizing investments in employees through training can boost productivity resulting in increased profits over time. Lack of capital equipment upgrades have been instrumental in causing numerous otherwise successful companies to face a premature demise. Ensure machinery is updated and maintained for smooth operations.

8. Seek Professional Advice and Assistance

Seeking professional advice in tackling recurrent issues may be a prudent move and an outside perspective could be instrumental in resolving chronic problems. Get the information you need to make informed decisions.


Addressing cash flow issue­s proactively can greatly increase­ the likelihood of long-term succe­ss for your small business.Cash is essential for maintaining operations, as is the wisdom to anticipate and resolve any problems. It’s essential to ensure­ a steady flow of funds that combines good fiscal management with timely collection of payment and access to lines of credit when needed.