Five Technologies That Will Increase Your Cash Flow This Year
(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
Want to get a business owner’s attention? Tell us how we can increase our cash flow. Yes, we have passion, commitment, love and belief in what we do. But in the end we’re doing what we do for cash. And anything that helps us increase our cash flow is something we want to know about. So here are five technologies you should know about if that’s what you’re interested in doing this year.
Activehours. Move your payroll from weekly to bi-weekly. Attract employees by telling them they can get paid immediately after a work day (but not by you). Hold on to your payroll cash for a little while longer while your employees are getting paid faster. This is what Activehours, which received more than $4 million in seed funding last year, does. Employees at more than 2,500 companies such as Lyft, Uber, Starbucks and Chipotle use Activehours to get cash advances on their payroll check days or weeks before you make payment. And best of all, the service is no-cost to the employer (employees are asked to voluntarily contribute “tips”). “We’re still a for-profit business,” the company’s founder Ram Palaniappan told me recently. “But for a fair amount of profit.” Only caution: There’s a “slew of criteria” before an employer can enroll, according to Forbes staff member Lauren Gensler in her write-up of the service last year.
KnowledgeSync. I’ve been a long-time fan of this alerting software because it’s generally product-agnostic and easy to use. Priced under $5,000, the software connects with most accounting and sales databases and sends you alerts by email, instant message or SMS so you don’t get blindsided by cash-flow pinches such as overdue receivables, shortages of inventory, quotes that aren’t followed up timely or orders that miss deadlines. KnowledgeSync can send you and your managers warning alerts before these things occur after you setup whatever criteria you want.
Adobe Document Cloud (formerly EchoSign). Why do so many real estate agents rely heavily on mobile document management/e-signature services like Adobe’s Document Cloud or its biggest competitorDocuSign? Because these services significantly speed up the sales process. Both are cloud based, easy to setup and priced competitively (individual plans for Adobe’s service start at $14.99 per month and DocuSign is $10 per month with a few less features). And both boost cash flow by ensuring that people sign off quicker and deals get done faster. Links to the PDF documents are sent to users where they can e-sign by typing in their initials. The documents are permanently stored for future review. Updates, amendments and revisions are uploaded and distributed for review and signature much faster than before. My clients who have moved their invoicing, contracts, quotes and order processes from mail/email/fax to these services have all reported faster turnaround times and improved cash flow as a result.
Bill.com. When my clients want to do online payments they generally turn to their banks. But the ones that learn about Bill.com ultimately gravitate to this great service. That’s because Bill.com is, in my opinion, a more powerful, easier to use and affordable solution for accounts payable management. It integrates with most accounting softwares. Its features are more advanced than most banks’ online payment applications, allowing for users to schedule payments, apply rules, and pay electronically. But it’s much more than that – Bill.com is an outsourced accounts payable department: you send your invoices to them via fax or email and they take care of the rest: scheduling, approval, notifications, payments (printed checks or electronic) and then syncing back to your accounting system. And you’re not stuck with a single bank – you can process payments from multiple sources. Pricing is from $19 to $50 per month per user. Services like Bill.com bring discipline to the accounts payable process. Cash is more controlled and more easily managed. Future payments are known. Business owners are not operating in the dark. All of this impacts your cash flow.
Anytime Collect. Smaller and off the radar from the Silicon Valley disrupters that we typically read about, Anytime Collect is a third generation accounts receivable management application that’s been around in some shape or form since the 1990s. It’s been around so long because it’s good. The application integrates with most popular accounting applications by sucking in accounts receivable invoicing information into its system and going to work: sending out collection letters and emails to overdue customers (and supporting multiple contacts at an account), tracking activities (such as calls and emails) made with customers, maintaining notes, reporting on collection activities, recording cash payments and bringing it all back to the accounting system. More advanced versions provide automated inbound email processing, collection scripts, online customer live chat and custom credit score calculations. Because let’s face it – it doesn’t count until it’s collected.