September 20, 2023
min read
Written by: 
Nikolaus Hilgenfeldt

8 Most Common Cash Flow Mistakes and Ways to Avoid Them

Understanding and managing cash flow is a non-negotiable skill for small business owners. Unfortunately, it's also one of the biggest headaches they face.

According to a survey, 32.8 % of small businesses cited "lack of capital" as the top reason for shutting down.

The good news is that most cash flow issues share common causes.

Business owners who recognize them are better equipped to avoid or navigate them when they arise.

In this blog post, we'll explore these most common cash flow mistakes and provide practical advice for overcoming them.

So, read along to discover how understanding and addressing these cash flow issues can be the key to your business's success.

8 Most Common Cash Flow Mistakes Businesses Make and How To Solve It

1. Misinterpreting Cash Flow And Profit

Cash flow represents the net movement of money in and out of business at any time.

Profit, on the other hand, is what remains when you subtract operating expenses from revenue.

One of the most common cash flow mistakes to avoid is to recognize that profitability and cash flow are different.

You can have a profitable business and still struggle with negative cash flow, restricting you from meeting routine expenses and impeding your growth plans.

Conversely, a business can exhibit positive cash flow while struggling to turn a profit.

This scenario is common with startups and companies in the scaling phase.



You recently made a bulk purchase of smartphones for €300 each with a 30% profit margin, and you're selling them for €400 each.

However, as you approach the end of the quarter, you review your financial performance comprehensively, considering both cash flow and profit.

  • Each online sale incurs a transaction fee, which varies based on payment methods. On average, it amounts to €10 per smartphone sold.
  • Shipping expenses to deliver the smartphones to customers cost you €20 per unit.
  • You rent warehouse space to store your inventory, incurring monthly costs of €500, which adds up to €1,500 for the quarter.
  • Customers returned 5% of the smartphones sold, leading to €200 in returns for the quarter.

Now, let's calculate the comprehensive financial picture:


While your initial calculations suggested a 30% profit margin, a more comprehensive assessment reveals that your business is breaking even on each smartphone sold when factoring in all expenses.

It means that although you're not incurring losses, you're also not generating additional cash flow from each sale due to the overhead costs.

💡 To maintain a healthy cash flow and profitability, it is essential to account for all expenses, subtracting current and anticipated costs from your revenue.

As a result, your business remains financially viable in the long run.

2. Neglecting to Create a Cash Flow Forecast

Managing cash flow is a fundamental aspect of running a successful business, and at the heart of cash flow management lies the need to create a cash flow forecast.

A cash flow forecast is crucial for several reasons:

  • It provides a clear picture of your expected cash inflows and outflows over a specific period, typically months or quarters, which allows you to plan for both the short and long term.
  • It helps determine if you can afford to take on new projects, hire employees, or expand your business.
  • By identifying potential cash flow gaps in advance, you can proactively take steps to mitigate risks. For example, suppose your forecast shows a cash shortage during a slow season. In that case, you can secure a loan or cut discretionary expenses to bridge the gap.

Tips for Creating an Effective Cash Flow Forecast

Creating an effective cash flow forecast is essential for business success, and to assist you in this endeavor, here are some valuable tips to get you started.


3. Poor Credit Management

Effective credit management is a cornerstone of sound financial practices for any business.

Failing to manage credit effectively can have far-reaching consequences, especially regarding cash flow:

1. If many customers take advantage of this and delay payments, your cash inflow can be significantly impacted.

2. Money tied up in outstanding accounts receivable is not readily available for your immediate needs. This situation can lead to cash shortages and difficulty meeting your financial obligations.

3. The more credit you extend, the higher the risk of customers defaulting on their payments.

If you don't have effective credit management processes, bad debts can accumulate, further affecting your cash flow.

Strategies for Effective Credit Management

To mitigate the risks associated with poor credit management, consider the following strategies:



XYZ Electronics offers customers credit terms. To ensure effective credit management, they:

  • Perform credit checks on all new customers.
  • Set credit limits based on a customer's financial stability and payment history.
  • Implement a 30-day payment term and send detailed invoices.
  • Regularly review their accounts receivable and follow up with reminders for overdue payments.
  • Use an automated system to track and manage credit accounts.

4. Overspending and Overhead Costs

Overspending and mismanagement of overhead costs represent prevalent pitfalls that can exert substantial pressure on a business's cash flow.

Firstly, overspending has the immediate effect of depleting available cash reserves.

Whether from unnecessary expenses or unchecked operational costs, this overspending leaves the business with reduced cash resources to fulfill crucial activities like paying bills and covering payroll.

Moreover, persistent overspending can precipitate debt accumulation, often through high-interest loans or mounting credit card balances.

Additionally, with fewer resources, you may struggle to seize growth opportunities, invest in innovation, or navigate unforeseen financial setbacks.


To control overhead costs effectively and safeguard your cash flow, consider these strategies:

✔️ Conduct a thorough analysis of your overhead costs. Identify non-essential expenses and prioritize the ones crucial for your core business operations.

✔️ Negotiate with suppliers for better terms, discounts, or bulk purchase agreements. Building strong vendor relationships can lead to cost savings.

✔️ Use technology to streamline processes and reduce labor costs. Automate repetitive tasks where possible to optimize efficiency.

✔️ Consider remote work options to reduce office space and associated overhead expenses.

✔️ Invest in energy-efficient equipment and practices to reduce utility costs.

The Importance of Budgeting


5. Ignoring Seasonal Cash Flow Patterns

Ignoring seasonal cash flow patterns is a common oversight that can have a significant impact on a business's financial stability, and it can impact cash flow in various ways:

  • Sales may surge during certain times of the year and dip during others, leading to irregular cash inflows.
  • Seasonal businesses may need to build up inventory in anticipation of high-demand periods, tying up cash in stock. Conversely, they may need to discount excess inventory during slow seasons, affecting profitability.
  • You may need to hire additional staff to manage cash flow during peak seasons, resulting in increased payroll expenses.
  • Seasonal businesses may allocate more resources to marketing and promotion during peak seasons, which can strain cash flow if not managed carefully.

To navigate these most common cash flow mistakes, consider the following strategies:

1. Build a cash reserve during peak seasons to help cover expenses during slower periods. 

2. Use temporary or seasonal employees during peak periods to manage labor costs. 

3. Maintain a lean inventory during off-peak times to minimize carrying costs. 

4. Create a detailed budget and cash flow forecast that accounts for seasonal variations. 

5. Offer promotions and discounts during slow seasons to stimulate sales. Use targeted marketing campaigns to attract customers during off-peak periods.

6. Inefficient Inventory Management

Inefficient inventory management is one of the most common cash flow mistakes that can significantly impact a business's cash flow:

  • When a business holds excessive inventory, it ties up a substantial amount of capital you can use for other essential purposes, like paying bills or investing in growth.
  • Excessive inventory incurs additional costs such as storage, insurance, and depreciation. These ongoing expenses can strain cash flow if the stock sells slowly.
  • Products that remain in inventory for extended periods risk becoming obsolete or outdated. When this happens, you may need to sell them at a loss, leading to financial losses.

On the flip side, insufficient inventory can lead to lost sales opportunities. Customers may go elsewhere if products aren't readily available, impacting revenue and cash flow.


Handling Cash Flow Issues Related to Inventory

1. If cash flow issues arise, reassess your inventory levels. Identify slow-moving or obsolete items and consider discounting or selling them to free up cash.

2. Reach out to your suppliers and discuss the possibility of extended payment terms or discounts for early payments. 

3. Consider running sales or promotions to generate quick cash. 

4. Explore inventory financing options like inventory loans or lines of credit specifically designed to address cash flow challenges related to inventory management.

5. Adjust your ordering and stocking strategies based on changing market conditions and customer demand.

6. Maintain a cash reserve to cover operational expenses during cash flow downturns.

7. Diversify your product range to reduce reliance on seasonal or niche items and ensure consistent sales throughout the year.

Pro Tip From Myos

Inventory financing allows you to access liquidity by borrowing against a portion of your inventory's value. 

You can use additional resources, €10.000-2.500.000, for various purposes, like:

  • Purchasing additional merchandise
  • Managing day-to-day operations
  • Capitalizing on growth opportunities. 

Inventory financing is asset-based, which means it relies on the value of the inventory according to its popularity in marketplaces using AI.


Additionally, Myos offers purchase financing, facilitating the funding of future orders with manufacturers by handling deposit and balance payments on behalf of the borrower.


7. Not Having a Cash Reserve

Unpredictable events, such as economic downturns, natural disasters, or unforeseen expenses, can disrupt a business's financial stability. 

A cash reserve allows you to navigate unexpected emergencies without resorting to costly loans or making drastic cuts to essential operations.

Moreover, you can capitalize on valuable opportunities, whether expanding operations, making strategic investments, or acquiring assets.

Additionally, it also facilitates agile responses to market fluctuations and fosters innovation.

Guidelines on How Much to Set Aside as a Cash Reserve

The appropriate amount to set aside as a cash reserve can vary depending on the business's size, industry, and specific circumstances:

Step 1. Consider setting aside at least three to six months' worth of fixed operating expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, utilities, salaries, and essential overhead costs.

Step 2. Additionally, allocate funds for variable or discretionary expenses that arise during emergencies or opportunities, such as marketing campaigns, maintenance, or unexpected repairs.

Step 3. Analyze historical revenue data and industry-specific trends to gauge how quickly you can replenish your cash reserve during challenging times.

Step 4. Evaluate the specific risks your business faces. Industries prone to economic volatility or regulatory changes may require a more significant reserve.

8. Neglecting to Reevaluate Pricing Strategies

Pricing is pivotal in shaping a business's cash flow in multiple ways.

📌 The price of your products or services directly impacts your revenue.

Opting for higher prices can bolster cash flow, provided a steady demand exists. 

Conversely, lower prices may attract a more extensive customer base but might reduce immediate cash flow.

📌 Your pricing strategy wields considerable influence over profit margins.

Setting prices too low could undermine your profit margins, while pricing too high might limit sales volume. 

📌 Thirdly, if your pricing structure incorporates extended customer payment terms, it can delay the cash inflow. This delay has implications for working capital and, consequently, cash flow management.

💡 Furthermore, pricing choices extend to competitive positioning within the market.

Charging significantly more than competitors may result in the loss of customers.

In contrast, pricing below competitors can incite price wars that adversely affect profitability.

Therefore, a well-thought-out pricing strategy becomes integral to effectively navigating the intricacies of cash flow management.


Strategies for Adjusting Pricing Without Alienating Customers

When adjusting pricing, it's essential to do so strategically to minimize customer backlash:

  • Consider segmenting your customers based on their willingness to pay. You can introduce tiered pricing with different features or service levels to cater to various customer segments.
  • Gradually implement price increases over time to soften the impact on existing customers. Notify them in advance and highlight the enhanced value they will receive.
  • Offer additional services or features to justify price increases. Focus on improving the customer experience to offset any potential resistance.
  • Bundle products or services to create perceived value. Customers are often more accepting of higher prices when they receive a comprehensive package.
  • A/B testing can help gauge customer reactions to pricing changes. Use data and feedback to refine your pricing strategy.
  • Be transparent with customers about pricing adjustments. Communicate the reasons behind the changes and how they benefit customers.

What Makes Myos Unique?

Ecommerce businesses know the drill – keeping a close eye on most common cash flow mistakes and having a solid financial plan is crucial.

But let's face it, life can throw curveballs.

If you want to outshine your competition and run your business like a pro, why not let Myos handle your finances?

Our asset-based finance solutions are all about fueling growth with no fuss.

Our application process is a breeze, and we make sure you get funded quickly.

So, relax, put your energy into growing your business, and leave the financial details to us.

Sign up with Myos today and discover the perfect financing fit for your business!

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