by our Guest Editor Vishal Dhawan.
Meeting deadlines, adding value, juggling priorities, wearing different hats are a part and parcel of every entrepreneur’s life. Whilst there is a certain high that comes with all of this, it is also crucial for an entrepreneur to critically manage money, both for the business and himself/herself and dependents. Whilst efficient use of capital is one of the most crucial elements along the entire entrepreneurial journey, we believe there are two phases where managing money is absolutely critical. Money management during these two phases can go a long way in ensuring that the business can reach a stage where it is robust enough to survive, grow and flourish over longer periods.
Phase 1: Whilst you are planning to set up
Phase 2: In the first 18 -24 months of the business
Money management during both these phases can be fairly similar. Entrepreneurs still need to lead their personal lives, even as they go about building the blueprint for the business that is closest to their heart. With a significant number of entrepreneurs today quitting jobs to find their true calling, planning the capital requirements for their business, as well as to sustain their personal lives whilst positive cash flows from the businesses are yet, to happen are crucial. We would recommend that entrepreneurs focus differently on their personal and business finances.
1 Create a large contingency fund -Have 12 to 18 months of personal expenses ( including personal EMIs ) in financial instruments, wherein they can be accessed immediately, as well as have no significant risks of capital loss. Instruments like PPF and EPF accounts are not great friends of early entrepreneurs as access to funds in these accounts tend to be rather difficult and time consuming. Instruments like bank deposits and debt mutual funds without a lock-in are superior options during this phase. You may need to start drawing a small compensation during the latter part of this phase, so seek tax efficiency as well.
2 Ensure that you are covered against risks in your personal life – Have adequate life insurance( buy term insurance as it is the most cost efficient) so that debts and living expenses of your family are adequately covered. Ensure that you have health insurance cover for your family and dependents in place for an adequate amount.
1 Avoid risky investments with your business finances – Remember, the best returns over a period tend to come from your business so avoid other risky investments in this stage with funds which are needed for your business. For example, do not temporarily park funds into equity markets or real estate. At the same time, optimize your returns depending on your cash flow requirements, by building a tiered investment strategy. In case you cannot do this yourself, use the services of a financial planner. Liquid and debt funds can be very useful tools to consider.
2 Focus on good costs, eliminate the bad costs -With a large number of businesses, getting started without external funding and needing to sustain using internally generated cashflows, it is crucial to keep costs under control. Look at costs as good costs and bad costs. Good costs are those that have a high probability of a success outcome, whereas bad costs are those with a low or no probability. This definition may vary from business to business, for example a swanky office may be a good cost in a consumer business, and a bad cost in a B2B model.
3 Use technology tools to the maximum – Through the use of mobile technology and the internet, it is now possible to manage your cash flows efficiently, with minimal commitment of your most precious resource during this phase i.e. entrepreneur’s time. Understand how you can use technology to manage cash flows and get superior returns on your temporarily idle cash in this phase.
Remember, whilst all rupees are equal, but some are more equal than others. More so, when you are a new entrepreneur.
The author is CEO & Chief Financial Planner – Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors