I and my partner run a small e-commerce business selling a healthy spiced latte mix. We are running short of cashflow though we are seeing traction in online sales. If we take a loan for expansion, there are various things we can spend on - Digital Marketing (Which we are seeing decent results now), Offline Marketing (Bus Stop Ads/TV/Radio), Product Expansion (Which can increase our average order value, right now we only have 2 flavours), Distribution Channel Expansion (Currently we are already in 1 outlet in a major retail store in Singapore but not getting sales there). How should we allocate our funds if we were to take business loan?
I am in Singapore, help many e-commerce businesses grow sales 5x to 15x last year. One major challenge to the growth is cash flow.
There are many factors to look at and these 3 major areas are critical:
1. Cash flows - you need to study the cash flows patterns (short-term, middle-term, and long-term) and develop a cash flow model for your business. Without this, you can't even tell when and how much money you needed + unable to identify business survival risk from cash flows perspective + to determine where is the trapped cash
2. Behaviour of the revenue and cost - this is essential to help you determine the break-even point, commitments, maximize profit, strategies to increase revenue and reduce cost, how much to invest in operation vs improvement of the business.
3. Capital structure - there are 3 main sources of cash, i.e. revenue, loan, and equity. There are other areas such as Government grants and donations which the impacts are not significant enough to focus on. When we talk about capital structure, we will look at what is a good mix of loan and equity to manage your business gearing risk.
After you have the above 3 sets of information, you can determine how many loans to take up and how to allocation them to different aspects of the business.
Do note that good cash flows management will improve your cash position, but to increase your sales, other techniques are needed but not discussed here.
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