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5 Ways to Keep the Cash Flowing--No Matter What Happens What the most successful businesses do to keep the bills paid even during the toughest months.

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Running a small business can be the most exciting thing you ever do, but it can also bring a few sleepless nights. Even the most successful companies can suffer cash-flow problems, especially if they lose a key client, experience a natural disaster, or have a few slow months each year. There are a few things business owners can do to keep the bills paid even during the toughest months.

Here are five strategies you can employ in your own business practices to keep the cash moving.

1. Have a plan.

Budgeting is an essential part of running a business. As time goes on, you will begin to learn the ebb and flow of your business and should be able to identify trends. For example, many companies that operate in the B2B space see a slowdown toward the end of the year. Clothing retailers may see business pick up around the back-to-school season. Understanding when your business is seeing high cash flow makes it easier to set money aside for those leaner weeks.

Technology can give you a big boost in identifying these trends. Consider using an online calculator to help determine the cash flow your business generates. Many bookkeeping solutions now provide reporting options that can show you cash-flow trends throughout the year. Once you've been in business long enough, you can use predictive analytics to see the slowdown coming and prepare for it.

2. Create a system.

The first step in getting paid is to bill for the money you are owed. Having an automated invoicing system in place can improve your chances of getting paid—and quickly. Make sure you follow up on unpaid invoices after a set number of days.

Many businesses find that the more payment options they can give clients, such as mobile payments, the more likely they are to get paid. You may initially resist having to pay fees, but by limiting your transactions to cash, check, or just one or two methods of credit card payment, you give customers a reason to procrastinate.

3. Protect your income with insurance.

Insurance is one of the best ways to protect your small business, as well as yourself as an owner. If something happens, your business may suffer. Without the right coverage, your business income may become interrupted, and that's the last thing you want as an entrepreneur.

The right insurance can help you replace income lost when your business is unable to operate due to a covered property loss.

4. Set up a credit line.

Due to the ups and downs of running a business, many leaders choose to set up a business line of credit to cover things when funds aren't available. Unlike a loan, a line of credit remains in place until you need it. You can borrow $50 or $5,000, depending on your needs and the terms.

If you're a newer business, you may have difficulty getting a larger financial institution to agree to this. However, many local credit unions are more flexible, as well as being supportive of small businesses. If you initially get a "no," continue to shop around.

5. Spread out your expenses.

Why pay a business expense all at once in one large sum if you can spread it out in smaller amounts over time, without extra fees? That's where periodic payment plans come in.

One example of this is businesses that carry workers' compensation insurance. Business owners who have this coverage from insurers like The Hartford are able to pay their premiums whenever their payroll is run. This erases the need to make a large, estimated down payment up-front.

Cash flow will always be a challenge for businesses, but with the right tools and partners, you can take control of your income and expenses. Having a plan, knowing your business, and having the right protection will help you enjoy the exciting times, and rest easy knowing you are prepared to handle what's next.