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Got Money? Cash is the lifeblood of your business. Here's how to keep it flowing.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Cash flow is the key to success; good cash-flow management means a thriving business. "If you're out of cash, you're out of business," says Fred Parrish, executive director of The Profit Institute, a provider of outsourced CFO services. Financial management isn't just reading your financial statements. You need to look at your financial decisions with an eye toward the next six, 12 and 18 months of cash flow.

"Entrepreneurs think, 'If I'm selling products and I've got revenue, then I'm going to have cash,'" says Lea Strickland, president of business consulting firm FOCUS Resources, "but that's not necessarily so." Cash is what's in the checkbook you use to pay rent, utilities and payroll. If your bills are due every month and it's taking you 60 or 90 days to receive payment from customers, you're in a bind. Other signs of bad cash flow: Your revenue grows but your bank balance remains flat, inventory is rising faster than sales or you're constantly paying your own bills on the last day or even late. Communication with vendors is key here. Negotiate good terms upfront and be honest if you're having problems, rather than waiting until bills are past due.

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