One of the most daunting things to deal with in small business is finance. Whether you’re starting up or have been in the game for a while, it’s a constant concern that never gets any simpler. How much finance do you need? Where should it come from? How should you manage it?
Fortunately for first time business owners, there is a considerable amount of information available online to help put any stresses you might have about finance into perspective.
The best place to start is the Australian government’s resources for small business. Small Business NSW, for example, is a particularly useful source of information on any number of SME-related topics. The key section for financial concerns is entitled ‘Securing Finance’. It leads the reader through the process of assessing how much finance the business needs and how to prepare loan applications, as well as refinancing and using private venture capital services.
Another service put together by the NSW government is the Small Business Toolkit. Created as part of the Small Business September intiative in 2010, the Toolkit requires businesses to register as users, and provides exceptionally useful resources on topics as diverse as export, supply chain management, managing for sustainability and running a micro-business. The finance section helps businesses identify a realistic start-up budget with a dedicated cost calculator, along with templates for 12 month to 5 year profit and loss statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements, amongst others.
One of the most difficult things when finding finance is figuring out how best to pitch a loan request to a bank. A key aspect of this is how much to ask for; if the bank deems your request unreasonable, it's going to reject it outright, and this may colour your future interactions. ANZ bank has a business finance eligibility calculator that lets you assess how realistic your expectations are with respect to your business’s finance. It’s very simple to use, comprising three steps that calculate eligibility by weighing turnover, net profit, and depreciation against the hypothetical requested amount.
St. George bank is also of some help in this regard, offering free online assistance to help start-ups extrapolate their finance needs with an income projection statement calculator, as well as a balance sheet template. The bank also offers an intricately detailed cash flow forecast excel template, that incorporates fields for advertising, accounting, payroll, and interest gained, to help businesses form a more accurate projection of how simple their cash flow will be to manage.
One thing each of the above finance services share is that they’re relatively convoluted. If you want a quick, accurate way to generate an estimate of how much it will cost to start and run a business, pay a visit to the Business Know-how startup calculator. With only a concise set of data provided by the user, this calculator estimates one-time start-up costs and monthly expenses, along with a recommended target for total start-up costs.
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