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What is cash flow and how is it measured?
The term cash flow is used to describe the money coming into and out of a business. A company’s cash flow helps determines the entity’s ability to generate a profit. Entrepreneurs must monitor their business’s cash flows to make sure they have enough money coming into the business from revenue sources to cover the business’s operating expenses and debt obligations. Any revenue collected in excess of the amount required for ordinary expenses is profit, which can be saved in a cash reserve, deposited into an income generating investment account, or distributed to shareholders and owners.
Cash flow is used internally by small business owners because it allows them to accurately assess the monetary value of their investment. A company’s cash flow is used to quickly assess the business’s ability to pay its bills and meet business needs. Third-party agencies or individuals that may also request information about a company’s cash flows include lenders, investors, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state taxing authorities, suppliers, and executive consultants.
A business’s cash flows are organized on the Statement of Cash Flows, a financial report generated as part of the organizations financial records. The cash flow statement is used along with the company’s Balance Sheet and Income Statement to analyze the business’s financial health. There are three types of financial transactions reported on a statement of cash flows.
- Operating activities – The operating section shows the cash flow that results from daily operational activities, like income received for providing goods and services and ordinary business expenses, like payroll and supply costs.
- Investing activities – The next section of the cash flow statement includes money coming in and out of the business because of investments, like stock market activity, bonds, and interest earning money market accounts.
- Financing activities – the change in cash from selling fixed assets, collecting on long-term notes, and debt arrangements or any type of small business loans.
The sum of all the money involved in the three types of activities gives the net change in cash. A positive number for the net change in cash shows that the business is ending the accounting period with more money than it had at the beginning of the period.
What are some good cash flow business ideas?
Money is a common motivator for new business owners when they create their initial business plan and begin researching innovative business ideas. Entrepreneurs that are driven by income goals may want to consider choosing an industry or business model that has good cash flows. Typically, businesses that have good cash flows:
- generate recurring revenue or passive income
- have high profit margins
- require less startup capital
- have low overhead costs
- have growth potential
The following list of small business ideas includes examples of high cash flow businesses that are straight-forward to start and allow for business models that can be customized to meet the individual goals of the business owner. Which type of business an entrepreneur chooses may depend on whether they are looking to supplement another income source (side hustles) or are looking to operate a traditional full-time brick and mortar business.
Online earning opportunities
With the advanced technology we have access to today, online businesses are thriving. In addition to fast internet speeds and communication tools, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge of employees looking for more flexible methods to earn extra cash at home.
A popular type of online business that has very high profit margins is a remote accounting or bookkeeping business. There is very little startup costs with providing online professional services, like accounting, so they become a good cash flow business quickly. Entrepreneurs can choose to work alone as a freelancer helping a few clients out with their income tax returns or bookkeeping or hire a team of accountants to perform full-service outsourced accounting services to other small business owners.
Like accountants and other professional consultants, graphic designers can make a lot of money creating websites, designing logos, printing business cards, and even selling online courses about their trade. There are very little startup costs for graphic designers with their most costly expense being the initial investment of necessary computer hardware and software.
Affiliate marketing is a great way for social media bloggers, influencers, or other online content creators, including those with a YouTube channel or a private podcast, to build a constant source of passive income. With almost no startup costs, affiliate marketers simply promote other business owners’ products to earn a commission on sales and can work with SEO experts to increase their web traffic and promote their business.
Apps and SaaS products
Starting a business to build apps or software as a service (SaaS) products is one of the best businesses for entrepreneurs that have the technical know how to build applications. The business model for these types of business depends on the entrepreneur’s preferences about the amount of time and money they want to invest, but most professionals can operate remotely from their home or office.
A dropshipping business can be a side hustle that generates passive income stream or a full-time career. They work when an entrepreneur creates a store, markets one or several products, set prices, and fulfills orders without storing any inventory. When customers make a purchase, the order is shipped by a third-party supplier, saving time and money for both the supplier and the dropshipper. This can be a very profitable business with low overhead because customers are paying retail prices, but dropshippers negotiate discounts or wholesale prices with the supplier.
E-commerce stores are another great business idea for entrepreneurs that want to sell their own products online. It is easy to get started in e-commerce because many online shopping platforms like Etsy, Shopify, and eBay offer help with store set-up, business planning, website design, and credit card processing.
Brick and mortar and mobile business ideas
Some businesses require a physical location, like a store or office, to be successful, while others can be a hybrid of brick and mortar businesses, like restaurants, and online businesses, like professional services. Some successful businesses are run strictly on a mobile basis, like a traveling notary or other mobile service provider. Of course, entrepreneurs must consider the physical location and vehicle requirements of the business plan when planning for startup costs.
Entrepreneurs that want to provide health and beauty and services to customers often grow profitable businesses quickly because of the low startup costs and low-cost equipment required. These types of companies may be run out of a shop, like a barbershop, hair salon, or spa, or may offer mobile services, like an in-home massage therapist or mobile barber.
Another great business idea for beginners or any business owners that are interested in a simple business plan is a laundromat. While there is a significant initial investment required because of equipment and real estate, once a laundromat is operating it becomes recurring revenue that doesn’t require a lot of money or hard work to maintain.
Much like a laundromat, owning your own car wash can provide a very lucrative income stream. The startup costs for a car wash include leasing or purchasing commercial real estate and a significant amount of machinery. Since a car wash is a type of business that is scalable, many entrepreneurs choose to start with some basic amenities and add a growth strategy into their business plan.
Landscaping businesses are a great for new business owners because the business model is so flexible. Landscapers can operate as a sole proprietor or independent contractor to earn extra money by purchasing some basic equipment and taking on a few local clients. Landscapers can also build a multi-employee full-scale business where they provide a variety of services to a large list of clients.
Food and beverage
There are endless opportunities to build a successful business in the food and beverage industry. Restaurant entrepreneurship looks different for every business owner and may mean purchasing a franchised fast-food restaurant, opening a local diner, purchasing one or several vending machines, or even running a food truck on the weekends for extra cash. Restaurant businesses require a varied amount of startup capital but can generate a profit quickly once they are attracting new customers.
Providing childcare is another type of business with a very low overhead. Entrepreneurs can decide what type of childcare they want to provide which may be a physical location with certified teachers and a large customer base or a simple babysitting service in the owner’s residence.
There are several ways to make money in the real estate industry. Some businesses in the industry, like real estate investing or owning a rental business, require significant startup capital but can generate excellent cash flow in the first twelve months.
Independent contractors can make extra money or even earn a full-time income by delivering food and packages for larger companies. Popular delivery apps, like Uber Eats, Door Dash, Instacart, and even Amazon, let freelancers earn money on a flexible schedule for completing pick ups and deliveries of prepared food, groceries, or packages.
And just to be clear—none of these are licenses to print money. While some people are wildly successful using these business models, luck has little to do with it. If you want to break free from the 9-to-5 and find financial freedom by creating a high cash flow business, it’s a great idea to seek advice from a coach or consultant who can help you streamline your growth.
How to start your business
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), starting a business requires taking the following steps:
- Conduct market research about potential business and close competitors.
- Decide on a business name and write a formal business plan.
- Choose a business structure and register your business.
- Apply for federal and state tax ids and an employer identification number (EIN) if you will be hiring staff.
- Obtain the correct permits and licenses.
- Open a business bank account.
- Consider business funding options.
Of course the specific requirements for each step depend on the type of business you’re starting and your short-term and long-term business goals. One of the largest obstacles for new entrepreneurs to overcome is funding, but there are many different financing options available for new business owners to explore.
Small business financing options for entrepreneurs
Once you’ve created a business plan and determined the amount of startup capital your new business will require, it’s time to consider the source of those funds. Entrepreneurs can use personal funds or borrow money from friends and family to get the capital they need or explore one of the following types of business financing.
SBA loans are a great, option for borrowers that are looking for low-interest rates, can meet the strict approval requirements, and have time to wait on the application process. The loans are partially guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) but are issued and funded by lenders, like Biz2Credit.
With business term loans, the borrower receives a lump sum of cash upfront and pays back the loan with set repayment terms. Small business loans are a great option for businesses looking for flexible financing for large purchases or to supplement cash flow. Borrowers with all types of credit history find term loans as a viable solution, although some require a down payment, collateral, or personal guarantee.
Business line of credit
A business line of credit is a type of financing where the borrower is approved for a certain amount of credit for a predetermined time. Borrowers can take out the entire sum all at once or make a series of withdrawals up to the credit limit, like business credit cards. Interest is only paid on the amount of funds currently withdrawn. When the balance is paid down, the borrower is free to withdraw the funds again.
Starting your own business is an exciting venture. There are opportunities to build a successful, high cash flow business in several industries. Before creating a business plan and opening for operations, you must decide if you would prefer to start an online business or open a traditional brick and mortar business. Once a business plan is in place, you must also decide how mush startup capital you will need and whether you will need to work with a lender for a small business financing option. For New York entrepreneur, Maryam Zadeh, funding was easy when she turned to Biz2Credit and was approved for funding within 48 hours.
Apply for financing today to learn how Biz2Credit can help make your cash flow dreams a reality.