Survey: Business Owners View Improving Company Cash Flow Insight as Top Priority

Companies that rely heavily on insights and outside advice expect to have a competitive edge over their peers, according to the results of a new survey conducted by Rhode Island-based Citizens, which has 19 branches in metro Detroit.
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More than half of small and mid-size business owners (55 percent) view improving insight into company cash flow as a top priority in 2024. // Stock photo

Companies that rely heavily on insights and outside advice expect to have a competitive edge over their peers, according to the results of a new survey conducted by Rhode Island-based Citizens, which has 19 branches in metro Detroit.

Citizens’ survey of 600 principals at small and mid-size businesses in the United States (up to $25 million in annual revenue) reveals 87 percent of “insight-driven” businesses — respondents with more than $500,000 in annual revenue that tap into financial tools and expert advice at least weekly — anticipate fast expansion in the year ahead and 72 percent have growth-focused five-year plans.

Eighty-eight percent of these businesses also report having an “extremely or very good” understanding of company cash flow.

The survey uncovered several specific tactics that may help small and mid-size business owners achieve success. These include:

Consolidating financial applications. Sixty-six percent of insight-driven companies that consolidate applications and tools from a variety of vendors into one platform expect double-digit revenue growth this year, compared with just over half of other companies. Respondents who have consolidated their cash flow applications reported benefits including increased profitability (44 percent), increased productivity (43 percent), and lowered costs (42 percent).

Set objectives to fuel success. Insight-driven companies are more focused than peers on critical business goals such as improving insight into company cash flow, making informed business decisions, and protecting company and customer data from fraud.

Leverage digital invoicing and payments. Nearly 60 percent of insight-driven businesses looking to get paid faster in 2024 are using payment and invoicing tools. Insight-driven companies are leveraging tools such as digital peer-to-peer and real-time payments, card acceptance, and recurring billing to get paid faster and improve payment options for customers.

Seek expert advice. Insight-driven companies seek expert counsel from attorneys, business bankers, fintech providers, and CPAs in greater numbers than their peers. Eighty-three percent of insight-driven companies have a dedicated business banker, compared to just 59 percent of other businesses. Further, 72 percent of business leaders who expect double-digit growth in the next five years say they’ll lean on financial tools and expert insight to do it.

Not coincidentally, at the same time Citizens released its survey findings, it also launched a new digital solution called Citizens Cash Flow Forecasting, which offers tips and insights as well as competitive benchmarking that enables business owners to compare their company to similar businesses based on geography, revenue, and employee count.

It will be available to customers who use Citizens Cash Flow Essentials, the online and mobile cash management platform that launched in 2023. Cash Flow Forecasting joins Citizens’ full suite of digital resources for small business owners, including Digital Account Opening, Zelle for small businesses, and mobile deposit.

The new solution is designed to meet a key need highlighted in the survey results, that more than half of small and mid-size business owners (55 percent) view improving insight into company cash flow as a top priority in 2024.

“We work closely with our business customers to identify critical needs,” says Mark Valentino, head of Business Banking at Citizens. “Then, we provide digital tools that offer an exceptional customer experience and empower them to make confident financial decisions.

“Cash flow forecasting is designed to help clients consolidate their financial applications and optimize their financial performance, so that they can spend more time running the businesses they love.”

For more information about Citizens’ cash management solutions for small businesses, visit here.