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5 Steps to Getting Your Small Business Debt Free

Small Business Debt Management Tips

Debt is a necessary part of running a small business. A business loan, line of credit or a business credit card can help your company hire new employees, purchase equipment and finance growth. But too much debt can stifle cash flow [1] and put your business at risk. And the less you owe, the more you have to reinvest.

The average U.S. small-business owner has $195,000 of debt, according to a 2016 study by Experian.

Small Business Debt Management Tips

Here are five steps to digging your business out of debt.

1. Take Inventory of Your Debt

Sort all of your debts by interest rate and monthly payment. This includes payments on business loans, lines of credit and business credit cards as well as outstanding payments due to vendors.

This process can help you prioritize which debts to tackle first. Some experts recommend starting with the highest-interest-rate debt.

New small-business owners should aim to have all of their debt repaid within their companies’ first 12 months to lower the risk of bankruptcy, says Winnie Sun, founding partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners in Irvine, California, which provides financial planning for businesses.

2. Boost Sales

Once you have a debt management plan, you can think about ways to boost your sales [2]. Here are a few ideas:

3. Cut Costs

Ideally, boosting sales brings in enough revenue to tackle your debt. But if your expenses are running a bit too high, here are three ways to cut them [5]:

4. Refinance High-cost Debt

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates in March and has signaled two more rate hikes in 2017. These increase the cost of variable-rate debt, including credit card balances and lines of credit.

If you can’t afford to repay debts in full anytime soon, consider debt consolidation or refinancing [6], especially if you have strong credit.

With refinancing, you’d take out a lower-interest loan to repay the original loan. With consolidation, you’d combine several loans into one new loan.

“If you can change the loan from variable to fixed, and then pay it down quickly, then that would be ideal,” Sun says.

Business credit card debt can also be refinanced or consolidated via a balance transfer to a new card with a 0 percent interest promo period; watch out for fees and aim to pay it off in full before the 0 percent period is up.

All of these options let you lock in a lower, fixed interest rate and decrease your payments.

5. Shorten Payment Terms with Clients

Maybe your business has clients on a long-term payment plan. Or perhaps they consistently pay late. In either case, it might be time to revise payment terms.

For example, give new clients 30-day — rather than 90-day — payment terms. Offering an early-payment discount or charging a late-payment penalty can also be effective strategies for collecting on unpaid invoices.

Need Small Business Financing?

NerdWallet has created a comparison tool of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

Calculating [8] Photo via Shutterstock