Business analysts report that poor
management is the main reason for business failure. Poor cash management
is probably the most frequent stumbling block for entrepreneurs.
Understanding the basic concepts of cash flow will help you plan for the
unforseen eventualities that nearly every business faces.
Cash vs. Cash Flow Cash is ready money in the bank
or in the business. It is not inventory, it is not accounts receivable
(what you are owed), and it is not property. These can potentially be
converted to cash, but can't be used to pay suppliers, rent, or
Profit growth does not necessarily mean more cash on hand. Profit is
the amount of money you expect to make over a given period of time. Cash
is what you must have on hand to keep your business running. Over time,
a company's profits are of little value if they are not accompanied by
positive net cash flow. You can't spend profit; you can only spend cash.
Cash flow refers to the movement of cash into and out of a business.
Watching the cash inflows and outflows is one of the most pressing
management tasks for any business. The outflow of cash includes those
checks you write each month to pay salaries, suppliers, and creditors.
The inflow includes the cash you receive from customers, lenders, and
Positive Cash Flow
If its cash inflow exceeds the outflow, a company has a positive cash
flow. A positive cash flow is a good sign of financial health, but by no
means the only one.
Negative Cash Flow
If its cash outflow exceeds the inflow, a company has a negative cash
flow. Reasons for negative cash flow include too much or obsolete
inventory and poor collections on accounts receivable (what your
customers owe you). If the company can't borrow additional cash at this
point, it may be in serious trouble.
What are the Components of
A Cash Flow Statement shows the
sources and uses of cash and is typically divided into three components:
Operating Cash Flow
Operating cash flow, often referred to as working capital, is the cash
flow generated from internal operations. It comes from sales of the
product or service of your business, and because it is generated
internally, it is under your control.
Investing Cash Flow
Investing cash flow is generated internally from non-operating
activities. This includes investments in plant and equipment or other
fixed assets, nonrecurring gains or losses, or other sources and uses of
cash outside of normal operations.
Financing Cash Flow
Financing cash flow is the cash to and from external sources, such as
lenders, investors and shareholders. A new loan, the repayment of a
loan, the issuance of stock, and the payment of dividend are some of the
activities that would be included in this section of the cash flow
How Do I Practice Good Cash
Good cash management is simple. It
Knowing when, where, and how your cash needs will occur
Knowing the best sources for meeting additional cash needs
Being prepared to meet these needs when they occur, by keeping good
relationships with bankers and other creditors
The starting point for good cash flow management is developing a cash
flow projection. Smart business owners know how to develop both
short-term (weekly, monthly) cash flow projections to help them manage
daily cash, and long-term (annual, 3-5 year) cash flow projections to
help them develop the necessary capital strategy to meet their business
needs. They also prepare and use historical cash flow statements to
understand how they used money in the past.