Analysis for Managers: Cash Flow

Posted on May 30, 2017 in San Diego Lawyer, Setting up a Small Business, Small Business, Small Business Tips and Tricks Series, Tips for Entrepreneurs | Comments Off on Analysis for Managers: Cash Flow

Analysis for Managers: Cash Flow

Image result for cash flow pictures

 

Have you ever been confused at the fact that you can sit at your desk and wonder, “How on Earth am I going to make payroll?” and yet the P&L (Profit and Loss statement) your accountant or QuickBooks just showed you says that your company is turning a healthy profit?

Welcome to cash flow problems!

This won’t be a completely comprehensive article on the subject but it should be enough to at least get you started or pique your interest. And for many, this will just be a quick review.

Below are four key points regarding the ever important concept of cash flow.

 

First: Understanding why cash flow analysis is important

Jonathan Moreland put it well when he said:

“At least as important as a company’s profitability is its liquidity – whether or not it’s taking in enough money to meet its obligations. Companies, after all, go bankrupt because they cannot pay their bills, not because they are unprofitable. Now, that’s an obvious point. Even so, many investors routinely ignore it. How? By looking only at a firm’s income statement and not the cash flow statement.”

A cash flow statement removes the noise of accrual accounting and helps us talk in terms of money in the bank here and now. This is essential because in business, “cash is king.”

 

Second: Building a cash flow statement

In most cases your accountant will be able to do this for you (but you may need to request it!) and oftentimes your small business accounting software will build one automatically. Do some clicking to find out.

For those who want to take on the exercise themselves (which is a fantastic way to truly understand), here is a helpful link.

 

Third: Analyze the information

The cashflow statement will end up giving you four net figures:

  • Cash flows from operations – how much money your company brings in and out during it’s day-to-day operations
  • Cash flows from investing activities – how much money your company brings in and out as a result of investments such as capital expenditures, purchase of securities, etc.
  • Cash flows from financing activities – how much money your company brings in and out from loans, outside investor capital, issuance of dividends, etc.
  • Net cash flows – the sum of them all, or the total net cash in the door

In addition to a standalone look at these metrics, another key here is benchmarking. You can compare to previous periods, other areas of the business or against key competitors in your industry. Just make sure that you’re using strategic benchmarking, or benchmarking against the best-in-class, rather than just an industry average. A good place to find industry benchmarking data online is found here.

 

Fourth and finally: Take action!

Now that you see where you’re netting positively or negatively in a given timeframe, or that you tend to dip into the red during certain periods of the year (using multiple period comparisons) or perhaps that you have some headroom when considering best-in-class performance, take action!

One important action you can take is to manage a cash flow budget. This can be as simple as listing your actual cash inflows and outflows over future time periods to forecast where there might be trouble. Then, have the discipline to either wait to spend or bring in some more cash.

After all is said and done, profit is still important but understanding exactly the money flowing in and out the door is equally as such (if not more). We hope this information has been helpful and that with this new skill set (or quick refresh) you can avoid that awful feeling of not having enough to make payroll and that you can have the power to grow your business into the future.

 

 

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