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Cash is a business's life blood and every manager's primary task is to help keep it flowing and to use this cash flow to generate profits. If a business is operating profitably, then it should, in theory, generate cash surpluses. The faster a business expands, the more cash it will need for working capital and investment.

The cheapest and best sources of cash exist as working capital right within business. Good management of working capital will generate cash will help improve profits and reduce risks.

There are two elements in the business cycle that absorb cash - Inventory (stocks and work-in-progress) and Receivables (debtors owing you money). The main sources of cash are Payables (your creditors) and Equity and Loans.

Cash flow can be significantly enhanced if the receivables are collected faster. Every business needs to know.... who owes them money.... how much is owed.... how long it is owing.... for what it is owed.

Management of payables is just as important as the management of receivables. It is important to look after your creditors - slow payment by you may create ill-feeling and can signal that your company is inefficient (or in trouble!).

Managing inventory is a juggling act. Excessive stocks can place a heavy burden on the cash resources of a business. Insufficient stocks can result in lost sales, delays for customers etc.

When planning the development of a business, it is critical that the impact of working capital be fully assessed when making cashflow forecasts. Our financial planning software packages - Exl-Plan and Cashflow Plan - can facilitate this task as they provide for the setting of targets for receivables, payables and inventory.

See also the Checklist for Improving Cashflow.

Improving Cash Flow

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Cash flow is the life blood of every business and lack of cash is a much more significant cause of business failure than trading losses. The management and preservation of cash is a priority task which must be performed day in and day out in every business. This task is so routine that its importance is often overlooked.

Here are some ways to improve cash flow:

  • Sales - Become more selective when granting credit.
  • Costs & Systems - Improve systems for billing and collection.
  • Credit Management - Generate regular reports on receivable ratios and aging.
  • Purchasing - Make prompt payments only when worthwhile discounts apply.
  • Inventory - Sell off or return obsolete/excess inventory.
  • Investment - Use leasing etc. to gain access to the use of productive assets.
  • Financing - Use factoring or discounting to accelerate receipts from sales.

For a list of over 30 ways of improving cash flow, visit the Checklist for Improving Cash Flow.

Central to any program to improve cash flow is an accounting system to handle inventory, invoicing, receivables and payables. Allied to this is the need for frequently-updated cash flow projections to provide early warnings of possible liquidity problems and a foundation for improvement plans.

For more on this, see the paper on Making Cash Flow Forecasts and download and try our Cashflow Plan software tools for making rolling 12-month forecasts and creating cashflow improvement plans.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Working Capital category.

Strategic Planning is the previous category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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Financial
Projection
Software
Cashflow
Forecasting
Software
Business
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Plan
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