Cash flow is the measurement of net cash and cash equivalents flowing in and out of your business during a specific period of time. Cash flow indicates whether a company is able to pay its current liabilities and is an important aspect in determining the company’s financial health.
Table of Contents:
Yes. If you input all of your current invoices and receipts for a specific period into an Excel spreadsheet, you can manually forecast your cash flow. Use the following formula, and see Calculating Cash Flow for more.
Operating Cash Flow Ratio = Cash Flow from Operations / Current Liabilities
Automating your cash flow forecasting and management can free up time for you to look into your cash flow more often, helping you to make smarter decisions about your business. You can automate other aspects of your cash flow, as well; for example, enabling direct deposit and making bill payments online can help you move cash around faster. You can learn how to automate cash flow in different ways throughout our Ultimate Cash Flow Guide.
Managing cash flow on a PC is possible using Excel. Managing cash flow on a Mac gives you the option of using Numbers, and with either a PC or a Mac, you can use Google Sheets or a similar cloud-based spreadsheet software to input your sales and expenses, to calculate cash flow. You can further automate your bookkeeping and produce meaningful financial records using software like QuickBooks or Simply Accounting. QuickBooks offers a tutorial on how to prepare a cash flow statement here.
The top business cash flow problems can dramatically impact your ability to grow, and they’re more common than you may think. Negative cash flow happens when a business is putting more cash out than it is taking in, often due to out of sync credit terms. When a business extends longer terms to its customers than it receives from its own suppliers, a cash gap appears during the difference in those payment terms. Other common cash flow problems include an inability to pay immediate liabilities, inability to move inventory, short-sighted decision-making and an inability to grow the business.
Cash flow problems cause difficulties in every facet of your business, from affecting payroll to causing missed supplier payments to giving investors cause to doubt your business planning.
Small businesses often have cash flow problems because they haven’t yet been able to put money aside for reserves. Growing your company requires that you constantly invest funds back into the business. Small businesses might also have more stringent payment terms with suppliers than they are able to extend their own customers.
Cash flow problems occur when your company’s cash output is greater than your inputs. Top causes of cash flow problems include late or slow invoice payments, necessary capital expenses and investment, a lack of forecasting and planning, carrying excess inventory, disorganized bookkeeping and more.
You can learn how to begin forecasting your cash flow here. Making cash flow forecasting a regular and integral part of your business planning helps you foresee and diagnose cash flow issues so you can take a proactive approach to solving them.
Positive cash flow improves your business by not only enabling you to meet your current commitments, but also by freeing up funds for growth-positive activities like investments in talent, equipment and inventory.
Learning how to improve cash flow may be easier than you think. Once you’ve incorporated cash flow forecasting into your routine, you’ll be able to see your cash flow needs and any potential shortcomings in advance.
Cash flow strategies help you manage your cash flow, to ensure you’re always able to pay your bills and maintain the growth of your business. Once you recognize a potential shortfall, cash flow strategies like asking for a deposit, requesting longer payment terms from your suppliers, or invoice funding can help prevent negative cash flow.
The key to overcoming cash flow problems is prevention. Cash flow forecasting helps you identify potential shortfalls and understand their causes, so you can proactively find solutions.
Typically, the worst cash flow problems are solved with an immediate injection of cash into your business. A cash flow solution like invoice factoring can get you through a negative cash flow situation without having to sell off capital assets, miss payroll or jeopardize your valuable vendor relationships.
Depending on your company type and the unique needs of your business, you may be able to help your customers manage their cash flow by offering more flexible payment terms. However, your top priority must always be keeping your own cash flow positive, so you can grow your business.
Your suppliers, especially if they are smaller businesses, may experience cash flow issues of their own. You can help their cash flow management by paying your invoices promptly, which of course requires that you have your own cash flow management under control.
Keep reading our Ultimate Cash Flow Guide to learn more about cash flow management, and how to fix a negative cash flow.
Yes. Long term cash flow solutions require that you identify the causes of your negative cash flow and correct those issues, but that doesn’t solve your immediate need. Be careful to avoid short term solutions that impose payday loan-style fees on small businesses for one-use loans. An invoice factoring solution designed specifically for businesses like yours smooths over the gaps in your cash flow with 24-hour invoice funding, low fees, and repayment terms that allow you to grow while solving your short term negative cash flow.
When it comes to your cash flow, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. You can manually calculate your cash flow forecast in Excel if you have time. Or, try more powerful, automated cash flow forecasting tools to save time and enable you to run different types of projections. A subscription-based option like DryRun, for example, lets you run if/then scenarios to measure the impact of different activities on your projected cash flow.
The top cash flow tools close the gap between invoicing and your receipt of cash for that invoice, enabling you to carry on with the important business activities that help your company grow. Top cash flow tools like FundThrough solve for small business negative cash flow and empower entrepreneurs to focus on running their business, instead of trying to collect payments.
Absolutely. In fact, FundThrough accounts are free forever, with an innovative repayment structure designed to suit the unique needs of small businesses. You pay a small fee for our invoice factoring service, which funds your invoices within 24 hours rather than making you wait 30, 60 or 90 days for client payment. Right away, you can process payroll, buy inventory, advertise and more.
A projected cash flow statement shows the difference between your company’s net cash inflows and outflows for a specific period of time.
Cash flow statements work by alerting business owners to potential gaps in cash flow before they happen. This enables you to prepare and apply positive cash flow management strategies like invoice funding, so you can avoid a cash flow crisis and continue growing your business.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you’ll use your cash flow statement often to ensure that you always have enough free cash flow to pay employees and suppliers, buy inventory and equipment, and otherwise invest in the success of your business. Your accountant, potential investors and loan officers might also request a copy of your business’s cash flow statement as it helps them evaluate your financial health.
Businesses use cash flow statements as a critical financial management and business planning tool. Cash flow statements are important because you need to know if, at any given point, you are going to have enough liquidity to pay for your current liabilities like payroll, inventory, capital assets and more.
A cash flow statement primarily answers the question: “Will we have enough money coming into the business to cover what’s going out for this period?” If you see a cash flow gap in your future, your cash flow statement can also help you answer the question: “Where can we find the cash to meet those financial obligations?” For example, if you see that you are going to have a negative cash flow situation next week, but you have invoices out that could cover the gap that aren’t due until the week after, you can use a tool like invoice funding to create the cash flow to get you through.
A cash flow statement can be incredibly useful in your decision making as it highlights both potentially hazardous cash flow situations, but also opportunities for your business to grow. It’s critical that you understand where and how cash is flowing into your business so you can put it to work in the areas that matter.
Cash flow from financing activities refers to the cash and cash equivalents coming into and going out of your business from the issuance of debt and financing. Issuing new stock, paying out dividend payments, and repurchasing stock from your shareholders are all examples of cash flow from financing activities.
A cash flow statement is important to investors because it helps them understand the financial health and growth potential of your company. If a potential investor sees consistently negative cash flow over time, they may question your ability to meet your financial obligations. On the other hand, negative cash flow from investing activities coupled with positive cash flow from operations might tell investors that your company is investing in its growth. Cash flow is just one aspect of your business investors will want to see, but it’s an important one. You can learn more about the different types of cash flow here.
Most lenders and investors will want to see your cash flow statement as part of their evaluation of your business.
As a small business owner, you may not yet have the support of an in-house finance team. Thankfully, cash flow forecasting is fairly simple to do, so you won’t need to pay an accountant every time you want to see a cash flow statement. You can learn how to prepare them yourself in our Calculating Cash Flow section.
You can learn how to prepare a cash flow statement in our Calculating Cash Flow section.
Your cash flow statement, or statement of cash flows, contains the following:
This shows you whether your cash flow over a specific period was positive or negative. If you would like to use cash flow projections to anticipate cash flow in future, try cash flow forecasting.
A cash flow statement shows the difference between your cash inflows and outflows over a specific period of time. Your balance sheet is a statement of your assets, liabilities and capitals at a specific point in time.
Your business’s cash flow statement shows how much money flowed in and out of your business over a specific period of time. A budget tells you the amount of money you can spend over a period of time, given your revenue, assets and liabilities.
Your general ledger is your company’s main accounting record and consists of all of your numbered accounts, typically categorized by assets, liabilities, owner’s equity, revenue and expenses. Your cash flow statement is a report that shows your cash inflows and outflows over a specific period.
Yes. Your business’s cash flow statement is a key financial document (alongside your balance sheet, income statement, and statement of owner’s equity).
Yes. Your cash flow statement is the official record of cash and cash equivalents flowing into and out of your company.
If you are using an automated bookkeeping solution like QuickBooks or Xero, your cash flow statement will be updated each time you run a new report, so long as you have been inputting all transaction data. You might run your cash flow statement monthly to review with your executive team or financial planner/accountant, but can run this report as often as you’d like to see it. Don’t confuse your cash flow statement with a cash flow forecast; you’ll want to see cash flow projections often so you can make informed decisions for your business.
Working your way through our Ultimate Cash Flow Guide will help you become comfortable with the terminology and accounting principles necessary to read a cash flow statement.
Cash is King, and understanding how and when that cash is going to be available to your growing business is mission critical. Invoice payment takes an average of 61 days in North America, according to the 2017 edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer. What’s more, 92.6% of businesses reported late payments from their customers in 2017.
While cash flow forecasting is an effective tool for predicting a potentially negative cash flow situation before it becomes a crisis, your cash flow statements give you a concrete cash flow history over time. Not only are they an important business planning tool, but your cash flow statements tell potential investors (and those interested in acquiring your company) important stories about the long term health and viability of your business.
A cash flow statement template enables you to more quickly and accurately prepare cash flow statements in manual bookkeeping operations. If you’re using accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero, cash flow statements are one of the reports you can generate automatically using the transaction data you’ve already input in the system. You can also find pre-made cash flow statement templates online. Here’s an example of what a cash flow statement looks like in Google Sheets:
How can you prepare a cash flow statement if you aren’t yet using automated bookkeeping software? Follow these 5 simple steps to get started:
FundThrough offers a [free, downloadable cash flow statement template] for Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets to get you started. You can either download it to use with Excel desktop, or edit it online with Google Sheets.
Want to learn more about improving cash flow to grow your business? Use our Ultimate Cash Flow Guide to help you master this critical aspect of succeeding in business and growing your company.
Cash flow forecasting is the process of comparing your company’s anticipated cash inputs and outputs for a specific period of time in the near future, to see whether you will have enough cash flow to pay your current liabilities.
Cash flow projections enable you to see what your cash flow might look like in different scenarios. For example, your cash flow forecast will look quite different if your client is late paying their outstanding $5,000 invoice, as opposed to paying on time.
Cash flow forecasting works to help you anticipate and prepare for any periods of negative cash flow. If your cash flow forecast shows that you won’t have enough free cash to make payroll next week while you wait for clients to pay invoices, for example, you can avert a cash flow crisis by using a tool like invoice factoring to cover the gap.
Cash flow forecasting is important for all companies, but especially for small and growing businesses, because it enables you to avoid a cash flow crisis. When you see negative cash flow looming in your near future, you can take steps to avoid missing payroll, bouncing a preauthorized payment, harming a supplier relationship, etc.
Cash flow forecasting and budgeting are two very different but important activities. Budgeting tells you how much you’ll have to spend in different areas of your business over a specific period of time. Cash flow forecasting tells you whether you’ll have the free cash flow to pay your current liabilities at any given point in time.
Cash flow forecasting helps your business meet its financial obligations while still ensuring that you have free cash flow for investment and growth activities. Regularly forecasting your cash flow allows you to spot potential gaps in cash flow before they happen, so instead of dealing with a crisis like missing payroll, you can focus on running your business.
There are a number of great tools out there to help you automate the process of forecasting cash flow, so you can do it more often with greater precision. Check out our Cash Flow Management Tools & Apps section to help you get started.
Learning how to forecast cash flow is easier than you might think. You’ll find the cash flow formula, different cash flow calculation methods and more in our Calculating Cash Flow section.
At times, it might be helpful to quickly estimate your future cash flow rather than sitting down to make precise cash flow forecasting calculations – when you’re in a client meeting and need to set payment terms on the fly, for example. You can learn how to estimate future cash flow by committing the cash flow formula found in our Calculating Cash Flow section to memory.
Your accountant or bookkeeper can help you create your business’s cash flow forecast, or you can prepare one on your own. Everything you need to get started, whether you’re going to calculate cash flow manually, on a PC or a Mac, or using an automated or cloud-based solution, is in our Calculating Cash Flow section.
Many business owners prefer cash flow forecasting software that uses data from their accounting platform, to reduce the manual work of inputting data and bringing records up to date. Applications like Float and DryRun can do this for you, and they integrate with accounting software programs like QuickBooks and Xero (both of the aforementioned cash flow forecasting software options are subscription-based with monthly fees).
The best tip for cash flow forecasting is that you make it a regular part of your business management activities. It’s important that you always have a clear picture of your company’s cash inflows and outflows so you can make payroll, pay your suppliers, buy capital assets and equipment, and grow your business. Keep exploring our Ultimate Cash Flow Guide to learn more.
You’re getting ready to launch a new product and really want to make a splash in your target markets. It’s time to strike while the iron’s hot. Unfortunately, your largest customer has a 60-day payment cycle. Your cash flow is dead in the water for at least another month…
The word is getting out there. You’re providing a great service and getting inquiries about larger projects. You’re nervous, though. You need free cash flow to shoulder the additional expenses of these larger projects that are key to your growth, at least until you can get a few of them under your belt…
Your business is a constant juggling act. You can see that there are sales opportunities there if you can increase your inventory, but it’s so hard when you need to make payroll and your cash flow is dependent on how long it takes clients to pay you…
If you’re experiencing challenges like this in your own business, you’re not alone. Free cash flow is critical not only to the growth of your business, but to its very survival. Running out of cash is one of the top reasons small businesses fail; in fact, 27% of startups die at the hands of a cash crisis.
Bank loans and investors can help fund your company’s growth, but they tend to want to see a pattern of healthy cash flow before they’ll get behind your business. And while crowdfunding is great for those whose campaigns go viral, they’re but a tiny minority (recent research shows that 97% of seed or crowdfunded consumer hardware startups, for example, die or become zombies).
Invoice factoring is a cash flow strategy that works by converting your outstanding invoices into immediate payments. You can end the nail-biting, hair-pulling cycle of stress that is trying to predict and plan around when your customers might pay their invoices.
You don’t have to wait to buy inventory, take on new business, or cover your payroll.
FundThrough empowers you to access your money when you need it, to fund the business activities that sustain and grow your business.
Want to learn more about cash flow and its impact on your business? Grab a coffee, get comfortable and choose a topic in our Ultimate Cash Flow Guide to get started.
Our team is just a click or a call away to answer your questions. Call our toll-free number below to contact us between 9AM and 5PM Eastern Time for inquiries, explanations or just to share great news. You can also connect with us online anytime and we'll get back to you promptly on this webpage or over email.
Our team, like our capital, is easily accessible to small business owners online.