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Varieties of Cash Flows

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Cash flows in and flows out. Cash flow is important and is a key indicator of a company’s health. As discussed in the previous article, cash flow is different from profitability. Cash flow measures the liquid assets on hand, while profitability relates more to the long-term expansion of the company.

Different types of income and expenses break into different categories of cash flow. We can break these down into (1) “operating cash flow,” (2) “investing cash flow,” (3) “financing cash flow,” and (4) “other cash flow.”

Differentiating types of cash flow helps businesses create a cash flow statement. These statements are important both for internal accounting and tax purposes. Each type of cash flow may require its own equation for records maintenance. These records are important for any company’s operations procedures, regardless of the company’s size.

  • Operating Cash Flow

“Operating cash flow” comes from a variety of sources. On the incoming side of the equation, “operating cash flow” might include the direct cash revenue from goods or services is one such source. Outgoing cash flow might be employees’ wages, purchase of supplies or equipment, utility bills, overhead, or payments on loans. Other types of operating cash flow, besides direct revenue, may include interest on loans and payments from lawsuits. The most common formula for “operating cash flow” is the following: Net Income + non-cash expenses + changes in working capital.

  • Investing Cash Flow

“Investing cash flow” may or may not be relevant depending on the size or operations of the business. Such cash flow may be incoming or outgoing.  Examples may include business acquisitions, insurance settlements, or loans originating from the business or business owner. Generally, the equation from “investing cash flow” is earnings from any investments minus any liabilities, such as loan payments or insurance liabilities.

  • Financing Cash Flow

“Financing cash flow” moves between owners, investors, and creditors. The owners themselves could move cash into the company from their own savings or other income sources. Aside from owners, investors or creditors may contribute to the financing of the company. Investors, for their part, could overlap with creditors, who could issue loans or other financial arrangements.

In consideration of the interests of investors and creditors, owners should consider the appropriateness of moving cash out of the company coffers, depending on circumstances. The most common formula for “financing cash flow” is the following:

Financing Activities Cash Flow = CED – (CD + RP). This formula could help a company issue a cash flow statement.

  • Other Cash Flow

Other types of cash flow might involve charitable contributions, earnings or costs for company events, or any variety of incentives for employees, assuming use for the company’s business purposes. Calculation methods may defer to the owner’s convenience and operations procedures.

  • Cash Flow Statements

The above four categories suggest methods of organization for cash-flow statements, for record-keeping purposes. Companies should issue a cash flow statement at least quarterly. The company’s management may use the above classifications at their discretion.  However, the statements themselves are necessary records for any company’s archives, both for outside requests and internal reference.

We hope that you have enjoyed this article and the prior one on profitability.   We work hard to bring our audience timely and important information.

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Cash Flow and Profits: A Comparison

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Cash-flow and profit margin both relate to the health of a company. However, each term relates differently to the company’s bottom-line. Cash-flow is important to a company’s expansion and potential. Profit margin is a different concept that may relate more directly to the company’s bottom line.

Cash-flow governs the everyday workings of the company. Cash flow may come from any of a variety of sources, including the owner’s personal funds, investors, or loans, as well as revenue. Cash flow pays the bills, the employees, and the creditors in the short-term. Profits matter in the long-term, especially in the wake of large investments from investors or creditors.

For a smaller company with an independent cash flow, operations may continue for quite some time (or even indefinitely) before turning a profit, based on the enthusiasm and motivations of its operators. This is especially true with a home business. For a larger enterprises, profits must ultimately keep up with the cash flow. This is especially true when the original investors become creditors demanding payment.

So how do we more specifically define profits versus cash flow? “Profit” is basically the same as “net income.” Within a given period, your “profit” is your business revenue minus your expenses (including cost of providing products and services and overhead).

But how to manage cash flow? Assume a loan of $15,000, with a payment plan of $500 per month. That initial loan provides a healthy cash flow early in the history of the company, but the subsequent $500 per month will eat just that much into the profit margin.

Financial experts sometimes consider cash flow a better indicator of a company’s performance than profit margin. Cash flow affords better opportunities for growth. Cash flow may indicate better credit on the part of the company, and greater enthusiasm on the part of investors. By extension, the incoming monies may signal a brighter future for the company.

On the other hand, profit holds a different importance to the company’s bottom line and plans for expansion. A small side-business can emphasize profitability from the get-go, absent lofty ambitions. Smaller enterprises need not incur debt. Entrepreneurs with bigger plans must consider cash flow while they can maintain their company in the growth stage before reaching the critical mass necessary to generate independent profits.

A small business should consider maintaining a “cash flow statement” that details their periodic cash flow. These statements are called “free cash flow,” or “FCF” statements. In order to calculate your “FCF,” you should:

(1) calculate your operating cash flow

(2) subtract your capital expenditures

(3) on the chance that your company pays dividends, subtract your dividends, which are shares of profits paid to part-owners of the company.

Business owners should carefully monitor both cash flow and profits, for the sake of the progress of their company, as well as tax considerations. Cash flow could originate from an excited or generous relative, or a small business loan, or any of a variety of sources. Profitability depends on total revenue minus expenses, including negotiated payments to investors or lenders.

Profitability may indicate long-term success, but cash flow generally indicates engagement with the economy and a vibrant outlook for success. Healthy cash flow demonstrates that the company functions in the here and now. In many cases profitability may come afterward.

 

We hope that you have enjoyed this article and the prior one on profitability.   We work hard to bring our audience timely and important information.

We do not charge members any dues or fees.  If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, please join here:   https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Members may use our seal on their web sites and collateral and will receive special discounts and other important information.

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