Producing and using a statement of cash flow for your business.
By Marty McGhie
In small business, we often talk about factors like sales, net profits,
debt structure, capital expenditures, and other important
indicators in our businesses. When all is said and done, however,
we live or die with our cash flow. To be sure, all the other factors
do contribute to either positive or negative cash flow"?but in
order to survive, we must analyze each of these critical areas
within the context of how it affects cash flow. That's why a statement
of cash flows can be
The first step in using
this tool is to actually produce
one. Whether you are
generating your financial
statements in-house, or
you're relying on an outside
accounting firm to produce
your statements, make
sure you get a monthly
statement of cash flows,
preferably at the same time
you receive your monthly balance sheet and P&L statement. It
may cause some extra work for your accounting personnel, or
cost you a little more each month, but you'll find that it will be
well worth it.
A statement of cash flows comprises three separate sections:
cash flows from operating activities; cash flows from investing
activities; and cash flows from financing activities. Let's take a
look at each section; I've provided a sample statement at right.
Next, under this same section is a detail of changes
in current assets and current liabilities from the balance
sheet. Increases in current assets decrease your cash, while
decreases in current assets increase your cash; the opposite
is true for current liabilities.
A few examples: If your business experiences an increase in
the accounts-receivable balance during the month, you have
converted sales into additional accounts receivable, which
consumes cash and will reflect a decrease in cash on the statement.
If your company's inventory balance decreases during
the month, this will be reflected as an increase in your available
cash"?you have utilized inventory that was paid for in a
prior period, thus increasing your cash during the month.