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What Can My Cash Flow Tell Me About The Overall Health of My Business?

If there’s one figure you know in your business, I expect it’s your bank balance. And it’s a pretty important one.


But alone it doesn’t really give you any information about what’s happening in your business. At Accounts By Ciara we regularly speak to our clients about their cash flow forecast because it’s such a crucial part of the financial picture. Cash flow hasn’t traditionally been part of the service business owners expect from their bookkeepers and accountants, but as technology has changed, it’s so simple for us to plug your accounts data into a forecasting tool and give you even deeper, real-time insights into what’s happening in your business. But why would you need that?


In this article, I’ll share what your cash flow can really tell you about your business. 


What do you mean by 'cash flow'?


Cash flow is essentially the net amount of cash and cash equivalents moving into and out of your business. It’s a critical indicator of your business's financial health. Understanding the nuances of your cash flow can help you make informed decisions, predict issues in the future, and run a more financially stable business. Here are some of the insights that your cash flow can provide about the overall health of your business:


Operational Efficiency


If you have more money in than out, you have positive cash flow. This indicates that your business is generating more money than it is spending. This is often a sign that your business operations are running smoothly and efficiently. Conversely, a negative cash flow might indicate operational challenges, such as high costs, poor inventory management, or inefficient processes that could be draining your resources.


Financial Solvency


If you haven’t got cash, you can’t meet your financial obligations - no matter how profitable you are on paper. A consistent positive cash flow suggests that your business is solvent and can comfortably pay its debts, salaries, and other operational expenses on time. If you find your business frequently struggling to cover these expenses, there’s a problem - and your bookkeeper or accountant is a great person to help. 


Growth Potential


This isn’t about how much money you have coming in, it’s about where your money is coming from. Analysing where your cash comes from can tell you a lot about your business’s growth potential. For instance, reinvestment of cash into business activities like marketing, product development, or expansion can indicate a strategy geared towards growth. If your cash flow is healthy, you'll have more flexibility to invest in new opportunities, if it’s not, you won’t. 


Investor and Lender Attractiveness


If you’re looking for debt, investment, or even to sell your business in the future, your cash flow is vitally important in making your business attractive to investors and lenders. They often look for businesses with positive cash flow as it suggests a lower risk of investment. 


Market Conditions and Consumer Demand


Your cash flow can also reflect broader market conditions and demand for your products and services. For example, seasonal variations in cash flow might be normal in your industry but variations out of the norm could indicate a need for better cash management or a need for a change to your business model to accommodate changes in the market. 


Conclusion


At Accounts By Ciara the reason we care so much about your cash flow is that it shows the long-term viability of your business. Patterns of steady, positive cash flow over a long period are a good indicator that your business model is sustainable. On the other hand, if cash flow problems persist, it might be a sign that you need to make fundamental changes. 


And if you’re anything like our clients, you’d like to have foresight of problems ahead as soon as you possibly can. 


We regularly review our clients’ cash flow to equip them with the knowledge to make proactive adjustments when they’re needed. We want your business to be robust and responsive to internal and external pressures. If you’d like to learn more about your cash flow, we cover this in our course, Sole Trading Made Simple.

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