Small Business Cash Flow Calculator
Cash flow is one of the most important factors for a business’s success. The Hartford’s Cash Flow Calculator tool can help you keep track.
The reality of cash flow isn’t as straightforward as the dollars that flow in and out on a regular basis each month. When you dig into the accounting, you might notice long-term obligations and non-cash issues like depreciation, periodic maintenance or other expenses that can skew your numbers. Delayed revenues and unexpected expenses can make it hard to get a handle on the concrete picture of your cash flow.
Bottom line: for small business owners, cash is king. Without adequate cash, your business won’t be able to maintain operations, meet production deadlines, honor business debts, or pay your staff their paychecks.
So how are you supposed to keep track without being a CPA? First of all, you should definitely have the help of a CPA or bookkeeper to make sure your financials are in order. But there are also simple ways to keep track of your cash flow yourself. For concrete assistance in creating a positive cash flow, The Hartford’s Business Owner’s Playbook Cash Flow Calculator is a user-friendly resource for all small business owners. Find the Calculator here and input your own information.
Small Business Cash Flow 101
There are several ways to measure the health of your business, such as a balance sheet or an income statement. A balance sheet is a way to measure your assets compared to your debts. An income statement, or P&L, reports your business earnings by stating your gross income and expenses so you can calculate your business’s net income.
Perhaps your most important financial statement is your cash flow statement. It cuts out all the non-cash items like depreciation and accounts for past and future obligations and receivables. That’s the statement you need to check when you do your annual accounting.
Obviously it’s not enough to check your cash flow once a year. With a little bit of bookkeeping, you can keep track of how much you’re pulling in and how much you can spend every month or even every week. The key is to stay on top of your income and expenses. You don’t want to be surprised if you have a slower-than-average month and can’t make your lease payment.
Create a Budget and Keep it Updated
It seems obvious, but a lot of small business owners fail to put together and update a realistic budget. As you start out, you’re going to have to make educated guesses about your inflows and outflows. For example, while you may know your rent payment, you might not know exactly how many clients you’re going to bring in (for service based businesses) or how much product you’re going to sell (for a retail business.)
Once you’ve been in business for a few months or years, you should be able to make more accurate revenue projections and nail down much more realistic figures for your cash in and cash out.
It’s tempting to let this task slide, but it’s important to keep your budget up to date. If you have a slow week, update your budget so you know if you need to cut back on certain expenses in order to meet your obligations. If you’re seeing growth and already have a cash cushion in case of emergencies, a budget tweak might also be in order; it may be time to consider reinvesting the extra cash.
Ask yourself the following questions to help you set up your budget:
- What are your business costs?
- What is your cash flow coming in?
- Are your expenses higher than your incoming cash flow?
- What can you do to change these numbers?
- Does your current business model support a sufficient cash flow in the future?
These questions can help you set up and follow a sustainable budget to keep your business in good financial health. For more information, read How to Set Up a Small Business Budget.
Expenses, Revenue, and Cash: How to Make it Work
You know that starting up a small business isn’t an automatic cash cow. Many (eventually successful!) small business owners take some time to get their financial statement in the black. With some careful scrutiny of your budget, you should be able to find ways to minimize expenses. Likewise, you should explore ways to bring in more revenue.
You may also want to keep in mind that sitting on a ton of cash isn’t always a good thing—that may mean you’re missing opportunities for growth. In other words, it’s a balance. You want to keep your revenues and cash flow up, your expenses down, a comfortable cash cushion, and a solid reinvestment plan.
Be sure to take a look at The Hartford’s Business Owner’s Playbook Cash Flow Calculator here and input your own information.