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Cash Flow: Movement of Money

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Definition Of Cash Flow

Cash flow is a term used to measure the financial status of an organization or a business at the end of a specified period. It can either be a fiscal year or end of a quarter or any pre-defined period. So, cash flow can be defined as the cash earned by a company or paid by it in the name of business expenditure. It is not necessary for the amount received or paid to be in cash. It can either be cash or cash-equivalent currency required to carry on the business operations successfully. Cash flow not only monitors the in and out of money in a company but also reveals the source of cash.

Moreover, it also shed light upon the creditors regarding expenditure in the form of payment. Cash flow analysis has a great significance in analyzing the liquidity rate of a company. It provides concrete evidence of the cash coming into a business highlighting the source it is coming from and amount flowing out.

In the field of accounting, cash flow can be defined as the difference in the amount of cash available at the time of opening balance and the amount available at the time of closing balance. If the closing balance is higher than the opening balance, cash flow for the business is considered positive. On the contrary, if the closing balance is lower than the opening balance, cash flow is found to be negative. It is imperative for marketers to focus on increasing the cash flow of the company to ensure its sustainable development in the market. Therefore, to improve cash flow, marketers need to focus on the following factors extensively:

  • Increase in the sales of goods and services
  • Selling an asset to increase the cash flow
  • A decline in the cost of goods to attract more investors
  • Increase in the pace of collection of capital
  • Paying to the creditors, but not too fast
  • Growth in equity
  • Taking a loan in the worst case scenario to prevent a catastrophe

Working of Cash Flow

Cash flow of business adheres to the method of calculating the money gained by a company and its expenditures. The amount of cash generated by a company from its products is subtracted from the amount left after its overall spending. Thus, to understand the working of cash flow, you need to analyze the financial numbers of business very carefully. Typically, the net income needs to be adjusted based on an increase or decrease in the cash flow from time to time. Thus, cash flow is a crucial tool to determine the financial status of a business. If used wisely, it can lead you towards the success of your business, but, if misused, it can be catastrophic. 

Calculation of Cash Flow

To calculate cash flow with maximum accuracy, begin with the net income and adjust it as per the changes in the balance sheet. Therefore, steps to calculate cash flow are given as follows:

Step 1

  • Always begin with the Net Income of the company.

Step 2

  • Distinguish between profit and loss due to financing and investments, and subtracting them. For example, profit by selling a machine.

Step 3

  • Add non-cash charges to income and subtract all the factors of non-cash revenue. 

Step 4

  • Add or subtract modifications to operating accounts.
  • Operating Assets: The exceeded amount in the operating balance of the assets is subtracted with a decrease in those accounts added.
  • Operating Liabilities: It is calculated by adding the increase in the balances of operating liability accounts. Whereas, subtracting the decrease in the scales of operating liability accounts.

To calculate cash flow accurately, it is imperative to use the cash flow statement and balance sheet efficiently. It provides cash flow from operations by adding the net income, depreciation, and gradually reducing the value of capital. Later, the net increase in working capital is subtracted, i.e., current assets are subtracted from current liabilities. Thus, to get the most accurate value of cash flow in a business, you need to follow the above steps sincerely.

How to Prepare a Cash Flow Statement?

A cash flow statement is a final statement highlighting the in and out of money in any business. It explains the flow of liquidity in the business including the source of cash and expenditures of the company. To prepare a cash flow statement, there are two most common methods followed worldwide:

Indirect Method
Direct Method 

Among both the methods, the investing and financing sections are similar with the only difference in the operating part. In an indirect way, the statement begins with the net income allowing amendments in the profit or loss with the help of transactions. Achieving accurate data for the cash flow of business is necessary. Whereas, in the direct method, you can get essential classes of cash receipts and cash payments. It doesn't matter which way you choose to calculate the cash flow; the result will remain the same. However, the only difference observed in both methods will be in the presentation.

According to the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the direct method of reporting is more effective. This is because the direct method provides more useful information as compared to the indirect method.

The Significance of Cash Flow

To ensure the sustainability of a business in the market, it is crucial to realize the significance of cash flow. The primary reason for the fail in small businesses is lack of cash. According to the Small Business Administration, "the inadequate cash reserves is the primary reason that startups are not able to succeed." It is referred to as "running out of money," and can shut you down faster than anything else. Therefore, three primary advantages of cash flow to ensure the sustainable development of your business are:

  1. Startups: It is very common among startups to face financial challenges as they have endless expenses resulting in rapidly draining the money out. Situations become worse for them when their sales go down, or they start running out of customers. To deal with scenarios like these, startups are forced to rely on a temporary line of credit to avoid liquidation.
  1. Seasonal Business: It is crucial for the development of businesses to monitor cash flow, especially for those businesses having a large number of fluctuation. The fluctuation of business can surprise you at different times of the year, like holiday businesses and summer businesses. So, to efficiently manage cash flow in a company of this type can be challenging but can be done with determination.
  1. Vs. Profit: Do you wonder how your business can make a profit when you are running out of cash? It is possible to make a profit in such case as profit is an accounting concept. On the other hand, money is only the amount in the business responsible for checking account. It is also possible that your accounting system may show a difference between cash and profits. Moreover, you tend to recognize the income after receiving the invoice, even though the customer hasn't paid. 

The Building of Cash Flow Statement in a Finacial Model

The most common type of statement model in financial modeling is the "3 Statement Model". A 3 statement model acts as the link between various factors of economics contributing to one dynamic financial model. These factors are income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

7 steps to build a 3 statement model 

The 7 most effective steps required to build a 3 statement model is shown as follows:

  • Input all the financial information in a chronological order
  • Successful assumptions to drive the forecast
  • Estimate the income statement
  • An accurate measure of capital assets
  • Prediction of financing activity
  • Forecast the balance sheet
  • Complete the cash flow statement 

Therefore, to compose an adequate cash flow statement in a financial model, you need to follow the above 7 steps sincerely.

 Textbooks On Cash Flow

Book 1

Understanding Cash Flow

Published by John Wiley & Sons

By Franklin J. Plewa, Jr. (Author)


Book 2

Cash Flow Analysis and Forecasting: The Definitive Guide to Understanding and using published cash flow data

Published by John Wiley & Sons

By Timothy Jury (Author)


Book 3

How to Read a Cash Flow Statement

Published by McGraw Hill Education in 2010

By N Ramachandran, Ram Kumar Kakani (Authors) 

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