Jeff Bronswick, CPA, MBA
President and Managing Partner
Although it is important to use accounting to evaluate your historical performance, it is equally as important to use accounting to plan for the future. This blog is step one in a short series that will provide accounting techniques small and medium sized businesses can use to make them more effective and efficient.
Step 1 – Properly planned cash flows
Whether you are buying, selling, starting or growing a business, cash flow planning is critical to the success of any business. Businesses with proven techniques for cash flow planning are more successful and therefore more valuable than their competitors. If you are buying a business, make sure these practices exist. If you are selling, identify areas that need improvement and fix them in order to increase the value of your business in the eyes of a prospective buyer.
Planning should be done in advance and for at least one year out. The cash flow plan should be closely aligned with the strategic plan for the business. The purpose behind the plan is to:
- Predict when, where, and how cash needs will occur
- Predict what the best sources are for meeting additional cash needs
- Be prepared to meet these needs when they occur (it helps to keep good relationships with bankers and other creditors)
- Plan business profitability and growth
The starting point for avoiding a cash crisis is managing the balance sheet. Collection of accounts receivable and payments to vendors are two areas that require daily attention. A well run business will develop both short-term (weekly, monthly) cash flow projections to help manage daily cash, and long-term (annual and up to 5 years) cash flow projections to help develop the necessary capital strategy to meet business needs.
Remember, the plan should be by week or by month. NOT by year. Many businesses make this mistake. Most businesses have cycles and planned and unplanned major expenditures, so you need to see the highs and lows in the business on a weekly or monthly basis. If you plan properly, the cash needs will be very apparent on the cash flow projection in a given month. If you know in advance when the cash needs of your business are the highest, it will trigger actions on the part of the business for capital retention, cost reduction and bank borrowing availability.
How does a well-run business deal with these ups and downs? By negotiating in advance:
- Vendor payment terms
- Customer payment terms (and prepayments if warranted by the business)
- Bank lines of credit
- Long-term debt
- Equity capitalization
If the business has not prepared cash flow projections before, preparing historical cash flow statements and balance sheets will help you gain an understanding about the past cash flow performance and your potential needs in the future.
The process of planning future cash flows is very time consuming, but if it is done correctly, it will not only save you money, it could save your business.
Next time: A key trait of a successful business is using powerful accounting to plan for the future. We will discuss setting goals and budgeting to reach them.
If you would like any assistance in implementing the above accounting strategy, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-808-9800.
Jeffrey Bronswick, CPA, MBA
The information contained in this Blog (the “Blog”) is intended solely to provide general guidance on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, and the inherent hazards of electronic communication, there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this Blog. Accordingly, the information on this Blog is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional advice or services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser.
While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this Blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Reicin, Pollack & Co., Ltd. (RP&Co) is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this Blog is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. Nothing herein shall to any extent substitute for the independent investigations and the sound technical and business judgment of the reader. In no event will RP&Co, or its partners, employees or agents, be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information in this Blog or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.