How to Calculate Free Cash Flow for your Business Health

Free Cash Flow

Free cash flow is one of the key indicators used to show the health of the business, particularly its profitability. Typically, it demonstrates the amount of money any business for other purposes after all the capital expenditures that may include equipment, buildings and various other necessary expenses that help businesses sustain their operations.

Although calculating cash flow is a complicated process, there are many ways you can do it. According to experts, it is always better to use all methods correctly. If they all generate the same result, it provides you a reliable way to cross-check your operations.

It is worth noting here that cash flow doesn’t relate to all businesses. It is precisely a measuring tool that non-financial firms use rather than professional associations and investment firms.  If you own a non-financial enterprise, you can calculate the cash flow for free with these three equations.

Equations to Calculate Free Cash Flow

1.       Free Cash flow:  Subtract operation taxes and costs from Sales revenues then subtract required investments for operation capital

The equation is one of the easiest ways to calculate free cash flow. Business owners take sales revenues, including taxes and operating costs from their income statement. The fixed assets show an increase when you invest in new operating capita. The balance sheet shows everything from investments and revenue details.

For example, if your business has earned revenues of $500,000, the amount is reduced to $300,000 because of taxes due and operating costs. If your business requires an investment of $150, 000, it will have the free cash flow of $30,000 to $50, 000.

2.      Free Cash flow:  Subtract net investments in operating capital from net operating profits NOPAT (after taxes)

 NOPAT refers to the same figure we used in the previous equation: subtract operating taxes and costs from sales revenues. Net investment of operating capital uses the same figure that is used in the third term of first calculations. For calculating free cash flow through this equation, it is better to use the increased fixed assets on your balance sheet.

That means, your NOPAT will remain at the same amount of $30,000. You just need to exchange the required investment of your business in operating capital for your net investments in operating capital.  If you assume the same figures, your free cash flow will remain the same.

3.      Free Cash flow:  Subtract capital expenditure from the net cash flow of operations

 You can also calculate free cash flow by subtracting the capital expenditure from the net cash flow that comes from operations.  Net cash flow in this equation comes from the cash flow statement, while capital expenditure is taken from the increase in the business’s fixed assets.  For instance, if your operation’s net cash flow is around $200,000, the figure might be reduced by your capital expenditures.

Interestingly, all these free cash flow calculation methods will give you the same answers when you work with these equations. You might feel like approaching the same information and data from three different angles.

How does Free Cash Flow Calculation Affect Your Business?

As mentioned earlier, free cash flow is useful for the health of your business. Firms with healthy free cash flow are financially stable to meet the bills and investments every month. Plus, they also have leftover funds that they usually distribute among dividends and shareholders. Man firms use this extra fund to seize opportunities to help them generate more revenues through acquisitions of innovative products.

That is to say, if your business is booming and has high free cash flow, it is an indication that it is doing well and you should consider expanding it. Conversely, if it fails to generate good free cash flow, you might need to consider restructuring it as there are remaining funds after the basic expenses.

However, it is important to understand that poor free cash flow doesn’t always indicate a failing business. It might be expected even when your business is pursuing growth. Development and acquisition of new products are temporarily subtracted from the main capital. That is the reason why most of the investors tend to work with the businesses that have high free cash flow. These businesses are generally considered healthy with bright prospects. If an investor finds a business that has rising free cash flow with an undervalued share cost, it may be a great investment bet.

How can you Benefit from the Free Cash Flow

Since you understand how positive free cash flow may benefit you by indicating the healthy financial status of your business, it is better to use this understanding to your advantage. It is always better to look beyond the figures. Know that established firms have relatively consistent and healthy free cash flow. New businesses, on the other hand, are in a state where they need to pour money into growth and stabilization.

Although it depends on the business owners how they use the free cash flow, using the funds to expand the operations, pay shareholders and dividends, invest in new products, research or to reduce debt is beneficial for the business.

Always remember that companies that have surging free cash flow due to debt elimination, dividend distributions, cost reductions, efficiency improvements, or revenue growth can reward their investors in the future.

In other scenarios, when free cash flow is shrinking, businesses fail to sustain their growth earnings. Not only this, insufficient free cash flow for growth forces a business to boost debt levels. In a worse scenario, a business without enough free cash flow may not even have the liquidity to sustain.

Final Thoughts

All in all, it is important to find an all-purpose tool that can help you test the fundamentals of your business that seem elusive. Free cash flow calculation is like a performance metric they provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to guard up if their business is not generating enough revenues.

Access our network of Investors, get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

How To Keep Cash Flow Positive As A Business Startup

One of the biggest challenges for any business startup is the ability to have positive cash flow at all times throughout the year. When times get lean,and profits go down, you can feel a pinch in your working capital and need a way to build these monetary reserves back up to their peak. The reverse holds true when profits are soaring and you are making bank – you feel the beneficial weight of some added funds sitting in your cash flow reserves ready to be spent. But, you need to even out this cyclical trend with a positive cash flow all year-round. Here are some ways you can keep your working capital positive throughout your sales cycle.

Prevent Overspending

One of the easiest ways to get your cash flow in check is to stop overspending when the need is really not there. It can be tempting to buy the latest and greatest of everything for your business,but if tomorrow’s sales take a dip, you will find your reserves a little slimmer than normal. Spend cautiously on what you need for your business startup to survive each day. This can help you have the cash you need when an issue arises without having to struggle to come up with the funding.

Stay On Top Of Invoicing

Getting paid for the work you have completed is an arduous task for any startup. It is no fun chasing down late payments, but it is your responsibility as a business startup owner to make sure your invoicing goes out on time and gets paid. Getting your invoicing in order can make sure you have a steady flow of income coming in and can make sure money is left over for positive cash flow at the end of each and every month.

Track Daily-To-Day Costs

Keeping a good record of your costs all throughout the year can help you better identify where you are overspending. You may need to reign in your expenses, but without tracking them, you have no way of knowing where your cash flow is going each day. Keep a record of all the expenses you make every single day and review them to see where you can cut back. You may be making unnecessary purchases that are costing are adding up and affecting your working capital.

Keep A Cushion

If you know your business startup struggles from time-to-time with its working capital, you can plan for these times by setting aside a cushion of funds that you can rely on when you need it. This can make your slower months easier to bear and provide you a solid reserve that you can count on when an emergency arises. It can give you some added security that you have the funds when profits dip and keep you in the black all throughout the year.

Estimate Future Earning Conservatively

When you look ahead, it can be easy to overestimate what your earning will be the following year. You may anticipate sales that don’t come to fruition or unexpected circumstances could take hold. To keep your cash flow positive, be realistic in your future earnings and plan for the unexpected, so you don’t wind up in a situation where your working capital vanishes without warning.

Increase Sales

While it goes without saying that increasing your sales can help grow your cash flow, but this is one area that business startups can lag in. Think about the ways that you can add value to your offerings and entice customers to buy more than ever before. Bundles and add-ons are simple ways to get a customer to spend more with you and help increase your sales in any given month. You need to consider all the ways that you can get each transaction to its maximum value so you can have that extra working capital after your receivables, payroll, and expenses have been paid.

Secure A Short-Term Investor

Short-term angel investors are a sure-fire way to jump start your business startup and get the funding you need to help with your cash flow problems. They can help provide funding when times are tough and allow you to breathe a little easier with their financial support. A short-term angel investor can provide you money to grow your business while still maintain the day-to-day flow. Paid back over a shorter amount of time, these seed investors help to give you more flexibility and provide an alternative means of securing funding for your business startup.

Create Loyal Customers

Turning your customers into to loyal fans that frequent your business on a regular basis can help you grow sales and increase your profits all throughout the year. These repeat customers can give you business start up the boost it needs while also helping your working capital to balloon with each purchase. When you can count on a customer to return to your business, not only does it ensure another sale but it makes it easier to project future sales and keep your cash flow from dipping into the red.

Keep Inventory Lean

Making sure that you don’t overstock your inventory can also prevent a negative cash flow for your startup business. Practice being lean and only have the inventory you need at any given time. This can make a difference in your business’ bottom line and improve your cash flow situation. Having product and materials on hand may be nice,but it can affect your ability to have the cash reserves when you need it most. Keeping inventory to a minimum takes a special knack, but you will find that your operations are just as efficient and you are not waiting months to sell your backlog, affecting your monthly working capital.

Taking stock of your cash flow on a daily basis can make sure it is positively flowing each and every month. These simple tips can help you stay in the black and make your working capital less of a worry for your business startup. Planning  ahead, staying lean, and growing your sales will ensure you have the cash reserves you need to keep your business startup afloat year-round.

 

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

What Is Factoring and Why You Should Consider It for Steady Cash Flow

Whether you are running a mid-sized company or a startup, your company requires working capital with fast financing and flexibility. Factoring companies, in this regard, provide you this needed cash flow. A factoring company typically takes on waiting for burden for accounts to receive invoice payments. In return, it provides businesses and companies with timely advance cash.

There is no denying this receivable financing method is not only flexible but and also a smart financing alternative as compared to conventional business loans. Businesses need factoring when their account receivable invoices are essentially put up for sale at a discount to a factoring company. Banks, on the other hand, require businesses to go through a burdensome and long approval process to apply for a loan. Not only this, bank loan bears interest at the current market rate and often results in heavy business debt.

Reputable factoring companies, however, start your approval within twenty-four hours and can give you the funds on the same day. This duration can be of ten days, if you are a new client. Factoring doesn’t subject your business to any volatile interest rate. This means factoring financing is a great way to avoid debt on your business or company’s book.

Factoring financing is a long-term solution for business when it comes to enumerating its benefits. However, to make the most of this finance alternative, it’s important that you have sufficient knowledge of factoring. To clear the mist, here we list some potential benefits of factoring to help you understand why you should incorporate it in your business for steady cash flow.

Before plunging into the discussion of factoring benefits, let’s understand what factoring is.

What is Financial Factoring?

In financial terminology, Factoring refers to an invoice discounting and it is used as a financing tool for businesses, particularly for startups. When a business sells goods or services to its customers, it typically offers various payment terms instead of cash at sales time. Although there are a plethora of reasons why businesses practice this, developing a long-term relationship and increasing sales are the most important. In this kind of transaction, businesses usually get accounts receivable, which they hold on their books until customers clear the debt.

Businesses Can Benefit From Long-Term Factoring

If your business faces the following scenarios, invoice factoring can be really beneficial:

  • Volatile and unstable cash flow
  • Seasonal sales
  • Long duration sales cycle
  • Business needs funding to maintain production and substantial inventory
  • Delayed payments, such as corporate buyers and government agencies

How a Factoring Company Helps Business

A factoring company deals with invoice financing, particularly for startup and medium-sized businesses that want a non-bankable working capital solution. A factoring company, typically, purchases invoices for your business from creditworthy clients. Once you do it with crediting invoices, the company advances your business with 90 percent of invoice amount within 24 hours. The remaining balance is cleared when your client settles the payment in full.

You can submit your invoices directly after the product delivery or work completion. One of the interesting features of the factoring company is it keeps your revenues inflow and causes no collection hassles or delays.

Why Your Business Should Consider Factoring for Steady Cash Flow

Fast Way to Raise Money

As mentioned earlier, factoring is an alternative financing solution for businesses looking for swift working capital. A factoring deal does not take more than 24 hours to process and complete. If your business is in need to expand its operations quickly, factoring is your go-to option. Unlike banks and other financial solutions that take a whole lot of time in applying, processing and sanctioning, invoice factoring is a fast way to raise money. In general, businesses do not have that much time when it is about making investment or processing payments.

An Easy Way of Reliable Cash flow

There is no doubt that the availability of manageable and consistent cash flow is significant for operating a successful business. This means if your business doesn’t have a reliable cash flow, it may struggle to meet its daily financial requirements. Financing factoring, in this regard, is an effective and easy financing option that can help you improve cash flow. By using financial factoring and its steady cash flow, your business can meet its daily cash needs. You can even use that money to grow your startup into an established and successful company.

Growth and Expansion

Continuing from the last point, businesses in the growth and expansion phase require working capital. Whether your business needs to hire more employees or purchase new equipment, factoring can provide your growing business the working capital it needs. It may bring endless opportunities for your business to expand.

Maxed Out Your Business Lines of Credit

A state of maxed out credit line can bring your business cash flow to a halt. Even if your company has good credit, banks can limit the amount that you can legally obtain. This may be hazardous for your business growth. However, with invoice factoring, it is only your account receivable base size that can limit. For instance, you can obtain more working capital if your business makes new customers or signs new contracts.

A Way to Handle Slow-Paying Customers

Slow paying customers are something that businesses simply cannot avoid. Managing cash-flow becomes hard if customers take 40 to 90 days for paying the due amount. Even if you work with a Master Services Agreement (MSA), which is a payment term, there are customers who pay as per their convenience. Invoice factoring allows you to benefit from instant access to your due cash. All the due payments are received within 24 hours.

Final Thought

In a nutshell, financial factoring offers multiple benefits for companies in need to raise cash without any delays. Particularly, when a traditional bank loan is unattainable and your rapidly growing business needs to meet payroll, purchase material or cover its other operating outflows, factoring is undeniably one of the best ways you can solve all these problems.

 

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender. Create a crowd funding campaign or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

 

 

 

 

 

Seasonable Business Cash Flow – Big Problem but with a Solution

Cash flowIt can be quite the hassle as a seasonable business. No matter how well you plan the year, you always seem to be struggling a while after the profitable season ends. Cash flow is somehow always a problem, but it’s not impossible to manage. Sure, it’ll take some effort and organization on your part, but it’s nothing that a dedicated business owner can’t handle.

There are a number of seasonal businesses, from farming to tourism and all the way to event planning. Although the nature of these trades is different, managing cash flow will be similar because of their seasonal characteristic. Here is what you have to do.

Know Your Seasons

You may think this is basic knowledge for any seasonal business owner. However, in a majority of cases, business owners horribly overestimate their peak season. Moreover, they underestimate the costs of operating during off-seasons. When you know the exact timings of your season, you’re able to derive accurate conclusions that set apart fact from fiction.

If you run a new business, you’ll have to start taking detailed notes from year one. Conduct research based on other seasonal companies but if you’re established, it’s time to bring out the records. Once you figure out your business’ periods of maximum revenue and expenditure and vice versa, you can plan on a forecasting strategy.

Forecast Your Business

By forecasting your cash flow throughout the year, you’re able to evaluate how much funding you have, in response to the costs. You should analyze your records to form a plan with regard to spending and sales, and how much cash flow you can retain after peak season.

You should form an analysis of sales and spending forecasts based on the factors that drive it. This includes product lines, channels, and units. Then, you should check whether your evaluation matches the accounting records.

When you’re forecasting cash flow for your business, ensure that it manages any references to sales on account, inventory management, asset replenishment and repayment of debts, which are sensitive to cash flow. When you keep track of all these things together, you won’t have to think about why unknown costs keep popping up despite the effort.

Maintain Forecasts with Concentration and Money

Making a record of forecasts once isn’t enough and never will be. The market and economy can shift within a second, so you must not fail to keep the changes reviewed and revised. This theory of development ensures that you know what’s happening, so you can adopt a new strategy next time.

Know the Expected Expenses

In a business, there are always some recurring expenses that remain fairly constant over time. You should account for these so that you can accurately forecast expenses during off-peak seasons. These costs include the price of utilities and rent but some that won’t come to mind. To know those, you’ll need to break into the account books.

In the end, you’ll be left with a somewhat expected figure as to how much you’ll have to pay in quarterly taxes and business insurance premiums. You should add these to your forecast because planning for them will be helpful during seasons with low business.

Address Changes

Sometimes, it’s enough to simply know when your business becomes vulnerable. Even if you can’t manage things yourself, you can still ask for some help. Instead of worrying about what terrors the off-season can bring to your business, think about what you can do to calmly face the inevitable. Surely, you’ll run out of capital no matter how well you manage cash flow so what does one do? You take a loan.

Think of it this way, taking an emergency loan just days before making your employees’ payroll will be very different from applying for a bridge loan months before off-season starts. For starters, you’ll get a good interest rate, and you’ll develop a good relationship with the bank.

A misconception is that well-run seasonal businesses shouldn’t need loans to generate cash flow during the off-season but this isn’t true. It’s much more achievable for a seasonal business to anticipate extra costs beforehand and take a special loan as one sees fit. Investors and bankers will show a positive response to good planning and anticipation so you shouldn’t forget to tell them about your business’ seasonality.

Restructure Some Expenses

As a seasonal business, you’ll need to pull some strings here and there to make sure that you get through the rest of the year until you’re back in peak season. One of the things you can do is to structure certain expenses in a way that they match the revenue you have in the current season.

For instance, if you make handcrafted products and deal with vendors for materials, you can form an agreement with them so they demand bigger payments in peak season while making off-season payments smaller.

Empty Your Shelves

In today’s world of consumers, quite a lot of people don’t shop during the season. This could be due to a number of reasons; they’re trying to avoid the crowd or they simply don’t want to pay the higher price. They’re waiting for an off-season sale to stock up, and as a good business owner, you should provide.

Empty out any leftover inventory from peak-season by selling products at a fair discount. This will help you generate extra revenue, as well as a pool of off-season customers. Not to mention, you’ll also be reducing the expenses of storing items.

Improve Your Line of Expertise

This is the final piece of advice that any seasonal business can get and it has more to do with becoming a multi-seasonal business. Experts suggest that seasonal businesses expand their line of work by offering different services during the off-season.

For instance, roofing companies take up jobs like snow removal during the winter. Your business can do something similar and boost cash flow throughout the rest of the year.

Conclusion

These are some of the solutions a seasonal business can adopt to improve their cash flow during the off-seasons of the year. Now, there’s no reason to do everything simultaneously. However, consistency is key. By slowly working towards a successful off-season period, seasonal businesses can improve strategies and boost peak-season practices.

Access our network of Investors, get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

Though the Looking Glass with Business Plan Financial Statements

Business plans have several sections and way at the end is the financial plan with the income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet. Don’t let that lull you into a sense of complacency though because the placement of the financial statements is not reflective of the importance. The statements can be thought of as a mirror reflecting the written descriptions that came earlier in the business plan. That means the investor should not find too many surprises in the way of numbers that don’t support or match the marketing strategies, operational plan or competitive analysis.

In other words, the business plan financial statements shouldn’t remind anyone of Alice in Wonderland. She steps through a mirror and finds an alternate world that doesn’t make any sense. The alternate world is upside down, confusing and leaves Alice in a constant state of puzzlement. A funder reading your business plan financial statements shouldn’t wonder how you got from your marketing plan to the cash flow projections or how you made the leap from expansion plans to the liabilities on the balance sheet.

The financial statements need to present an accurate picture of the proposal. If it’s a startup, the projections should be reasonable. If it’s an ongoing business ready for expansion, the financial statements must be historically accurate and prepared according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and projections should once again support the business plan proposal.

You won’t find GAAP in the looking glass alternate world. In the alternate world, business plan preparers make up numbers not supported by the facts, overstate revenues and profits, understate liabilities and make cash flow projections that are clearly pie-in-the-sky. Potential funders recognize financial statements that are overstated, optimistic and unreasonable.

As you prepare the financial statements, just remember this: Don’t be Alice!

Browse www.funded.com for more advice about getting your business funded