Home > Cash Flow Statements: A Guide for New Entrepreneurs
Published at 28 October 2023
In addition to being an essential part of developing your business plan and preparing to pitch investors, the Cash Flow Statement is possibly the most important financial statement that you’ll need to understand when making business decisions.
Simply put, a cashflow statement shows the cash entering and leaving your company.
Cash flow statements are historical financial documents that record the cash and cash equivalents entering and leaving your company over a specific period in the past, typically a fiscal quarter or year. They provide insights into your company’s historical liquidity and its ability to generate cash to meet its short-term obligations.
However, while cash flow statements themselves are based on historical data, they are invaluable for making future projections and forecasts. By analysing the trends and patterns in a cash flow statement, entrepreneurs and financial analysts can predict future cash flows, anticipate potential financial challenges, and make informed business decisions to ensure the company’s financial stability and growth.
If you’re a dog walker who walks a dog on 30 July, and you make your invoice for your customer on this day, it’ll appear in your P&L statement for July (as income).
Now, let’s also say you have bills due on 31 July.
But if your customer doesn’t pay you until, say, the 5th August, the cash ‘inflow’ won’t hit your bank account until after the bills due on 31 July should have been paid.
July’s income statement might show a profit ‘on paper’, but it doesn’t mean you received any cash or paid your bills on time. This is how ‘profitable’ businesses go bust.
Cashflow is absolute king. Money in, money out. Don’t let it run out.
Interpreting a cash flow statement is straightforward with the following approach:
1. Review Operating Activities: Positive cash flow from operating activities indicates that the business is generating sufficient cash from its core operations.
2. Assess Investing Activities: Examine the investment in long-term assets, which is crucial for growth but can strain short-term liquidity.
3. Evaluate Financing Activities: Understand how the business is funded and how debts are being managed.
When developing your business plan:
While profit can seem to be the logical financial goal for business owners, a profitable company can still run out of cash.
Factors which affect your cash flow: -
Managing cash flow is juggling. You need your payments from customers and clients to come in before you can make payments out. This takes practice, or ideally, expertise, and for budding entrepreneurs, understanding cash flow statements is essential in learning how to run your business’ finances.
In addition, your cash flow statement complements your business plan, guides strategic decisions, attracts investments, and ensures the financial well-being of your venture, so if in doubt, make sure to get some professional advice - it’s one document you need to use frequently and get right!