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Should I focus on profits or cash flow?

Should I focus on profits or cash flow?

Turning a profit is at the heart of running any successful company. But should profits be the only financial focus if you're looking to create a stable, long-term business?

Cash flow is the beating heart of your business. Without an even and predictable flow of cash into the company, you can't cover your overheads, you can't pay your employees and you can't run your day-to-day operations – let alone think about expanding and growing the business.

So, what’s needed is a healthy cash flow position AND a good focus on driving profits.

Keeping on top of the financial management of your business can be hard work, especially if you’re new to accounting and the technical terms that are used to talk about money.

Understanding your finances

But if you’re going to be in control of your financial destiny, it’s important to get your head around the important process of cash flow management. This is especially true in the current business landscape, where sales revenue may be less buoyant, cash can be tight and the market is going through a challenging time.

Let’s look at some of the key things to understand about your finances:

Profit is a by-product of a successful business

As the owner, you want to make profits, but profitability isn’t the only goal. A business can easily be profitable, but also be highly unstable in the longer term. What you want is stability and consistent revenues.

Cash flow is the blood that keeps your business alive

Good revenues (income) serve to bring cash into the business. Without cash to cover your operating expenses, you have no means to keep the lights on in the business. So cash really is king!

Know your cost base and overheads

The flipside of your cash flow position is your costs. In an ideal world, you want more cash inflows than cash outflows, so it’s important to know your expenses and costs and to manage them carefully.

Be proactive about spend management and easing expenditure

If you can take action that reduces your spending, that is hugely positive for your cash flow position. Choose cheaper suppliers, negotiate better deals and bring that cost base down.

Drive more revenue, through increased sales and marketing activity

If you can increase your revenues, you also boost your cash flow. So it’s important to be proactive about running targeted sales and marketing campaigns to increase your sales.

Keep the cash flowing and the profits take care of themselves

If you achieve the ideal cash flow position, the company sits on solid financial foundations, the cash is there for investment and the business can grow. It’s that simple.

Talk to us about improving your cash flow management

Whether you’re new to running a business, or a seasoned owner who needs some financial support, we can give you the cash flow advice you need.

We’ll review your finances, delve down into your cash flow and will come up with key ways for you to increase your cash income and reduce your cash expenses. It only takes a few small changes to achieve a far better cash flow position for your business – helping you maintain positive cash flow AND generate meaningful profits.

Get in touch to talk through your cash flow concerns.

cash flow vs profitability

Cash flow vs profitability

Cash flow vs profitability.

We all know that understanding cash flow is vital to the success of your business.

And having cash reserves is important to make sure you are never left short at crucial times, such as when wages are due, and when tax and loan repayments needs to be paid. Or, as 2020 has shown us, if the unexpected occurs.

That’s why it’s important to be able to forecast your business’ cashflow.

An accurate cash flow forecast should take into account your business’ current performance across revenue, operating costs, payment habits of both, financing commitments etc.

It should also include what you know about future trends and seasonality.

Cash flow vs Profitability - What’s the difference?

Having positive cash flow is different to being profitable.

Positive cash flow means your revenue comes in on time to pay your expenses and keep you from running out of cash.

Profitability means your revenue is greater than all the expenses required to keep your business generating that revenue.

Basically, timing is the difference between the two.

An example

If you sell $1,000 of goods every month and spend $500 in a month, you will make +$500 profit.

But if you’ve paid your suppliers for the $500 expenditure within the month and fail to collect the cash from the sale of goods within the month you would have -$500 in negative cash flow.

Why it's important to understand the difference between cash flow and profitability

Unfortunately, many businesses fail due to poor customer payment collections, and not understanding the difference between profitability and positive cash flow. 

It’s important not to rely on a profit showing in the Profit and Loss statement, as it is more reflective of positive cash flow than actual profit.

When relying on your bank balance and the P&L to indicate your business performance, you are at huge risk of forgetting all of the items you are responsible for “below the fold” on the Balance Sheet.

Often, the biggest, lumpiest cash out flows that you are responsible for appear there: GST, payroll taxes, loan repayments etc.

This is why it’s important to implement forecasting in your business. A great option to implement forecasting is Futrli

Talk to us about how we can help you forecast your business cashflow and profitability.

understanding your profit and loss statement

Understanding your profit and loss statement

Understanding your profit and loss statement

Your profit and loss statement (P&L) helps you understand your business performance and profitability over time. It’s sometimes called an Income statement and its main purpose is to list income and expenditure.

Whereas a balance sheet is a snapshot in time, the P&L shows transactions over a specific period of time. This can be a month, quarter, financial year or any other period, and it can be a stand-alone report or a comparative period report.

Together with the balance sheet, these two reports provide a comprehensive understanding of the financial position and performance of a business.

The profit and loss statement has two main sections: income and expenses.

These may be further subdivided depending on the complexity of the business and reporting requirements.

Income or Revenue

Income primarily includes main business activities such as sale of goods or services. Other income such as interest received, capital gains or income from secondary business activities is also reported.

Expenses

Expenses are usually divided into two sections: direct costs, or cost of goods sold, and expenses. Cost of goods are those that are directly linked to the provision of services or sale of goods. For example, if you buy widgets from a wholesaler and sell them at a marked-up value, the cost of the widgets is a direct cost, not an overhead expense.

Other types of direct costs might be importing and freight costs, contractor costs or certain equipment. Some direct costs are fixed, that is, they are the same from month to month, or they could be a fixed percentage of sales; others vary in value but are still related to the income producing activities.

Overhead expenses are all the other expenses required to run the business, regardless of the level of income: for example, rent, utilities, bank fees, bookkeeping fees, professional development costs, vehicle costs and staff costs. Many of these costs form the basis of working out your break-even point, or how much it costs just to open the doors for business.

There are some expenses which may be reported as a direct cost in one business but an indirect cost in another type of business, for example, merchant fees or contractor costs.

The Bottom Line

Total income minus total expenses results in the net profit (or loss), is often called ‘the bottom line’. Often business owners are just interested in looking at the bottom line, but a true financial picture requires an understanding of several reports and an ability to see the big picture that the reports are illustrating.

The P&L is a vital tool to analyse for trends over time

  • What does your P&L tell you about relationships and ratios between sales and expenses, seasonal changes and annual trends?
  • Have all your direct costs been allocated correctly?
  • Have you recouped all billable expenses from customers?

Financial statements help you understand the big picture for your business. With deeper understanding of your business operations and performance you can make informed decisions about your business finances.


grow your profitability

Make your business more profitable

Make your business more profitable

Is profitability a key business goal for this year?

Making a profit isn’t something that happens overnight. To create a good return from your business you need a clear focus and a well thought-out strategy for increasing profitability.

This means reviewing your business model and looking at every area of the business, to see where you can cut costs, increase margins and maximise revenue.

grow your profitability

Focus on your key drivers

Having surplus cash at the end of the year allows you to invest back into the business, fund your growth plans and increase the size of your own dividends and drawings as the owner.

To achieve these profits, it’s important to focus on the key financial drivers in your business.

To drive profits:

  • Boost sales. The more sales you make, the bigger your net revenue. So, investing in marketing, sales activity and business development will be key to a better bottom line.
  • Increase prices. By setting a higher price point, and keeping your ‘cost of goods sold’ number low, you create a larger profit margin on each sale. And this improves your profitability.
  • Cut costs. Operational costs and overheads eat into your potential profits. Spend management and cost reduction are vital to creating a more profitable model.
  • Reduce taxes. Tax liabilities will be one of your biggest costs. Sensible tax planning and use of tax reliefs will help to reduce your taxes and ramp up your end profit.

Talk to us about boosting your profits

If your business goal is to increase profitability, we’ll help you:

  • review your business model
  • identify your key financial drivers
  • proactively drive your profit performance.

Get in touch and let’s start boosting your profits.

Profit Vs Cash

Profit Vs Cash

Profit Vs Cash

Did you know that there’s a massive difference between profit and cash?

Profit Vs Cash

Here, we explore the differences across five areas of your business to help you make a better plan to increase both.

1. Sales

​Profit increases when you increase sales; cash increases when you collect the money from customers. To increase both your profit and cash from sales:

  • Delight your customers
  • Generate more leads and referrals
  • Convert a higher number of quotes or proposals
  • Increase transaction frequency
  • Increase transaction value
2. Invoicing

Profit increases when you send an invoice to a customer; cash increases when you collect the invoiced amount. To increase both your profit and cash:

  • Set clear Terms of Trade
  • Offer a small discount for early payment
  • Agree the price in advance
  • Stick to your payment terms
  • Don’t do work for people who have overdue payments
3. Margins

Increasing your margins will increase your profit; collecting the increased margin will increase your cash. To increase both your profit and cash:

  • Increase your prices
  • Invoice faster
  • Negotiate better payment terms with suppliers
  • Reduce errors and rework
  • Train and empower your team
  • Increase your efficiency
4. Financing

Reduce your finance costs to increase your profit; borrow money for assets to increase your cash. To increase your profit and cash through financing:

  • Spread the costs of assets over 3-5 years instead of buying them outright (e.g. vehicles)
  • Borrow from a bank instead of a finance company
  • Secure the asset purchases over ‘bricks and mortar’ (if possible)
5. Overheads

Reducing your overheads will increase both your profit and cash. To reduce your overheads:

  • Negotiate with suppliers
  • Measure your return on your spend (e.g. advertising, accounting fees, etc.)
  • Review your subscriptions
  • Go paperless

This is not an exhaustive list of ways to increase your profit and cash. We can help you identify specific areas of improvement in your business to increase both profit and cash. Contact us to find out how

"Never take your eyes off the cashflow because it’s the lifeblood of the business."

Sir Richard Branson