Building a financial cushion for your business is never easy. Experts say that businesses should have anywhere from six to nine months worth of income safely stored away in the bank. If you’re a business grossing $250,000 per month, the mere thought of saving over $1.5 million dollars in a savings account will either have you collapsing from fits of laughter or from the paralyzing panic that has just set in. What may be a nice well-advised idea in theory can easily be tossed right out the window when you’re just barely making payroll each month. So how is a small business owner to even begin a prudent savings program for long-term success?
Realizing that your business needs a savings plan is the first step toward better management. The reasons for growing a financial nest egg are strong. Building savings allows you to plan for future growth in your business and have ready the investment capital necessary to launch those plans. Having a source of back-up income can often carry a business through a rough time. When market fluctuations, such as the dramatic increase in gasoline and oil prices, start to affect your business, you may need to dip into your savings to keep operations running smoothly until the difficulties pass. Savings can also support seasonal businesses with the ability to purchase inventory and cover payroll until the flush of new cash arrives. Try to remember that you didn’t build your business overnight and you cannot build a savings account instantly either.
Review your books monthly and see where you can trim expenses and reroute the savings to a separate account. Our month-end procedures can assist you in performing a reasonable review. This will also help to keep you on track with cash flow and other financial issues. While it can be quite alarming to see your cash flowing outward with seemingly no end in sight, it’s better to see it happening and put corrective measures into place, rather than discovering your losses five or six months too late.
Depreciation is a term we hear about frequently, but don’t really understand. It’s an essential component of accounting however. Depreciation is an expense that’s recorded at the same time and in the same period as other accounts. Long-term operating assets that are not held for sale in the course of business are called fixed assets. Fixed assets include buildings, machinery, office equipment, vehicles, computers and other equipment. It can also include items such as shelves and cabinets. Depreciation refers to spreading out the cost of a fixed asset over the years of its useful life to a business, instead of charging the entire cost to expense in the year the asset was purchased. That way, each year that the equipment or asset is used bears a share of the total cost. As an example, cars and trucks are typically depreciated over five years. The idea is to charge a fraction of the total cost to depreciation expense during each of the five years, rather than just the first year.
Depreciation applies only to fixed assets that you actually buy, not those you rent or lease. Depreciation is a real expense, but not necessarily a cash outlay expense in the year it’s recorded. The cash outlay does actually occur when the fixed asset is acquired, but is recorded over a period of time.
Depreciation is different from other expenses. It is deducted from sales revenue to determine profit, but the depreciation expense recorded in a reporting period doesn’t require any true cash outlay during that period. Depreciation expense is that portion of the total cost of a business’s fixed assets that is allocated to the period to record the cost of using the assets during period. The higher the total cost of a business’s fixed assets, then the higher its depreciation expense.
Another portion of the statement of cash flows reports the investment that the company took during the reporting year. New investments are signs of growing or upgrading the production and distribution facilities and capacity of the business. Disposing of long-term assets or divesting itself of a major part of its business can be good or bad news, depending on what’s driving those activities. A business generally disposes of some of its fixed assets every year because they reached the end of their useful lives and will not be used any longer. These fixed assets are disposed of or sold or traded in on new fixed assets. The value of a fixed asset at the end of its useful life is called its salvage value. The proceeds from selling fixed assets are reported as a source of cash in the investing activities section of the statement of cash flows. Usually these are very small amounts.
Like individuals, companies at times have to finance its acquisitions when its internal cash flow isn’t enough to finance business growth. financing refers to a business raising capital from debt and quity sources, by borrowing money from banks and other sources willing to loan money to the business and by its owners putting additional money in the business. The term also includes the other side, making payments on debt and returning capital to owners. it includes cash distributions by the business from profit to its owners.
Most business borrow money for both short terms and long terms. Most cash flow statements report only the net increase or decrease in short-term debt, not the total amounts borrowed and total payments on the debt. When reporting long-term debt, however, both the total amounts and the repayments on long-term debt during a year are generally reported in the statement of cash flows. These are reported as gross figures, rather than net.
As in previous articles, you can use Excel to perform some basic calculations in evaluating your loan repayment capacity.