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Free Book: How to Prepare a Cash Flow Statement

 

How to Prepare a Cash Flow Statement

A Step by Step Guide to Cash Flow Management in a Small Business

How to Prepare a Cash Flow StatementThis guide will walk you step by step through all the essential phases of Cash Flow Management in a Small Business.

The Cash Flow Statement identifies when cash is expected to be received and when it must be spent to pay bills and debts. It shows how much cash will be needed to pay expenses and when it will be needed. It also allows the manager to identify where the necessary cash will come from. For example, will it be internally generated from sales and the collection of accounts receivable - or must it be borrowed?

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One of the most important elements contributing to the successful financial management of a business is the preparation of a Cash Flow Statement (sometimes called the Cash Flow Budget).
The Cash Flow Statement

The Cash Flow Statement identifies when cash is expected to be received and when it must be spent to pay bills and debts. It shows how much cash will be needed to pay expenses and when it will be needed. It also allows the manager to identify where the necessary cash will come from. For example, will it be internally generated from sales and the collection of accounts receivable - or must it be borrowed? (The Cash Flow Projection deals only with actual cash transactions; depreciation and amortization of goodwill or other non-cash expense items are not considered in this Pro Forma.)
The Cash Flow Statement, based on management estimates of sales and obligations, identifies when money will be flowing into and out of the business. It enables management to plan for shortfalls in cash resources so short term working capital loans may be arranged in advance. It allows management to schedule purchases and payments in a way that enables the business to borrow as little as possible. Because all sales are not cash sales, management must be able to forecast when accounts receivable will become "cash in the bank" and when expenses - whether regular or seasonal - must be paid so cash shortfalls will not interrupt normal business operations.

The Cash Flow Statement may also be used as a Budget. permitting the manager increased control of the business through continuous comparison of actual receipts and disbursements against forecast amounts. This comparison helps the small business owner identify areas for timely improvement in financial management.
By closely watching the timing of cash receipts and disbursements, cash balance on hand, and loan balances, management can readily identify such things as deficiencies in collecting receivables, unrealistic trade credit or loan repayment schedules. Surplus cash that may be invested on a short-term basis or used to reduce debt and interest expenses temporarily can be recognized. In short, it is the most valuable tool management has at its disposal to refine the day-to-day operation of a business. It is an important financial tool bank lenders evaluate when a business needs a loan, for it demonstrates not only how large a loan is required but also when and how it can be repaid.

A Cash Flow Statement or Budget can be prepared for any period of time. However, a one-year budget matching the fiscal year of your business is recommended. As in the preparation and use of the Pro Forma Statement of Income, the projected Cash Flow Statement should be prepared on a monthly basis for the next year. It should be revised not less than quarterly to reflect actual performance in the preceding three months of operations to check its projections.

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