Navigating the Cash Flow Statement: A Step-by-Step Breakdown for Startups
Financial Statements Every Startup Should Know: Part 3
In today’s business world, startups are on the rise, and many entrepreneurs are taking the leap of faith to follow their dreams of building their own companies. Data collected by the US Census Bureau states that, on average, 4.4 million businesses are started each year. However, along with the excitement of starting a new venture comes the daunting task of managing finances effectively.
For startups, understanding financial statements such as the cash flow statement is vital to ensure their survival and growth. The statement of cash flows, commonly known as the cash flow statement, provides valuable information about a company’s cash flows and is an essential financial statement for startups to master.
In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step breakdown of the cash flow statement, including what it is, how to read it, and how to use it to make informed business decisions. Whether you’re a startup founder or a seasoned entrepreneur, mastering the cash flow statement can help you navigate the financial challenges of running a successful business.
What is a cash flow statement?
A cash flow statement is a financial statement that outlines the cash inflows and outflows of a business over a specific period. These statements are essential for startups as they reflect the actual cash that flows in and out of business, providing critical information about its financial stability and growth potential. This statement is especially crucial for companies to analyze their financial health and make informed decisions about spending, investment, and financing.
The cash flow statement usually consists of three sections:
- Operating activities
- Investing activities
- Financing activities
The operating activities section reports on the cash generated or used by the primary business operations. These activities include sales, supplier payments, salaries, taxes, and other operating expenses.
The investing activities section shows the cash used to invest long-term assets such as property, plant, equipment and money generated from selling such assets.
The financing activities section reports the cash received from and paid to stakeholders like lenders and investors, including capital raised through the sale of shares or loans, dividend payments, and repayments of loans.
By understanding the cash flow statement, startups can easily track major cash flow trends, identify potential cash shortages, and plan accordingly.
Why is cash flow so important for startups?
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, but it’s even more critical for startups. As a startup owner, you want to ensure your business stays operational and meets its financial obligations. By clearly understanding your incoming and outgoing cash flows, you can make informed decisions and avoid potentially damaging cash flow problems.
A cash flow statement contains information about a company’s cash inflow and outflow for a specific period. It provides a detailed record of how much cash is coming into the business, how much is going out, and where it is going. Knowing the exact cash balance is vital for any startup as it helps identify if the company has the financial stability to continue its operations.
Startups that primarily use the accrual accounting method need help to understand their cash position since it only records revenue and expenses when transactions occur. A cash flow statement, however, supplements the income statement to provide a more comprehensive view of a company’s performance. For example, it helps to highlight situations where a company may be making sales, but its outgoing cash flow exceeds its incoming cash flow, leading to a potential cash crunch.
Overall, understanding the cash flow statement is crucial for a startup’s survival, and it is a valuable tool for monitoring and analyzing the financial health of your business. By monitoring the statement of cash flows, startups can make better decisions on when to invest in new opportunities, how to manage payables and receivables, and how to prevent cash flow problems that can lead to the failure of their businesses.
Balance sheet vs. cash flow statement
Many entrepreneurs often need clarification on the balance sheet with the cash flow statement. Of course, both statements are important financial documents, but they have different purposes.
The balance sheet indicates a snapshot of a company’s financial position at a specific point in time. At the same time, the cash flow statement shows the inflow and outflow of cash during a given period. This statement primarily focuses on the company’s assets, liabilities, and equity.
In contrast, the cash flow statement focuses on cash movement from three sources – operating, investing, and financing activities. Understanding these statements’ differences is crucial for startups to track their financial performance and make informed decisions.
How do you create a cash flow statement?
Creating a reliable cash flow statement is essential for any startup company to manage its finances effectively. It shows the inflow and outflow of cash through the business, providing valuable insights into the company’s financial health. Additionally, it aids in determining whether the company has enough money to fund its daily expenses and investments. So, how do you create a cash flow statement?
To calculate cash flow, a startup must gather data from its financial statements, such as the income and balance sheets. From the income statement, net income is used as the starting point for the cash flow statement. Next, net income is adjusted, adding back non-cash expenses, such as depreciation, and deducting non-operational gains or losses. The resulting number represents the net cash flow from operating activities.
After, the investing and financing activities must be calculated. Investing activities include equipment purchases and investments in other companies, while financing activities include loans, payments to shareholders, and stock issuances. These non-operating activities are summed, with inflows of cash represented by a positive number and outflows by a negative number.
Finally, the net cash flow from each activity is added to arrive at the change in the cash balance for the period. This cash balance can be compared to previous periods to track the company’s financial health changes.
At the end of the day, creating a cash flow statement is crucial for startup companies to understand their financial health clearly. This statement can help businesses identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement in their operations and guide decision-making for investments and financing. By following these simple steps, startups can create a reliable and accurate cash flow statement to keep their business on track.
The Direct and Indirect Methods
The two main methods of creating a cash flow statement are the direct method and the indirect method. The direct method involves calculating cash inflows and outflows directly and is typically used for short-term projections, such as those for 90 days or less. This method is based on known or anticipated transactions and provides an accurate view of cash flow for a specific period of time.
On the other hand, the indirect cash flow method starts with the net income. Then it adds back non-cash items, such as depreciation and amortization, then adjusts for changes in working capital accounts. The indirect method uses historical data from balance sheets and profit and loss (P&L) statements to project a startup’s long-term cash position. This method is a standard part of budgeting processes, as startup leaders run cash flow projections to see how strategic plans will impact bank balances. However, it is often less accurate than the direct method, as it relies on assumptions and estimates rather than actual data.
It is essential for business owners to understand the difference between the direct and indirect methods of creating a cash flow statement because it can impact their decisions about how to allocate resources, invest in growth, and manage cash flow.
By using the direct method, business owners can get a more accurate view of their cash position in the short term, while the indirect method can provide a longer-term view of cash flow trends and help with strategic planning.
Setting up your cash flow statement for success
One of the essential financial statements for any business, including startups, is the cash flow statement. It shows the amount of cash coming in and going out of the business over a specific period, giving valuable insights into the company’s financial health. However, creating an accurate cash flow statement requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some crucial tips for setting up your cash flow statement for success.
Understand how to improve it
Your cash flow statement can reveal much about your business, including how well you manage your cash flow. Regularly analyzing your cash flow statement can help you understand your business’s cash flow patterns and identify improvement areas. For example, if you consistently experience negative cash flow, you may need to adjust your business operations or source additional funding to maintain financial stability.
Include depreciation in your statement
Depreciation is the gradual reduction in the value of an asset over time, and it’s a crucial consideration when creating your cash flow statement. However, depreciation expenses may not directly impact your cash balance but affect your net income. Thus, you must include depreciation expenses in your cash flow statement to clearly show your business’s overall financial performance.
Take into consideration your debts and liabilities
When preparing your cash flow statement, consider any debts and liabilities, such as loans or unpaid bills, and determine how they impact your cash flow. Then, you can adjust your cash flow statement by subtracting these liabilities from your cash inflows to understand the actual cash available to your business. This analysis will help you make informed decisions on allocating and managing your resources effectively.
Always make updates with any changes
As your business grows, your cash flow statement will likely change too. Any changes in your business operations, such as new investments, can significantly impact your cash flow. Therefore, updating your cash flow statement regularly is essential to reflect any changes accurately. In addition, maintaining up-to-date and accurate financial statements is critical for attracting investors and partners and ensuring the long-term sustainability of your startup.
Creating a cash flow statement requires careful planning, attention to detail, and an understanding of financial statement analysis. Start by setting up your cash flow statement for success by understanding how to improve it, including depreciation, considering your debts and liabilities, and regularly updated with any changes. By following these tips, you can ensure that your cash flow statement provides valuable insights into your business’s financial health and aids in making informed decisions about your startup’s future.
It is clear that the cash flow statement is one of the most critical financial statements for any company, especially startups. It tells you exactly how much money is coming into and leaving your business, providing an accurate picture of your cash position. By monitoring your cash flow regularly, you can make informed decisions about your business, such as when to invest in new assets, hire new employees, or finance growth.
Cash is king for startups, and wise cash flow management can be the difference between success and failure. Understanding how to prepare and interpret a cash flow statement is essential for any entrepreneur looking to start or grow their business. You can manage your expenses, identify potential problems, and plan for the future by keeping track of your cash flow.
Here are some key takeaways to make your startup successful:
- The cash flow statement is essential for startup companies to track their financial activities.
- The statement consists of operating, investing, and financing activities.
- Accurate and timely cash flow statements can help startups manage their finances, plan for future investments, and make informed decisions.
- Startups should be committed to adequately tracking and analyzing their cash flow statements to ensure long-term success.
Ultimately, startups should have a firm grasp of the statement of cash flows. A cash flow statement breaks down the inflows and outflows of cash within a defined period. By analyzing it properly, startups can make better business decisions, allocate resources efficiently and plan for the future. Finally, consistently monitoring and analyzing a statement of cash flows gives startups a better chance of thriving in the highly competitive business world.
As a startup, knowing how to take your company to the next level can be challenging. That is why MAccelerator is an excellent option for those looking for professional guidance and practical support. Our tailored online accelerator helps founders with tools, mindsets, and habits that can help them get to the next level in their business.