The Problem with Small Businesses and Accounting Technology

accounting technology hero image confusion

Accounting technology has come a long way since the dawn of time. While it took thousands of years to go from clay tablets to iPads, modern accounting software has evolved at the speed of light. In less than 30 years we’ve moved from early enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to the versatility of the cloud.

What does this mean for the average small business? Unless you own an accounting or bookkeeping business, it’s not likely that a spreadsheet is your spirit animal. However, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, like PayPie, have made it easier for small businesses to harness the benefits of automation.

The problem is many small businesses are not only time-starved —  they’re somehow missing out on the time and money they could save by adopting accounting technology.

Industry surveys indicate small businesses aren’t keeping up with the pace

According to the good folks at the GetApp Lab, we’re currently in the “Age of Intelligent Accounting.” We’re living in a time when technology lets you easily forecast cash flow, automate data entry, improve processes and securely share data.

age of intelligent accounting

Yet, a FitSmallBusiness study of 293 small business owners found that no single form accounting software, in any category, had a usage rate of 50% or more. The only category that came close was general accounting software with 49.8%. In fact, most categories came in at 40% or less.

QuickBooks found similar results when it surveyed 400 small business owners with 20 employees or less. Most spent more time than they’d like on back-office operations, such as accounting, administrative tasks, bookkeeping, inventory and accounts receivable. Furthermore, only 30% of these small businesses considered themselves “highly automated.”

Why aren’t small businesses adopting accounting technology at historic rates?

Most small businesses said cost was the main reason they weren’t using small business accounting software and other accounting technology. The irony is that these tools are often quite affordable. For instance, the “Simple Start” version of QuickBooks Online is $20 USD a month and there are often sign-up promotions.

Then there’s the simple fact of valuing the time and the savings gained by preventing costly mistakes. Every hour that a business spends on a process that could easily be automated is an hour that’s lost toward growing the business. An hour spent each day on updating a spreadsheet adds up to 5 to 7 hours a week or 20 to 28 hours a month.

Mistakes also cost time and money. Any business that files its taxes late without filing an extension, will be fined. The longer the problem goes unsolved, the more interest and penalties accrue. Without proper processes, solving the problem is also harder. Any mistake that goes unresolved can easily snowball into a spiral of despair.

Pro Tip
In most cases, the costs of accounting software and related accounting technology are tax deductible in both the United States and Canada.

The times are changing and so should small businesses  

Within the next few years, 80% of accounting and finance tasks will be automated. If you take the literal translation of few as three years, this is soon, very soon.

It doesn’t mean the robots will take over. What it means is those small businesses who embrace process automation by using cloud-based small business accounting software and the ever-growing ecosystem of apps will:

  • Reduce errors by up to 95%.
  • Make some processes up 4 times faster.
  • Gain cost savings of up to 80%.

“Cloud accounting automation capabilities will significantly streamline internal operations. This lowers the risk of data loss and miscommunication. And given the technology’s low cost of entry and maintenance, its return on investment cannot be ignored.”
—Tammatha Denyes, TD Accounting Services, 2018 QuickBooks Firm of the Future Runner-up

Where small businesses can leverage accounting technology

According to small business owners themselves, they spend too much time on accounting, bookkeeping, administration, inventory and chasing payments. However, they’d rather be spending more time on things like building their teams and marketing their products and services.

tasks with too much time

Going back to the costs of failing to automate:

  • 70% of small businesses aren’t using apps to help them automate scheduling — which not only wastes time, it puts these businesses at risk of violating labor laws and increasing turnover.
  • 60% of small businesses aren’t automating their payroll — let’s just say that in the history of bad ideas, this is one of them. Hello, tax laws anyone?
  • Only 21% of small businesses have integrated their accounting software with invoicing apps — considering late payments are a top business concern and cash flow headache, this should be a “no-brainer.”

Any small business accountant or bookkeeper reading this piece is probably saying, “Yes, yes, yes!” to all the points above. But how do we turn the tide and get small businesses to take advantage of the simplicity and effectiveness that accounting tech offers?

The role accountants and bookkeepers play

“We can consult with our clients to help them solve their pain points as they occur and make real-time changes to their business. This makes us more valuable than ever before.”
—Tanya Hilts, Cloud Bookkeeping Services, 2018 QuickBooks Global Firm of the Future Winner

Once a business works with an accountant and/or bookkeeper, they quickly see the benefits of this relationship. From complying with tax and labor laws to setting and achieving financial goals, there are no better advocates than small business accountants and bookkeepers.

As the people establishing financial processes, accountants and bookkeepers have a unique opportunity to get small businesses using accounting technology. Many financial professionals have their core go-to apps that they often recommend to businesses. Slowly but surely, this is how the bridge will be gapped.

When you consider that 40% of small businesses claim that doing their own bookkeeping and taxes was the worst part of being a small business owner and another 64% do their bookkeeping by hand, it’s easy to see where the opportunity lies.

It’s all about empowerment

“With every new client we bring on, my primary missions are the same: to make their financial processes easier and to help them reach their financial goals.”
—Michael Ly, Reconciled, 2018 QuickBooks US Firm of the Future

At PayPie, we’re 100% behind empowering accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses. It why we’ve developed our risk assessment and cash flow tools and why we’ve invested in creating useful, informative and actionable content in our blog.

Just as businesses benefit from automation, so do accountants and bookkeepers. There’s no need to spend hours building custom reports. Grow into your role as an advisor and advocate by helping businesses see the big picture with PayPie.

Trying our powerfully designed and intuitive analytics is as simple as creating a PayPie account then connecting a business’ QuickBooks Online account.

Main analytics dashboard

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online and was a 2018 Small Business App Showdown Finalist. 

The information in this article is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Stock image via Pexels. Age of Intelligent Accounting infographic via GetApp. Table of back-office tasks via Intuit QuickBooks. 

Forecasting Cash Flow in QuickBooks Online

cash flow forecasting in QBO main image

The average small business owner might not be as familiar with cash flow as they should. However, if you’ve got an awesome accountant and/or bookkeeper on your side, they can wax poetic on the virtues of a good cash flow projection.

Once a business starts forecasting cash flow, they’re quickly inspired and empowered by the insights it provides. This is why PayPie has included both monthly and daily cash flow forecasting within its analytics dashboard.

Accountants and bookkeepers who use QuickBooks Online (QBO) know that the Cash Flow Projector tool is only available within QuickBooks Desktop. But hope is not lost! In this article, you’ll learn how to use PayPie to project cash flow by simply connecting a business’ QBO account.

Creating a cash flow forecast in QBO

Put down the pen and paper. Forget about opening Google Sheets or Excel. Simply sign up for PayPie, then connect the business’ account. Forecasting cash flow is really that easy.

The app will then do a deep dive on the business’ financial data, looking at hundreds of variables. (And we’re just getting started…) The assessment of these variables is then presented in a unique analytics dashboard, with all of the cash flow metrics detailed in the cash flow tab.

main dashboard cash flow tab

Learn more about the PayPie QBO integration

Forecasting cash flow — monthly projections

The data for the monthly cash flow forecast pulls from the company’s income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. The graph shows three months of actual cash flow and another six months of forecasted cash flow. The forward-looking projections are based on the numbers from the previous three months.

Cash flow is broken into the three main categories:

  • Operating cash flow — inflows and outflows related to the sale of goods and services.
  • Investing cash flow — inflows and outflows that stem from the sale or purchase of capital investments.
  • Financing cash flow — inflows and outflows from borrowing activities or external investors.

Monthly changes in cash flow also helps identify patterns in order to leverage peaks and overcome the valleys.

cash flow forecasting monthly projections

Forecasting cash flow — daily projections

The daily cash flow projection shows the beginning and ending cash balance for each day — based on current and previous data in the business’ main financial reports.

Daily projections help you get more granular in your cash flow analysis. For example, a pattern of negative cash flow days can help pinpoint if a business is giving their vendors more time to pay than their debtors are giving them.

cash flow forecasting daily projections

5 reasons to use PayPie for cash flow forecasting.

Analyzing cash flow — accounts receivable

Receivables and payables are key components of cash flow. With PayPie you can generate an assessment of each one. Assessing accounts receivable helps identify overly generous credit terms and outstanding invoices that negatively impact cash flow and a business’ overall financial health.

In the accounts receivable analysis, you’ll be able to quickly access:

  • Total invoices raised — for a period of 12 months, regardless of whether the invoices are open or closed.
  • Monthly invoices, payments and open AR — laid out in a convenient bar graph. (Open AR = (previous month’s open AR + current month’s invoices) – payments.)
  • Top five exposures — showing which customers represent the highest amounts of outstanding invoices.

accounts receivable

Analyzing cash flow — accounts payable

Just as accounts receivable shows inflows, accounts payable details outflows. Crucially, if there are late payments which affect the business’ short- and long-term credit profile, as lenders base their conditions on previous payment histories.

The accounts payable analysis features:

  • Total bills received — for a period of 12 months, regardless of whether the bills are paid or unpaid.
  • Monthly bills, payments and open AP — laid out in a convenient bar graph. (Open AP = (previous month’s open AP + current month’s bills) – payments.)
  • Top 5 exposures — showing which vendors represent the highest amounts of outstanding bills.

accounts payable

Comparing income to expenses

In order to provide a historical and top-level perspective, PayPie also graphs total income and expenses for a period of 12 months. This yet another way to highlight trends, such as when expenses either exceed or come close to surpassing income.

income and expenses

Generating a breakdown of expenses

Delving further into examining cash outflows, PayPie’s cash flow analysis also breaks down expenses on a monthly basis, displaying 12 consecutive months. It’s a quick way to provide a snapshot of a business’ main expenses throughout the year.

expense breakdown

Handy reference — basic cash flow terms and concepts.

Creating a cash flow statement in QBO

If all you want to do is create a cash flow statement, simply go to the QBO reports tab and select “statement of cash flows.” However, why have just a cash flow statement when you can have a comprehensive cash flow forecast? Plus, our dashboard includes a cash flow statement as well.

cash flow statement in dashboard

Assessing credit risk

The main question that PayPie’s financial analysis answers is, “How does my business look in front of lenders?” We provide insights into cash flow as it’s closely tied to determining the business’ ability to manage its finances and credit.

However, our algorithm also examines a range of variables related to risk in order to create a proprietary risk score. Unlike traditional credit scores, it’s based on a business’ own real-time accounting data, instead of third-party sources. It doesn’t replace a traditional credit score. Instead, it serves as an internal benchmark of how the business is currently performing.

If a business is planning grown and knows that it’ll need funding in the future, it can use the risk score and the insights from the assessment to be better prepared when applying for financing.

risk score

Taking action through insights

If you’re taking the time to forecast cash flow and evaluate risk, you’re already interested in troubleshooting. But you’re also interested in solutions as well. This is why PayPie also includes a list of targeted insights, that pinpoint problem areas which need to be addressed.

These insights into financial health and borrowing capacity include:

  • Cash flow coverage ratio — the ability to pay interest and principal amounts on borrowed funds.
  • Creditor days — the average amount of time needed to settle debts with trade suppliers.
  • Current ratio — the ability to meet short-term debt obligations within the next 12 months.
  • Debt-to-equity ratio — shows how much debt is used to run the business as well as the value of the assets compared to the debt.
  • Debtor days — how long it’s taking to collect payment from debtors.
  • Interest coverage ratio — determines how easily a business can pay interest expenses on outstanding debt.
  • Leverage ratio — how much operating and financing leverage a business has in order to manage debt or acquire additional funds.
  • Net worth — the total value of the assets after all debts are paid.
  • Return on capital employed — how well a business’ capital investments are paying off.
  • Revenue growth — compared year over year.

insights (2)

Start forecasting cash flow today. Sign up for PayPie and connect your business.

PayPie’s cash flow forecasting is currently free. In the future, each user will be limited to two businesses. Volume pricing for accountants and bookkeepers will also be introduced.

In the meantime, try it out and let us know what you think. We mean it, we value your feedback.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online are registered trademarks of Intuit Inc. PayPie integrates with QuickBooks Online. It does not integrate with QuickBooks Desktop. 

The information in this article is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Stock image via Pexels. App images via a PayPie demo account. 

Is Creditworthiness a Real Thing?

creditworthiness handshake

The amount of financial jargon you see as an entrepreneur is dizzying. You’ve got to worry about your accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash flow, and more. That’s not even getting into the world of acronyms, such as EBITDA, P&L, and other gems. With so many strange and different words in the financial universe, you might be wondering if “creditworthiness” is even a real word.

Truth — it’s very real and really important to your business. Creditworthiness is the sum of many factors, which is why PayPie has created a proprietary risk assessment to help you answer the question, “How will my business look whenever I apply for funding?” As a reflection of your financial health, here’s what you need to know about what goes into determining how lenders see you and your business.

What is creditworthiness?

Creditworthiness isn’t a specific statistic about a company’s financial health, unlike some other metrics, like a business credit score. Rather, it is a valuation that lenders perform in order to determine if borrowers may default on their loan. A lender determines creditworthiness by evaluating several financial figures, which shed light on a business’ overall ability to take on and repay its debts.

The reason lenders care about creditworthiness boils down to risk. Lenders aren’t fans of risk.  They want to be as certain as possible that their borrowers can afford to repay the money they’re lent, plus interest and fees.

There’s always some risk that a borrower might default, and no one is a psychic, of course. But lenders want to do as much research into their applicants as possible to minimize this possibility.

Your past credit and future creditworthiness 

That’s where credit and credit history come in. Lenders will look into your finances to see if there are any red flags — things like late payments, the amount of money you have charged versus how much credit you have available, defaults, insolvency, or poor cash flow could signal that you’re a riskier borrower than they might like.

The relative importance of your business’ creditworthiness varies depending on the kind of loan in question. For example, a longer-term loan may require a much higher creditworthiness threshold than an equipment loan.

The reason for this is term loans come with bigger financial obligations and longer repayment schedules, whereas equipment loans are self-collateralizing and banks can easily sell the machinery purchased with the loan to recoup their money. The importance of your creditworthiness might shift depending on what kind of loan you pursue.

What determines creditworthiness?

Your creditworthiness may not boil down to a certain score alone. However, lenders look at several financial figures to help determine their decision. Most of these figures, perhaps unsurprisingly, relate to your company’s credit. But there’s more to creditworthiness than a credit score. Here are a few of the core elements and how they affect the ways that lenders make their decisions.

The 5 C’s of credit

The 5 C’s of credit are perhaps the biggest determinants of your creditworthiness. They account for five key components of your business’ borrowing history:

  • Character: Your company’s character focuses primarily on your trustworthiness and acumen as a borrower. This includes your track record of paying back debts, be they through credit card balances or previous loans. But that’s not the only factor. Lenders also want to know more about your business experience, financial know-how, education, and professional accomplishments. Achievements, like having previously built a successful business or holding an MBA from a top university, are considered “experiential” assets.
  • Capacity: Capacity looks into your company’s cash flow to determine if you have enough money coming in and going out to make repayments feasible. Lenders don’t want to give money to a company that doesn’t look like it can make consistent repayments. Your capacity shows them whether or not your business can. Capacity decisions also include the amount of time your company’s been in business. (This is an area where newer business’ struggle, but it can be overcome with a solid business plan and strength in the other C’s)
  • Capital: Lenders love to see business owners who have put some of their own skin in the game. Capital reflects the amount of your own money you’ve invested in your company, which demonstrates how financially invested you are personally in its success. Lenders don’t want to be the only ones taking on risk when they put their cash on the line to help you fund your business.
  • Collateral: Collateral is the amount of cash you can put up to secure a loan. Most loans require some amount of collateral for approval. This is because lenders want to know that you have something to provide them in the event that you default on the total balance of your debt. Some loans do not require collateral, such as equipment loans, as the equipment itself serves this role instead (i.e. lenders can sell the items purchased to recoup their losses).
  • Conditions: The purpose of your loan plays a large factor in your creditworthiness since there’s more risk involved in certain ventures than others. For example, if you intend to use your loan to buy raw materials or inventory, this is a safer “more tangible” purpose than a new ad campaign, which may not necessarily reap direct financial dividends. Most lenders would rather you use their money in ways that have a direct impact on revenue.  Conditions help them make this decision.

Read more about the 5 C’s of credit.

When your personal credit comes into the picture…

Your company’s creditworthiness decision comes from a few data sources. Most relate to your business, but your personal finances can also play a significant role. Especially if your business is new and doesn’t have a detailed financial history. If that’s the case, lenders will look toward your personal credit history to get a better projection of your track record with debt.

When lenders evaluate your personal credit history, they focus on a few specifics. Chief among them is your credit report, which offers a snapshot of your debt history. Your credit report reflects how well you pay off your debt, as well as your credit utilization (the amount of credit you use out of the total amount offered to you). The better your credit score, the more likely lenders are to approve your business loan. They view your personal use of credit as an indicator of how you’ll handle business debts. The stronger your personal credit history, the better.

Your business credit history

Your business may already have enough credit history to have its own credit score. If so, that’s a great addition to your application, and can help improve your creditworthiness if your score’s a good one.

Business credit scores are similar to their personal counterparts, as they evaluate your company’s history with credit, as well as its credit utilization. Business credit reports also factor for industry-based credit risks as well, however. If your industry is subject to market volatility or has recently seen a large number of bankruptcies, your credit report may suffer.

Your creditworthiness and financial health.

Creditworthiness tells a story that all lenders can understand

Your ability to get a business loan or any form of business financing hinges on your creditworthiness. It is an objective, universal measurement of your company’s history (and your personal history) with money. The same factors go into measuring your creditworthiness as any other business — which means that it serves as the baseline method of determining a company’s attractiveness to lenders.

Credit scores may change depending on the reporting agency, and every business’ mission statement is unique unto itself. But creditworthiness accounts for these differences by objectively evaluating the total picture of a borrower.

How cash flow affects creditworthiness

One major factor that has a cascading effect on creditworthiness is cash flow. With a solid cash flow, you can pay your debts on time, expand your revenue, and prepare for the future. Without understanding the ins and outs of this vital metric, you’ll miss payments and mismanage your money — which is a recipe for credit disaster.

A reliable cash flow forecast helps you take control of your cash, your debts, and day-to-day finances. This is why we include both a monthly and daily cash flow forecast within our analytics dashboard. You also receive a targeted list of actionable insights to help you improve your business’ creditworthiness.

insights

Get the tools to measure and build creditworthiness. Connect your business with powerful, intuitive analytics and insights.

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online and was a 2018 Small Business App Showdown Finalist. 

The information in this article is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional. 

Images via Pexels. 

COGS: What it is and How it Works

Cost of Goods and Services

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are always on the lookout for ways to maximize profits. The cost of goods sold (COGS) is a great place to start, as this figure includes a key expense: the cost of labor. If you’re manufacturing your products, in addition to selling them, your COGS impacts your financial health.

Knowing your COGS helps you find inefficiencies throughout different parts of your business. Perhaps you’re paying too much for manufacturing and could find alternative means of making your products. Or maybe your labor costs are too high and there are ways for you to make your workforce leaner.

All of these common COGS factors have a huge impact on the way you do business, especially with regard to cash flow. Since cash flow is the backbone of your day-to-day operations, you’re going to want to make sure you can stretch your liquid assets as far as they’ll go. Maximizing your COGS helps improve your cash flow, risk profile and ability to secure business financing whenever you need.

Read more: The 5 C’s of Business Credit 

What is COGS and why is it important?

COGS is, at its core, a measurement of how much it costs for you to make your product or provide a service. This figure goes beyond simply tracking how much you spend on raw materials since that only tells one part of the story. Instead, COGS tracks the cost of materials as well as the labor associated with production. It measures any direct costs in materials, purchases and labor that went into creating a product or service during a specific period. 

Your COGS is important for three major reasons: tax reporting, growth opportunities and, profit tracking. COGS helps you accurately track your sales when tax time comes, which helps make sure you claim the most deductions and pay the right amount of tax.

This number also helps you determine which items sell better than others and where you might be able to reduce manufacturing costs. (If they’re out of sync with other products.) Lastly, COGS helps you track profits by giving you a foundational understanding of how much it costs to produce your goods.

cash flow consulting stock image

How to calculate your COGS

Avery’s Amulets is a little shop on Main Street that’s devoted to all things baubles. She has more than $3,000 worth of jewels in inventory at the beginning of the year. She also makes an additional $1,500 worth of goods throughout the year. That means that Avery has $4,500 worth of stock. Avery’s Amulets amasses an astounding amount of sales that leaves her with only $430 worth of inventory by the end of the year.

Avery adds it all up with the following formula:

Beginning Inventory ($3,000) + Additional Inventory ($1,500) – Ending Inventory ($430) = COGS ($4,030)

Therefore, Avery’s COGS for the year is $4,030. This means, in the next year, she knows that it will take a minimum of $4,030 to produce the same amount of goods. Unless she’s able to find efficiencies or there’s a rise in the cost of materials or labor that’s simply beyond her control. 

How to control your COGS

Avery wants to bring her COGS to heel — namely, she wants to reduce her labor costs per item. This would help dig her out of a cash flow issue since the bauble business requires a ton of up-front payment for raw materials.

Avery might be able to find savings by automating some of her work, so she buys the Recom-bauble-lator 3000, which lets her build baubles in a fraction of the time. This helps her reduce labor costs, since she no longer needs to employ part-time employees to help her out.

This is only one way to control COGS. The other is buying materials at a better price. Avery doesn’t want to make the investment in a Recom-bauble-ator 3000 and would rather be loyal to her employees. Preferring a human touch, she works out new terms with her gold supplier, which gives her better bulk pricing to produce a bevy of baubles for less money. This helps her reduce her COGS by lowering materials cost.

Learn the Difference Between Personal an Business Credit

Why controlling COGS is key to cash flow

Buying equipment and paying to put it together isn’t cheap. Any time you pay more than you need to when creating inventory, you leave money on the table. Keeping track of COGS can help significantly here. It provides you with clues on where you can minimize costs and optimize your company’s operations.

Keeping costs down helps free up cash. Which, in turn, helps you keep your cash flow steady. The more you can free up cash, the better your cash flow gets. Having your COGS at the ready helps you determine where your company is making the most of its available cash, and where there might be a drain on resources.

To get a further handle on your business and its financial health, you can connect your QuickBooks Online account to PayPie to get a detailed assessment of how banks, online lenders and other businesses view your business in terms of risk. Cash flow is definitely one factor, but our tool also combs through your transactional data to give you a near-real-time answer to the question, “How do lenders view my business?”

main dashboard

Get started today! Create your account then connect your business in just a few clicks. It’s that simple.

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online. Additional integrations are coming soon.

This article is informational only. It is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional.

Images via Pexels.

What Your Cash Conversion Cycle Means For Your Business

cash conversion cycle

Running a business is all about making investments of time and money in exchange for a return on your efforts. But, if it takes too long for you to generate sales, you risk running out of cash. Or, if your production process takes too long, you risk leaving potential sales on the table.

The cash conversion cycle demonstrates how many days it takes for you to turn your investments in whatever it takes to create your products or services into cash flows from sales. It also helps measure how long it takes for you to see a return on your investment and can even help you spot inefficiencies along the way.

Because your cash conversion cycle (cash to cash cycle) helps tell you how much cash you need to fund ongoing operations, it’s instrumental when forecasting cash flow. Knowing the mechanics of your cash conversion cycle and using PayPie to forecast cash flow helps you see how efficiently you’re running your business and better anticipate your financing needs.

What is a cash conversion cycle?

You don’t need an MBA to decipher the benefits of increased sales. However, in the real world, you have to account for the amount of cash you have on hand to invest in inventory, employees, manufacturing, and the other costs of doing business.

Here’s where the cash conversion cycle helps. This measurement shows you how long you’ll go between making an investment in creating a product or service and turning it into a sale. Whether you buy inventory on credit or pay out of pocket or sell products on credit or cash-on-delivery, you can use the cash conversion cycle to measure how long it takes to turn your investment into an actual sale.

Your cash conversion cycle measures exactly how long it takes for you to turn investments into cash. This helps you make smarter financial decisions about inventory, sales, and pricing. A faster cycle means you’re churning out product as fast as you can sell it. A longer cycle means you’ll have to be a bit more careful about how you invest your money in inventory and expenses.

Learn how to read a cash flow statement. 

cash conversion cycle and cash flow

How to calculate your cash conversion cycle

Barry owns a ball bearing company. He wants to determine how long it’ll take for him to turn his investments in inventory and manufacturing into sales. The best way for him to do this is by calculating his cash conversion cycle —the time it takes between the outlay of costs to produce and when they’re sold.

To figure out his cash conversion cycle (CCC), Barry has to calculate several underlying components first: days sales outstanding (DSO), days inventory outstanding (DIO), and days payables outstanding (DPO).

With these numbers in hand, he can use this formula to figure out his cash conversion cycle:

CCC = DSO + DIO – DPO

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

DSO (days receivable or average collection period) reflects how long it takes for your customers and clients to pay their bills. The higher your DSO, the longer you go without getting paid for your sales. This can adversely affect your cash conversion cycle (and cash flow) since it means you have to wait longer to get a return on the money you’ve invested in making the product sold.

Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)

Your DIO (days in inventory or days inventory) reflects how long it takes for you to sell an inventory item. The smaller your DIO, the faster you’re moving products. It also helps you determine how long it takes to convert investments into cash by reflecting the waiting period between your investments in inventory and how long it takes to sell the items.

To determine your DIO, you have to make two other calculations. You’ll want to determine your average inventory and cost of goods sold (COGS).

Average inventory lets you know the amount of unsold inventory you have at the end of every period. COGS lets you determine how expensive it is for you to create an inventory item. Here’s more on each:

Average Inventory

Average Inventory measures the number of goods sold during a specific time period. Common average inventory measurements track two concurrent periods, providing you with insights into how long your products sit in the warehouse.

This figure helps you determine how quickly you’re able to move products — the more inventory you have at the end of the period, the slower your products move. And, inevitably, the longer your cash conversion cycle.

To calculate your average inventory, add the total value of your inventory for two or more periods, then divide by the total number of periods included.

For example, Barry has $10,000 in inventory left over at the end of September. He has $9,000 left over at the end of October. So Barry would add $10,000 and $9,000, then divide this figure by two. His Average Inventory is $950.

($10,000 + $9,000) ÷ 2 = $950

COGS

Your COGS represents how much it costs to acquire or manufacture goods during a particular period. This figure tallies up the cost of the inventory, labor and any other expenses that relate to producing a single unit of your merchandise. Think of this number as the underlying figure you have to factor into your sales price in order to cover the money you spent to produce something.

Barry wants to determine his COGS, so he collects information about his raw materials, labor, and other expenses. His inventory costs $5,000 per month, additional inventory purchases during the period ($750), and the remaining inventory at the end of the month ($1,500). Barry then adds his beginning inventory ($5,000) by the purchases made during the period ($750) minus his ending inventory ($1,500).

($5,000 + $750) – $1,500 = $4,250

With these average inventory and COGS in tow, you can now determine your DIO. For example, Barry has an average inventory of $950, which he then divides by his COGS figure of $4,250, broken out by day (roughly $141 per day on a 30-day cycle). His DIO is 6 days.

$950 ÷ ($4,250 ÷ 30) = 6.37 (rounded to 6 days)

Days Payables Outstanding (DPO)

DPO indicates how long it takes for your company to pay its bills to suppliers and vendors. You can calculate this figure quarterly or annually, depending on how detailed you want to get with your company’s cash outflow figures. The higher your DPO, the longer it takes for your company to pay its bills. A high DPO means you might have more financial wiggle room for making purchases (if you don’t have to pay vendors quickly), but could also indicate that you’re not paying vendors on time.

Adding it all up

Barry’s DSO is 45 days, his DIO is 6 days and is DPO is 30. Using the formula: 

CCC = DSO + DIO – DPO

21 = 45 + 6 -30

Barry’s CCC is 21 days.

This means it takes Barry 21 days to go from production the production of goods to sales. By knowing where he stands, Barry can compare his metrics to benchmark standards for other ball bearing manufacturers. Internally he can also use his CCC as an internal reference point.

If he’s able to generate enough cash flow to make a profit and keep his operations humming, he knows that 21 days is a good CCC target. If this slips for any reason, he knows which factors to examine. When he wants to grow his business, he can look for further ways to optimize DSO, DIO and DPO.

Learn why you need a cash flow statement and cash flow forecast.

Why the cash conversion cycle matters

The cash conversion cycle helps you determine how much money you can afford to reinvest in inventory. The underlying calculations can also help you spot inefficiencies from delinquent payments from customers, paying your own invoices too quickly, or letting poorly selling products languish on shelves for too long. All of these factors affect your cash flow and the money you have left to grow your business. 

Whenever you need to apply for business financing, lenders will also look at your cash flow and cash conversion cycle in order to determine your ability to pay back the funds and on what terms. As you see that it took nearly  1,000 words to walk you through one calculation, that’s why PayPie has created a one-click risk assessment that includes cash flow analysis forecasting.

With PayPie, you can use your own financial data, the information you already have in your QuickBooks Online account, to generate your nearly real-time risk assessment and cash flow forecast. Get started today!

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Create your PayPie account, connect your business and let our analytics dashboard do the rest.

PayPie currently integrates with QuickBooks Online. Additional integrations are coming soon.

This article is informational only. It is not financial advice. It does not replace the expertise that comes from working with an accountant, bookkeeper or financial professional.

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