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How Growth Affects Cash Flow

Growth is great! Whether it is expanding into your third country or tapping into a new market, it’s an exhilarating process (especially for the entrepreneur). But it can also result in a crisis… You can’t fulfill orders; processes are being thrown out the door to just get it done; inventory isn’t leaving the warehouse. Growth can result in a disaster. When a company is growing at any speed, there are often growing pains that come with it. Over the past 20+ years, The Strategic CFO has witnessed and been a part of some incredible turnarounds that started from a few simple steps of improvement. The #1 growing pain stems from cash. Or, actually the lack of it.  We often forget how growth affects cash flow, but it has huge repercussions if you are not watching it carefully.

Growth Affects Cash Flow

What Happens When a Company Grows

When a company grows, the first visible thing that happens is cash gets tight. It’s very common for your marketing and sales team to see grow as only a good thing; nothing bad could be caused from growth. But when more sales come in, more employees are needed, more offices are required, more inventory is purchased, money can very quickly fly out the door. We say it frequently because it’s true: cash is king.

As you gear up for growth or are in the early stages of growth, also iron out some of the issues that may grow into problems as the company grows. For obvious reasons, start addressing any issues that impact the cash flow of the company. Then address other issues including management, accounting, product development, and labor.

Another thing that normally happens is that we are so excited about growth, and maybe cash is controlled, but we forget about controls, specifically internal controls.  Money is flowing and product is flying off the shelf, but no one is watching what may be lose ends.  Such as in a manufacturing scenario, material is being ordered as fast as you can get it and raw materials are being converted to finished goods. But maybe waste is also going through the roof because no one is watching that.  Or maybe tools are mysteriously disappearing from the shop, or maybe your margins are actually suffering because your indirect costs have grown more than anticipated.  The lack of having process and controls in place can lead to the mentioned issues, thus also leading to squeezing cash.  Because ultimately, it all results in cash or consumption of cash.

Growth Affects Cash Flow

Growing Too Quickly?

If you are in a company that is growing too quickly, it may be time to get some capital. There are several types of capital that you can acquire to fund your rapid growth. Ultimately, there are three ways to get capital.

  1. Debt
  2. Equity
  3. Or a mixture/combination of debt or equity, or debt that can convert to equity

Giving up equity is the most costly way to raise capital because as your grow you have given up some of the upside. The sources of either debt or equity include and are not limited to the following:

At The Strategic CFO we can help you analyze the different cost of this capital and the most efficient structure for your business.

Start-ups, development of new products, etc. often require a good amount of working capital to support the rapid growth for those products or services to have a steady foothold in the marketplace. Consequently, they require a significant amount of cash and leadership for it to be catapulted into success. If this is you, start the cash flow improvement strategies early. Make it part of your culture and processes. The key is to manage your cash effectively so that each dollar can be stretched to the max. Download our free 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow guide to start implementing tested and successful cash flow improvement strategies into your company.

Growth Affects Cash Flow by Absorbing Cash

If you haven’t figured out by now, growth has a way of absorbing cash. When a company wants to increase sales, it requires fuel – cash. As the financial leader of your company, shift your focus on improving profitability and providing fuel for your sales team to grow the company. While your CEO needs to grow the company, he or she needs a wingman to lean on. You are that wingman. Instead of acting as a CFnO (say it like CF No), provide a path for your CEO to grow the company. Guide them in your new cash flow improvement strategies.

Don’t know where to start in improving your cash flow? Click here to download our 25 Ways to Improve Cash flow and get an invitation to our SCFO Lab – the premier financial leadership coaching platform.

Growth Affects Cash Flow

Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC)

As you continue to look how growth affects cash flow, start by analyzing your cash conversion cycle. Simply, it is the amount of time that you are able to convert processes, resources, etc. back into cash. There are some simple steps to reduce your Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC) or operating cycle, but let’s see what it is and how you can use that to improve your cash flow.

What is the Cash Conversion Cycle?

The Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC) calculates the amount of time it takes to convert resources into cash flow. To calculate your CCC, use the following equation:

CCC = DIO + DSO – DPO

DIO stands for Days Inventory Outstanding. DSO stands for Days Sales Outstanding. And finally, DPO stands for Days Payable Outstanding. By using the CCC, you will be able to identify areas of improvement.

For example, if you are collecting receivables every 45 days, you may have an opportunity to reduce that to 30 days. By collecting receivables 15 days earlier, you will not be in as large of a cash crunch because that cash is in the bank 30 days after the service is rendered versus 45 days. To calculate DSO, use the following formula:

DSO = 365 * (Average Accounts Receivable / Total Credit Sales

How to Improve Your Cash Flow

There are several ways to improve your cash flow using the Cash Conversion Cycle. Some of these include improving collections (A/R), invoicing quicker, obtaining deposits faster, extending vendors so that you can pay later, and reduce the amount of inventory stored. For example, a few of our clients are in the oil & gas industry. When the oil & gas industry takes a downward turn, we are impacted because they cannot pay us as quickly, but they need us more than ever. One of the tactics we put into practice to improve our cash flow was to invoice within 24 hours. Our clients were being trained to respond to us quicker and pay our invoices. Therefore, we were then able to do more to help them.

There are so many other ways to improve your cash flow, especially in times of growth when cash is tightest. If you are seeking more ways to make a big impact in your company, download the free 25 Ways To Improve Cash Flow whitepaper to find other ways to improve your cash flow within 24 hours.

Growth Affects Cash Flow

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Cash Flow Tuneup Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. This tool enables you to quantify the cash unlocked in your company.

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Growth Affects Cash Flow

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Reducing Your Cash Conversion Cycle

reducing your cash conversion cycle

What is the impact of reducing your cash conversion cycle?  Is it worth the effort?  In order to quantify the benefit of reducing your cash conversion cycle, it’s important to understand exactly what it is. 

Definition of Cash Conversion Cycle

Cash Conversion Cycle is a metric that expresses the length of time, in days, that it takes for a company to convert resource inputs into cash flows (also known as the cash cycle or operating cycle)

Formula of Cash Conversion Cycle

Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC) = Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO) + Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) – Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

– or –

CCC = DIO + DSO – DPO

Put simply, it measures how quickly an unfinished product can be turned into cash.

Why Reduce Your CCC?

Now that we understand the components of the CCC, let’s look at what kind of impact changes in each component can have.  Consider the following example:

cash conversion cycle

In this example, a company with $25 million in sales volume (with gross margin of 35%) could free up over $2 million in cash by collecting receivables one week sooner, turning inventory once more per year and stretching payables by one week.  At a cost of capital of 5.25%, it would also see an additional savings of over $100K in interest fall straight to the bottom line

Plug in the variables for your business and see what kind of improvement in the cash conversion cycle you could expect by tightening up your collections, inventory or payables processes. The results may surprise you.

Who Should be Looking at This?

Certainly anyone in the organization with access to the data can do the calculation, but the CFO is responsible for making things happen.  To be able to do this, the CFO has to be plugged into what’s going on in operations as well as finance in order to identify areas of improvement.  This is one of the many ways a CFO can do more than simply crunch the numbers by providing strategic opportunities for growth through savings.

What could your company do with an extra $2 million in liquidity and $100K in profits? 

Learn how to apply concepts like this in your career with CFO Coaching.  Learn More

For more ways to add value to your company, download your free A/R Checklist to see how simple changes in your A/R process can free up a significant amount of cash.

reducing your cash conversion cycle

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Projections Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to get ahead of your cash flow.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

reducing your cash conversion cycle

See Also:

Continuous Accounting: The New Age of Accounting

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Operating Cycle Definition

See Also:
Operating Cycle Analysis

Operating Cycle Definition

The Operating cycle definition establishes how many days it takes for a company to turn purchases of inventory into cash receipts from its eventual sale. It is also known as cash operating cycle or cash conversion cycle or asset conversion cycle. Operating cycle has three components of payable turnover days, Inventory Turnover days and Accounts Receivable Turnover days. These come together to form the complete measurement of operating cycle days. The operating cycle formula and operating cycle analysis stems logically from these. To be more specific, the payable turnover days are the period of time a company keeps track of how quickly they can pay off their financial obligations to suppliers.

The next step, inventory turnover, is the ratio that indicates how many times a company sells and replaces their inventory over time. Usually, calculate this ratio by taking the overall sales and dividing it by the overall inventory. However, calculate the ratio by dividing the cost of goods sold by the average inventory. The final step, the accounts receivable turnover days, encase the period of time in which the company is evaluated on how fast they can receive payments for their sales. As said before, when you put together all of these steps, the operating cycle is complete

Operating Cycle Applications

The operating cycle concept indicates a company’s true liquidity. By tracking the historical record of the operating cycle of a company and comparing it to its peer groups in the same industry, it gives investors investment quality of a company. A short company operating cycle is preferable since a company realizes its profits quickly. It also allows a company to quickly acquire cash to use for reinvestment. A long business operating cycle means it takes longer time for a company to turn purchases into cash through sales.

In general, the shorter the cycle, the better a company is. This is since less capital is tied up in the business process. In other words, it is in a business’ best interest to shorten the business cycle over time. The easiest way is to shorten each of the three cycle sections by, at least, a small amount. The aggregate change that comes from the shortening of these sections can create a significant change in the overall business cycle. As a result, it can consequently lead to a more successful business.

For more ways to add value to your company, download your free A/R Checklist to see how simple changes in your A/R process can free up a significant amount of cash.

Operating Cycle Definition

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Projections Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to get ahead of your cash flow.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

Operating Cycle Definition

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