Keeping your business cash liquid - the difference between cash flow and profit

Cash Flow Profit Difference

The foundational goal of any business is to make a profit. As a business owner, that's one of your key financial aims - to make enough sales, at a big enough margin, to generate profit from your enterprise. But how does profit differ from cash flow? And why is cash king?

How do profit and cash flow differ?

To really understand the difference between generating profit and managing cash flow, we need to look at what both these terms mean. You might think that delving into the accounts is a job for your tax adviser, but being in control of your profit and cash flow is an invaluable business skill.

Let's take a look at the differences:

  • What is profit? - Profit is the surplus that's left from your income once you've paid your expenses, supplier bills, tax, etc. It's driven by creating a profit margin and generating value from your products and/or services.
  • What is cash flow? - Cash flow is the ongoing process of ensuring that the business has the available cash (or 'liquid' cash) needed to operate. This provides the money needed to trade, pay suppliers, cover wages, or buy raw materials, etc.

Why is positive cash flow so important?

'Cash is king!' may be a cliche these days, but it's a maxim which underpins any successful business model. Yes, it's great to make a profit at year-end, but if you don't look after your cash flow then the business may not survive as long as the end of the year.

What's needed is good cash flow management to enhance your financial health. And without a careful eye on your cash numbers, things can quickly go awry.

A business can generate high revenues and big profits, but still be cash flow poor. In other words, it can have profits at the end of the period, but have very little liquid cash to fund it's day-to-day operations over the course of the period.

Talk to us about improving your cash flow management

Good cash flow management is all about being in control of your cash inflows (income you're generating) and your cash outflows (what you're spending). To achieve 'positive cash flow' you need to proactively work to keep your inflows higher than your outflows.

As your business adviser, we'll help you set up detailed cash flow reporting and forecasting, so you can keep the business in that ideal positive cash flow position. And we'll also look at key steps for keeping your revenues high, margins profitable and meeting your financial targets.

Get in touch to talk through your cash flow management.