Sunday, June 19, 2011

I've made a profit but I can't pay my bills! What's going on?

This is a question that I come across regularly in my consulting with clients.
The simple answer is that profit simply does not equate to cash!
There are many outgoings that you incur day to day that are not considered to be an expense in working out your profit. Such things as asset purchases, repayments of principal on loans and payments of income or company taxes are outgoings but are not an expense for the purposes of calculating your profit.
One of the biggest contributors to cash flow problems (apart from lack of profit) is the business owner's personal expenses, which in many cases exceeds the profit earned by the business. This is particularly the case where the business bank account serves also as the business owner's private bank account. In this circumstance, there is no control over private expenses. Typically we find that if business makes $50000 profit, the owner spends $60000. Then, if it earns $100000, the owner spends $110000! Recently I encountered a client who was spending over $130000 a year just because the business account was their private account as well. They thought they were spending only $50000 a year - certainly a shock for them when I told them (and cash flow was really tight - and no wonder!)
Further, if the business is growing, funds are also required to be invested in growing inventory and accounts receivable. All these factors are a sure sign of impending disaster, all the while making a profit!
The answer to this issue includes:
  • Preparing reasonable financial forecasts for the business, updated regularly
  • Having a separate private bank account from which all private expenses are paid from
  • Establishing a reasonable regular budgeted wage/draw from the business to your private account
  • Having and enforcing credit policies
  • Managing inventory levels
  • Considering financing major asset purchases
For a sustainable business, a profit is essential. However, without adequate cash flow, a business will fail!

I work with SME enterprises to not only maximise profit but also to ensure that there is sufficient cash flow for the business to prosper.

For more information go to

Until next time




Peter & Jo Bird said...

Once again Chris your valuable input and sound knowledge is appreciated. We have been a client of GTP for the past 16 years and many a tough time we have almost thrown in the towel. Without your valued support, belief and sound knowledge it could and would have been so easy to do.
Thanks to you, David and the Team at GTP we are growing & becoming stronger every year. Who would have thought back in 1995, just how far we have come.

Cheers Jo

Chris Foster said...

Thanks Jo for your kind comments!
It has been a journey - I'm now absolutely wrapped that you are now reaping the rewards of those hard yards. I'm so proud of what you have done and what you have achieved. It's an inspirational story, that's for sure!
Kind regards