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A Guide to Working Capital

16 May 2023

Working capital is a fundamental aspect of a healthy business. Understanding what it is and how to maximise its use is critical for the successful running of a business. Any business can fall on hard times so to know that your business could withstand this by being aware of its working capital and cash flow is very important.

What is working capital?

Working capital is calculated as current assets minus current liabilities. This will equate to the amount of cash and assets a business has available after all liabilities are accounted for, so the money available to meet current, short-term obligations. Business owners should always be aware of their working capital to make sure that they can cope with a loss or unexpected financial issue. Simply put, the working capital formula is current assets - current liabilities = working capital.

What is net working capital (NWC)?

Net working capital is often used to refer to the same thing as working capital, however, they are not the same. NWC doesn’t consider cash and current debt.

What is working capital management?

Working capital management is a business strategy. It involves making sure that a business operates as efficiently as possible by using and monitoring its current assets and liabilities effectively. This will ensure that they can maintain sufficient cash flow to enable them to pay their operating expenses and short-term debt obligations.

What is a working capital cycle (WCC)?

Every single business has a working capital cycle whether the business owner manages it well or not. It refers to the time given for a business to turn net current assets into available cash. The length of the working capital cycle is completely dependent on how you run your business. For example, if you have a two-week deadline for invoices being paid, you should receive your payment within this time frame and the cycle will be short. By not stating when your invoices need to be paid, customers might take a long time to pay you, making your working capital cycle much longer. Paying your bills for your assets as soon as you receive them will also contribute to this.

There are three main steps in the working capital cycle. These are:

  1. Pay for assets. This includes buying inventory to sell or purchasing equipment to carry out a job
  2. Sell inventory, carry out a service, or complete a job for a customer
  3. Receive payment for the work you have carried out or a product you have sold

For example, a heating engineer needs to fit a boiler for a customer:

  1. They purchase a boiler from the supplier and pay for it instantly
  2. They go to the customer and fit the boiler and an invoice is submitted immediately
  3. The invoice clearly states that it must be paid within two weeks and payment is received in that time frame

The working capital cycle has been two weeks long.

What is a good working capital ratio?

Working capital ratio is your total current assets divided by your total current liabilities. The ideal working capital ratio is generally considered by analysts to be between 1.5 and 2.12 and it is important to compare a business’s metrics to those of similar businesses in the same industry.

What is negative working capital?

Negative working capital means that assets are not being used effectively and the working capital cycle is not working efficiently. This may lead to:

  • Needing to borrow money
  • Late payments to creditors and suppliers
  • A potential bad credit rating for the business
  • A bad name or reputation which may result in suppliers being reluctant to sell them equipment and customers being unsure of the company’s reliability

How to improve your working capital

If your working capital is not working in your company’s favour, there are always ways you can improve it. These include but are not limited to:

  • Shorten operating cycles - This will ensure that assets are paid for, customers pay their invoices in an acceptable time frame and liabilities are not left unpaid
  • Perform credit checks on new clients - Even if every other factor contributing to an effective working capital cycle is successful, a client defaulting on payment will disrupt it entirely. Reliable clients will help everything run much smoother
  • Reduce unnecessary expenses and debt - This will free up cash and give you opportunities for saving
  • Additional finance assistance - We are always happy to help with any financial needs and pride ourselves on our simple, easy application process and quick release of funds. We also love to get to know our clients to ensure that we are offering the best option for them. Contact us today for more information.

What is a working capital loan?

If you need some financial assistance to make your working capital more efficient for your business, a working capital loan is for you. We understand that sometimes companies run into unexpected problems and you may need a loan to assist you to get your working capital cycle working to your company’s advantage. We have access to over 100 lenders and can talk you through the process to ensure we are meeting your needs.

Arrange a working capital loan for your business.

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Aintu Ltd T/A Union Business Finance is an independent Asset finance broker not a lender, as such we can introduce you to a wide range of finance providers depending on your requirements and circumstances. We are not independent financial advisors and so are unable to provide you with independent financial advice. Aintu Ltd T/A Union Business Finance will receive payment(s) or other benefit from the finance provider if you decide to enter into an agreement with them. Aintu Ltd T/A Union Business Finance is an appointed representative of AFS Compliance Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under number 625035. Aintu Ltd T/A Union Business Finance aims to provide our customers with the highest standards of service. If our service fails to meet your requirements and you would like to report a complaint; please click on the link below;


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