The Cash Flow Worksheet

financial items

As I discussed in a previous post, the Cash Flow Worksheet from the financial side of the company is the windshield.  It allows us to look forward.  Business owners and finance pros use this weekly tool to forecast cash sources and uses.  It dramatically helps predict cash flow opportunities and see cash landmines down the road.  It will provide excellent data points for improvement and helps you improve forecasting your results.

For most of the companies I work with, cash can be tight.  We watch it carefully, managing it to minimize interest expense and see cash crunch holes.  The cash flow tool I use for the process is mostly manual, but straightforward and only takes about 30 minutes per week to update and review.

Let’s take a closer look.  Download the 13 Week Cash-Flow-Tool.

The worksheet is broken out into three distinct sections by week. Billings, Cash Receipts, and Cash Disbursements.  12 months of cash disbursements are forecasted by week with 100% of the accounts payable accounted for with estimates made for recurring payments, forecasted operating expenses, production costs, and  inventory needs.  Use forecasted manufacturing and cost of sales percentages, if that makes sense for your business.

It is updated weekly with actuals compared to estimated figures to improve forecasting.  After a few months, it gets much easier.  Develop an easy process to get actual numbers on Monday for the prior week’s activity.  For companies I work with, I have them complete a daily report to track cash ins and outs.

Worksheet Details

  1. Billings– Forecast your weekly billings,  by customer or business segment (helps if it’s not too detailed.)
  1.  Cash receipts: You need a methodology for forecasting your cash receipts.  Predicting cash receipts depends on the type of business. It can be relatively simple and straightforward if you have 10 prime customers or it can be complicated with 100+ customers.

In either case, predicting cast receivable turnover is not an easy task.  I generally use a 6 week rolling average of accounts receivable turnover, but for most cases larger customer activity needs to be considered. Focus on reducing overall Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)–the return here can be huge.

  1.  Cash Disbursements 

Look at your accounts payable and actual payment history over the last few months.  Establish estimated weekly amounts and due dates by summary category.

Operating expenses

  • Payroll
  • Medical benefits
  • Occupancy
  • Rent
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Principal and interest – debt schedule for each
  • Lease payments
  • Marketing
  • Travel
  • Etc.

Inventory and Cost of Sales Items

  • Product for sale
  • Material
  • Production Costs
  • Outside services
  • Packaging
  • Freight out
  • Other Cost of Sales costs

Capital expenses

  • Equipment purchases
  • New product development expenses
  • Other business investments

The worksheet rolls cash forward each week.  Comparing to actual results weekly improve forecasting accuracy.  Any negative cash weeks will need to be cured with a draw on your lines or delay in payments. This is where you spot cash crunch holes and address shortages well in advance.

Here is a sample Cash Flow Checklist that you can use to develop your own process.

Contact me for help in setting up processes that work for you!

The 3Q Push: Be Successful When Small So You Can Grow Big


September is here. It’s time for the Q3 push to finish the year strong.

I hope your August financial statement are closed by now.  If not, focus on getting them done this week by looking at the rear-view mirror and the windshield.  Don’t just “roll the dice” when it comes to your business.

Rearview Mirror 

Look at your monthly historical income statements, each month side by side.  Are your revenue and expenses tracking as planned?  Can you make improvements?  Look at each revenue segment. Can you do better?  Sort your expenses in descending order. Where are the opportunities to do better? Compare to the planned expense amounts and answer some “Why?” questions.


I hope you are also updating your 13-Week Cash Flow weekly.  This practice helps you look forward. Are your planned cash receipts and cash disbursements tracking as planned?  Be realistic here. This is a good place to spot both opportunities and land mines.

With this data in mind, recast your projections and your 13 Week Cash Flow with better data to finish the year strong.

Be Successful when Small so You Can Grow Big

I work with business of all sizes.  Working with smaller companies that are growing, I tell owners they need to be successful when they are small so they can grow big. That is a great statement that encourages small businesses as well as inspires larger companies.

It’s also a potentially scary statement for the small businesses that have big ideas (or $50mm in start-up funding.) I see startups that have been seeking capital for years and who don’t have any consistent revenue. They think, “We need to get to ‘x’ before we are going to be successful.”  Guess what? Those guys generally fail. According to SBA, 50% of small business will fail in the first year; so the five-year survival rate is low.

Businesses fail because:

  • They can’t pay their bills.
  • They don’t have enough customers.
  • Customers are not buying what they are selling.
  • They can’t attract paying customers.
  • They can’t find great employees.
  • They don’t have sufficient capital resources.
  • The business systems aren’t working effectively.
  • And other things.

Many small businesses I see today are barely keeping their head above water.  The ship has holes in it, and the water level is constantly rising.  We need to focus on the basics such as sales growth, customer profitability, and new customers, establishing policies, procedures, and systems that are sustainable, thorough and efficient. One of those procedures needs to be the steps I’ve already outlined above!

Take time today to set your next quarter goals and targets now to finish the year strong.

Post Script on the Triathlon

Quick update on the Triathlon I did in August.  At the end of the day, I glad I did the race and I am extremely happy with my performance in the event even though I didn’t hit my goal time.  I had a horrible swim. As the race got started, the high south wind had kicked up whitecaps on the lake. Although I’d been swimming since February relatively consistently up to 3-4 times per week, I really laid off swimming in the summer.

I was organized. My equipment was correctly set up in the transition area, I had a solid running and swim warm-up, and I was pretty calm.  After a great start and about 3/4 into the first of two legs on the swim, I got a mouth full of water.  From that point on, I had trouble keeping my head in the water.  I would count my strokes, focus on my form, but after a couple of strokes, I would panic.  I’ve had this happen before, but I thought my pool training would be enough.  It wasn’t.  My swim took 25 minutes.  Horrible.  The other two events went pretty well and my transition times were solid.

At the end of the day, I was happy I did it. But I missed my goal time due to the swim.  I was feeling very disappointed in my overall performance, but then it occurred to me during the run that expectation and reality meet at some point.  We shouldn’t feel disappointment.  We should accept reality, and feel grateful and content.  The happiest people ‘they say’ are grateful for where they are.

The initial thought is to reduce expectation, but is that the point? Should my goal then be just to do the triathlon with no goal time?  “A finish is a win” attitude? Not for me. I need to get my butt out there and do some open water swimming.  Get stronger and better.  That’s the point of stretch goals.  Stretch goals make us continually up our game.