Working Capital Cycle Improvements

Managing your working capital cycle correctly is key to running and growing your business in the short term.


Working capital cycle is the length of time it takes a business to convert its products or services into cash.

The four general phases of a working capital cycle are:

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What is a negative working capital cycle?

A negative working capital cycle can force your business to borrow money at a steep interest rate.


So you’ve recently signed on a big client or large order. Great news! This has the potential to help your business grow and take it to the next level. The client only pays 30 days after invoicing or after the work is done, but you are required to pay staff, acquire raw materials and supplies to deliver the product or service well before the money is received from the client. Have you ever experienced this?


Some businesses order stock from overseas and are required to pay upfront. The stock only gets delivered 30 to 60 days after order and it takes another 30 days to sell the stock. That is a 90-day gap in cash flow where the business has to survive in spite of all the promising action that is on the go.


This is what is referred to as a negative working capital cycle. The gap between paying for costs and receiving the revenue requires businesses to raise funding to cover their expense. Sometimes that funding is from external sources like overdrafts and working capital facilities, other times the funding is from internal sources like savings or director’s loans.

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Get a positive working capital cycle

Some big corporations pay their suppliers 60 days after receiving stock and have a positive working capital cycle. We discuss ways in which you can improve your cash cycle and keep money in your business.


Some businesses have a positive working capital cycle. This means that they receive their income before paying expenses. For instance, a large food retailer often sells items to their customers for cash and only pays their suppliers 60 days from receipt of stock. Rental properties earn rent at the beginning of the month and pay the related costs at the end of the month.


If your business suffers from a negative working capital cycle you have likely found ways to fund the gap in your cash flow. We have found that business owners often rush into expensive funding like overdrafts. The interest on overdraft can be up to 27% per year. Some business owners are not even aware of the interest that they are paying and the money that they are losing by making use of their overdraft.


The go-to quick fix for most businesses is to try to negotiate a cheaper rate on their overdraft. Although this does help, business owners should rather reduce the negative working capital cycle that they find themselves in by reducing the number of days between costs being paid and revenue being collected.

Here are 4 ways of reducing your working capital cycle and keeping the money in your bank account:

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Access to faster loans through cloud access and fintech companies

There are also new fintech companies that provide quicker and potentially cheaper access to funding when compared to normal bank overdrafts. These companies request access to your cloud accounting system through APIs and can offer you loans within 24 hours – allowing for increased flexibility.


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Frequently Asked Questions

A working capital cycle is the length of time it takes a business to convert its products or services into cash.

The four general phases of a working capital cycle are:

  • Cash – Ensuring there is a healthy cash balance by managing cash inflows and outflows of your business
  • Receivables / Debtors – The payment terms for money owed for goods and services you provide
  • Inventory – How long it takes to sell your inventory (if applicable)
  • Payables / Creditors –  The payment terms for money owed for goods and services provided to you suppliers

An unmanaged working capital cycle will result in mismanagement of cash that will lead to the business not having enough money to pay its bills and ultimately leading to the business going bankrupt.

Even businesses that have lots of cash can mismanage their working capital cycle. If they optimise their working cycle, they will have more money available to invest or place in higher yielding cash accounts.


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