What Is Working Capital?

What Is Working Capital?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

Working capital, in essence, is the money a business has on hand for day-to-day operations. It’s calculated by subtracting a business’s current liabilities (the debts and obligations due within a year) from its current assets (cash, accounts receivables, inventory). If a business has more assets than liabilities, there’s positive working capital, indicating the business can pay off its short-term debts. If liabilities exceed assets, it’s negative working capital, suggesting potential financial trouble.

Related Questions

1. Can a business survive with negative working capital?

Yes, some businesses can operate with negative working capital. It depends on their operating cycle or industry nature. High inventory turns, steady cash flow, and reliable customers can let a business run successfully even in negative working capital conditions.

2. What is net working capital?

Want More Financial Tips?

Get Our Best Stuff First (for FREE)
We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Net working capital is similar to working capital. It’s the difference between current assets and current liabilities. This calculation provides insight into a company‚Äôs operational efficiency and short-term financial health.

3. Why is working capital important for start-ups?

For start-ups, working capital is crucial because it finances daily operations, supports the growth of the start-up, and helps handle any financial challenges that might surface. Lack of sufficient working capital could lead to financial distress, or even bankruptcy.

4. How can a company improve its working capital?

A company can improve its working capital by efficient inventory management, improving the accounts receivable process, stretching accounts payable without souring relationships with suppliers, and possibly taking short term loans or opening a line of credit.

5. What are some potential problems with having too much working capital?

While having too little working capital is a concern, excessively high amounts could indicate inefficiency. The company may be missing out on investment opportunities or not collecting receivables promptly. It also indicates that some assets may be redundant and not making a suitable return on investment.