Accrual Accounting and Cashflow


Before the end of World War 1 most managers kept track of cash out and cash in. many senior citizen owner-managers still do today. There is an inherent problem in keeping the records that way, however, if the business offers and receives much credit. Doing business on credit displaces the time of the exchange of cash from the exchange of goods and services. Sometimes very little cash comes in during a particular month and very much cash comes in during other months. The same is true of cash out.

Keeping in track of what you pay or get paid for credit transactions causes the monthly reports describing the operations to fluctuate from month to month even though the goods and services flowing in and out of the business may be very much the same. About 1920 the accounting profession began placing emphasis on the accrual method of accounting to overcome this difficulty.

The accrual method portrays the smoothed-out profit as if all the transactions had been for cash and as if the business had purchased only exactly what was needed to make the sale. It is not an accurate portrayal of everything going on in the business, but it is a good approximation of the net effect of those things that affect profit. The problem is that so much emphasis has been placed on the accrual method income statement and balance sheet that the importance of cash has been regulated to virtual obscurity.

Even this result is satisfactory when the reports are describing large businesses with access to external financing through the stock market, commercial paper, and bank loans at the prime interest rate. But companies that do not have access to these external sources of financing have a different problem. For them, the flow of cash through the business means life or death, whether the accrual based profit is great or terrible. When new or small businesses need cash they must turn to the bank, the banker will look to the personal savings and assets of the owner-manager for collateral.

Accountants have not forgotten nor overlooked the importance of cash. They recognize the need for cash in sufficient quantity to keep the business operating. For their purposes, however, they often infer the cash available to the business from the income statements and describe future cash availability with the balance sheets. They, and others, frequently describe it as: cash flow equals net profit after taxes plus depreciation and other noncash expenses, such as amortization.

This statement is incorrect except under some very stringent preconditions that rarely exist in practice for a small business. This statement is an approximation that is valid for large and stable businesses in which changes from year to year are small and the statements from which the cash flow is inferred are annual reports. For a small and new business looking at monthly financial reports this approximation is inadequate. In a small, growing business the net cash flow to the firm’s bank account does not equal the net profit plus depreciation. Profit is not cash nor is it cash flow.

Although this pronouncement may be unconventional, entrepreneurs are realistic. Successful entrepreneurs ask how it really works and then get on with building their business. In the conventional approach the analysts, having inferred cash flow from profit, depreciation, and amortization, stop there, allowing their readers to assume that the resulting cash is in the bank wiating to be spent.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Riding theWaves of Change


Knowing the rules for riding the waves in the ocean can teach us how to ride the waves of change whether they are rolling into New York, Paris, or Baghdad. The future is coming toward us like enormous waves of change. Set after set after set they are getting bigger and coming faster. The surf is up from California to Bangkok to Vienna to Karachi. But how do we respond is a matter of choice. We can stay on the beach or get into the water.

 The future belongs to those who decide to ride; to those who have the courage to paddle out where the big ones are breaking; to those who welcome the unexpected. Enable yourself to embrace the waves of change, seeing them as exciting and challenging rather than intimidating and threatening. Learn unconventional rules for breaking out of old modes and mind-sets so that we can take effective risks, constantly innovate and continually be on our edge. Follow simple yet effective unconventional wisdom will make your work and your life richer, more rewarding and fulfilling. You’ll find that riding the wave of change is the most exciting and exhilarating way to your life. Ride this wave.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Fudges of Brainstorming


The term brainstorming has passed into common English usage. Invented by Alex Osborn, a versatile advertising executive, brainstorming has come now to mean freewheeling discussion.

The principles of brainstorming as a technique are deceptively simple:

  1. All evaluative or critical comments are taboo during the phase of generating ideas or solutions.
  2. The attempt is to generate a very large number of ideas or solutions. The logic is that at least a small proportion of ideas tend to be high quality that are both novel and useful, so that the larger the number of ideas generated the larger may be the number of quality ideas that are produced.
  3. Emphasize novelty, not correctness or appropriateness. The stranger the ideas solutions, the better. The reason is that strange ideas demolish existing mental frames and liberate the mind to generate and accept unconventional ideas.
  4. Participants in a brainstorm are encouraged to build on each other’s ideas.

Typically, in a brainstorm, a specific problem is first introduced. The problem must be quite specific, and capable of many alternative solutions. Thus, one cannot brainstorm on a vague problem like how to increase productivity, now on a problem with one right answer, such as what was worker productivity in the plant last month But how to increase worker productivity by 30% in a particular is quite appropriate for brainstorming. Gnenerally, brainstorming problems are preceded by how to …

After the problem is stated and clarified, the brainstorm begins.Each group member gives one . . . .

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact Asif J. Mir.