What is Fake Cash?

By Paul Starkey
Published on: November 1, 2019

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What has struck us for years now, is the confusion on cash in the business. Most operators believe their bank account gives them the best indication of cash. In some businesses that might be true but in a high deposits (pre-pay) business like yours; it couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, your checking account may be the source of “fake” cash. Why?

Because liabilities like client deposits, accounts payable (owed to your vendors), and credit card balances can all distort the real cash in the business.

Examples of clouding the cash picture:

Client Deposits – it’s not your cash, it’s a gift card given to you in advance for work to be performed and goods to be delivered.

Credit card balances are a deferral of cash and because they are often used to float expenses, they can cloud the cash picture.

So to get a better indication of true cash we recommend taking the cash in bank, less client deposits, plus assigned to projects inventory, to get to a NET CASH number.

What’s the proper level of cash you should keep in the business?

We use cash coverage of deposits to determine that. You take your bank cash + assigned inventory and divide by your total deposits. If it is 2.0 or better you are cash healthy. If it is under 1.0 you are borrowing money against deposits to run the business, not an ideal situation to be in.

Focus on building net cash and you will reduce the time you spend over-reacting and worrying about it.

Keep it Vital.

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey is a 23 year CI industry veteran who led control manufacturer ELAN from infancy to a 150 person company. He is a visionary, keen on innovation, pioneer of on-line training, and numerous product innovations. He is co-founder of Vital Management.

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