Many will be paid later when they are invoiced by a vendor. Cash flow reflects the cash that actually went out the door during a period. Capital expenditures do not count against profit directly. A capital expenditure does not appear on the income statement when it occurs. It is only the depreciation that is charged against revenue over time which is based on the useful life of the item that was purchased. The cash flow reflects a different story as most items are paid for long before they may be fully depreciated on the profit and loss statement. It is true that in mature, well managed companies, cash flow will more closely track net profit. Receivables may be collected on a timely basis, payables will be paid, and capital expenditures will be incurred in line with depreciation charges.
However, until an entity reaches, and more importantly is able to manage to, such a state, all sorts of havoc can take place. It is very easy to reach a state where there is profit without cash. This is The Danger Zone. It is also important to keep in mind that you may run into a situation where you have good cash flow without profit. Say you are a retailer and collect cash at sale. Your expenses may be paid to vendors at a later time which may lull an owner into a false sense of health. The cash flow statement may look fine as the business is growing, but if margins and expenses are poorly managed, the owner may find themselves in an unprofitable situation which cannot perpetuate a healthy business.
What Are the Differences Between Straight Line, Double-Declining Balance & Units of Production?
Depreciation is the allocation of an assets cost over its useful life. A company may choose from different methods of depreciation for financial reporting purposes. Straight line, double-declining balance and units of production are three such methods. Each method differs in the way it allocates an assets cost, which can affect your small business profit.
Purpose of Depreciation
Accrual-based accounting requires a business to match the expenses it incurs with the revenues it generates each accounting period. Because a long-term asset, such as a piece of equipment, contributes toward revenues over many accounting periods, a company spreads the assets cost over its useful life using depreciation. This creates a depreciation expense on the income statement each accounting period equal to a portion of the assets cost instead of creating an expense for the entire cost all at once.
Each method of depreciation depreciates an asset by the same overall amount over the assets life, but each method does so on a different schedule. The straight-line method depreciates an asset by an equal amount each accounting period. The reducing balance method allocates a greater amount of depreciation in the earlier years of an assets life than in the later years.
A business chooses the method of depreciation that best matches an assets pattern of use in its business. A company may use the straight-line method for an asset it uses consistently each accounting period, such as a building. Reducing balance may be appropriate for an asset that generates a higher quality of output in its earlier years than in its later years/ loss efficiency.
Different Effects on Profit
Depreciation expense reduces a business profit on its income statement. While the straight-line method reduces profit by the same amount each accounting period, the other two methods cause a companys profit to fluctuate with all else being equal. The double-declining-balance method causes lower profit in the earlier years of an assets life than in the later years due to the greater depreciation expense in the earlier years. Units-of-production may cause unpredictable profit swings based on the amount of output an asset generates.