Capital Management vs. Cash Management

An interesting article from the Business Journal in Alabama, with some great tips at the end….

There are many tasks every small business owner must handle personally, but none is more CEO-specific than allocation of capital. Because the only thing more precious to a small business than capital is time.

Cash management is also a CEO-critical task, but operating cash is not capital. Cash is for expenses and is measured daily, weekly, and monthly. Capital is for investment and, as such, is measured in years; possibly even generations.

Below are three classic capital expenditure categories:

1. Replacement and upgrade

This is not repair (that’s an expense funded by operating cash flow), it’s a bigger commitment, most often caused when repair is no longer an option, or by obsolescence.

2. Innovation

Exciting innovations in digital devices and programs are at once creating opportunity and causing disruption. Small business CEOs have to mete out precious capital for innovation in a way that maximizes opportunity and minimizes disruption. This is a tough job because 21st century innovation weaves a fine seam between the leading edge and the bleeding edge.

3. Growth opportunity

Should your market footprint be expanded with an acquisition or new branch, or should an investment be made to build-out more online capability? Should investment be made in support of a new product direction, or in a digital inventory management system connected to the supply chain?

What to invest capital in – and when to do it – is different for every business. But what is not unique is making sure cash and capital are applied properly. Here are three classic best practices:

1. Don’t use operating cash to pay for something that has a life of more than a year.

2. Leaving profits in the business produces retained earnings as reserves to be used for capital investment.

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About maricopasbdc
Director of Maricopa Community Colleges SBDC, serving Maricopa County small businesses with free technical assistance, and seminars, training and other services.

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