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It is essential for you to understand the flow of money in, through, and out of your business. For some businesses, this can even be a daily issue. Positive cashflow (more money coming in than going out) is essential to keep the business going.

So how do we keep more money coming in vs. going out? Obviously, having a good control on expenses and payables is essential to controlling what is going out. Timing is crucial in managing cash. Making sure that you are collecting the receivables in a timely fashion assures that money is coming in. Another key cash flow issue is maintaining an appropriate level of inventory and supplies. Again, a good practical rolling cash flow budget will address all of these issues.

Once you are successfully monitoring your cash flow, the next issue to address is profitability. A great place to start to look at profitability is breakeven. The definition of breakeven is the point in your business when your gross profit covers all of your fixed costs. If you go "above" break even, then you are profitable. So here is the formula:


This answers the question, how much do I need to sell to pay my expenses? You can calculate break even for a year, or a quarter, or a month, or even a week. Let''s go through an example in a small business for one year.

Let''s use a coffee shop. This coffee shop only sells black coffee! We''ll deal with marketing in another article!!! The cost to operate this shop is monthly rent (including utilities) of $750/month, salaries of $ 2,000 per month, and other fixed expense of $500 per month. They also figured out that the cost for coffee and water is $.10 per cup, and they sell a cup of coffee for $1.25. We have all we need to calculate break even.

YEARLY FIXED EXPENSE = ($2000 + $750 + $500) x 12 = $39,000.

GROSS PROFIT PER CUP = $1.25 - $0.10 = $1.15

GROSS PROFIT MARGIN = GROSS PROFIT divided by GROSS SALES = $1.15/$1.25 = 0.92 (92%).


BREAK EVEN SALES = $39,000/.92 = $42,391.30

CUPS OF COFFEE SOLD TO BREAK EVEN = $42,391.30/$1.25 = 33,913/year or 652 per week or 93 per day (if you are open 7 days a week 52 weeks per year).

Now that you have the formula, calculate yours. Most owners have an "idea"of their breakeven. Many of you have never actually calculated it, and may find it is significantly different than you think.

November is focusing on the importance of Profitability and how to measure and improve yours.

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