The balance sheet summarizes a company's assets, liabilities and shareholders' equity. Cash is a current asset account on the balance sheet. It includes bank deposits, certificates of deposit, Treasury bills and other short-term liquid instruments. Companies may increase cash through sales growth, collection of overdue accounts, expense control and financing and investing activities.
Sales growth usually means a higher cash level in a balance sheet. When a company makes a cash sale, the accounting entries are to increase the sales account on the income statement and the cash account on the balance sheet. When it receives cash payment on credit invoices, the company moves the amounts from accounts receivable to cash. Innovative and quality products, targeted marketing and superior customer service are some of the ways to consistently achieve higher sales and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Some sales are in cash, while others are on credit. The accounts receivable balance in the current assets section of the balance sheet contains the unpaid credit invoices. Although a business may receive most of the payments within the invoice period, some accounts become overdue while others are uncollectible. Tighter credit control procedures, such as reducing credit limits for customers who have been late in the past or refusing credit to customers in financial difficulty, may reduce the amount of overdue invoices and increase cash flow. Sending automatic email reminders, following up with late customers and offering discounts for settling invoices early are some of the other ways to manage accounts receivable and increase cash on the balance sheet.
Controlling expenses increases cash levels. Driving sales growth is an important but insufficient condition to increase cash. For example, if a five-percent increase in sales requires a seven-percent increase in marketing expenses, the cash levels may actually decrease, not increase. Companies incur variable costs, such as direct labor and raw materials costs. Companies also have fixed overhead expenses, such as administrative staff salaries and advertising. Negotiating better terms with suppliers and adjusting production shifts to account for rising or falling demand are ways to manage variable costs. Streamlining business processes, cutting back on business travel and relying on contractors instead of full-time staff are some ways to reduce overhead expenses.
Financing and Investing Activities
Companies may increase cash levels through financing and investing activities. Financing activities include proceeds from bank loans and from issuing stocks or bonds to investors. For small businesses that may not have ready access to the financial markets, cash injection from the founding partners, venture capitalists and angel investors would increase cash in a balance sheet. Dividend and interest payments from stock and bond investments also increase cash levels. Selling surplus fixed asset investments, such as regional offices, distribution centers, surplus equipment or unused automobiles increase cash on the balance sheet. Other ways to increase cash include selling off investments in subsidiaries or spinning off business units.
Based in Ottawa, Canada, Chirantan Basu has been writing since 1995. His work has appeared in various publications and he has performed financial editing at a Wall Street firm. Basu holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Ottawa and holds the Canadian Investment Manager designation from the Canadian Securities Institute.