The Importance of Current Liabilities

Debt is a word that many business owners do not want to use to describe their financial position, yet managing and monitoring debt is a task that small business owners tend to avoid. In general, debt that is due and payable within the next 12 months is called Current Liabilities. Paying these debts will probably require converting some assets into cash, such as collecting Accounts Receivable or selling Inventory.
Current Liabilities are generally monies owed to employees or suppliers. In addition, you should record reserves for taxes and short term loans, when applicable.
Why is the classification of Current Liabilities important? In order to extract a true picture of the company’s ability to pay the debts you need to consider what is due now and what is due later. While your long-term debt require payments on a on-going basis, you have more flexibility to renegotiate the terms on long-term loans than you do on short-term items.
Comparing your Current Assets to your Current Liabilities will let you know how much liquid cash you may have if, for some reason, you needed to pay your short-term debt today. Formula note: divide Current Assets by the Current Liabilities to get the Current Ratio result; this result should be greater than 1 to 1. If your Current Ratio result is too low, you might not be able to pay your short-term obligations.
To determine the amount by which your Current Assets exceed your Current Liabilities subtract these two amounts to determine your Working Capital. Working Capital is basically your operating liquidity, i.e., the amount available to satisfy short-term obligations and upcoming operational expenses.
When you compare trends of the Current Ratio and Working Capital for your company over time you will get a sense of how well, or poorly, you are managing your short-term debt. Whether or not you want to, you must become comfortable with reading your company’s balance sheet in order to make good business decisions. Otherwise, ugly words like debt may become unmanageable.

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