Working Capital: Formula, Components, and Limitations

net working capital formula

Many new businesses try to be all things to all customers, and they soon find that this is a drain on time and resources. By narrowing its product or marketing focus, a business can concentrate on the most active customers, the most profitable products and the most efficient methods.

  • Similar to net working capital, the NWC ratio can be used to determine whether you have enough current assets to cover your current liabilities.
  • This happens due to the timely payments you make to your suppliers and banking partners.
  • The authors and reviewers work in the sales, marketing, legal, and finance departments.
  • Thus, it is always suggested to maintain adequate Net Working Capital.
  • The net working capital formula is a rough estimate of whether you will receive enough cash in the next year to pay what you owe in the next year.
  • The net working capital formula is defined as current assets minus current liabilities.

For example, certain raw materials and inventory might not be easily converted to cash. Similarly, receivables are not always easily collected and in certain cases are not collectible at all. Generally speaking, an asset is anything of financial value that your company owns.


Working capital is a measure of a company’s liquidity and short-term financial health. Products that are bought from suppliers are immediately sold to customers before the company has to pay the vendor or supplier. In contrast, capital-intensive companies that manufacture heavy equipment and machinery usually can’t raise cash quickly, as they sell their products on a long-term payment basis.

What is net working capital ratio?

The net working capital ratio is the net amount of all elements of working capital. It is intended to reveal whether a business has a sufficient amount of net funds available in the short term to stay in operation.

A major driving force to your business is the net working capital. This capital – also referred to as NWC – is the total amount of assets that are easily accessible to a business, at any given time. These assets are used by the business to cover their short-term debts, payments, and any liabilities they may have. This increases current assets by adding to the company’s available cash but doesn’t overly increase current liabilities. A working capital ratio of less than one means a company isn’t generating enough cash to pay down the debts due in the coming year. Working capital ratios between 1.2 and 2.0 indicate a company is making effective use of its assets.

Cash to Net Working Capital Ratio

Working capital is used to fund operations and meet short-term obligations. When the NWC is positive, the investors can understand that the company has enough current assets to pay off its current liabilities. Accounts PayablesAccounts payable is the amount due by a business to its suppliers or vendors for the purchase of products or services. It is categorized as current liabilities on the balance sheet and must be satisfied within an accounting period.

The working capital ratio formula does a better job than the net working capital formula comparing the size of your current assets and current liabilities. It is for a company with $100,000 in sales but wouldn’t be enough for a company with $100 million in sales. The above graphic shows the same balance sheet as the earlier example.

Working capital in financial modeling

It is calculated by dividing the current assets of your business with its current liabilities. That is whether you have sufficient funds to run your business operations in the short-term. Thus, you must always ensure that your current assets are in excess of its current liabilities to manage the liquidity position of your firm. This is because current assets help in creating change in net working capital a buffer for meeting your obligations within your ordinary operating cycle. Thus, your short-term creditors always prefer that you maintain current assets higher than your current liabilities. Besides this, they also consider the quality of your current assets. Current assets are the assets that can be converted into cash within a short period of time, typically one year.

net working capital formula