Working Capital Turnover Definition, Formula & Examples

working capital ratio definition

The balance sheet lists assets by category in order of liquidity, starting with cash and cash equivalents. It also lists liabilities by category, with current liabilities first followed by long-term liabilities. Any business that can’t cover its outstanding financial obligations is headed for major problems, including layoffs, loss of valuable contracts, and even bankruptcy.

What Is Working Capital?

Working capital is calculated by subtracting current liabilities from current assets, as listed on the company’s balance sheet. Current assets include cash, accounts receivable and inventory. Current liabilities include accounts payable, taxes, wages and interest owed.

Therefore, a good working capital ratio can determine just how liquid the assets really are. Depending on the type of business, companies can have negative working capital and still do well. Examples are grocery stores like Walmart or fast-food chains like McDonald’s that can generate cash very quickly due to high inventory turnover rates and by receiving payment from customers in a matter of a few days. These companies need little working capital being kept on hand, as they can generate more in short order. Negative working capital means assets aren’t being used effectively and a company may face a liquidity crisis. Even if a company has a lot invested in fixed assets, it will face financial and operating challenges if liabilities are due.

Modified Rebuy – Definition & Examples

It’s only part of the total liquidity picture, but the working capital ratio is a solid place to start when you’re measuring your company’s financial health. Make it part of your financial workflow, and ensure you have the capital you need to carry your company into a sunny and successful future. These ratios are used to measure your working capital ratio company’s ability to meet its present financial obligations. Managing working capital is important for building and maintaining positive relationships with suppliers and lenders. It provides an overview of your business’ financial health, and it’s an excellent indicator of when adjustments in resources and operations should be made.

Why is working capital important?

Working capital is a daily necessity for businesses, as they require a regular amount of cash to make routine payments, cover unexpected costs, and purchase basic materials used in the production of goods.

In the strict accounting sense, cash flow is the difference between cash available at the beginning of an accounting period — the opening balance — and the closing balance at the end of the period. The working capital ratio — or current ratio — is used to calculate a business’ ability to pay its current assets with its current liabilities.


In order to maintain a strong cash flow, it is important to ensure that a company’s current assets exceed its current liabilities. This can be done by maintaining a healthy balance of accounts receivable, inventory, and cash. Additionally, it is important to have a good understanding of how to finance working capital in order to ensure that cash flow is not negatively impacted. Working capital is calculated from current assets and current liabilities reported on a company’s balance sheet. A balance sheet is one of the three primary financial statements that businesses produce; the other two are the income statement and cash flow statement.

  • An excessively high working capital is not necessarily a good thing either, since it can indicate the company is allowing excess cash flow to sit idle rather than effectively reinvesting it in company growth.
  • A low ratio might be the result of poor inventory management or inefficient debt collection.
  • While not always bad, continuous negative working capital can signal serious problems.
  • The working capital ratio is indirectly related to how a company is performing and making big margins which eventually increases the current incomes that can be liquidated quickly.
  • Cost Of SalesThe costs directly attributable to the production of the goods that are sold in the firm or organization are referred to as the cost of sales.
Working Capital Turnover Definition, Formula & Examples