by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: 2023-03-23T17:20:23+05:30
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Net working capital is a measure of a company's liquidity, efficiency, and overall financial health. It is an important indicator in determining the short-term solvency of a business and can have profound implications on its future performance. 

The net working capital formula provides a clear insight into how much money is available to pay off short-term debts, pursue new prospects or expand operations for any organization. To gain better understanding of the concept of what is net working capital, this article will dive into its practical applications and break down the net working capital formula.

What is NWC, Net Working Capital?

To calculate a company's net working capital, simply subtract its current liabilities from its current assets. These include accounts payable, like bills and payroll, to inventories and net receivables. In essence, net working capital measures the number of funds available to cover short-term debts or investments that need to be made in order for a business to stay financially afloat. Moreover, the net working capital definition is often used as a measure of liquidity, which helps creditors assess whether or not a company can meet its short-term debt obligations.

The net working capital formula is the best way for investors and creditors to gain insight into the financial health of a business. By knowing the meaning of net working capital and  calculating itl, investors and creditors can determine if the business has enough cash to cover its liabilities and investments for it to function successfully.

Understanding Working Capital Ratios

Net working capital is often used in the form of a ratio, or net working capital ratio (NWC). The NWC ratio measures the amount of current assets relative to current liabilities. It provides a snapshot of how much cash a company has available to cover its short-term debt obligations and investments. A higher NWC ratio suggests that the company has more of its current assets than it does of its liabilities, thus giving them an advantage when confronted with meeting its short-term financial demands. Similarly, a lower NWC ratio indicates that the company may struggle to cover its short-term debt obligations and investments.

How Do You Calculate Working Capital?

You must first identify the company's current assets and liabilities to calculate the net working capital formula. Current assets include items like accounts receivable, inventories, and short-term investments. Liabilities refer to any debts or payments that are due within a year.

Net Working Capital Formula

The net working capital formula is simply the difference between a company's current assets and liabilities. It is calculated as follows:

Net Working Capital = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

This formula provides insight into how much cash a company/business has available to meet its short-term debt obligations and investments. By calculating this figure, investors and creditors can better assess how solvent a company is and whether or not it can stay financially afloat.

Net Working Capital Example

Let's look at a net working capital example. ABC Ltd. has the following current assets and liabilities:

●    Cash - INR 20,000
●    Accounts Receivable - INR 25,000
●    Inventory - INR 15,000
●    Accounts Payable - INR 10,000

ABC Ltd.'s net working capital is calculated as follows: 

Net Working Capital = Current Assets (Cash + Accounts Receivable + Inventory) – Current Liabilities (Accounts Payable) = 20,000 + 25,000 +15,000 – 10,000 = 50,000. 

This means that ABC ltd. has INR 50,000 of cash available to cover its short-term debt obligations and investments.

Another way of looking at this is by calculating the net working capital ratio. The net working capital ratio formula for ABC Ltd. would be 50,000/10,000 = 5, meaning that the company has a higher current asset-to-liability ratio, indicating that it can meet its short-term debt obligations and investments.

The Benefits of Having a Positive Working Capital

The benefits of having a positive working capital include:

●    Positive working capital benefits businesses as it helps them meet their short-term debt obligations and invest in opportunities. 

●    It also provides the business liquidity and flexibility, meaning it can cover unexpected expenses or take advantage of new investment opportunities when they become available. 

●    Additionally, having a positive net working capital ratio can help improve a company's credit rating, as creditors and investors will be more likely to lend money to the business if they see that it can cover its debts.

Setting up a Net Working Capital Schedule

1.    Identify the company's current assets and liabilities. This includes items such as accounts receivable, inventories and short-term investments for current assets, and any debts or payments due within a year for liabilities. 

2.    Calculate the net working capital by subtracting/deducting the company's current liabilities from its current assets.

3.    Evaluate the results of your calculations to gain insight into how much cash the company has available to cover its short-term debt obligations and investments.

4.    If necessary, take measures to improve the net working capital ratio to ensure the company is financially stable and equipped to meet its short-term debt obligations and investments.

5.    Track changes in net working capital over time to evaluate the company's financial health.

Net working capital is an important measure of a business's financial health and solvency. By calculating net working capital, investors and creditors can gain insight into how much cash a company has to cover its short-term debt obligations and investments, which helps them determine whether or not it can stay financially afloat. 

Setting up a net working capital schedule allows businesses to monitor their current assets, liabilities, and overall net working capital figures to ensure they remain solvent and on track for success.

Drivers Used for Net Working Capital Accounts

Many factors can affect net working capital, which is why it's important to monitor these drivers on a regular basis. Common drivers include: 
●    Accounts Receivable or Cash Collections
This figure reflects the amount of money customers owe the company, directly affecting net working capital.
●    Inventory Management
If a company holds too much inventory, this can cause an increase in current assets and reduce its NWC ratio. Similarly, if inventory levels are too low, current assets will decrease, and NWC will be affected negatively.
●    Payments/Terms with Suppliers
The terms and payment structure set up with suppliers affect the amount of money owed (or not owed) to them at any given time, thus affecting net working capital.
●    Borrowing
Taking out loans or other forms of borrowing can both increase and decrease net working capital depending on the type of loan taken out, so this is an important driver to keep in mind.

By monitoring these common drivers, businesses can better understand how their current assets and liabilities affect their net working capital ratio over time and manage it more effectively to ensure financial stability.

Use of NWC in Financial Modeling

●    Net working capital is commonly used in financial modeling to project a company's future cash flows and determine its financial health. 

●    By calculating net working capital on a regular basis, businesses can better track trends in their finances and plan for any potential risks or opportunities that may arise. 

●    Net working capital can also be used in forecasting sales and calculating the cost of goods sold, further helping companies gain insight into their financial standing.

By understanding net working capital's role in financial modeling and tracking changes over time, businesses can make better-informed decisions about how best to manage their finances moving forward and become more financially secure. This makes net working capital an important tool for investors and creditors alike when evaluating the performance of a business.

Limitations of Working Capital

There are several limitations to consider when relying on net working capital as a measure of financial health. These include: 

●    Working capital is limited to a company's short-term investments and debt obligations, so it does not provide insight into long-term performance.

●    Net working capital also does not take into account the impact of inflation, which can affect cash flow over time.

●    Changes in net working capital do not always indicate future performance; other factors may have a greater influence on overall profitability.

●    Calculating net working capital requires accurate data on current assets and liabilities, which can be difficult to track if records are incomplete or out of date.

●    Finally, it is important to note that managing working capital alone will not ensure success; other measures, such as increased efficiency and better pricing strategies, may also be necessary to increase profits.

By understanding the limitations of net working capital, businesses can create more comprehensive financial models that consider a wider range of factors to make well-informed decisions about future investments and operations. Ultimately, this will help businesses ensure their long-term sustainability and success.


Net working capital is a critical metric used to measure a company's liquidity, financial stability, and overall performance. By understanding what is NWC, net working capital, and how it can be used in financial modeling, businesses can better monitor their short-term finances and make more informed decisions about future investments and operations. Furthermore, businesses must also be aware of the limitations of net working capital in order to ensure that their financial models are comprehensive and accurate. Together, these measures will help businesses improve their financial performance and position them for long-term success.


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