Financial Statements

Working Capital: Definition, Calculation, And More

Working Capital

Can the power of assets and liabilities be measured in one simple way? The answer is yes, using working capital. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this crucial metric, from its calculation to its definition and hands-on, related examples; read on to find out all the above now.

Working Capital Definition

The difference between a company's current assets—such as cash, accounts receivable/unpaid invoices from customers, and inventories of raw materials and completed goods—and its current liabilities—such as loans and accounts payable—is known as working capital, sometimes known as net working capital (NWC). It's a frequently employed metric to assess an organization's immediate health.

Main Takeaways

  1. Working capital, often known as net working capital (NWC), is the difference between the current assets and current liabilities of a business.
  2. A company's working capital is a snapshot of its liquidity and immediate financial stability.
  3. If a company's current assets to liabilities ratio is lower than one, it has negative working capital (or if it has more current liabilities than current assets).
  4. A corporation that has sufficient working capital can finance both its current operations and its expansion plans.
  5. It's not always a good thing to have a high working capital. It can mean that the company has too much inventory, isn't spending its extra income, or isn't taking advantage of possibilities for low-cost loans.

Optimize your business's working capital with Wafeq. Our comprehensive accounting solution helps you efficiently manage inventory, streamline payroll, and maintain a healthy cash flow for sustained business growth.

Working Capital Simply Explained

Estimates of working capital are based on the variety of assets and liabilities on a company's balance sheet. A corporation can better comprehend what kind of liquidity it will have shortly by focusing just on current debts and balancing them with the most liquid assets.

Working capital is another indicator of a business's operational effectiveness and immediate financial stability. A corporation may have the ability to invest in growth and development if it has a sizable positive NWC. A corporation may struggle, however, to expand or repay creditors if its current assets do not surpass its current liabilities; it may even file for bankruptcy.

To know more about The Balance Sheet And Income Statement.

Typically, the industry a firm operates in will determine how much working capital it has. Because of the lack of fast inventory turnover needed to produce cash on demand, some industries with longer production cycles may have greater working capital requirements. In contrast, retail businesses that deal with thousands of consumers every day may frequently acquire short-term financing considerably more quickly and have fewer working capital needs.


A year or less is considered to be "current" in the realm of corporate finance. Current liabilities must be paid off within 12 months, while current assets are readily available.

The Formula For Working Capital

It's simple: a company's current liabilities minus its current assets give working capital. For public corporations, both values can be found in the financial statements that have been made public; however, private companies might not provide as easy access to this data.

Current Assets - Current Liabilities = Working Capital

Working capital is frequently expressed as a monetary amount. Let's use the figure SAR 200,000 for current assets and SAR 60,000 for current liabilities as an example. Following the above, the firm is claimed to have a working capital of SAR 140,000. This indicates that the business will have SAR 140,000 available if it urgently needs to seek capital.

Positive results in a working capital calculation indicate that the company's current assets exceed its current liabilities. Even if all current assets had to be sold to pay off this debt, the corporation would still have more than enough resources to handle it.

A negative working capital calculation indicates that not all of the company's current liabilities can be covered by its current assets.

Negative working capital is a sign of insufficient liquidity, poor short-term health, and possible difficulties meeting debt commitments when they come due.

Working Capital Components

The balance sheet of a corporation contains all of the working capital components, even if a company may not need all of the components described below. For instance, a service provider that does not maintain inventory will exclude inventory from its working capital calculation entirely.

Cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and other assets that are anticipated to be sold or converted into cash in less than a year are included under current assets. Accounts payable, salaries, taxes owed, and the current component of long-term debt that is due within a year are all examples of current liabilities.

A Working Capital Example

Let’s imagine Wasslak reported SAR 87.1 billion in current assets at the end of 2021. Cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments, accounts receivable, inventories, and other current assets were included in this.

In addition, the business disclosed current liabilities of SAR 38.75 billion, which included accounts payable, current installments of long-term debt, accrued compensation, short-term income taxes, short-term unearned revenue, and other current liabilities.

Suppose Wasslak’s working capital measure was SAR 48.35 billion at the end of 2021. The corporation would still have approximately SAR 500 billion in cash on hand after liquidating all short-term assets and paying off all short-term liabilities.

How Is Working Capital Calculated?

A company's current liabilities are subtracted from its current assets to determine its working capital. For instance, a company's working capital would be SAR 40,000 if its current assets were SAR 200,000 and its current liabilities were SAR 160,000.

Current assets can come in the form of cash, accounts receivable, and inventory. Accounts payable, payments on short-term debt and the current share of deferred revenue are a few examples of current liabilities.

Read also: Capital Budgeting Simply Explained.

Working Capital: Why Is It Important?

Working capital is crucial for businesses because it keeps them afloat. Even profitable companies can go out of business; after all, a company cannot rely on everyday earnings to pay its debts but settle them with readily available cash.

Let's say a business has SAR 2 million in cash on hand as a result of its retained earnings from prior years. The firm might not have enough current assets to cover its current liabilities if it invested the entire SAR 2 million all at once.

As you can see above, working is more complex than it first seems. Nonetheless, it is a vital metric that informs accountants, investors, and management alike of a company’s asset and liability situation.

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