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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Cash is King -Yes, But Not at Any Price

I was reminded the other day how people can get so focused on a mantra that they lose sight of context. Yes in a tough market Cash is King but not to the detriment of everything else.

Cash Is King
Let me explain, I was having a discussion with an internet business owner who was moaning about poor sales, and the fact that to get cash in he needed to reduce his margin. The more we talked the more I began to question the strategy of reducing price to get the cash in. His response always started with "well you know in these times Cash is King... 

Eventually I got him to show me an example of how this worked for him. Once he had finished I asked him a question "Ok, so if you are giving away margin, are you making any profit at the reduced level?" 

"Well that doesn't matter what is important is to get some cash in to pay suppliers and re order product." came the response.

"But surely if you are losing money on each sale getting the cash in, you are making the situation worse, not better. " 

"At the moment getting cash in is whats important"

"How regularly are you doing this? Is this just to clear dead stock for example?"

"Quite frequently because when we put our products out at full price we are losing sales to cheaper providers so we use this to strategy to get the cash in"

At this point I was getting a little concerned, "But surely you must know if you are making a profit otherwise you will only be building up bigger and bigger losses, after all if you are only losing £1 per item if you sell 1000 of them you've lost £1000!"

"Yes but if you don't get the cash in when you need it you can't pay suppliers and they put you on stop"

We were in danger of getting into a circular argument, so I suggested that if he wanted we could look in detail at his pricing to see if he was making the situation worse or better. What we discovered subsequently was that he was indeed making a loss on his reduced items but more worryingly also on some of his regular priced items, and that his dedication to blindly follow the Cash is King mantra was killing his business.  

So the moral of this story is yes "Cash is King" but getting cash in is only worth pursuing if its in the interests of your business. I do appreciate that there are times when you may make a loss sometimes; for example if you are off loading poor moving stock, but generating cash flow by cutting your margin without understanding the consequences of your actions is a dangerous strategy.

Exigent Consulting provides specialist services for High Growth Business Business Turnaround, and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business. 


  1. If you're making a loss on each one you sell, then you can never compensate by increasing volume - unless that volume can be used to leverage a lower cost

  2. Hi Tony,

    I couldn't agree with you more, it seems to be a common problem that people guess or feel that they must be making money when in fact they aren't.