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Working Capital

The capital of a business used in day-to-day operations, current assets minus current liabilities.

Business Glossary provided by


Working capital is the measure of a company's liquidity and short-term financial health. It is crucial for maintaining the day-to-day operation and for meeting short-term liabilities. Positive working capital indicates that a company can fund its current operations and invest in future activities and growth. Conversely, insufficient working capital can lead to financial troubles and potentially insolvency.

Context of Use:

Working capital is a vital term in corporate finance, accounting, and financial management. It is used by financial analysts, business owners, and managers to assess how well a company can meet its short-term obligations and manage its short-term financial operations. This concept is especially relevant in discussions about liquidity, operational efficiency, and the management of finances in the short term.


The primary purpose of working capital is to provide a snapshot of a company’s short-term financial health and operational efficiency. Adequate working capital allows a company to remain solvent and avoid financial difficulties, ensuring it has enough liquidity to meet its upcoming expenses and investment needs.

Related Terms:

  • Current Assets: These are assets that a company expects to convert into cash within one year, such as cash, marketable securities, inventory, and accounts receivable.

  • Current Liabilities: These are obligations that a company needs to pay off within one year, including accounts payable, wages, taxes, and other short-term debts.

  • Liquidity: The ability of a company to quickly convert assets into cash to meet short-term financial obligations.


What factors affect working capital?

Factors that can affect working capital include changes in accounts receivable, inventory levels, accounts payable, and cash holdings. Seasonal business fluctuations and economic conditions can also have significant impacts.

How can a company improve its working capital?

A company can improve its working capital by managing its inventory more efficiently, speeding up accounts receivable collections, extending accounts payable periods without incurring penalties, and managing cash outflows effectively.

What is the difference between working capital and cash flow?

Working capital refers to the difference between current assets and current liabilities, indicating short-term financial health. Cash flow, on the other hand, measures the actual cash generated or used over a period of time, reflecting the company's ability to generate sufficient cash to meet its obligations.

Why is negative working capital considered a risk?

Negative working capital occurs when current liabilities exceed current assets, indicating that a company may have difficulty covering its short-term debts and may face liquidity issues. This situation can lead to financial instability and operational challenges.

Can a company have too much working capital?

Yes, excessively high working capital might indicate that a company is not using its assets efficiently. Too much cash or inventory can tie up funds that could otherwise be invested in growth opportunities or yield-generating activities.

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