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Software that ups your cash flow: programs to help an entrepreneur forecast where a business may stand on any given day.

"Can I make payroll next month?" If you're an entrepreneur, this nagging question, more than likely, has sounded off a mental alarm in the wee hours of the morning. Could you forecast your company's cash intake 60 or 90 days out? What would happen, for instance, if you got some foot-dragging from that client who normally pays on time?

One of the reasons many business owners see the bottom drop out unexpectedly is that they fail to monitor and control cash flow - the traffic of funds moving in and out of a company. Studies have shown that the inability to control cash flow is the major problem facing both small - to medium-size companies.

Considering that cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, an entrepreneur needs to be able to zero in on where the business stands on any given day - from a week to a year in the future. That means taking everything into account: from the time it takes your customers to pay, to when the business buys and pays for its products and services.

If you feel a "paper-work" migraine coming on, relax. When it comes down to juggling the many variables of cash flow, nothing beats the power and speed of a PC. Granted, large corporations have their pick of dozens of cash flow management software packages. But small businesses can benefit from any one of a handful of general purpose accounting software packages offering cash flow management features.

A top pick: Up Your Cash Flow 4.0 from Granville Publications Software. This program, priced at $99.95, is specifically designed for financial forecasting. The format will be familiar to anybody who has ever used Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro, Excel or any other spreadsheet program.

What makes Up Your Cash Flow stand head and shoulders above the others? This special-purpose spreadsheet is hard-wired to predict how much cash you'll have on hand at any specific period of time, from next week to next year.

Better still: With Up Your Cash Flow 4.0, you don't have to figure out or input any formulas, since it's already done for you. Thanks to CPA Harvey Goldstein, the program's author, users can break outlays into any number of categories, such as accounts receivable and payable. This allows users to budget and track expenses in fine detail.

Up Your Cash Flow 4.0 also lets you forecast up to a year in advance, projecting monthly cash balances to see exactly where every dime went. The program even offers a number of graphs to help you visualize your financial situation.

Though you can export forecasts in Up Your Cash Flow 4.0 to other spreadsheet programs, such as Lotus 1-2-3, you can't import information. So, you'll have to keypunch in all sales and expense data.

Up Your Cash Flow 4.0 provides ample power while remaining relatively easy to use. Still, not everyone will have the patience to learn such a specialized financial program. Other general-use accounting programs offer solid cash flow help, too. QuickBooks from Intuit ($139.95) is the first foray into the field of small-business accounting software. As a sort of incremental step past the multimillion selling Quicken, QuickBooks doesn't offer the power of more complicated and costly financial programs, but it does feature cash flow management.

QuickBooks' cash flow reports project cash receipts, disbursements and checkbook balances. The built-in cash flow reports and graphs won't show you the same level of detail in tracking expenses as Up Your Cash Flow 4 .0. But they will enable you to track daily rather than just monthly checkbook balances, unpaid invoices and outstanding bills. This could help beef up a thinly capitalized business.

QuickBooks and Up Your Cash Row 4.0 run on any IBM-compatible PC under the DOS operating system. If you're into Windows, however, you'll want to check out three other cash flow programs: M.Y.O.B. from Teleware, Profit by Microsoft and ACCPAC Simply Accounting from Computer Associates International.

Teleware's $199 M.Y.O.B. (available in a Mac version) spins out reports, forecasting cash flow for a single checking account. This smart program automatically factors in fixed expenses and accounts receivable/payable due or past due during the projected time period.

Microsoft's Profit was co-developed with Great Plains Software, a specialist in small-business accounting software. The program provides on-target cash-flow forecasts, showing receipts, disbursements, net inflow/outflow and balances for specified days or weeks.

But the real beauty of Profit is a module of the program, Profit Signs. Along with a terse summary of receipts, disbursements and balances, Profit Signs features a handy graph showing the daily position of each of those measures.

And that's not all. You can easily customize Profit Signs to reflect changes in your rate of collections or payments. This makes it a snap to do what-if analysis. In other words, you could find out the effect of stretching out the time you allow customers to pay their bills.

A word to the wise: Profit puts a load on your PC. Unless you have a real powerhouse sitting on your desk, you'll have plenty of time to get coffee while Profit is generating reports. The Windows-based Profit ($199) is versatile and easy to use.

ACCPAC Simply Accounting for Windows 2.0 ($99) from Computer Associates International is strictly an entry-level accounting program, leaving much to be desired in cash flow management.

Yes, it automatically adds interest and late-payment charges to your invoices, which can definitely make a difference in your cash flow. And the package includes standard reports that are useful in managing cashflow. But it's mostly up to you to determine whether or not you can pay your bills. The standard reports are weak when it comes to forecasting.

All told, there's no shortage of accounting software that can track your financial status. Even though they address the first steps of generating income, i.e., market analysis and sales automation, hardly any approach the problem from the other and - cash collection.

Collections Plus Business Version 2.2 ($495) from M.L.A. Software is a computerized assistant to help you collect your receivables on a timely basis. It can't call debtors and ask them to pay up, but it will automate the production of follow-up letters, reminding deadbeats that they owe you money.

Whenever you turn it on, Collections Plus pops up a list of customers who are due for a gentle reminder. You can flip through the list, checking account status, last contact and most recent payment. With just a few keystrokes, you can print out "demand" letters. You can even preset a schedule of dunning letters - from a simple late notice to one threatening legal action.

No matter what cash flow management software you use, it won't make your business a magical cash generating machine overnight. But at least the next time you wake up at 3 a.m. wondering if you'll make payroll, you can roll over and go back to sleep, knowing that no unexpected cash-flow calamity is lurking in your books.
Six software programs that help manage your company's cash


Collections Malcolm Leitch & Associates Inc.,
Plus (Business) Sandy, Utah $ 495.00

M.Y.O.B. Teleware Inc., Rockaway N.J $ 199.00

Profit Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash $ 199.00

QuickBooks Intuit, Menlo Park, Calif. $ 139.95

Up Your Granville Publications Software,
Cash Flow Los Angeles $ 99.95

ACCPAC-Simply Computer Associates International
Accounting Inc., Islandia, N Y $ 99.00




Long-term investors looking for a value stock might find Mead Corp. (NYSE, 42 1/2) highly attractive. Mead, one of the world's largest manufacturers of paper - some 1.2 million tons per year - and a major force in electronic publishing services, has posted year-to-year earnings improvements for the last seven consecutive quarters. Even more good news: Mead Packaging is experiencing double-digit growth in Europe and Asia.

Financial Game Plan

Winning doesn't come easy, especially in the financial arena. But there's a game plan you can follow to come out ahead. Your Commonsense Guide to Personal Financial Planning: Learn How to Budget, Protect and Save Your Money (Oliver-Nelson Books; $9.99) is the latest book from certified financial planner Charles Ross, host of the nationally syndicated radio show, "Your Personal Finance." Ross covers the gamut of pocketbook issues from purchasing a car to buying stocks and paying for college. A spate of worksheets and charts help the reader create a monthly budget, determine adequate life insurance coverage and calculate mortgage payments.


Investments with a conscience distinguish the mutual funds linked with the Calvert Group in Bethesda, MD. With $4.6 billion in assets under management, Calvert is the nation's largest socially responsible asset management firm.

Socially responsible funds, such as the Calvert-Ariel Appreciation Fund (run by Chicago's Ariel Capital Management), tend to avoid firms that invest in South Africa, make weapons or harm the environment

But Calvert is taking social investing to another level: the political front. Now, whenever shareholders receive their semiannual reports, they'll also get a postcard pre-addressed to the White House and Congress. This way, they can voice their opinions - a highly unusual initiative for a mutual fund.

The postcard campaign is part of an evolving strategy of "stakeholder activism," explains Calvert Social investment Fund chairman Wayne Silby. "We believe that business is accountable to the community, the environment, employees, vendors, customers and shareholders. This group represents stakeholders."

To find out more about the Calvert Group funds and programs, call 800-368-2748.




Small business owners have wined, dined and otherwise entertained clients and prospects. But such practices may be on the way out. That's because the new tax law cuts write-offs for meals and entertainment by 30%. Now, for instance, instead of deducting $400 from a $500 tab, you can deduct only $250.

Think twice before joining a country club to raise golf clubs and rub elbows with business leaders. Deductions for club dues and other social organization fees are a thing of the past, too.

And unless your spouse and kids work for you, you'll have to pay out of pocket for tag-along family members on business trips.

"All of this is going to have a major effect on the way many people do business," says Catherine Taylor, tax attorney with IDS Financial Services in Minneapolis.

Whether you're a company CEO or marketing sales rep, every professional needs to review his or her company's policy when it comes to footing the bill for travel and entertainment expenses," advises Taylor.


at the end of that wedding aisle.... In 10 states, Arbor National Mortgage (576-357-7400) has a registry for the soon-to-be-betrothed. Rether than shower newlyweds with the usual china, silver and other gifts, you can contribute toward a down payment on a home. (Contributions up to 5% of the purchase price go into a Chase money-market account for at least six months.)


Even though you want objective financial advice, you may not want to pay $150 an hour for it. A new service, Money Minds, Glenview, Ill., has a group of certified financial planners and certified public accountants on-call six days a week to field questions from individuals and small-business owners.

Money Minds has no ties or affiliations with other financial organizations. Nor is any member allowed to sell investment products. But there's a price to pay. To be exact: $3.95 per minute - but the first is free. You'll be glad to know that complicated questions requiring off-the-phone research is off the clock. And callers are billed only for the time it takes to answer questions.

To access Money Minds, call 800-275-2272 (charges will be applied to your credit card).
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Henricks, Mark
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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