What Is a Working Capital Ratio?


A working capital ratio is a measure of a company's current financial health. It is used to give an indication of the company's ability to pay its debts over the short-term period. This ratio provides investors, creditors, and other stakeholders with an overall view of the company's liquidity and its ability to meet those financial obligations.

The purpose of a working capital ratio is to give investors an overall analysis of a company's ability to pay its current liabilities with its current assets. The ratio is calculated by dividing the current assets of a company by its current liabilities. These assets include accounts receivables and inventory, while the liabilities encompass accounts payables, short-term loans, and short-term debt.

How to Calculate Working Capital Ratio

Working capital ratio is a measure used to determine a company's liquidity, or its ability to pay its short-term liabilities as they come due. It is calculated by taking the total current assets of the company and dividing it by the company's total current liabilities.

Current Assets

Current assets are those assets that can be converted into cash within one year. Examples of current assets include cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, inventory and short-term investments.

Current Liabilities

Current liabilities are those debts that must be paid off within one year. Examples of current liabilities include accounts payable, wages payable, interest payable and taxes payable.

Working Capital

Working capital is calculated by subtracting current liabilities from current assets.

Importance of Working Capital Ratio

Working capital ratio is an important financial indicator that has various implications for businesses. This ratio is a reflection of a company's financial health, liquidity, and future performance. It is imperative for businesses to closely monitor their working capital ratio.

Gives an Overview of Financial Health

Working capital ratio is calculated by dividing its current assets by its current liabilities. This ratio gives an overview of the business’s financial health in terms of it being able to meet its short-term obligations. A positive ratio reflects a strong financial position and adequate liquidity while a low ratio indicates that a business might struggle when things get tighter.

Evaluates Organizational Liquidity

Working capital ratio provides an insight into the liquidity of a business. Higher the ratio, more liquid is the business, which means it can easily absorb the changes in the market. Working capital ratio helps to assess the ability of an organization to pay off its short-term obligations as and when they are due.

Can Serve As an Indicator of Future Performance

Another important aspect of the working capital ratio is that it can be a measure for predicting the future performance of a business. If the ratio is lower than what the business has typically been maintaining, it is an indication that it might be time to start putting measures in place to increase liquidity. On the other hand, a positive working capital ratio can be an indication that the business could have enough financial flexibility to make investments in growth.

How to Improve Working Capital Ratio

Working capital ratio is an important indication of a company's short-term liquidity, which is critical to its survival. It's essential to manage working capital ratio well to help ensure your business remains solvent. Here are a few tips to help you improve your working capital ratio.

Proper management of short-term liabilities

Managing short-term liabilities is important for improving working capital ratio. By keeping a close eye on short-term liabilities, you can be sure that you’re paying the bills on time. This will also help to avoid unnecessary late fees. Keeping up with payments is also important for maintaining a good credit rating.

Reducing Inventory

Reducing inventory is a key factor in improving working capital ratio. When you carry less inventory, you can improve the ratio by reducing the amount of cash tied up in the stock. Consider using just-in-time inventory systems, which allow for goods to be delivered only when they’re needed. This helps to keep stock levels efficient and helps to improve your working capital ratio.

Improved Debt Collection

Improving debt collection processes is another way to help improve working capital ratio. Allocating resources to tracking customer payments and encouraging customers to make payments promptly can help to ensure that cash is coming in on time. Additionally, you should also focus on reducing the amount of bad debt, as it will have a negative impact on the working capital ratio.

When Is Working Capital Ratio Unfavorable?

When a company has negative working capital, it has more liabilities than assets and generally more current liabilities than current assets. This shows the inability of the business to meet its short-term obligations. As a result, businesses with negative working capital may struggle to operate, resulting in decreased cash flows, investor concerns, and other issues.

Unfavorable working capital ratios are also observed when accounts payable are high. High accounts payable may cause businesses to tie up capital, which is a sign of financial distress. By having more cash outflows than cash inflows, businesses may experience a difficult time in servicing their financial obligations, such as paying suppliers and creditors.

Other Considerations

Working capital ratios offer great insight into a company's financial picture, but there are some other considerations business owners should take into account when assessing the role of a working capital ratio.

Increase Efficiency of Operations

Businesses should consider ways to reduce costs through improving inventory and accounts receivable and payable management. This can include streamlining of processes, implementing and expanding on automation, utilizing more efficient methods of tracking receivables and/or investments in technological advancements. This reduces the likelihood of any bad investments, ensures suppliers and customers are paid on time, and leads to profitability gains.

Re-evaluate Pricing Strategies

Competitive pricing strategies are necessary to remain competitive in the market and optimize a company's working capital ratio. Business owners should be sure to review competitor pricing at regular intervals, including discounts, promotional pricing, and other pricing strategies. This could include building more appropriate pricing models that account for product and customer type, maximizing discount and credit terms, or offering more flexible payments options. Applying the proper pricing strategies can help boost sales and reduce expenses associated with debt and working capital ratio.


Having a clear understanding of your business’ working capital ratio is essential to maintaining successful cash flow. A favorable ratio can demonstrate a company has enough readily available assets to fund its operations without having to borrow. This ratio is a fundamental measure of the overall financial strength and stability of a business, providing a snapshot of its liquidity.

Calculating working capital ratio requires the subtraction of current liabilities from current assets, which can lead to a few different outcomes. A positive result, where current assets exceed current liabilities, is an indication that a business can adequately cover its obligations when they come due. On the other hand, if current liabilities exceed current assets, it may indicate a state of financial distress. Knowing where a business stands relative to its working capital ratio should prompt executives to take the necessary steps to either raise assets or reduce liabilities.

In conclusion, savvy business owners should monitor their working capital ratio carefully and act quickly to improve it if needed. Teamwork between executives, accountants, and finance professionals is required to calculate, reassess, and adjust the ratio when needed. Regular review of working capital ratio helps to keep the business on course with its current financial position and charts the right path for future success.

Expert-built startup financial model templates

1000+ Excel financial model templates for your business plan

Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up