Never Use QuickBooks and Spreadsheets for Cash Flow

Never take your eyes off the cash flow because it’s the lifeblood of business.
- Richard Branson, billionaire

I made my own bread when I was unemployed. I was unemployed because the profitable business I owned ran out of cash.

I’m a marketing specialist, not a bread specialist. Making bread was complex, time-consuming, and full of errors. I never did get my whole wheat loaves to rise. But it was satisfying: something to do and something to eat.

Then I started a new business and got busy again. I let a specialist make my bread: Pepperidge Farm.

And I damn sure wasn’t going to let my new business run out of cash. I exported my QuickBooks data into Excel. And then…and then…But I’m a marketing consultant, not a spreadsheet guru. Setting up a usable cash flow projection was complex, time-consuming, and full of errors. Like making my own bread, but without the satisfaction.

The first problem was the time it took just to set up the spreadsheet for cash flows. And trying to adapt the one-size-fits-all spreadsheet templates, including Microsoft’s “My Cashflow” Excel template, was worse than starting from scratch.

But the kill-me-now problem was bad numbers, #VALUE! and the resulting time spent digging through my spreadsheet to find errors: the accidental minus sign…not copying all the rows needed…typing a formula over a value…multiplying apples by oranges…the misguided AutoSum…duplication of incorrect data.

Then there’s over-saving, so my “what if” experiments permanently screwed up my “as current” information. And by the way, my partner won’t read a spreadsheet on his tablet. He has to have charts!

If you make your own bread, you’ll spend more time with flour on your hands than eating toast. If you make your own cash flow spreadsheet, you’ll spend more time troubleshooting than making business decisions. Because you’re not a baker or a spreadsheet guru, Excel or otherwise.

Profitable businesses fail every day because they run out of cash. You have to forecast cash flow. But you don’t have to use spreadsheets.

The app for bread is a grocery store. The app for cash flow is Pulse.