Determine the viability of your business

If your business is struggling, you will hear the words 'viable business' quite often. What do these words mean and how do you find out if your business can survive?

Financial setbacks can have various causes: customers not paying, sick staff or, for example, a crisis in your sector. Personal circumstances such as illness or divorce can also play a role. If you find yourself in a difficult financial situation, you want to know what you can do to get your business through it. First, you need to determine if your business is healthy. Learn more about how to determine the viability of your business.

What is a viable business?

A viable business is a business whose operations are profitable for a longer period of time and that can meet its financial and organisational obligations.

Gain insight

Insight into your business viability gives you, your suppliers, and your financiers an indication of the health of your company. If you know more about factors that determine health, you can make better decisions about the next steps. For example, consider reducing your costs, adjusting your revenue model, seeking financing or, in the worst case, ending your business. A financier’s judgment on whether to provide financing depends on the factors that determine viability. If you have insight yourself and take the judgment of a financier into account, you will be a better sparring partner for that financier, and for other financial advisors such as a bookkeeper or accountant.

Use tools to gain financial insights

Many useful tools can give you more financial insight and show you how your business is performing. For example:

  • The Toekomstcheck (Future Check, in Dutch) gives you insight into your company's liquidity. With the check, you can see where you stand financially and what the outlook is for the next 12 months. It also shows how your company is prepared for various future scenarios.
  • The MKB Diagnosetool (SME Diagnostic Tool, in Dutch) gives you insight into the financial health of your business, your online visibility and how you are performing in your sector. You can find out the value of your business and receive an advisory report. This includes the results and tips for your next step.
  • With Financiële kengetallen (Financial Ratios, in Dutch) you can calculate the solvency and current ratio for your sector. This allows you to compare your company with other companies in the same industry.

Map factors

You can determine viability based on financial and non-financial factors. You look at numbers about profitability, assets, liquidity, cash flow, and private income. With these numbers, you can make ratios or calculation modules. You get these numbers from your profit and loss account and balance sheet, which together form the annual accounts. Non-financial factors concern the entrepreneur(s), the company, and environmental factors.

Cost-effectiveness

Cost-effectiveness is a way to measure the profitability of your company. You compare the profit with the average total invested capital (equity + loan capital). You calculate the average capital by adding the capital on January 1 to the capital on December 31 and dividing this by 2.

In a sole proprietorship, general partnership (vof), or public partnership, part of the profit goes towards an entrepreneur's allowance for the work delivered by the entrepreneur(s). For the calculation, the guide amount is €30,000.

Calculating cost-effectiveness

(net profit + interest paid - entrepreneur's allowance) / (average total invested capital) x 100% = cost-effectiveness.

  • Calculation example sole proprietorship:
    ((40,000 + 2500 - 30,000) / 50,000) x 100% = 25%
    In a private limited company (bv), the work of the entrepreneur(s) is already rewarded via salary or management fee.
  • Calculation of profitability at a bv:
    ((net profit + interest paid + tax on profit) / total assets) x 100% = cost-effectiveness
    Calculation example: ((50,000 + 25,000 + 45,000) / 500,000) x 100% = 24%
    A return on total assets of between 5 and 10% is acceptable to financiers. Higher numbers in the calculation examples mean that the companies have above-average profitability.

Table: Sample balance sheet

AssetsLiabilities

Fixed assets (1 year)

Equity

Real estate100,000Equity 55,000
Company assets  25,000





Current assets (< 1 year)
Long-term loan capital

Inventory  25,000Mortgage
80,000
Debtors  10,000Short-term loan capital
Cash  1,000Creditors10,000


Current account credit (overdraft)25,000




Total Assets170,000Total Liabilities170,000

Solvency

The relation between equity and total assets is called solvency. This is an indication of whether your company can meet its payment obligations in the long term. Financiers believe that a solvency percentage should be between 25 and 40. The standard for solvency differs per sector, per type of company, and per financier. Learn more about solvency.

Calculation of solvency

(equity / total assets) x 100% = solvency

Calculation example (with numbers from the sample balance sheet): (55,000 / 170,000) x 100% = 32%

Liquidity

Liquidity indicates whether you can pay your bills in the short term. You assess the liquidity of your company through your current ratio, quick ratio, and net working capital. The numbers in the calculations come from the sample balance sheet.

Current ratio

This ratio number indicates whether you can pay your (short-term) debts from your current assets. The value must be at least 1. For healthy companies, it is between 1.2 and 1.5.

Calculating current ratio

current assets + liquid assets / short-term debt = current ratio

Specified: (inventory + debtors + cash) / (overdraft + creditors) = current ratio

Calculation example: (25,000 + 10,000 + 10,000) / (25,000 + 10,000) = 1.29

Quick ratio

This ratio number also indicates whether you can pay your (short-term) debts from your current assets. The difference from the current ratio is that you do not include the value of the inventory in this calculation. A positive value for this prefix is at least 1.

Specified: (debtors + cash) / (overdraft + creditors) = quick ratio

Calculation example: (10,000 + 10,000) / (25,000 + 10,000) = 0.57

Net working capital

Net working capital is the difference between current assets and short-term loan capital on a company's balance sheet. Net working capital is positive if current assets are greater than short-term loan capital. With this money, you can pay bills. It is money to use on a daily basis in your company and is therefore called working capital.

Calculating net working capital

current assets + cash - short-term debt = net working capital

Specified: (inventory + accounts receivable + cash) - (overdraft + accounts payable) = net working capital

Calculation example: (25,000 + 10,000 + 10,000) - (25,000 + 10,000) = 10,000

Cash flow

The cash flow (in Dutch) is the difference between receipts and expenses during a period. This is an indication of the cash-generating capacity of your company. Are your expenses greater than your receipts? Then your cash flow is negative. You will then need additional financing. Are revenues greater than expenses? Then you have a positive cash flow.

Calculation example: An entrepreneur receives € 30,000 in turnover in a quarter and spends €20,000 on purchasing and costs. The cashflow is € 30,000 - € 20,000 = € 10,000 and positive.

Private income

Your business must generate sufficient income. As a guideline, banks maintain a minimum limit of € 30,000. For a general partnership (vof) this is per partner. For a spouse firm, it is € 45,000 together. For a bv, a usual wage of at least € 48,000 applies in 2022. A lower income may be sufficient for you. You must convince your financier that you can meet your private obligations with that (temporary) lower income. Making a private budget (in Dutch) helps to prove this.

Entrepreneur and company

Your way of doing business influences the viability of your company. Therefore, take a critical look at the way in which your company is organised. Also, look at it through the eyes of a financier. In addition to the figures, they also look at what kind of entrepreneur you are and what your company stands for. They want to hear your vision for the future and your strategy. They also want to know more about your experience, education, industry knowledge, network, and partnerships. The financier will want to know more about your company's legal form, activities, management information system, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Environmental factors

Finally, environmental factors play a role in determining the viability of your company. These are developments that lie outside your company. They can present opportunities such as new technology, but also threats such as forced closure due to government measures. You have little influence on most of them, but you can take them into account.

Consider trends and developments that have an effect on your industry. For example:

  • demographic factors, such as age, growth, and size of the population
  • ecological factors in climate and energy
  • socio-cultural factors, including lifestyle and social trends
  • economic factors, such as the economic climate and purchasing power
  • political-legal factors, including legislation and the extent to which the government intervenes in the economy. 

Always plan or show how your company responds to environmental factors.

Conclusion

If you go through all the factors, you can estimate the viability of your company. Do you score positively on the 5 financial factors? Then your viability looks good. There must also be sufficient prospects for non-financial factors. Keep in mind that a financier usually looks more closely at these factors than an entrepreneur. And each financier uses their own numbers and percentages to weigh the value of each factor.

Do you expect to get a higher score in the future if you make some changes? Then continue doing business. Do you expect insufficient improvement? Then ending your business may be the right decision.

Business in Trouble Resources

If you have financial problems, look at the Business in Trouble checklist. Or, if you're looking for tips to make your business more financially viable, check out the KVK Zwaar Weer Routewijzer (in Dutch).

Help with financing

Help increases your chances of financing. With the right advisor and good financial arguments, a 'yes' to your financing application could be within reach. These advisors (in Dutch) will help you on your way.

Lees dit artikel in het Nederlands

Do you want to talk with someone about your financial situation? Call the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Financing Desk: 0800 10 14.

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