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What is Net Working Capital (NWC) - Definition, Types and Formula

Published on Dec 27, 2023Updated on Dec 28, 2023

What is Net Working Capital (NWC) - Definition, Types and Formula

Having a solid understanding of Net Working Capital (NWC) is crucial for businesses seeking to manage their short-term financial well-being effectively. NWC is a critical indicator of a company's liquidity, assessing the amount of assets available to cover immediate financial obligations. In other words, it measures the difference between a company's current assets and liabilities.

This article seeks to simplify the net working capital formula concept, its definition, and its different types. Whether you have extensive experience as an entrepreneur or are just beginning to explore finance, having a comprehensive understanding of Net Working Capital can prove to be highly beneficial in assessing a company's operational stability and financial standing.

How to Calculate Net Working Capital?

Net Working Capital (NWC) is a crucial financial measure that reveals the strength of a company's short-term financial standing by comparing its current assets to its current liabilities. It offers information on a business's liquidity and capacity to cover short-term financial obligations.

A company with a positive NWC is in a favourable position, with its assets outweighing its liabilities. Notably, when calculating NWC, cash and only the current portion of debt are typically excluded. This concept is essential not only for evaluating a company but also for impacting cash flow assessments. The primary formula involves deducting non-cash current assets from non-debt current liabilities.

What is the Net Working Capital Formula?

Being an essential indicator of a company’s measure of short-term financial strength, the net working capital is equal to the

Net Working Capital = Current Assets - Current Liabilities.

Current assets consist of assets that can be converted to cash within the coming 12 months, while current liabilities involve debts that are due within the same timeframe. It is preferable that the assets are present in higher quantities than the liabilities. This indicates a better capacity to handle immediate needs and a better potential for long-term growth. Conversely, A company with negative working capital will likely have inadequate liquidity, unsound short-term financial management, and possible difficulties meeting its debt payments when they become due.

By studying the details of these categories, one can understand how they contribute to a company's net working capital.

Components of Net Working Capital

Current Assets

These are the potential profits the company can anticipate in the next 12 months. These assets are considered to be the company's ownership, and in the assessment of working capital, they are hypothetically converted into cash.

These assets are made of:

  • Cash: This includes the funds of the company, including foreign currency and safe investments.
  • Inventory: These are made up of goods yet to be sold, such as raw materials, partially assembled items, and finished products.
  • Accounts and Notes Receivable: These refer to claims for items that have been sold and signed agreements.
  • Prepaid Expenses: These are costs paid in advance.
  • Others: Short-term assets like deferred tax assets are a part of this category.

Current Liabilities

All debts a business has or may have during the next year are considered current liabilities. Determining whether a business can pay off all of these debts with its current short-term assets is the main objective of working capital.

  • Accounts Payable: refers to the accumulation of yet-to-be-paid invoices to our vendors, which cover a range of operational expenses.
  • Wages Payable: denotes the amount of staff salaries that have accrued and remain unpaid.
  • Current Portion of Long-Term Debt: pertains to short-term payments on the long-term debt.
  • Accrued Tax Payable: includes the short-term obligations to government bodies.
  • Dividend Payable: designates authorised payments to shareholders.
  • Unearned Revenue: represents the funds we have received in advance for work still in progress. If the work is not completed, this advance capital may need to be reimbursed.

Types of Net Working Capital

Balance Sheet View

As per the balance sheet view, Net Working Capital calculates the disparity between a company's current assets and liabilities. It assesses short-term liquidity, ensuring existing assets exceed liabilities, indicating a healthy financial standing and operational capacity.

Operating Cycle View

From the operating cycle perspective, Net Working Capital analyses the time it takes to convert resources into revenue. It evaluates inventory turnover, accounts receivable, and payable, reflecting the efficiency of operations. An optimal NWC signifies streamlined processes and effective cash flow management.

Why is Net Working Capital Significant?

Net Working Capital (NWC) plays a vital role in financial assessment.

  • It serves as a measure of a company's liquid assets and reveals its capability to fulfil short-term financial responsibilities and cover immediate expenses using current resources.
  • NWC further measures a business's operational efficiency, highlighting its ability to effectively utilise working capital to support daily operations.
  • It plays a critical role in ensuring a company's financial stability and sustainability by enabling the fulfilment of crucial payments during cash flow difficulties, including salaries, supplier dues, and other obligations.
  • In mergers and acquisitions (M&A), analyzing NWC is critical for financial due diligence, offering insights into a company's financial health and potential risks associated with its working capital.
  • Lastly, NWC impacts cash flow calculations by contrasting non-cash current assets and non-debt current liabilities.

How to Improve Net Working Capital?

To improve your business's working capital, here are some key steps that you can take:

  • Optimise Cash Flow: - Liquidate Long-Term Assets: Immediately turn non-essential long-term assets into cash to increase working capital.
  • Restructure Debt: Refinance current debt to secure better terms, lower interest payments, and increase available cash. Check for business loans offered by SMFG India Credit to know more.
  • Evaluate Fixed Expenses: Carefully examine and reduce fixed costs to increase available funds and improve working capital.
  • Negotiate Supplier Contracts: Reevaluate vendor agreements to negotiate better terms and improve cash flow.
  • Streamline Inventory Management: Speed up inventory turnover to avoid tying up capital and boost liquidity.
  • Take Advantage of Tax Incentives: Utilize tax breaks and credits to save money and strengthen working capital.
  • Automate Payment Processes: Implement automated systems to manage cash and monitor expenses efficiently.

Limitations of Working Capital

Net Working Capital comes with its share of shortcomings:

  • Ignores Cash Flow: NWC doesn't account for sufficient operational cash, causing negative values for businesses with high credit limits.
  • Misses Changes in Assets/Liabilities: It doesn't show real-time changes in a company's working capital, which might fluctuate between financial updates.
  • Overlooks Accounts: For businesses heavy in accounts receivable, NWC might seem weak despite having positive working capital.
  • Reliant on Accounting: It hinges on accounting standards, potentially misleading in cases of missed agreements or invoice errors in fast-paced settings.
  • Omits External Factors: Fails to factor in external threats like inventory theft or customers defaulting on payments, affecting actual financial health.

How Can a Company Improve Its Working Capital?

A company can employ a variety of effective strategies to optimise and improve its working capital:

  • Restructure debt: To attain better terms and decrease interest payments, the company can refinance its debt and improve its cash flow.
  • Efficiently manage inventory: To increase turnover and reduce excess inventory, the company can streamline stock levels.
  • Simplify receivables: Boost cash flow by incentivising early payments and enforcing stricter credit policies to speed up receivables collection.
  • Negotiate vendor terms: The company can extend payment timelines without penalties by renegotiating payment terms with suppliers.
  • Control costs: By carefully analysing and minimising fixed costs, the company can allocate more funds towards their working capital.
  • Optimise assets: The company can sell any underutilised assets to generate immediate cash.
  • Continuously monitor: By regularly assessing cash flow and forecasting, the company can effectively manage their working capital for sustained growth.


Net Working Capital (NWC) is essential for determining a company's financial health and operational effectiveness. While NWC provides important insights into a company's short-term survival, its limits highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach to financial analysis.

Optimising working capital creates a strong foundation for long-term growth and resilience in an ever-changing business environment. For businesses seeking to enhance their financial prowess, SMFG India Credit Business Loans stand as a strategic solution. With competitive rates and tailored offerings, we empower businesses to thrive in dynamic environments. Apply now!

* Please note that this article is for your knowledge only. Loans are disbursed at the sole discretion of SMFG India Credit. Final approval, loan terms, disbursal process, foreclosure charges and foreclosure process will be subject to SMFG India Credit's policy at the time of loan application. If you wish to know more about our products and services, please contact us


What is an NWC component?

These are the elements that contribute to the Net Working Capital:

  • Current Assets: Cash, inventory, receivables, etc.
  • Current Liabilities: Payables, accrued expenses, unearned revenue, etc.

What is the formula for calculating net working capital?

To represent Net Working Capital mathematically, the formula used is,

Net Working Capital (NWC) = Total Current Assets − Total Current Liabilities

What is the use of NWC?

NWC is an excellent tool as it helps,

  • Assessing a company's short-term financial health.
  • Helps in managing day-to-day operations.
  • Determining funding requirements.

What Is the Importance of Working Capital?

  • Helps maintain business solvency.
  • Smooth routine operations for the enterprise.
  • Maintains liquidity.
  • Improves trust.
  • Optimising cash flow and resources.

What exactly is the net working capital ratio?

The Net Working Capital Ratio is a measure of a company's ability to meet short-term financial obligations. It is calculated by dividing the NWC by the Total Assets and highlighting the liquidity.

It can be represented with the formula:

Net Working Capital Ratio = Current Assets / Current Liabilities

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