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A photograph of a person holding a tray of food.
Figure 12.1 Summer Eatery. Proper management of short-term obligations can lead to long-term business success. (credit: modification of “Hands Holding Plate” by unknown/Pixabay, CC0)

Willow knew from a young age that she had a future in food. She has just transformed her passion into a thriving business venture as the owner of a small restaurant called Summer Eatery.

To grow her business, Willow has decided to provide both restaurant dining and catering services. When Summer Eatery accepts catering orders, it requires a client deposit equal to 50% of the total order. Since Summer Eatery has not yet provided the catering services at the time of deposit, the deposit amount is recognized as unearned revenue. Once the catering services have been provided, this liability to the client is reclassified as revenue for the restaurant.

The catering service is a success, and Summer Eatery’s income increases twofold. The increase in business has allowed Willow to form a strong relationship with her vendors (suppliers). Because of this relationship, some suppliers will deliver the food and equipment she needs and allow the restaurant to defer payment until a later date. This helps Summer Eatery because it does not yet have enough cash on hand to pay for the food and equipment. Rather than incur more debt, or have to delay ordering, this arrangement allows Willow to grow and still meet her current obligations.

It takes more than an idea to make a business grow, and Willow will continue to experience the ebb and flow of running a restaurant and catering service. Her management of short-term obligations will be one of the keys to Summer Eatery’s future success.

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