It is possible, and indeed quite common, for a business to be profitable but short of cash.
Among the differences are the following:
- Money may be collected from customers more slowly (or more quickly) than money is paid to suppliers.
- Capital expenditure (unless financed by hire purchase or similar means) has an immediate impact on cash. The effect on profit, by means of depreciation, is spread over a number of years.
- Taxation, dividends and other payments to owners are an appropriation of profit. Cash is taken out of the business which may be more or less than the profit.
- An expanding business will have to spend money on materials, items for sale, wages, etc. before it completes the extra sales and gets paid. Purchases and expenses come first. Sales and profit come later.