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Forecasting Cash Flows

A good forecast cash flow is a foundation for a successful business.  It is an instrument of success for any entrepreneur. Without good cash flow, you are in danger of going out of business and failing. You have to constantly forecast your cash flows which will enable you to avoid such situations before they happen.

To forecast cash flow means to estimate the future cash balance by forecasting sales, expenses, and other inflows. The money you can spend includes your checking account, savings, and liquid securities. This does not include just the coins or bills in your wallet.

Cash flow forecast

The direct method for forecasting cash flow is less popular than the indirect method but it can be simple to use. The main reason it’s not as popular is that you can't generate a cash flow forecast with standard reports from your accounting system. If you're creating a forecast, looking into the future, then it might be a better choice for you than static reports on cash flows.

Profit and Loss

What is Profit?

Profit refers to sales revenue less direct costs and overheads (i.e. rent, utilities, insurance, office supplies) It is a financial gain resulting from a transaction or an event that adds value to the business of the trader in terms of future cash-flows.

What is Loss?

Loss refers to the opposite of profit and it occurs when costs exceed revenue. It can be caused by wrong pricing decisions, ineffective marketing strategies, or loss-making products.

P&L briefly explained

The P&L is a financial statement that summarizes the revenues, costs, and expenses incurred during a specified period. During a specified time frame (usually one quarter or one year), it provides information about profit and loss for an organization.

These records provide information about a company's ability or inability to generate profit by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or both.

Some refer to the P&L statement as a statement of profit and loss, income statement, statement of operations, statement of financial results, or income; earnings statement; expense statement.

Non-profit organizations track their revenue and expenses in the financial report called the statement of activities. P&L management refers to how a company handles its P&L statement through revenue and cost management.

Cash Flow Forecasting

Here is an example of a structured cash flow forecast. This is an example of a product or service.

The following example shows a simple one-month cash flow forecast for a business in the month of January, with net cash flow calculated as the difference between total inflows and total outflows:

Opening bank balance $2,000

Cash inflows

Sales income $15,000

Total inflows $15,000

Cash outflows

Marketing $2,000

Raw materials $7,000

Wages  $4,000

Total outflows $13,000

Net cash flow $2,000

Closing cash balance $5,000

The structure of this can also be presented in a table. The typical period of time of these will be either every month, quarterly, annually.

Why is a Cash flow forecast so important for a business?

Running out of cash is the main reason businesses fail. Did you know that 44% of small business fold within the first 4 years? Since a company needs cash in order to pay the bills and pay employees, it’s crucial for them to maintain a continuous source of money. Even if they can make a lot of sales, an organization may fail if their cash flow is disrupted because they have unpaid invoices.

Future cash flow forecasts can be an essential tool for your business, helping you notice trends and anticipate when to bring in more money. One of the biggest benefits is that it can help you define the right time to invest in expensive new equipment, as well as keeping track of cash flow at all times.

What is the purpose of a Cash Flow forecast?

Knowing the state of your cashflow helps you prepare for changes and make better decisions. A cash position forecast can tell you how much money is coming into a company versus going out, which lets you know if the business will have a positive or negative cash flow at a specific point in time.

It is imperative that these cashflow forecasts are done correctly, with a logical cash flow forecast template, to ensure the company's overall health. How can you know if your business is healthy without doing this historically?

A well-designed forecast template should be able to help you calculate how much money coming in from sales and then subtracting out all of the expenses that go into creating those sales.

The 4 important things to remember (TELL)

  • Time: Using spreadsheets to predict the future can be a time-consuming and laborious process.
  • Errors: Manual data collection methods may also be subject to errors and inconsistencies.
  • Lack of collaboration from stakeholders: Internal stakeholders may fail to provide scheduled information on time or in the required format - especially if they are unaware of the significance/benefit of the forecast.
  • Lack of forecasting tools: Once the required data has been sourced, a forecaster will need suitable tools to turn the information into a forecast. But without sophisticated tools available, this can be a difficult task to complete.

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