To ensure a successful business it is imperative to know what the future has to hold. Without successfully calculating profits, projecting turnover and determining the outgoings of the business it becomes very difficult to plot a course towards the future development of the company. Having a good cash flow forecasting process in place allows you to make certain business decisions much easier and also lets you to see issues in finances before they arise and means that you aren't panicking when you need to pay the bills.
In some industries, there is an initial outlay in either cost or time before you are able to invoice the client, this is something that is often difficult to include in your forecast. If you are an electrician for example you’ll need to buy parts and cost for labour before you hand out the invoice, if you provide a service such as marketing or PR it is likely that you’re going to have to pay your staff’s wages before the invoice is paid to you. It is therefore important that you know how much each job is going to cost you and ensure you've got this money set aside before commence work.
Other than cash flow software you may want to develop a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet which you can glance at to immediately see what is going on with regards to your company’s finances. With a basic knowledge of Excel formulas you will be able to forecast your turnover, profit and loss each month. It can also help with the calculations so that you know exactly how much you need to bring in each month in order to break even.
Purchase orders may be considered to be old-fashioned and time-consuming, but depending on the industry you work in they may well be a good addition to your financial procedures. Being able to prove that you have an order from a client can mean that if a difficult situation arises, you have a back-up.
The final point is to make sure that you are being realistic, all too often businesses forecast on the theoretical large job that is ‘sure’ to come in this month. Being conservative isn’t a bad thing and means that you won’t be caught short when it comes to the time when you need to pay your bills.
Forecasting cash flow can be difficult to start with, but once you've got a good, efficient and effective system in place it becomes much simpler to manage the process.