A Beginner’s Guide to Cash Flow Forecasting

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Nobody wants their business to fail and it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy. Use a tool like a cash flow forecast to help you prepare for different possible scenarios in the future.

In a nutshell, cash flow forecasting involves estimating how much cash will be coming in and out of your business. By looking at a certain period it gives you a clearer picture of your business’ financial health

What is Cash Flow Forecast?

  • It is the process of estimating what your obligations could be to ensure you have the cash to cover them.
  • Focus on the revenue you expect to generate and the expenses you need to pay.
  • Manage your working capital better and plan for various positive or difficult scenarios.
  • Built from  three key elements:
    • beginning cash balance,
    • cash inflows (e.g., cash sales, receivables collections), and
    • cash outflows (e.g., expenses for utilities, rent, loan payments, payroll).

Building Out Cash Flow Scenario Models

It’s always good to create best case, worst-case and moderate financial scenarios. Through cash flow forecasting, you’ll be able to see the impact of these three scenarios and implement the suitable course of action. You can use the models to predict what needs to happen especially during difficult and uncertain times.

In situations where variables shift quickly such as during a recession, it is highly recommended to review and update your cash flow forecasts regularly on a monthly or even weekly basis. By monitoring your cash flow forecast closely, you’ll be able to identify warning signs such as declining revenue or increasing expenses.

How to Improve the Accuracy of Your Cash Flow Forecast

In cash flow forecasting, your estimates are based on historical data. This means having accurate historical data is critical. Below are some tips for improving its accuracy:

  • At the end of the week or the month, input your actual results or the cash that was received and cash spent. This will allow you to identify which items you got wrong in your estimates and evaluate why you got it wrong. This analysis may lead you to identify bigger issues and help you make adjustments to your assumptions.
  • Carefully evaluate all of your assumptions. Just because it’s correct now doesn’t mean it will be true for the future. Go through everything, especially when it comes to sales and validate it.
  • Don’t forget to include annual payments, loan payments, credit card debt payments, and estimated taxes.
  • It’s almost impossible to forecast where your business is going to be longer than one year out. You’ll introduce more risk and greater uncertainty the further out your financial scenario models go.

Get Expert Help With Cash Flow Forecasting

Whether your business is growing, fighting for survival, or you simply want to run your business better, a cash flow forecast can help you make business-critical decisions that impact the financial health of your business.

To get expert assistance with your cash flow, let’s chat. Get in touch to book a one-on-one tailored consultation and together we’ll work out a plan to help you keep more money in your pocket.