A Beginner’s Guide to Cash Flow Forecasting

Nobody wants their business to fail. Although it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy, a cash flow forecast is a tool that will 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 within a certain period and gives you a clearer picture of your business’s financial health

What is Cash Flow Forecast?

Cash flow forecasting estimates how much cash you’ll have and ensures you have a sufficient amount to meet your obligations. Cash flow forecasting can help you better manage your working capital and plan for various positive or difficult scenarios by focusing on the revenue you expect to generate and the expenses you need to pay.

A cash flow forecast is composed of 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

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

When 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 closely monitoring your cash flow forecast, 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 month, input your actual results, the cash received, and the cash spent. This will allow you to identify items you got wrong in your estimates and evaluate why you got them wrong. This analysis may lead you to identify bigger issues and help you adjust your assumptions.
  • Carefully evaluate all of your assumptions. Just because it’s correct now doesn’t mean it will be true in the future. Go through everything, especially when it comes to sales, and validate it.
  • Don’t forget to include annual, loan, credit card debt, and estimated taxes.
  • It’s almost impossible to forecast where your business will be longer than one year. 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, chat with our team. Get in touch to book a one-on-one consultation with our advisors, and we’ll work out a plan to help you keep more money in your pocket.

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