February 13, 2023 UFinancial

The importance of cash flow forecasts

With many economists predicting a slowing of the economy, planning your business’s cash flow is more important than ever. Studies suggest that failure to plan cash flow is one of the leading causes of small business failure. To this end, a cash flow forecast is a crucial cash management tool for operating your business effectively.

Specifically, a cash flow forecast tracks the sources and amounts of cash coming into and out of your business over a given period. It enables you to foresee peaks and troughs of cash amounts held by your business, and therefore whether you have sufficient cash on hand to fund your debts at a particular time.

Moreover, it alerts you to when you may need to take action – by discounting stock or getting an overdraft, for example – to ensure your business has sufficient cash to meet its needs. On the other hand, it also allows you to see when you have large cash surpluses, which may indicate that you have borrowed too much, or that you have money that ought to be invested.

 

In practical terms, a cash flow forecast can also:

  • make your business less vulnerable to external events in the economy, such as interest rate rises
  • reduce your reliance on external funding
  • improve your credit rating
  • assist in the planning and re-allocation of resources, and
  • help you to recognise the factors that have a major impact on your profitability.

At this stage, a distinction should be drawn between budgets and cash flow forecasts. While budgets are designed to predict how viable a business will be over a given period, unlike cash flow forecasts, they include non-cash items, such as depreciation and outstanding creditors. By contrast, cash flow forecasts focus on the cash position of a business at a given period. Non-cash items do not feature. In short, while budgets will give you the profit position, cash flow forecasts will give you the cash position.

 

Cash flow forecasting can be used by, and be of great assistance to, the following entities:

  • business owners
  • start-up business
  • financiers
  • creditors

 

A cash flow forecast is usually prepared for either the coming quarter or the coming year. Whether you choose to divide the forecast up into weekly or monthly segments will generally depend on when most of your fixed costs arise (such as salaries, for example). When you are making forecasts, it is important to use realistic estimates. This will usually involve looking at last year’s results and combining them with economic growth, and other factors unique to your line of business. When forecasting overheads, usually a forecast will list:

  • receipts
  • payments
  • excess receipts over payments (with negative figures displayed in brackets)
  • opening balance
  • closing bank balance

 

Need more information?

Reach out to our team of experts if you would like to know more. Our in-house accountants and financial advisors offer proactive solutions to your individual and business accounting and taxation needs. Book a free chat today.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced, or republished without prior written consent. Content in partnership with IFPA.

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