The old business adage that “cash is king” seems more important in this challenging economy. While it’s always important to be in a good cash position, it’s more critical to understand the lifeblood of your business in these uncertain times. A 13-week cash forecast will help give you that understanding and put you in a more powerful position to make business decisions. The forecast should be updated on a weekly basis, so you always have an informed outlook of the coming months.
While a 13-week cash forecast is common and represents a reasonable time horizon, you can create a cash forecast for a different time period. The number of weeks you include is not as important as having a report that gives you a reasonably accurate picture of the road ahead.
Learn more about cash forecasts by reading, ‘The Cashflow Conundrum: Tips for Keeping Your Company in the Clear.’
1. Identify Expected Cash Inflows
Allocate each of those cash inflows to the week when you expect the cash to be received.
Inflows normally include:
2. Identify Expected Cash Outflows
Cash outflows commonly include:
Items on the expense side are usually easy to identify, and can be pulled from your monthly accounting records. Receivables are often less clear, and thus become the item in the cash forecast that is most challenging for a business to accurately project.
3. Project When Your Receivables Will Be Paid
A good approach to get a handle on these numbers is to create three categories.
4. Add Projection of Cash Receipts from Future Sales
Once you have projected when your receivable will be paid, you need to add in your projection of cash receipts from future sales. In some businesses, seasonal activity must be considered in the 13-week cash forecast. For example, a construction company may have a rising payroll in the spring and the related collection of receivables several weeks later in mid-summer.
Why is it Important to Have a 13-Week Cash Forecast?
The more challenging your cash position is, the more valuable this tool becomes. The insights from a 13-week cash forecast will not only help you better manage your business but also help you communicate with your banker or other outside entity.
For example, let’s say you have a significant receipt due in Week 11 but your business will be in a difficult cash position prior to that. This tool gives you the ability to see what you might be able to shift on the schedule to deal with the shortfalls. It also gives you the ability to proactively communicate your situation so that your creditors know what to expect. You will find this goes a long way in gaining cooperation. It’s worth taking the time to establish the process.
Once the cash forecast is set up, it’s just a matter of plugging in the current numbers. The report becomes even more powerful when you compare its estimates with actual inflows and outflows. With that actual data, you can adjust the report to increase accuracy.
Interested in more information about Finance & Accounting? Read our past blog posts:
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