Many business owners struggle with business forecasting and financial planning. Not least because you need to be working with numbers that are both accurate and realistic. And we’re well aware that those are sometimes hard to come by…
So, to help you navigate this, we’ve pulled together the distinct advantages and benefits of forecasting and financial planning, alongside our 13-week cashflow forecasting template. At YRH, we specialise in helping businesses get the level of financial and commercial insight needed to make informed plans and forecasts, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions, we’re here to help.
Why is financial planning for small business owners important?
Well, the short answer is that without it, you can’t make properly informed decisions about how to run your business from one day to the next.
But there’s obviously a bit more to it than that. Primarily because small business financial planning covers every aspect of your operations – from high-level ambitions and your R&D activity to inventory, sales & marketing, payroll and team training & development.
What does best practice look like?
The whole business financial forecasting process can effectively be categorised in three clear phases: review, reflection, action.
The first phase of any business planning / financial forecasting initiative is always to have reliable and accurate data that shows you the truth of your current business performance at your fingertips.
So always deal in cold, hard facts,
- What are your sales and where do they come from?
- What are your cost of sales and your actual margin?
- What are your sales and marketing conversion rates?
- What does it actually cost to run your business?
Next, give yourself some reflection time. Allow time to reflect on what the data is telling you and have confidence in the accuracy of that data.
Instead of simply thinking that you’ll aim for an extra 10% improvement in your sales, you need to be delving into where that additional 10% is likely to come from:
- Is it going to come from your existing clients?
- Is it going to come from you finding more new clients?
- If it’s going to come from either of those routes, how will you make that happen?
That leads neatly into the third phase – action. What changes need to be made to get you where you want to be?
- What can I do?
- What could I improve?
- What difference is it going to make – and have we got the capacity to do it?
In other words who is doing what by when?
Finally, across all three phases, you need to test your knowledge, your ideas and your reasoning.
- How possible is that option?
- How likely is that outcome?
- What are the stages of any desired change, and who’s going to be responsible for them?
Practical tools for effective forecasting
By blending industry best practice for how to approach budgeting, planning and forecasting with our 13-week forecasting template, you’ll be able to build a solid foundation for future success.
This where a financial controller makes all the difference
We recognise that it’s not easy to pull together an effective, usable, financial plan or forecast. Because it’s as much an art as it is a science– it isn’t something you can simply ask your accountant or bookkeeper to help with because it’s not their skillset. So if you feel it’s too much like hard work to develop an effective forecast or plan that every business leader needs, reach out.