Forecasting, Planning & Budgeting Services – Cash Flow Forecasts and Company Budgets
Forecasts and budgets are crucial for the majority of firms; planning enables businesses to operate financially within acceptable margins. In simple terms, a company should be able to analyse its projected and actual spend in relation to its projected and actual revenue, and make informed adjustments to expenditure accordingly. Without such checks and balances, any organisation could very quickly go into the red and some may not be able to recover, or an opportunity to grow or save money could be missed.
Cash flow forecasts and budgets are separate entities but there is clear crossover and a reliable budget is underpinned by an accomplished forecast. If a business wants to expand financially, raise capital or purchase another company, these business tools are essential. Adams Moore offers forecasting, planning and budgeting services for businesses of all sizes – please call us to discuss your needs and to arrange a free phone consultation, or in person at our offices in Tamworth, near Birmingham.
What is a Forecast?
It is a means by which a company can practically adjust its future efforts and spending as the business responds to changes. It is an estimate of what a business can achieve.
A shift over a year could be seasonal and anticipated, for example by a holiday lettings firm or a shoe manufacturer, but it could also be an unforeseen reduction or increase in clients or customers. Forecasting will allow you to expect the ups and downs and anticipate the impact they will have on cash flow and operations, but it will not be used as a comparison to actual results; a budget can then be generated correspondingly.
How Will a Forecast Help Your Business?
A forecast will try to predict the future, projecting the upwards arcs of revenue and expenses. It will take a wide number of things into account, such as a geographical expansion, upcoming product desirability, sector evolution, likely supply and workforce costs and investment. Both long and short-term forecasts will serve different purposes, from driving a strategic, ten year plan to looking at more immediate, operational reasons; a forecast may aid you in securing substantial growth funding or help plan if you need to quickly recruit staff.
Adams Moore’s Forecasting Tips
> Use a range of knowledgable staff to get close to the true picture of the business and market;
> Ensure you’re conscious of immediate competitors’ activities as increased efforts by them, could facilitate in a loss to your sales;
> Whether long or short-term, a forecast can be manifold to illustrate optimistic, likely and pessimistic outcomes;
> Update your forecast/s habitually, monthly or quarterly, so you’re not facing any surprises;
> Utilise the data and dips in income to plan for marketing campaigns.
What is a Budget?
Required as a management tool to operate a business, essentially it allots available spending money to areas of the business. It is a quantified expectation of what a company wants to accomplish.
If discrepancies are found, it could be due to a miscalculation, overspend, gaining more customers or unexpected costs, such as equipment failures or an increase in supply chain prices. Whatever the reason, with this information a company can make changes to processes, operations or staffing to avoid financial problems.
How Will a Budget Help Your Business?
Based on previous years’ financial data and the forecasts available, a budget will illustrate what is likely to happen to your business’s accounts over the upcoming year, outlining the details for cash flow, revenues and expenses. Larger companies will also often break a budget down into sections aligned to operational or financial departments and will be used by management to benchmark expenditure; necessary steps should be undertaken to bring actual spending results back in line with the budget. A minority of businesses choose to use a continuous budget and adjust it throughout the year, but most are annual documents that are reviewed frequently to ensure problems are identified quickly.
Adams Moore’s Budget Tips
> Take a pragmatic and cautious approach to cash-flow projection;
> Assign different budget lines to necessary expenses and those not essential to operations;
> Build a cushion with profits to allow for quiet times or unexpected expenditure;
> Businesses that have debt should factor this as an area in the budget;
> The budget to actual comparison can trigger changes in performance-based compensation paid to employees.