Creating a financial plan for your business is essential for success. It helps you to understand your current financial situation, set goals, and develop strategies to reach those goals. It also gives you a tool to monitor your finances, allowing you to assess your progress and avoid problems quickly. A comprehensive financial plan should include six key elements: review strategic plans; create profit & loss statements; develop cash flow statements; create balance sheets; forecast sales; and develop a staffing plan.
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a financial plan for your business. The first step is to review your strategic plan. This will help you identify the financial resources you need to achieve your goals. Then, determine the financial impact over the next 12 months, including spending on major projects. Throughout the year, compare the actual results with your projections to see if you are on target or if you need to make adjustments. Monitoring helps you detect financial problems before they get out of hand.
This is why it's important to create a profit and loss statement, also known as an income statement, proforma income statement, P&L (short for “profit and loss”). This statement explains how your company made profits (or incurred losses) over a certain period of time. There are different formats for profit and loss statements, depending on the type of business you are in and the structure of your business (non-profit, LLC, C-Corp, etc.). For more information on profit and loss accounts (a.k.a.
P&Ls), download our free profit and loss statement template. Your cash flow statement is as important as your profit and loss statement. Businesses run on cash, there are no two ways around it. A cash flow statement is an explanation of how much cash your business came in, how much cash you paid, and what your final cash balance was, typically per month. Without a deep understanding of how much cash you have, where your cash comes from, where it's going and on what schedule, you'll struggle to run a healthy business.
And without the cash flow statement, which presents that information clearly to lenders and investors, you won't be able to raise funds. The cash flow statement helps you understand the difference between what your profit and loss statement reports as income (your profits) and what your actual cash position is. If you use the cash method, your cash flow statement won't be much different from what you see in your profit and loss statement. That might seem like it simplifies things, but I actually advise against it. Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your company's financial situation at any given time - how are you doing? How much cash do you have in the bank, how much do your customers owe you, and how much do you owe your suppliers? If you need more help creating your balance sheet, check out our free downloadable balance template. Your sales forecast should be an ongoing part of your business planning process. You should create a forecast that is consistent with the number of sales you use in your profit and loss statement.
There is no single sales forecast for all cases; each company will have different needs. How you segment and organize your forecast depends on the type of business you have and how closely you want to track your sales. In general, you'll want to break down your sales forecast into segments that are useful for planning and marketing purposes. Think of the staffing plan as justifying the need of each team member for the company. The overall importance of the staffing plan depends largely on the type of business you have.
If you're a sole proprietor with no employees, this might not be that important and could be summed up in a two-sentence description. However, if you have a large company with high labor costs, you should spend the necessary time figuring out how your staff affects your business. If you have your profit and loss statement, your cash flow statement and your balance sheet, you have all the numbers you need to calculate standard business ratios. It's not necessary to include these ratios in a business plan, especially for an internal plan, but it's always a good idea to know some key ratios. Having a financial plan for your company helps you break down what you need in your short-term budgets. Many companies have monthly or seasonal variations in revenues, which translates into periods when cash is abundant and periods when there is a shortage of cash.
It's important to note that a financial plan helps you focus on the long-term growth of your company. That way, you don't get so caught up in day-to-day activities as to lose sight of your goals. Focusing on the long-term vision helps you prioritize your financial resources. Expert advice on how to develop an effective plan for the future can be of great help. For those who are new to the process, 16 members of the Forbes Financial Council discuss their best budgeting and planning tips below.
Follow their advice to create an ideal roadmap for achieving your financial goals. The first thing I recommend is to calculate your base income per month and immediately deduct 25% to establish a net income. Then draw up a budget based on your essentials; being one of those essentials yourself try to budget 10% for yourself every time. Recognize that creating a financial plan is no different from creating any other type of plan; it requires discipline and consistency. Everyone needs estate planning regardless of age marital status or net worth; if you die without a will the courts will decide who inherits your assets and who cares for minor children - plus -your estate could lose up to 8% of its value. Create monthly financial projections by recording anticipated revenues based on sales forecasts and anticipated expenses for labor supplies overheads etc. It is an integral part of an overall business plan and consists of three financial statements: cash flow statement income statement and balance sheet. If done correctly creating a financial plan can help ensure success in any business venture by providing clarity into current finances setting achievable goals developing strategies for reaching those goals monitoring progress avoiding potential problems forecasting sales creating staffing plans calculating key ratios budgeting appropriately planning for long-term growth prioritizing resources understanding cash flow needs estate planning etc. To get started read through this comprehensive guide which outlines six key elements needed when creating a successful small business financial plan: review strategic plans; create profit & loss statements; develop cash flow statements; create balance sheets; forecast sales; develop staffing plans; calculate business ratios; budget appropriately; plan for long-term growth; prioritize resources; understand cash flow needs; estate planning etc.
With this guide as well as expert advice from members of Forbes Financial Council anyone can create an ideal roadmap for achieving their financial goals.