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Blueprint for Your Business Numbers
There are several important factors to consider when putting together the financial plan for a new business or planning for an expansion or growth. The financial plan should include an income statement, a balance statement, a break-even analysis with contribution margins of the various products and services as well as an estimated return on investment. These reports are all important, but the one that is the root of it all and the most important, is the cash flow statement.
The cash flow statement is the launching point for all other financial documents. This is where you find income, expenses, capital purchases, payments, investment returns and other profits and losses on a daily, monthly or annual basis. The money coming into a business and the money going out of the business creates the cash flow.
There are many strategies for regulating this process so that it benefits the business and creates positive cash flow. Positive cash flow is ideal and in order to be sure that it will result, planning is a must.
Often you will hear the term “proforma” which means projected or estimated. The challenge with projecting a realistic cash flow statement is to be as conservative as possible and to do as much research as can be done to gather numbers on startup costs.
The startup costs are the first entries onto a cash flow worksheet. This leads you to your first month of cash flow. Once you determine the types of spending and income in your business, you can begin to forecast those numbers to create the cash flow statement. Contact the service and product providers and ask for quotes in order to get an accurate monthly cost. Different businesses have different life cycles and busy seasons. This needs to be figured into the cash flow projections. A good cash flow statement will also include a line-by-line assumptions sheet that explains variations in the reported cash flow. Visit our website to get cash flow template that will help you begin this process.
To estimate future revenue and expenses, find similar businesses in locations that have similar geographic and demographic elements. A good resource for finding locations is zoomprospector.com. Once you find similar communities, you can contact the economic development offices or city offices to find similar businesses in those communities. Often you can visit with the business owner to get a good idea of monthly costs.
Another research opportunity is to contact business development organizations in your state that can access databases that have financial information and trends on all of the different business industries. This can help you project growth rates and market share.
Remember, cash flow is what keeps the business pumping; it is the life blood. The goal is to have positive cash flow. Planning will always be the best bet for being prepared and ensuring positive cash flow. Don't have a cash flow worksheet? Download one here.
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