Do you know exactly how much cash is coming into and out of your business? If not, that could be a problem. Forecasting how much cash your business is going to have in the coming weeks and months is crucial for business survival. But do you know how to build a cash flow forecast? If not, we’ve built this handy cash flow template for you to get started. Just make a copy of it and adjust it to suit your business.
Get your free cash flow forecast example
Why is a cash flow forecast important?
A cash flow forecast predicts exactly when and how much cash is going to enter and leave your business over time, allowing you to prepare for cash crunches and surpluses.
Having an accurate cash flow forecast that is updated regularly can provide you with a useful snapshot of the health of your business that can be shared internally or with external stakeholders such as board members or investors.
For a more in depth explanation, check out this article about why a cash flow forecast is vital for business success.
Is it a good idea to use a cash flow spreadsheet?
Building a cash flow forecast in Excel, Google Sheets or Numbers is definitely a good first step. However, it does come with significant limitations. Spreadsheets are prone to error, and need constant updating. The more your business grows, the harder it will be to maintain a manual cash flow forecast.
If you’d like to compare the differences between using cash flow forecasting software and using a spreadsheet, check out this blog post.
How to use the Float cash flow template
- Make a copy of our template available here, or if you’re a Xero user, you can download your Cash Summary directly into a spreadsheet and use it to build your forecast with this guide.
- Rename the categories down the left hand side to match your chart of accounts
- Fill in the figures for Cash In and Cash Out with your best guesses
- Don’t forget to add in the taxes you’ll need to pay, such as sales tax, VAT or GST
- Look at the ‘Net Cash Movement’ row to see whether you’re profitable month-to-month or not.
- Update your figures regularly whenever anything changes, such as an invoice being paid late or a new project gets signed off
Why do I need to keep updating my forecast?
The grunt work comes with keeping your numbers up-to-date. Without an accurate forecast, your business cannot predict how much cash it will have on hand weeks, months, or years down the road. A spreadsheet full of best guesses that isn’t tied to the day to day reality of your business will stop being useful very quickly. Set aside time every week to look at what cash has moved and update your projections accordingly. Make sure you double check what you’ve entered, as it’s all too easy to accidentally put an extra zero where it shouldn’t be.
Is there anything out there that will automate this for me?
If the pain of forecasting manually in a spreadsheet becomes too great and you use online accounting software such as Xero or QuickBooks Online, you should consider using an app or add on to manage the updating for you.
Check out the Xero Marketplace or QBO App Store, which provides a wide range of bolt ons that can automate many of the processes that can cause headaches when managing your cash. Float is one of these apps, and can create and automatically update your cash flow forecast using the data in your Xero or QuickBooks Online account.
Other add ons that can help you keep a handle on your cash flow include Chaser, which automates the task of chasing clients to pay their invoices, and Receipt Bank, which streamlines the staff expense claims process.
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