When forecasting, planning and budgeting are done right they can make your business more profitable, enabling you to make better business decisions and achieve sustainable growth. Likewise, failure to plan and look ahead can lead to cash flow problems and your business getting into financial difficulties.
Staying on top of these three simple processes can be the difference between success and failure. Therefore, to help you reach your business goals, here are my tips:
First things first, to produce effective forecasts and budgets you need the right tool. Whilst excel spreadsheets are commonly used by businesses, utilising new technologies may add more value. With my clients, I have started using CrunchBoards, a forecasting, planning and budgeting software. What makes CrunchBoards so valuable is that you can import every transaction into the system either via your cloud based accounting software or a spreadsheet. I recommend using cloud based software as this automatically syncs your data to CrunchBoards, guaranteeing that your information is always up-to-date.
CrunchBoards then converts this information into any report of your choosing – simple budgets, complex forecasts, what-if scenarios or Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reports. Through these reports you are able to gain complete visibility and a unique insight into your business. This allows you to spot trends earlier, plan for quieter months and ensure enough cash is put aside to pay your tax bills and expenses.
Having an effective system in place to monitor your business is step one, you then need to ensure you are…
- Collaborating – do you know what the marketing budget is? Are you aware of all of your team’s expenses? Make sure you receive annual forecasts and budgets from your team and get regular updates on these. This information then needs to be implemented into your overall business reports. Failure to do this will mean you will have unreliable data that could cause you problems further down the line. CrunchBoards is another great tool to help you improve communication and collaboration within your team through giving users different levels of access. This ensures that they can keep their reports up-to-date and you will always have a reliable overview of your business, essential for making important business decisions. You can also look at using add-ons, such as Receipt Bank, which enables your team to automatically feed their expenses into your accounting software. This gives you an accurate view of your businesses finances when you need it.
- Aware of your KPIs – what are the factors that are crucial to your businesses survival and success? Through setting up reports and forecasts to monitor these factors allows you to see on a daily basis whether you are struggling, meeting or achieving your goals. It also enables you to spot trends earlier; maybe you generate more revenue at a particular time of the year? These reports enable you to monopolise on this insight.
- Monitoring and analysing your reports – setting up effective forecasting, planning and budgeting reports are only effective if you actually use them. It is not enough to simply have these reports, you need to be monitoring and using them to your advantage. These reports allow you to track; therefore, if you are implementing a new process or testing a new campaign, you can instantly see what impact this is having on your business. With this you can make adjustments immediately, rather than finding out this information three months down the line when it is too late to intervene. You should also be analysing this data to see what you can do better next year or what could happen if you make a few small adjustments. The ‘what-if’ scenarios in CrunchBoards are perfect in helping with this.
I hope this information has been useful. If you would like further support, I am presenting at Our Hub’s event: Grow your Start-up: forecasting, budgeting and sustainable growth on Thursday 26 May. If you would like to attend, please register here.
Alternatively, if you would like to speak to me directly about how your business can implement and make better use of forecasting, planning and budgeting, please contact me on 020 8418 2662 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.