The following is a guest post from Megan Cooper of reallifehome.net.
To run a successful business, you need accurate data about your financial status and projections for your future finances. However, thinking ahead about what may happen financially can be challenging, especially if your business is relatively new. Fortunately, you can use a few strategies to improve your projection abilities, including the ones presented below by Hayse Marketing.
1. Learn Accounting Essentials
Every business owner should learn accounting basics. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert on all the ins and outs of taxes, but you should know the difference between debits, credits, liabilities, and assets. Consider pursuing an online business degree to develop your business acumen.
You should also learn your way around the core financial statements and what they show. According to Freshbooks, a popular accounting software, the three major statements are the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.
2. Understand the Role of Projections for Your Business
Before you begin working on your projections, think about their purpose. Of course, the main role of projections is to offer a view of the business’s financial future, including how much in taxes you’ll owe by the end of the year. Most states require companies to file annual reports and/or pay taxes. Not doing so could lead to fines, penalties or even the loss of the right to conduct business.
Projections with pro forma financial statements may also be helpful for you to make decisions or show to investors. While you should always strive for accuracy in projections, how you allocate your time and the details you include may differ.
3. Invest Time in Research
While projections rely on a certain amount of assumption, you can also incorporate data into your process. Specifically, researching the market and any relevant trends can give you insight into what may happen with your business. Whether you are a current business owner projecting the coming years or an entrepreneur making projections before you open your doors, research can significantly help the process.
If you want to get better at research and projections, you could pursue a degree in finance. There are many online master’s programs, including business administration and accounting, that could help. Fortunately, you can easily find great programs online no matter where you live. Studying remotely allows you to balance time with your family, at work and in school.
4. Begin With a Sales Forecast
Forecasting your sales is perhaps the most important part of financial projects. It is also often the most challenging. Ultimately, if you have strong sales, your business will likely be successful, even if your expenses are higher than expected. However, if you have weak sales, cost-cutting may not overcome the deficit.
Focus on your sales forecast first and be conservative. Many businesses, especially new ones, fall into the trap of overly optimistic sales projections.
5. Be Cautious With Cash Flow
Be very thoughtful when you make your cash flowprojections. If you run out of cash, it won’t matter how profitable your business is on paper. The money you have in the bank trumps your income statement. Carefully review your projections to make sure they seem reasonable.
Use the above tips to make better financial projections for your business. This could help you pay taxes, get investments, plan for your business and stay in good standing with your state government.