How to create a cash flow forecast for your business

How to create a cash flow forecast for your business  

A cash flow forecast is an important tool for business planning. And right now, understanding the cash coming in and going out of your business is vital.

A cash flow forecast will show you how long your business can continue to survive on current sales levels, by showing you how much money you’ll have in the bank at the end of a period.

It will give you an understanding of what the revenue drivers are in your business, and give you visibility of your expenses and the things you can control. Having this information in a forecast will also allow you to plan for different scenarios, work out your priorities and understand the outcomes of different options such as diversification.

A cash flow plan can give you a proactive tool to deal with uncertainty. If you are seeking funding in the form of a loan, applying for business support or just establishing your long term survival, you’ll need a cash flow plan.

What information do you need?

We can help you to create a plan for your business. The plan is only as good as the data you have. So here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Understanding where your cash is coming from

Start with revenue from sales – break your sales figures up by product line and across channels. This will show you where the cash is coming from. For example:

  • Does 80% of your revenue come from only 20% of your products?
  • Do you sell to different markets and does one deliver more revenue than others?
  • Are some of your products high value but low volume or low value at high volume?

The data you collect will enable you to ask questions, such as can you reduce margin to lift sales, can you push volume up or are there other channels to sell through?

Make sure you include all other revenue streams, such as grants, tax refunds or investment in your cash inflows.

Understanding expenses – where is the cash going to?

This will include all the costs associated with your business, including rent, wages, supply materials, bank loan fees and charges, tax bills, and electricity.

If you have a bank loan, include the details such as the length of the term and the monthly payments.

Your cash flow plan should also include tax payments when they are due and any capital expenditures.

Some of your variable expenses will directly relate to revenue such as freight or materials. When your sales stop, these will drop too, so your cash flow plan should reflect this relationship in order for you to scenario plan.

Controlling expenses – what costs are fixed and what are the variable costs that you can control? You may not be able to stop fixed expenses like rent, power and internet, but you could reduce the cash going out on petrol and travel, cleaning, and even directors’ drawings.

Making informed decisions in your business

A good cash flow forecast will collate all the data from your business in one place. It will allow you to plan and work out how long your business can weather a storm. It will also help you make decisions around staffing, purchasing inventory, ordering supply materials or investing in growth.

It’s worth remembering that a cash flow plan is a different tool to a budget. Here’s one example: a budget will show sales but a cash flow plan will show the cash benefit of those sales. If you offer credit to customers, your sales may not result in immediate cash flow.

Want to get a handle on cash flow in your business?

If you’re not certain of how to get this information from your accounting software, talk to us about which reports to run. You may need a combination of accounting software reports and projected figures.

Use the information above to source the data you’ll need and get in touch. We can help you build a plan that gives you cash flow projections to assist your decision making.

Should you register for GST? Questions on GST? We can help

Should you register for GST? Questions on GST? We can help 

Questions on GST for your small business? If your turnover was more than $60,000 over the past 12 months, or you expect it to be in the next 12, you must register for GST.

In New Zealand, goods and services tax (GST) is added to the price of most products and services. If your business is GST registered, you collect GST from customers (by adding 15% to your sale price) and you pay this to the government, less any GST that your business has paid on goods or services purchased.

Not sure whether to register your small business?

If your turnover (sales) was more than $60,000 over the past 12 months, or if you expect your turnover in the next 12 months to be more than $60,000, you must register for GST. When you reach this threshold, you need to register within 21 days.

But if your turnover is under that $60,000 threshold, you can choose whether to register or not.

The exception to this is if your prices include GST, such as taxi drivers. In this case you are required to be registered. If you are part of a company like this, check with them on pricing.

There are a few things to consider when making the decision to register. Get in touch with us if you are unsure whether or not you should register and we’ll help you to understand the pros and cons.

GST registered businesses need to choose how to claim and pay

When you register a business for GST, you have to choose how you’re going to claim and return GST on your sales and purchases. This means how you’re going to report (and pay) your GST transactions to the IRD.

There are three options:

  • Payments Basis – Under the payments (or cash) basis, you file GST based on when payment is made or received. This is the most common system in NZ. It is a good way for small businesses to manage cash-flow because you only pay GST when you have received payment. You also claim GST only for expenses you have actually paid for. You can use this system if your annual turnover is less than $2 million.
  • Invoice basis – The invoice (or accrual) basis is different to payments basis because you file GST based on the dates that customer invoices (or sales receipts) and supplier bills (or receipts) are issued. So you pay GST on an invoice you have issued regardless of whether you have received a payment. And you claim GST for supplier invoices (bills) dated in the GST period but not paid yet. Businesses with a turnover of more than $2 million have to return on Invoice basis.
  • Hybrid basis – The hybrid basis is a combination of the two methods above. GST on sales and income is filed based on invoice basis, and GST on expenses is filed based on payments basis when payment is actually made. This option is less commonly used. Talk to us if you think that this method might apply to your business.

Filing frequency

Finally, you will also choose how often you file your GST return. Larger businesses with a turnover of more than $24 million are required to file monthly. But smaller businesses can choose to file monthly, 2-monthly or 6-monthly. The most common filing method is 2-monthly.

Frequent filing can help stay you on top of GST obligations and give a clear picture of your business progress.

For more questions on tax and advice on how to structure your business, get in touch.