There is a saying in business that “Cash is King”. One of the worst things that can happen to a company is to run short of cash unexpectedly. This can make it difficult to pay suppliers and employees without scurrying around to raise needed cash quickly, and when you must raise cash quickly you often find it a difficult and expensive task. Business owners are not always successful in raising cash quickly and in the worst cases, must go bankrupt. This is why cash flow forecasts are prepared. They are easy to prepare and can be quickly done using a spreadsheet program. They can also be prepared manually. What a cash flow forecast does is estimate cash inputs and outputs over a period of time, usually at least 90 days in order to give you assurance that your business will have the cash necessary to meet its obligations to others. If the cash flow forecast shows, for example, that you are in a deficit position two months out, you will have time to raise the necessary cash you need and avoid a sudden cash crisis. Cash flow forecasts are often prepared for longer periods of time as well, depending on circumstances. In addition, they are often prepared using various assumptions about the future (e.g. general economic conditions, sales growth, increased expenses, etc).
As one authoritative website states: “By knowing your cash position now and in the future, you can:
- Make certain you have enough cash to purchase sufficient inventory for seasonal cycles;
- Take advantage of discounts and special purchases;
- Properly plan equipment purchases for replacement or expansion;
- Prepare for adequate future financing and determine the type of financing you need (short term credit line, permanent working capital, or long-term debt).
- Show lenders your ability to plan and repay financing.
For a new or growing business, the cash flow projection can make the difference between succeeding and failure. For an ongoing business, it can make the difference between growth and
Preparing a cash flow projection is a something like preparing your budget and balancing your checkbook at the same time. Unlike the income statement, a cash flow statement deals only with actual cash transactions. Depreciation, a non-cash transaction, does not appear on a cash flow statement. Loan payments (both principal and interest) will appear on your cash flow statement since they require the outlay of cash.
Cash is generated primarily by sales. But in most businesses, not all sales are cash sales. Even if you have a retail business and a large percentage of your sales are cash, it is likely that you offer credit (charge accounts, charge cards, term payments, layaway, trade credit) to your customers. Thus, you need to have a means of estimating when those credit sales will turn into cash-in-hand. (Smallbusinessnotes.com 2009)