Successful cash flow planning does not require a degree in accounting. What you need is real-time understanding of where the cash is originating, where it is going, and how much is left over (just like you do at home). Businesses need to operate with a cash flow model that looks ahead one year, month by month, and is updated with actual results every week.
Create a Worksheet
The formula for successful cash flow management is deceptively simple. Money in. Money out. Money left over. If there isn’t any money left over, then you need to do something differently.
Start with Sales. Sales is work performed that is documented by cash register receipts, guest checks or invoices. Project the amount of sales you anticipate month-by-month starting with the current month. Sales should fluctuate when you consider the seasonality of your business. Break the sales into categories and be conservative.
Project your collections month by month. Collections are the money you put into the bank in the form of cash, checks or charge card vouchers. If Sales do not equal Collections, you either have accounts receivable or a cash control problem.
Review your expenses. Define your expenses into two major areas: Cost of Sales (expenses that fluctuate with sales such as product costs) and Overhead Expenses (expenses that do not fluctuate with sales). Define the cost percentages for your major sales categories. Forecast all other Overhead Expenses (rent, utilities, insurance, licenses, etc.). Project all expenses out in the month they will be paid.
Forecast your payroll. List your current and anticipated employees and categorize them as Cost of Sales labor or Overhead labor. Cost of Sales labor may be projected in part by a target labor cost percentage. Estimate payroll expense per employee (average hours worked, rate of pay) over the next twelve months.
Evaluate Your Profitability
With monthly sales and expenses projected, business profitability, feasibility and value can be determined. Total Sales minus Total Cost of Sales Expenses (including Cost of Sales payroll) minus Total Overhead Expenses (including Overhead payroll) equals Monthly Cash Reserve. This is also your profitability. Is there any money left?
What debt are you servicing? Evaluate this debt separately from your profitability. Debt takes many forms including notes, loans, credit cards, leases, and lines of credit. When businesses must restructure their debt in order to improve cash flow, lenders expect the business’s Balance Sheet to look a certain way in order to qualify for financing.