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Your Business’s Health Depends on its Financial Forecasts

The climate of economic uncertainty is likely to prevail again in 2024. How can you manage your business to remain in sound financial health?

More than ever, agility is the key to ensuring your company’s financial health. Foresight is essential. The ultimate tool for making informed decisions: financial forecasts.

Make your financial forecasts on a monthly basis

In order to see fluctuations and anticipate your cash requirements, you need comprehensive forecasts, including results, balance sheets and forecast changes in cash. They will enable you, as a manager, to navigate more prudently through periods of economic upheaval.

Although this exercise is usually done on an annual basis, it is useful to prepare your financial forecasts on a monthly basis. In more critical situations, you can even do them on a weekly basis. That way, you can stay on track and anticipate any shortfall before your finances deteriorate.

This important management tool is also used to compare actual results with forecasts. Thanks to a rigorous analysis, you’ll be able to quickly identify the corrective measures you need to take to avoid financial problems, should they arise.

Anticipate risks to remain profitable

This will enable you to identify more quickly the need for additional financing, such as a temporary line of credit or a down payment from the owners, to make up for a shortfall. In light of the figures, you might also have to adjust your selling prices to deal with cost inflation and maintain your business’s profitability – without undermining your competitiveness.

With the pressure of repaying financial aid linked to the pandemic crisis, the burden is getting heavier for companies. Companies that are unable to repay the loan by the January 18, 2024 deadline will be left with an additional debt of $60,000 and will forfeit the $20,000 subsidy.

Plan ahead… even for the unexpected

Financial forecasts are based on many assumptions. It is therefore normal for variances to occur as a result of unforeseen circumstances. Even if these are difficult to anticipate—nobody has a crystal ball, after all—it can be useful to study different scenarios. Sensitivity analyses should be conducted when preparing your financial forecasts, to assess the impact of a drop in income or an increase in interest rates on your company’s current financing.

What do you do, for example, if your company loses a major client overnight, resulting in a major cash shortfall? Financial forecasts are an excellent tool for determining the financial cushion that your company will need to absorb this shock, while minimizing its impact.

Keep a close eye on your accounts receivable

Managing receivables also becomes strategic. One or more clients who don’t pay their bills on time leads to a reduction in liquidity, as well as an increase in the use of your line of credit, which in turn increases the interest charges you will have to pay. All of which could eventually turn into cash flow problems. Monitoring accounts receivable must be rigorous and flexible at the same time.

Establish clear payment terms with your clients. In the event of non-payment, remind them and make a settlement agreement. You also need to know who your most loyal and reliable clients are. Sometimes cutting ties with clients who are often late with their payments can be a difficult decision, but one that is necessary for the company’s financial health. You also need to make sure to keep only the profitable clients.

Call on your teams

Vigilance does not stop at the numbers. When things go wrong, you need everyone’s input. Your employees may have innovative ideas for improving production or services, reducing losses, and so on. These are solutions that often don’t cost much to implement. Working closely with your staff can improve engagement, which is crucial in the quest for stability.

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