Forecasts are not just helpful, they are essential. Indeed your very survival may depend on them.
Regardless of the size of your business, you can never underestimate the value of projections. The ones you can adjust in real time, as you go through each week, can give you greatest insight into your future business requirements.
Forecasting represents the foundation for everything else that follows.
A Profit and Loss forecast is unquestionably helpful in understanding where you are going and will determine how viable your Company remains.
Heading towards a loss or continuing with ongoing losses should quite rightly cause concern and it’s time to seek professional advice to protect yourself personally as well as the other stakeholders.
The ongoing profitability or otherwise of your business may however be uncertain and although forecasts against actuals are extremely helpful, cash on the other hand (especially in the short term) is absolute king.
A Cashflow Forecast will give your transparency on:
- Where the pinch points are
- Whether or not you can survive without borrowing
- Whether or not the Company (as is) remains viable
- Your best estimate on future requirements
The best cashflows forecasts are the ones you can adjust weekly ensuring your modelling moves with real time data.
Ideally you can navigate your way through without having to borrow or seek any formal insolvency protection from your creditors. Such routes, however, aren’t always unavoidable, but either way an interactive Cash Flow forecast is key to discovering where those liquidity issues are hiding away.
You may already know, for example, that you have an HMRC payment due or that quarter’s rent is fast approaching. Having this information in your head, however, is not the same as having an adjustable cashflow forecast which can help you see the big picture and think strategically.
Fully armed with (your best estimates) of what is coming down the road, can give you precious time in the immediate term to address a future problem.
So, you’ve done your forecasting and the short-term or long-term projections show you running out of cash. What next ?
Before you start looking to borrow more money, and saddle your business with potentially unmanageable debt, begin by exploring ways of addressing your cashflow squeeze.
If you have HMRC arrears or have already taking advantage of the Government’s deferred VAT scheme, then you’ll be in good company with a significant proportion of other UK businesses. More often than not, it’s HMRC debt that presents the biggest issues on cash flow.
As well as the deferment VAT scheme covering the quarter March 2020 to June 2020 , HMRC is also allowing Company’s Time to Pay that deferred element over 12 months starting from March 2021.
You will need to op in here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19/
If you still can’t pay your tax bill on time, HMRC recommends you contact them as soon as possible: https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc/
We can also act on your behalf with creating a Time To Pay (TTP) Proposal to HMRC in the required format on a no win/no fee basis – as explored later in this Guide.
Handling your Creditors and Suppliers
As most businesses are all in the same position, you would expect your creditors to be somewhat sympathetic to your difficulties. The golden rule, however, is never to bury your head in the sand. Ignore the calls, emails and letters for payment will not make the problem go away. It could make matters worse.
Instead, review your latest cash flow forecasts and determine what exactly is affordable. Armed with this intelligence, you are then in a position to negotiate weekly / monthly payment terms with creditors, while also keeping them informed if the position changes
As for suppliers, find out if they are prepared to extend credit terms to give you more time to settle the debt and easing up further pressure on your cashflow.
Communicating with Customers and debtors
Just as important as managing your creditors, is speaking to your major customers and debtors.
For customers, find out how their business has been affected and seek transparency on their future needs for your service/product: will they increase or decrease, or are they expected to stay at the same level.
As for your outstanding debtors , find out if payment will be made within business terms. If they are going to struggle, then negotiate a settlement that satisfies both parties wherever possible.
Getting an understanding on your cash inflow is without question just as important (if not more so) than your outflows. Therefore update your forecasts as further information comes available and follow up with written confirmation of payment terms.
Every business should undertake yearly reviews – at the very least – of all their overheads.
Now, more than ever, is the time to look at any unnecessary costs to your business and work out what can be cut or what can be simply reduced.
Look at last year’s costs and compare them to this year as a benchmark to help what can be done differently to reduce overheads
In addition to a number of other initiatives to support the economy introduced in 2020, the Government also launched a new £20m fund to boost the recovery of small businesses.
The fund can be used for Specialist Advice.
If you qualify, then take advantage of this windfall and seek professional help to sanity-check your game plan, review (or even put together) your forecasts and be on hand to guide you through these uncertain times.
Please see the link below to find out more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/20-million-in-new-grants-to-boost-recovery-of-small-businesses/
It is said that a business owner with a plan will nearly always beat a genius without one. To that end, a well thought-out strategy is the key to putting yourself back in the driving seat.
Start with a Cashflow forecast and work out where those pinch points are, then move on to talking to certain stakeholder with that financial intel (the above are a number of the key ones) to help tailor your approach.
This approach might not give you all the answers, it might not even save your company, but without question it’s a great start in taking control back and plotting a path forward.
Hopefully you will find a way through without having to borrow or seek any kind of creditor protection, but if that is not going to be possible its time to look at Surviving with Finance.
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