Financial projections use existing or estimated financial data to forecast your business’s future income and expenses. They often include different scenarios to see how changes to one aspect of your finances (such as higher sales or lower operating expenses) might affect your profitability.
If you need to create financial projections for a startup or existing business, this free, downloadable template includes all the necessary tools.
What Are Financial Projections Used for?
Financial projections are an essential business planning tool for several reasons.
- If you’re starting a business, financial projections help you plan your startup budget, assess when you expect the business to become profitable, and set benchmarks for achieving financial goals.
- If you’re already in business, creating financial projections each year can help you set goals and stay on track.
- When seeking outside financing, startups and existing businesses need financial projections to convince lenders and investors of the business’s growth potential.
What’s Included in Financial Projections?
This financial projections template pulls together several different financial documents, including:
- Startup expenses
- Payroll costs
- Sales forecast
- Operating expenses for the first 3 years of business
- Cash flow statements for the first 3 years of business
- Income statements for the first 3 years of business
- Balance sheet
- Break-even analysis
- Financial ratios
- Cost of goods sold (COGS), and
- Amortization and depreciation for your business.
You can use this template to create the documents from scratch or pull in information from those you’ve already made. The template also includes diagnostic tools to test the numbers in your financial projections and ensure they are within reasonable ranges.
These areas are closely related, so as you work on your financial projections, you’ll find that changes to one element affect the others. You may want to include a best-case and worst-case scenario for all possibilities. Make sure you know the assumptions behind your financial projections and can explain them to others.
Startup business owners often wonder how to create financial projections for a business that doesn’t exist yet. Financial forecasts are continually educated guesses. To make yours as accurate as possible, do your homework and get help. Use the information you unearthed in researching your business plans, such as statistics from industry associations, data from government sources, and financials from similar businesses. An accountant with experience in your industry can help fine-tune your financial projections. So can business advisors such as SCORE mentors.
Once you complete your financial projections, don’t put them away and forget about them. Compare your projections to your financial statements regularly to see how well your business meets your expectations. If your projections turn out to be too optimistic or too pessimistic, make the necessary adjustments to make them more accurate.
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