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Projecting Cash Flow in Uncertain Times

Many businesses are feeling the crunch Covid-19 is putting on the economy. Is these uncertain times it is important to remain flexible. It is especially important to pay even more attention than normal to cash flow. While relief options are out there, no one knows how long it will take to see them. Priority must be made to your income and expenses and there is no way to forecast more than a couple weeks at a time at this stage.

I have created a simple cash flow sheet to help you forecast the next 6 weeks.

Some Things to Consider When Forecasting

This is not a long-term forecast by any means. Consider what are your current fixed expenses. Who must be paid and who can you ask for extended terms. What items do you have to have to keep making sales and what expenses could you do without for the short-term.

What accounts receivable do you have and could projects be completed faster to bring cash in? The difference in cash flow between collecting in 15 days vs 30 is huge.

Get Creative With Sales

Most likely some of the sales you had originally planned on for this period are not coming in. Are there untapped markets you can pursue? Can you provide a different service temporarily?

I am personally not a fan of direct discounts. as it undercuts your value later. My only exception on direct discounts in when moving "expiring" products such as clothes that are out of season or overstocked on perishable food items. Are there promotions you can run instead. Maybe a discount for upfront payment or refer a friend bonus.

Using The Cash Flow Forecast Tool

You can open the file with Excel or Google Sheets. You will find the top of the sheet has forecasted income and the lower half is forecasted expenses by week.

The first item to fill in is the current cash on hand.

The tool will then forecast future cash on hand each week.

The next couple lines are for projected sales for the week.

Cash sales being sales done this week and the cash collected the same week.

A/R Collected would be previous work done and the cash collected in the current week.

The "Loans" line would be for cash coming from borrowed money, be it new SBA loans, PPP money, or financing equipment.

Bank Transfers would be for cash from a Line of Credit or Savings account.

Important! - I use the "Actual Cash In" line to enter cash as deposits are made. To be accurate, you need to remove cash from the projected lines as you enter it in Actual Cash In. For instance, if I projected $20,000 in A/R collected and received $5000, I would reduce the A/R line by $5000 and enter $5000 in Actual Cash In.


These are general expense lines. Feel free to change the names to whatever fits your business best. I would try to keep it simple and when forecasting for just a few weeks, lumping a bunch of expenses into one category makes it faster to enter.

We aren't looking for a bunch of detail in these weeks. Detail should be tracked in your accounting system and when we are back to "normal" breaking this down in a monthly format with detailed expenses is a great way to see how cash flows through your business.

When projecting your expenses, pay attention to when bills are due and where you can extend terms. Sometimes in times like these there are bills you just can not pay. It is still important to track these so you can see what is outstanding when you do have positive cash flow.


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