Free Cash Flow Forecast Template – a simple Google Sheets and Excel spreadsheet
Cash flow forecast templates are useful tools for pulling a cash flow forecast together – quickly. They’re not just great for planning businesses but for learning how to plan businesses. A good cash flow template includes equations to calculate totals and places your figures into the correct financial accounts, creating a professional financial report with ease – rather than expertise! But, as you may discover, there’s more to “cash flow” than cash flow templates.
We built a simple free template, available below, which I’d encourage you to take a look at. Just pop in your email to get the cash flow template in your choice of format – Google Sheets, or Excel spreadsheet download.
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Check your mail… just waiting for it to come through…
Great. Now – let’s talk about cash flow.
As with many things in life the first step to learning is to try it out. Plug in your expected numbers and the template will do the calculations for you, summing all of the totals and putting the right positives and negatives on each account line. I spend a lot of my time thinking about planning businesses and I like to think about the business first and the account lines second. Each line of the template is annotated to show you what needs to go on that row – and so I’ve added a couple of useful features:
- I’ve put in some extra rows so that you can add your own sales lines. If you want, you can just add one row of sales for all of your incoming cash – but breaking this down into different sources of cash will give you a better understanding of your business. This, in turn, will lead to better, more accurate, more bespoke forecasts for your business. It’s a simple thing but it helps.
- I’ve also added extra rows for you to add your own expenditure lines. This will give you a better way of breaking down what your business pays for – helping you see what’s costing the business money and crucially when different costs hit your business.
Cash flow projections like the one you can make with this template are crucial for business planning. To be blunt, having a bad understanding of your future cash flow will hurt your business. A drop in sales, or a late-paying client combined with rising or unexpected costs can cause businesses to run out of readily cash. It happens all the time. Forecasting your furture cash flow is a way to look ahead, to be aware of what your likely income and expenditure will be and plan accordingly.
But the best thing about a cash flow template is that it provides a framework to slot your figures into. If you’re not a trained accountant, chances are this is one of the reasons you came looking for a cash flow template in the first place.
I went through this template, filling it out for one of my business ideas. I did this as a field test to see whether I’d made a good template. A few things struck me about the experience:
- I was guided on where to place the figures for my business. Even though some financial terminology isn’t exactly obvious, the notes in each cell remind me what information to put there.
- It was easy to see a financial picture of the business coming together as I added different sources of income and cost. In fact – I really got a feel for HOW the businesses I was planning worked. This is something that’s hard to envision until you put every aspect of a business down on paper. It’s a great exercise for getting to know the parts of your business.
- Seeing the figures calculate automatically for metrics like Income Less Payments, or Operating Activities really helped my understanding of what these things actually are. I’m not an accountant, but picked up the lingo of financial planning over many years – and I can remember having to work out what everything means. Seeing a financial plan come together is the best way to achieve this.
But… there are limits to what you can do with a cash flow template. There’s still a lot of information missing about my business, and I had to do a lot of work outside of the template in order to get my figures together.
What’s better than a cash flow forecast template?
While what I’ve made is good cash flow projection, there isn’t much more I can do with it. I can’t test it, I can’t move activities around in time, and obviously this is just a cash flow – if I wanted charts, a profit and loss report or a balance sheet I’d have to make these from scratch too.
And even though I’ve tried to make my cash flow template a simple one, it still doesn’t completely reflect what my business is doing. What projects has the business got going on, what are their costs, what are the financial consequences of completing them on time? All of these questions relate to the way my business exists in the Real World. All too often the Real World is kept separate from financial planning when the exact opposite should be the case! A business’ real world activities should be clear parts of a forecast – it makes the forecast easy to understand and easy to adapt and test.
This is why we made Brixx, a financial modelling app that puts business activities first and handles the accounting for you. Brixx uses simple inputs to generate financial reports and dashboards up to 10 years long, catering for any kind or scale of company.
While you’re here, why not take a look and see if it suits your needs better than a cash flow template?