When starting a new business, financial forecasting is an essential part of strategic planning. Financial forecasting provides a business with a preview of upcoming expenses and potential income. Additionally, it can alert entrepreneurs to potential cash flow issues they may face before they occur. To properly build a financial forecast, there are vital components to consider.

The importance of financial forecasting

Financial forecasting is an important tool entrepreneurs can leverage to put their business in the best possible position for success. It’s a way for them to map out and plan for the future of their business. Without it, startups are taking a “fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants” approach to business planning, which often leads to costly mistakes and complications.

Requirements to create a financial forecast

  • Total fixed costs
  • Variable costs
  • Projected revenue and sales
  • Actions to be taken to overcome potential issues

Key Takeaways

  • Financial forecasting is an important tool for startups and businesses
  • Main components for financial forecasting include total fixed costs, variable costs and projected revenue
  • Actions to be taken to overcome potential issues should be part of the plan


Creating financial forecasts for any business, whether it’s a startup or an established enterprise, requires a certain amount of planning, knowledge, and skill. It’s important to consider various factors, such as understanding cash flow, setting up and maintaining a financial budget, and understanding financial statements. Having a good handle on these aspects of financial forecasting can be beneficial for any startup.

Understanding Cash Flow

When creating financial forecasts, it is important to understand cash flow and how it impacts your startup in terms of revenue, expenses, and profits. Cash flow is the difference between what money is coming in and what money is going out. Understanding cash flow can help you anticipate potential expenses as well as potential revenue that can be used to expand and fund your startup’s operations.

Setting Up a Financial Budget

When creating financial forecasts, it’s also important to consider the budget of your startup. A budget is a written plan of how your startup allocates resources in pursuit of its goals. It’s important to consider both short-term and long-term goals when setting up a budget. Having a budget in place can help ensure that your startup is operating within its means, as well as providing guidance towards achieving financial success.

To complete a budget, you’ll need to create a detailed list of expected expenses and income for your startup. This may involve forecasting expenses such as payroll or marketing, as well as forecasting potential revenue. It’s also important to consider operating costs such as rent, insurance, and taxes. When setting up a financial budget, it’s important to consider any additional costs that may occur throughout the year.

Details of a Financial Forecast

How to Track Cash Flow

Tracking cash flow is a critical step in creating a financial forecast for your startup. Start by cataloging all of your revenues and expenses. This will give you a snapshot of how much money is coming in and out over a period of time. Use indicators such as the accounts receivable, accounts payable, and the net income to get a full view of your cash flow. The existence of an accounts receivable and accounts payable account gives you a more detailed picture of how cash is flowing. As such, you will be able to estimate what inflows and outflows are ahead of time. Finally, tracking your net income over a period of time can help you spot trends and make projections.

What Metrics to Use

In addition to tracking cash flow, there are a number of metrics you can use to create a financial forecast. For example, you should consider tracking the overall financial performance of your company. This includes metrics such as total revenue, total expenses, gross profit and net income. In addition, use working capital metrics such as days sales outstanding, inventory turn and asset turnover to gauge the financial health of your startup. Finally, you should track key performance indicators that are specific to your industry such as customer penetration and market share.

How to Forecast Expenses

Forecasting expenses is a key component of creating a financial forecast. The best way to do this is to break down your expenses into categories, such as labor, materials, utilities, taxes, and other operating costs. It’s also important to include any fixed expenses in the forecast, such as rent or loan payments. Once you have determined the fixed expenses, the rest of the expenses can be estimated using the latest financials, some market research, and a bit of forecasting. Additionally, make sure to include any new expenses that may occur in the coming months, such as staff hires or new equipment purchases.

  • Track cash flow
  • Use metrics to gauge financial health
  • Break down expenses into categories
  • Include fixed expenses
  • Forecast new expenses

Types of Financial Forecasts

Short-term financial forecasts

Short-term financial forecasts are useful for predicting a business's financial performance over the next three to five years. They are focused on the near future and look to project income, expenses, and other key metrics. As the name suggests, these forecasts provide an indication of what would happen to the business's finances if the current situation remains unchanged.

Short-term financial forecasts involve analyzing a startup's current financial data and making predictions based on that data. These predictions, along with other information such as industry trends and competitive analysis, are used to create a picture of what the business would look like in the coming years financially. This information can then be used to inform decisions on investments, expansion plans, and other strategic moves.

Long-term financial forecasts

Long-term financial forecasts, on the other hand, involve looking much further into the future, usually 10-15 years or more. These forecasts aim to identify areas of potential growth and provide an indication of where the business will be financially in the long-term. They are typically focused on the long-term and involve making more speculative predictions than short-term forecasts.

Much like short-term forecasts, long-term forecasts rely heavily on analysis of historical financial data, as well as input from industry experts and other stakeholders. They involve creating detailed models that factor in variables such as cashflow, market trends, and competitive analysis to give an indication of where the business could potentially be in the distant future.

Estimating Financial Variables

Estimating the variables that go into financial forecasts is a necessary component of any startup’s development, since it indicates whether the business can operate in the long-term and achieve its goals. Accurately estimating income and expenses is essential to creating a realistic financial forecast, and can be made easier if the business plans to track metrics and monitor performance trends.

Estimating Income

Before businesses start to track income, they should create prediction models to project future income. Even a basic forecasting model can help businesses better understand expected income in the short-term and long-term. Such models should consider factors like current sales trends, customer demand, industry trends, and competitive landscape. When looking to estimate income, businesses should also be aware of any revenue expectations that customers and investors may have, and consider any external factors such as legal requirements, inflation, and market changes.

Estimating Expenses

When making financial forecasts, businesses should be aware of all the expenses they might accumulate over the projected period. Estimating expenses should include costs such as personnel, inventory, materials, maintenance and utilities, equipment, technology, and marketing. The more aware businesses are of their expected expenses, the better they can plan for their budget and resources. To effectively estimate expenses, businesses should stay aware of trends and any unexpected costs such as taxes or insurance policies. They should also consider long-term investments for their business, such as employee benefits or research and development.

Accurately estimating income and expenses can give businesses a better insight into the financial health of their startup and ensure they have realistic plans to achieve their goals. The more realistic the estimates, the more robust the forecast, and the better positioned the business will be to handle any challenges that come their way.

Evaluation and Adjustments

Once you have created your financial forecasts for your startup, it is important to evaluate and adjust your projections as needed. This will keep your financial plan up to date and will provide your business with an accurate road map and financial analysis.

Revising Forecast to Actual Results

Periodically evaluate the accuracy of your financial forecasting and compare the actual financial results to the projected one. This will help you identify if there are any discrepancies or insights that may be useful in guiding your decisions.

Adjusting Income and Expenses

When evaluating your financial results, adjust income and expense sources accordingly. This can be done by taking into account the operations of the business and any external factors such as economic and industry trends to ensure that future forecasts are accurate. Additionally, take into consideration any opportunities or risks that might affect the financial viability of the startup.

Regularly review your financial results and make necessary adjustments to ensure your startup remains in the best financial health. Evaluating and adjusting your financial figures and projections will help you to make well-informed decisions, manage costs and be better prepared for any market and economic influences that may come your way.


Financial forecasting is a vital part of starting a successful business. A good financial forecast helps identify a startup’s strengths, weaknesses, current financial state, as well as its potential future profits. A financial forecast also provides valuable insight that can help shape business decisions. It is important to first understand the process and plan before developing a forecast.

Financial forecasting involves collecting data and analyzing past performance, projecting costs and revenue, and making assumptions about the future. After an initial forecast is created, it should be reviewed for accuracy and updated regularly. Investors are an invaluable resource for developing a realistic financial forecast as they are experienced in analysis, statistics, and finances.

Creating a financial forecast is a complicated process, and it is beneficial to utilize the assistance of a professional to ensure accuracy and credibility for your startup. A financial forecast is a necessity for any successful business, and using the right strategy and resources can help achieve long-term financial success.

Expert-built startup financial model templates

500+ Excel financial model templates for your business plan