Financial projections are essential forecasting tools used to plan and strategize ways to grow a business or increase profit. They are calculated based on certain assumptions, such as estimated expenses and anticipated revenues. By understanding the financial projection figures and using them to our advantage, decision makers can achieve better results.

Financial projections are practical ways for decision makers to plan for growth and anticipate any challenges that could arise. They can be used to develop strategic plans, create budgets and understand how potential investments can affect the bottom line. Understanding how to make the most of these projections is key to making sound financial decisions.

Definition of financial projections

Financial projections are best defined as quantitative summaries of a business’ economic activity, forecasted into the future. They are usually prepared on a quarterly or yearly basis and are used to estimate costs, revenue, and cash flows over a certain time period.

Overview of how projections can help to make better decisions

Financial projections can be incredibly helpful in planning future business moves. Here is what they can do:

  • Help to identify blind spots in the business’ model or approach
  • Assist in setting short and long term goals
  • Identify potential areas for cost-cutting
  • Showcase opportunities for increases in revenue
  • Aid decision makers in determining potential risks

These projections can also be used to spark ideas for ways to increase profits, identify potential opportunities for growth, and track the performance of certain investments. By utilizing financial projections, decision makers can make well-informed decisions that will help to build the business in the long run.

Key Takeaways

  • Financial projections are quantitative summaries of a business’ economic activity, forecasted into the future.
  • These projections can help to identify blind spots in the business’ model, assist in setting goals, identify potential areas of cost-cutting and showcase opportunities for increases in revenue.
  • By using financial projections, decision makers can make well-informed decisions that will help to build the business in the long run.

Step One: Define Goals

Creating a successful financial plan requires knowing your goals and objectives. The first step in using financial projection to make decisions is to define those goals and objectives. Take some time to think about what you hope to accomplish with the information generated by your financial projections. Once you’ve identified those goals and objectives, it’s time to set measurable goals.

a. Decide What You Hope to Accomplish

When deciding on your goals and objectives, consider what you’d like to accomplish. Do you want to increase profit? Reduce expenses? Create a steady growth in the value of your assets? Whatever your objectives are, make sure that you are clear about them.

b. Set Measurable Goals

Once you’ve identified what you’d like to accomplish, you need to set measurable goals for your objectives. You should define what your targets should be in terms of profits, savings, investments, expenses, and other financial considerations. This will provide you with a baseline from which to measure your progress.

You should also make sure that you have realistic goals. Setting goals that are too lofty can make it difficult to achieve success, while setting goals that are too modest can lead to stagnation. Take the time to create specific, measurable, achievable goals that are inline with your objectives.

Step Two: Compare Budget to Actual Results

After the budget has been established, the next step to use financial projections for better decisions is to review both the budgeted and the actual results. This will give an indication of how much the budgeted amounts differ from the actual results. There are three important steps to take when comparing the budget to the actual results: analyzing budget expectations, identifying spending and revenue trends, and reviewing the variances between budgeted and actual spending.

Analyze Budget Expectations

When analyzing the budget expectations, first look to see if the overall budget numbers are accurate. This includes looking at the total revenues and total expenditures that were predicted. It is important to look closely at these, to make sure that the numbers actually reflect what the organization is expecting to bring in and how much money is predicted to be spent.

Identify Spending and Revenue Trends

Looking closely at the budget is not enough, as there may be some additional insights that can be made from examining the overall trends in spending and revenue. Trends that should be looked at include the type of spending and where the money is being allocated and where the revenues are coming from.

Review the Variances Between Budgeted and Actual Spending

Finally, the last step in comparing the budget to actual results is to review the variances between the budgeted and the actual spending. This is one of the most important steps, as it shows how closely the actual spending patterns matched up with the budget. It is also useful for tracking progress and understanding any unexpected changes in spending.

  • Compare the actual spending to the budgeted amounts on a line-by-line basis
  • Identify the main variances, and any patterns between the budget and the actual results
  • Make any necessary adjustments to the budget, to ensure accuracy

Step Three: Use Financial Software to Create Projection

If you decide you can’t feasibly create projections by hand, then it’s time to turn to financial software to do it. With financial software, you can input data in a fraction of the time it would take you to hand-calculate it. The first step to using the software is to determine the timeframe of the projection you want to create. This could be short-term (one to three months) or long-term, up to five years.

Determine the Time Frame of the Projection

The timeframe that you pick for your projection will determine the type of software application you will need. For example, if you need to make a one-year financial projection, you will need different software than for a five-year projection. Once you have chosen the timeframe and type of software, you must input your data into the system. This data would include projected sales and expenses, as well as any other figures you may need.

Use Financial Software to Create Projection

Once you’ve entered the data, the software will generate the financial projection. You should ensure that the projection is accurate by comparing it to your hand-calculated estimates and adjusting as needed. Once you are satisfied with the projection, you can use it to make informed decisions, such as whether to invest in a product or undertake a project. You can also use it to track long-term performance trends and understand how changes in income affect your bottom line.

  • Determine the timeframe of the projection
  • Use financial software to create the projection

Step Four: Analyze the Projection

Now that you have the financial projections completed, you will want to analyze them to make better decisions. This step will help you review those goals and determine what changes need to be made if needed.

a. Review the Goals and Economic Trends

The first step in analyzing the financial projections is to review your goals. Are they still relevant? Make sure to take into account any industry-wide economic trends that may have emerged since you set the original goals. An understanding of the current economic climate will allow you to make more informed decisions.

b. Research Any Industry Disruptions That Might Lead to De-Growth

You will also want to research any industry disruptions that might lead to a downturn in growth. This includes any new technology that is being developed, any upcoming regulation changes, or any other industry-related events. Knowing this information will help you set more realistic goals and budget accordingly.

c. Determine If There Are Areas to Improve Performance

Finally, you will want to look at the projections to identify areas where performance can be improved. You can do this by comparing the current projections to previous years. Look for any potential weak points that can be addressed and areas where you can improve efficiency.

By analyzing your financial projections, you are one step closer to making more informed decisions and achieving maximum success.

Step 5: Adapt the Plan

When you are using financial projections to make better decisions, it is important to remember to constantly monitor the accuracy of the projections and adjust your plans accordingly. As you evaluate the results of the projections, you may have to make changes to accommodate for any differences or discrepancies that arise.

a. Make changes to the plan based on the projection findings

To ensure that the strategy is successful, you must be sure to revise the plan in light of the projections. This means that you must revisit the projections regularly and evaluate the results. In some cases, the projections may need to be significantly altered to ensure that the strategy is still viable.

b. Monitor the accuracy of the projections and adjust accordingly

Once the changes have been made, it is important to monitor the accuracy of the projections to ensure that they are in line with the expectations and that they reflect the reality of the situation. If the projections are not accurate, then you must make more adjustments to the plan to ensure that it is still effective.


Financial projections are powerful tools that can help companies make better decisions by providing information about future outcomes. They can be used to identify potential risks, create strategies, and allocate resources to reach business objectives. By understanding and exploring their financial projections, companies can make informed decisions and improve the chances of success.

Summarizing the Importance of Financial Projections

Financial projections give companies a set of parameters to guide their decision making and to forecast future outcomes. This information can help identify potential risks and opportunities, create strategies, and allocate resources to reach objectives.

Sharing the Value of Using Projections to Make Better Decisions

The value of financial projections lies in their ability to improve the chances of success by helping companies evaluate opportunities, plan ahead, and adjust to changing conditions. Knowing and understanding the information that financial projections provide will help companies to make more informed decisions.

Outlining Steps to Creating a Successful Projection

Creating an effective financial projection requires a clear understanding of the goal, an accurate assessment of the market situation, a detailed forecasting methodology, and constant tracking and reevaluating of results. The following steps should be taken:

  • Define the goal of the projection and what resources are available.
  • Create a set of assumptions based on current market conditions.
  • Determine the forecasting method that you will use.
  • Develop a budget and timeline for the project.
  • Gather historical data and present in a format that can be used in your projections.
  • Implement the forecasting model.
  • Track the results of the projection and reevaluate as needed.

Financial projections can be used to make better decisions by providing insight into potential risks and opportunities. By following the steps outlined above, companies can create successful projections to improve the chances of success.

Expert-built startup financial model templates

500+ Excel financial model templates for your business plan