Financial forecasting is a process used by small businesses to project their future financial performance by evaluating historical data.

One of the key financial statements for small business accounting is a balance sheet, sometimes known as the statement of financial position. Businesses need a balance sheet forecast because it shows them what assets and liabilities they should expect to have at a given future date. Let’s go further and understand the meaning of Balance Sheet, Balance Sheet Forecast, Income Statement and Income Statement Forecast.

What is a Balance Sheet?

An estimate of the assets, liabilities, and equity at a future date is called a balance sheet forecast. It is used to estimate the future assets and liabilities a business expects.

Given that the balance sheet depicts a company’s financial situation at a specific moment, it makes sense that the balance sheet forecast is an effort to project a company’s financial situation under specific future conditions. 

A three-statement financial model’s forecasted statements are its outputs, and the assumptions that inform the model’s modifications are its inputs. It is crucial to remember that adjustments to the income statement affect the balance sheet. Below is the three-statement financial model:

  • Income Statement
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow

How to forecast a balance sheet?

Small businesses can use balance sheet forecasting to see what they will likely own and owe at a future date. This information can be useful for making important business decisions and planning future purchases.

Leaders use financial forecasts as a road map to help them negotiate the uncertainty of their specific environments. The strategies implemented to react to anticipated market conditions and business drivers are developed using these forecasts. 

An essential accounting tool for estimating how line items from the income statement and anticipated cash flow will affect the company’s future financial position is the balance sheet forecast.

Steps to Forecast Balance Sheet

Businesses use historical data from their financial statements to forecast their future capital, assets, debt, and equity on a balance sheet. Mostly, this process uses the historical data and financial software to forecast the future condition of the balance sheet. Here’s how you can utilize financial data to forecast a balance sheet:

1. Forecasting Net Working Capital

The first step in forecasting a balance sheet is determining how much net working capital your company has. Your entire current asset and liability total is your net working capital. Examine your past asset and liability data to project your net working capital in the future. Using financial data from the previous two years is standard procedure. You can project a realistic net working capital figure for your balance sheet, forecasting profits based on your company’s historical net working capital figures and how they’ve changed over time.

2. Fixed Assets for Projects

Projecting your fixed assets is the next step in predicting a balance sheet. Your company’s fixed assets are long-term, tangible assets that are easy to project.

Depreciation must be considered for an accurate forecast of your future fixed assets. This formula can be used to project your future fixed assets:

Projected Fixed Assets = Last year’s fixed assets + Capital Expenditures – Depreciation.

3. Calculate Financial Debt

Projecting your debt is the next step, a simple procedure. Use the following formula to estimate the amount of debt your company will incur:

Projected Debt = Total Debt at the Start of the Year + Variation in Debt

4. Projected Equity Position

Your expected equity position is the next item on your balance sheet forecast. Using equity forecasting, you can forecast retained earnings and the money you have invested in the company. The following formula can be used to predict the equity of your company:

Projected Equity = Equity from the Previous Year + Net Income – Dividends + Equity Change

5. Forecast Cash Position

Projecting your cash position is the last step in predicting the balance sheet. You can estimate this with the aid of your cash flow statement. The following is the cash position forecasting formula:

Projected Cash Position = Cash Position from Previous Year + Cash Change.

Income statement

One of the three primary financial statements for a business plan income statement is the income statement forecast, also known as the profit and loss forecast. A company’s financial performance over an accounting period is displayed in the income statement forecast. It is crucial to understand that although the accounting period can be any length, it is typically one or two months.

The income statement forecast should be used by management to determine whether the company turned a profit during the given time frame. The net income at the bottom line is the crucial figure. It should also be used to compare actual results to a projection, identify trends in operating profit ratios, and create percentage relationships between expenses and revenue. Suppliers use them to gauge your company’s profitability and whether or not to grant credit.

Bank managers use the income statement forecast to inform their lending ratio calculations. For example, interest cover, calculated as earnings before interest and tax/interest paid, helps them assess if their business’s profits are high enough to cover the interest payments on their loan. Ultimately, investors use the income statement forecast to determine whether and at what price to make an investment. For instance, they will examine the income before taxes to determine their expected return on investment.

How to forecast an income statement?

To project their earnings or losses for a given time frame, small businesses can create a pro forma income statement. The steps to forecasting your income statement are as follows:

1. Analyzing the Historical Data

Understanding your company’s historical performance and using that information to forecast future financial outcomes will be necessary before you can effectively project its profits or losses. Verify that the data you’re using is comparable. You should review historical data from the same period in prior years if you’re creating a pro forma income statement for a one-year period starting on January 1, 2024. It is recommended by best practices to examine historical data for at least two periods, so you should review income statements dated January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2023.

2. Forecast your Revenue

Entering your annual growth rate will simplify creating a revenue (or sales) forecast. Make an educated estimate about your future revenue by examining the percentage growth in revenue over prior periods.

3. Estimate the Cost of Goods Sold

You may not think that the cost of goods sold directly relates to your business because it is a service-based enterprise. However, service-oriented enterprises should consider their labor, employment tax, and benefit costs as part of the cost of goods sold. Alternatively, this may be referred to as the expense of services.

4. Calculate Your Operating Expenses

To ascertain your projected operating costs in your forecast, examine your historical operating expenses and contrast them with your anticipated revenue. 

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