A probably angry Lee Iacocca was indicating that finance is something that has to be pre-planned, planned, re-planned and even post-planned. Financial planning in itself does not involve just setting budgets, wage rates or deadlines. It is all about getting to know realistic work schedule, the manner in which they can be executed, back up plans that can be used and the least cost with the help of which the entire project can be executed. So basically, financial planning and growth forecasting, both involve, the answers to the 4 important questions, why, when, where and how (answers have to be cost oriented).
Steps in Long Term Financial Planning
Step 1: Let us take the example of a coffee shop, whereas a financial planner, one has to find legitimate answers to 4 questions, namely:
- Why should we be producing a specific item on the menu card? (consider cost of production and sales price)
- When should we produce such an item and for what time duration? (bear in mind seasonal costs, inflation of raw material prices)
- Where should we produce the item, right in the shop or some production center? (consider transport cost, nature of goods and selling cost)
- How should one produce the item, manually or mechanically? (consider equipment and personnel cost)
- Average spending capacity of your customers.
- Your competitor's quality, quantity and price.
- Popularity of the product, potential market, customer retaining capacity of the product, etc.
Step 3: The third and fourth step are more analytical in nature and from the finance point of view, they are also quite expansive. The idea that you need to implement in the third step is allocation of resources in such a manner that you tend to make a genuine profit in sales, during the long run. In this step, you will be using and analyzing cash flow statements on almost a daily basis. The key is to have uniform cash outflows for consecutive days/months/years. Cash outflow is basically all expenses and losses. Losses are quite uncontrollable but expenses are definitely controllable. Hence search for raw material sources, manpower and production processes that will help you to maintain a uniform and low per unit cost for the item/product. For example have regular suppliers, who will supply at an agreed and uniform cost. This uniformity will eventually come in handy to curb and control unexpected losses, and will also help you to keep a good hold over the market.
The second part of the third step is making monetary provisions. This is absolutely essential due to the fact that no business is risk-free. Such provisions include advance to the raw material supplier, insurance, provisions for bad debts, extra services, etc.
Step 4: I would like to call this step as retain, sustain and entertain. This step is quite an advanced one, and basically includes many different aspects, that aim at retaining the customers. The first important function of this step is to generate regular data and cash flow statements. With the help of these statements you will realize whether that very item on the menu is proving to be profitable or not. At the same time, you also need to maintain a statement that records cash inflows and outflows over a longer period of time (in months or a quarter). Thus, you will realize what is profitable for your business, and what your customers want.
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