Creating a sales forecast can help your business get bank loans, or secure investment from angel investors. You can also use it to predict how much money will come into the business during a given period. 

By estimating potential revenue, you can plan for future expansions or cut-backs where necessary. In this article, we’ll explain why you need a sales forecast and give you some templates you can use. 

  • What is a sales forecast
  • Why you need multiple forecasts
  • Weekly sales forecast template
  • Monthly sales forecast template
  • Yearly sales forecast template

What is a sales forecast?

A sales forecast is a prediction of your business’s future sales. You usually use current and past sales, to predict what your future sales will be more accurately. 

Your forecast isn’t a guarantee of your sales, it’s basically an educated guess of how you think your business will perform. While this means you don’t need to be specific down to the last pound, you should try to be as accurate as possible.

Using previous sales data is a good way to increase the accuracy of your forecast

It’s important to note that sales revenue isn’t the same as profit. Your profit takes your costs into account, while your revenue doesn’t. 

Why are sales forecasts important?

Not only do sales forecasts help you manage future spending, they can also help you spot and predict trends. These trends can show you when your business is most profitable, and let you focus on what products sell best

These trends can change throughout the week, month, and year — which is why we’ve chosen to give you these templates. 

You could be trying to use your sales forecast to get a bank loan. In this case, you’d need to include your sales forecast in your business plan. If your forecasts are backed up with previous sales data, they’ll be seen as more reliable. 

If you sell a variety of products, we recommend having a different forecast for each one. This can give you a more accurate overview of your potential finances. 

Sales forecasts can also indicate how your business is performing. 

Why you need multiple forecasts

Forecasts help prepare your business for the future. Having only one predicted scenario means you’re unprepared for other outcomes.

A general rule of thumb is to have one positive and one negative sales forecast. That way, you’re anticipating the best and worst-case scenarios

Updating your forecast

When your sales come in, you should update your forecast accordingly. This means revisiting your old forecast and filling in the actual figures

You should also compare your actual results to what you expected to achieve. If there was a big difference, spend some time thinking about why. 

If sales were lower than expected, it could be caused by a new competitor, or a local event taking place during the time period. 

There are lots of reasons why your figures can fluctuate. Learning to account for them can help make your business more profitable in the long run

Forecasting for your business

Forecasting your sales becomes easier the older your business is. Where older companies can rely on existing data, brand new businesses don’t even have a baseline

This is where secondary market research comes in. You can use information from your competitors or industry benchmarks to get an idea, and amend it when collecting your own data

Weekly sales forecast template

Below is the blank template for a weekly sales forecast. Predicting how your sales could vary from day to day is one way to achieve more accurate results

If every item on your menu was the same price, you could combine the sales for each product to get a quick estimate. If your products are all different prices, you should create a separate sales forecast for each one.

While it’s a little more work, creating separate sales forecasts can help you monitor how each product sells. If you usually sell more of Product A, but less of Product B on a certain day of the week, this can be made clear in your forecast. 

Monthly sales forecast template

A monthly sales forecast breaks down your expected revenue for any given month. For instance, instead of just looking at the total for the month, you look at the sales, profits, and losses of any given week. 

Breaking the month down like this helps you anticipate your customer’s spending habits. Do previous results suggest higher earnings in the first week than the last? 

If this lines up with payday, you could consider running promotions towards the end of the month to boost sales.

For the monthly sales forecast, we’ve decided to go with “Week 1 to 5”. You could easily replace this with your preferred method. 

For example, you may choose to start the weeks on particular days, rather than the first. 

Yearly sales forecast template

The final template we have for you is the yearly forecast. 

You should revisit and amend your annual forecast at least once a month. Keeping track of how your numbers change can help shape your knowledge about the industry. 

For example, are you running a business that earns less money over the Christmas holidays? If so, how can you try and boost your sales during this time?

These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself, especially if you notice your sales fluctuating

Use accounting software to help

Manually adding up your individual sales to create a forecast can be exhausting and use up a lot of time. Instead, why not use accounting software to speed the process along?

The Countingup app is the two-in-one business current account and accounting software. You can use it to do all sorts of things, like sorting your spending into categories, or send invoices from your phone. 

These tools make it much easier to keep track of your business’s money, and result in easier forecasts.

So what are you waiting for? Download the Countingup app for free

Further reading…

If you’re looking for other ways to monitor your business, you may want to put some key performance indicators (KPIs) in place. These KPIs can tell you exactly how your business is progressing.

Your KPIs might indicate that you need to attract more customers. If you’re unsure how to do this, try reading our guide ‘how to generate leads’ for ideas

Using this data effectively is essential to keeping your business running smoothly.