Planning and organising your finances is one of the most crucial parts of running your own business. Financial planning helps you prepare for what the future may involve and uncover ways to grow your company. 

But a financial plan involves much more than simply tracking income and expenses. To help you understand what financial planning is, this guide covers:

  • What is financial planning?
  • The difference between a personal and business financial plan
  • How to create a financial plan for your business

Read on to learn how Countingup can help you manage your financial planning with ease.

What is financial planning?

A financial plan serves as a roadmap for your economic growth, showing where you’re at right now, where you want to go, and how you will get there. 

You can create a financial plan for personal and business purposes, but these processes are slightly different. We’ll explain more about personal vs business financial planning later in this article.

Financial plans are essential because they force you to consider if you’re on the right track to achieve your business goals. Businesses don’t usually grow accidentally but as a result of hard work and careful planning. 

Working with specific goals in mind and a plan for reaching them increases your chances of taking your business where you want it to go. Otherwise, you risk stumbling around in the dark, focusing on things that won’t help your business grow. 

Difference between a personal and business financial plan

Most financial plans include much of the same information. However, there are some key differences between a personal financial plan and a business one. The reason is that an individual’s financial goals are likely different from those of a growing company.

For example, your personal financial plan may include a retirement plan, a strategy for investments, and a plan for buying a new house. You’ll also likely focus on making more money while paying yourself as tax-efficiently as possible.

On the flip side, your company’s financial plan is more likely to focus on goals like hiring more staff, buying new equipment, expanding your product or service offering, and purchasing additional inventory. 

These goals are entirely different from the hypothetical individual goals we just mentioned. Therefore, you need a different strategy for your business and personal financial planning.

How to create a financial plan for your business

What is important to include in a financial plan? Below we’ve listed some of the main documents and other aspects you need to create a robust plan:

Develop a solid strategy

Effective financial planning usually includes a strategic plan. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next year and ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I need to expand or hire more staff?
  • Do I need more equipment or new resources?
  • How will my plan affect my cash flow?
  • Will I need financing? If yes, how much?

Once you know where you want your business to go in the next 12 months, think about how much it might cost you.

It’s also good to think about what you would do if your finances suddenly deteriorated, perhaps from not getting enough jobs or selling enough products. Maybe you could put money aside when the business goes well to have funds available if money ever gets tight.

Create a balance sheet

Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’s financial position, meaning how much money you have, how much you’ll receive, and how much money you owe. It’s called a ‘balance sheet’ because it calculates what you need to balance out.

A balance sheet should list your:

  • Assets: Such as unpaid invoices, money in the bank, and inventory.
  • Liabilities: Money you owe, credit card balances, loan repayments, and so on.
  • Equity: For small businesses, this is usually the owner’s equity, but it could include investors’ shares, retained earnings, and stock proceeds.

Make cash flow projections

Financial planning also involves predicting how much money you’ll make and spend in the coming month, quarter or year. Record how much you expect to make from sales and what you think you’ll spend on expenses like bills, supplies, loan repayments, and so on. 

You can use a simple spreadsheet to calculate your cash flow projections. We have a separate guide that tells you all about what cash flow is and how it works.

Prepare a projected income statement

Next, you’ll want to prepare a projected income (or profit and loss) statement to predict how successful you think your company will be. It can be helpful to include different scenarios, good and bad, to help you prepare for each one.

Income statements typically include:

  • Revenue: Money from sales.
  • Expenses: Money you’ll spend. 
  • Total income: Calculated as your revenue minus expenses before income taxes.
  • Income taxes: Such as Income Tax, National Insurance, and Corporation Tax for limited companies.
  • Net income: Your total income after deducting expenses and taxes.

Allocate your budget

Once you’ve created your strategy and filled in your balance sheet, cash flow, and income projections, you need to figure out where you’ll spend the money you make. 

Take your company’s overall budget (read more about how to budget money for your growing business) and divide it into specific budgets. For example, one for hiring new staff, one for buying new equipment, and one for expanding your product or service offering.

Monitor your results

Once you’re done with your financial planning, monitor your real-life results and compare them to your predictions. Monitoring helps you spot any problems so you can fix them before they get out of hand. 

It may be a good idea to hire a financial expert to help you put together and monitor your financial plan. Accounting software like Countingup can also help you keep track of your finances almost effortlessly.

Plan your finances easily with Countingup

Countingup offers sole traders and small business owners the chance to save time and money. 

With Countingup, your business current account and accounting software are available in one app. Coupled with our handy expense reminders, automated invoicing, and tax estimates, you can have complete confidence in keeping on top of your finances as you trade. 

The app’s realtime profit and loss dashboard gives an insight into your business’ performance and can give you the edge you need to make it a success. 

Find out more about Countingup here and sign up for free today.