Long-term Financial Planning for Businesses

A probably angry Lee Iacocca was indicating that finance is something that has to be preplanned, 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 in general, these aspects and growth forecasting, both involve the answers to the four 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, where a financial planner has to find legitimate answers to 4 questions, namely:

1. Why should we produce a specific item on the menu card? (consider cost of production and sales price)
2. When should we produce such an item and for what time duration? (bear in mind, seasonal costs, inflation of raw material prices)
3. Where should we produce the item: right in the shop or some production center? (consider transport cost, nature of goods, and selling cost)
4. How should one produce the item, manually or mechanically? (consider equipment and personnel cost)

Step 2: The second step is to assess your business environment. In this step, surveying the competitors’ performance, pricing, and distribution is an absolute necessity. In such a scenario, you may also prepare a cost sheet of the financial features of production, namely the money that you would have to invest as a manufacturing cost, its sales cost, and the profit that it would yield. Logically, the sale price should be more than the cost price, and the return-over-asset ratio/return-over-investment ratio should be healthy. While finalizing these three figures, you will need to take into consideration three important aspects:

1. Average spending capacity of your customers
2. Your competitors’ quality, quantity, and price
3. Popularity of the product, potential market, customer retaining capacity of the product, etc.

Though the trend of such products is more experimental in nature, they might become full-time, public favorite products; hence, it is also important to make a financial provision to recover losses that arise in the experimental period, until the product establishes itself in the market.

Step 3: The third and fourth step are more analytical in nature and from the finance point of view, they are also quite expensive. 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 typically all expenses and losses. Losses are quite uncontrollable, but expenses are surely controllable. Hence, search for raw material sources, manpower, and production processes that will help you to maintain 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: Retain, sustain, and entertain; this step is quite an advanced one, and typically 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.

To sum up the whole theory, it can be said that long-term finance planning is a three-dimensional graph, with customer, product, and market being the dimensions. The essence of cost and time is added to every dimension. After all, the key to success is to facilitate all three dimensions logically, bearing in mind this essence.

Basic Money Management Skills

Money. That which makes the world go round. It all boils down to the money that we have at the end of the day. Money determines the way we live, what we do, and basically every other decision of our lives. Without money, we are basically nothing. And that, I know, is something that no one will want to go through. So it becomes imperative that we earn well. But earning well is not the end all of everything. It actually begins from there. Money which is earned, needs to be managed well, so that we continue to benefit from it for a long time. And therein comes the part where we need to learn some basic money management skills. Because without these, we will not be able to develop effective methods of money management.

Most of us do not have the knowledge of what some of the most simple and effective money management skills are. So to help you out, this article shall provide you with just that.

Money management skills are not difficult to learn once you get the hang of how to go about it. Given below is a step by step plan that you can follow in order to nurture some of these skills.

Take Stock
The first thing you need to do is calculate how much you are earning. Add in all the resources. Once you have this figure, calculate how much money you need to spend every month. To learn how much you spend every month, the best method is to write down each and everything that you spend for a couple of days. The amount will most generally exceed the amount that you had in mind―that’s because we don’t realize how much we end up spending on small things. Keep in mind that you need this spending figure to learn the basic skills. It is also important to note that the figures of two months will never be the same, there will be more expenditures incurred in a particular month and not so many in the next. But an average figure can be definitely arrived at.

Allot Amounts
Now that you know an average amount of the money that you need to spend for a month, it’ll be easier to allot amounts to different things. Make a list of all the things that you need to spend on―rent, tuition, bills (newspaper, Internet etc.) groceries, emergency (very important), and miscellaneous. You can make a long term-short term list as well. Like monthly/weekly/daily, and segregate the items accordingly. Now calculate the amount that you need for each and allot the money accordingly.

Many people use the envelope method for household items and it seems to work for them. For this, use different envelopes and mark them―for example ‘vegetables’, ‘toiletries’, ‘groceries’ etc, and at the beginning of the month fill the envelop with the amount that you need. Stick to that amount no matter what. When you put it down on paper like that, you are constantly reminded of it and the tendency to overspend is curbed.

Take Care of Debts
Never ever keep a debt. Pay a debt off as soon as you can, because if you keep on piling it, it’ll just keep getting bigger and bigger and cut into your regular saving plan. Find out how much you owe and what you need to pay off―that is the first step in managing your debt. Credit cards, surplus bills―everything needs to be paid off. Make a plan for the same. How? Along with the other envelopes, make another one for the debts so that you have a clear segregation made. It might be difficult in the beginning, but once you start physically putting in the money, you’ll deal with the problem head on and with continued efforts, the amount will be paid off.

Plan the Future
Now that the preliminary stage is taken care of, you’ll need to save for the future. The most important thing to do here is draw up a goal. What do you want to save for? Retirement? Children’s education? A house? Car? Or even small plans like a music system, a new phone etc. Calculate the amount you’ll need to save for it. This is your first step. The next steps will be how to get that money in a stipulated period of time.

Budget
Having a budget is really important. One way of budgeting is the envelope way, so that you don’t end up spending more when you have already allotted a fixed amount to yourself. The second method of making a budget, and this is somewhat of a conscious change in attitude, is that you get it in your head to budget things. Consciously decide that you want to budget. Do not spend recklessly. Other than that, planning for the future and drawing up plans of the things you need to save for will help you to budget well. This is because you’ll know what and how much you need to save up on to get that amount.

Invest
After paying all the bills, the surplus amount that lasts needs to be invested well. There is nothing worse than stagnant money. So consult a financial adviser or an investment adviser who will calculate how much you can afford to save per month, after deducting the expenditure and surplus. After this he will draw up a scheme that suits you best. It could be anything from a fixed deposit account to investing in mutual funds or buying property as assets.

Easy Saving Tips
Along with budgeting and drawing up plans, you can also consciously decide to save. Here are some money saving tips that you can use:

– Buy things in wholesale.
– Instead of buying books, join a library or start a club. Use this same formula for different things.
– Car pool to work, that will save on money for gas AND is good for the environment.
– Buy things on sale.
– Go through your daily expenditure sheet, you will find that there are several things in there that you can easily give up. Like a very expensive brand of hair product.
– Turn off the power when you don’t need it.

Earn Extra
It has been found that we never tap the full potential when it comes to expending our talents or finding other means of earning some extra money. This is one of the more indirect money management skills that we need to learn. Here are some of the easiest ways to make money―taking on freelancing jobs, giving tuition, making use of your hobbies and talents like singing or dancing (giving classes, singing in a club) or cooking (providing snacks for a establishment or making a fixed amount for a bakery). Other methods include, selling things for scrap, holding garage sales etc.

Acquiring money management skills allows you to live better. It secures your future and helps you gain control over your life rather than the debts and money problems controlling you. It should therefore be our prerogative to learn and practice the several money management skills to lead a more fulfilling and comfortable life.