Sick of Spreadsheets? A Cash Flow Calendar May Be the Answer
You’ve been told a hundred times (or more!) that you need to stay on top of your cash flow, but if you’d rather have a tooth pulled than spend a bunch of time looking at a spreadsheet full of numbers, you’re not alone.
That’s a message I’ve heard loud and clear from tons of small business owners over the years. I definitely get it. Some people just can’t get excited about looking at a pile of numbers even if they mean good things about your business.
But the bottom line is you absolutely must stay on top of your cash flow for your business to survive and that’s best done by having a cash flow budget.
It tells a story about your business and will help you make decisions about what products or services to offer, when to retire or revive an existing product or service, when to take on new business, and when to make investments in new assets for your business.
Your answer may be a cash flow calendar – a visual representation of the ins and outs of your cash flow on a daily basis.
Creating Your Cash Flow Calendar
It’s pretty simple to create a cash flow calendar, but may take you a bit of time to set up initially. You’ll need to gather up the information on your revenue and expenses first. If you’re not sure what’s happening when, you should consult your historical information to get a handle on what’s been going in and out of your business.
Once you have the data, you’re ready to create your calendar. You can use any type of calendar – paper, cloud or computer-based. The secret here is to use what will work for you. This has to be a tool you will commit to using.
I highly recommend using the cloud based Google calendar. It will give you the flexibility of checking your details from anywhere, including your smartphone.
- Setting Up Your Calendar – Just click the option to create a new calendar, and follow the set up instructions.
- Create your cash flow events – Use a simple legend system to enter your events. This will include key data and color coding. A dollar sign ($) preceding the events, with expenses coded as red and revenues coded as green should work well for you. Enter each event on your calendar on the date it occurs. Make sure you show it as an “all day” event. If it’s an event that recurs every month, use the repeat option to save some time.
Once you’ve completed your entries, your calendar will look similar to the one below. You may also want to update your existing bank balance on a monthly basis as is shown here. One key feature that’s helpful on the Google calendar is colors for past events and recurring future events will be lightly shaded, while current event colors will be brighter.
Using Your Calendar
No matter what tool you use, none of them will do you any good if you don’t use them. Set aside thirty minutes every Monday morning to review your calendar for that week and the next couple of months. Make any adjustments as necessary and use the information to guide your business decisions.
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