A forecast can play a major role in driving company success or failure. But how do you figure out the best time to invest in growth? Should you strive to anticipate market trends?
Forecasting is valuable to businesses because it gives them the capability to make informed business decisions and develop data-driven strategies. Financial and operational decisions are made based on current market conditions and predictions on how the future looks. It helps reduce risk and anticipate change in the market. Past data is aggregated and analyzed to find patterns, used to predict future trends and changes. Forecasting enables your company to be proactive instead of reactive.
What is Business Forecasting?
Business forecasting consists of tools and techniques used to predict changes in business, such as sales, expenditures, profits, and losses. Business forecasting intends to develop better strategies based on these informed predictions; helping to eliminate potential failure or losses before they happen.
How do business owners know when to invest in growth?
Whether or not it’s a good time to grow comes down to strategic, lean business planning? This requires you to take the time to understand what opportunities you have for your business, and which areas of your business you should focus on. As part of that strategic lean planning process, you are going to have to design a financial forecast or sales forecast and cash flow forecasts in particular.
Who Needs a Forecast?
For a business to operate efficiently, it needs some idea of what the future will look like. A forecast provides this look as a foundation upon which to plan. Every functional group within business benefits from a forecast.
For salespeople, forecast numbers influence how the sales function is managed. Forecasts also help to understand customer engagement and therefore shape marketing efforts. Marketers can use forecasts to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns, decide which markets to enter and exit, and determine the life cycle of their products. Since forecasts estimate an expected sales volume over a specified period, salespeople can use them to set their activity goals, and subsequent adjustments can be made to reach sales goals.
What are the ways forecasting can help your organization ?
1. Helps set goals and plan
Forecasting allows businesses to set reasonable and measurable goals based on current and historical data. Having accurate data and statistics to analyze helps businesses to decide what amount of change, growth, or improvement will be determined as a success. There are certain tools such as CRM which will be discussed later in this blog that help to visualize forecasting and give insight into things like the sales pipeline, opportunities, and more. Having these goals helps to evaluate progress, and adapt business processes were needed to proceed on the desired path.
2. Helps budget
Having perceptibility into potential trends and changes helps businesses to know where to allocate their budget and adjusting strategy accordingly. Having insights into current business functionality along with later predicted trends and combining this information into meaningful insights makes for a better allocated and estimated budget. Budgeting quantifies the expectation of revenues that a business wants to achieve for a future period, whereas financial forecasting estimates the amount of revenue or income that will be achieved in a future period”.
3. Helps anticipate change within the market
Having insight into previous data not only changes the current data but projections of what could happen in the future help businesses to make adjustments to business strategy and alter current operations to change their outcome.
Senior managers and finance teams use forecasts to prepare and evaluate financial plans, capitalize on production, and assess needs and logistics. A forecast can help inform critical decisions on how to allocate resources and set overhead levels within a business: personnel, rent, utilities, and other overhead.
Forecasting helps position businesses to become active instead of reactive. If there is a trend that is predicted to take over the market, or data is showing changes in consumer behavior it is important to readjust to the market overall and optimize resources to stand out from the competition.