It’s Always About What’s Next
What’s happened in the past is always useful to know. But to run an agency you need to know about what is going to happen. Future profits will be determined by future revenue which means you need a revenue forecast. The better the forecast, the easier it is to make decisions. By better I mean more accurate, more flexible and more visual.
My main aim is to help Agencies become more profitable which is why I’m pleased to give away the best revenue forecast spreadsheet I’ve built in over 25 years of creating revenue forecast spreadsheets.
Not Only a Revenue Forecast
A revenue forecast without staff costs is only half the picture, maybe less than half. My forecast looks at future staff & freelance costs to predict your future Compensation to Revenue ratio (CTR - the most important KPI – it’s how much of each £/$/€ of revenue you spend on people). Your CTR will determine whether you make a profit or not.
And Speedometers Too?
Numbers are great but everyone loves a speedometer. You’ll see, at a glance, whether your revenue and CTR is in the green and everything is peachy or whether you’ve slipped into the red.
What Do You Do if Next Month is in the Red Zone?
If the next few months look shaky, what's the best plan?
Step 1 – look at whether you can reduce your freelance bill to better match up with your forecast revenue.
Step 2 – look at your pipeline to see if there are any steps you can take to convert into fee paying work.
Both are easy to do in this format, almost intuitive. This can be harder in real life, I grant you.
It’s Not a Perfect Revenue Forecast – it’s Just a Spreadsheet
I’ve messed about with forecast formats for a long time now. Some have been too simple, some over-complicated. This one I think is just right. A Goldilocks format.
This is a spreadsheet that I’ve developed and found incredibly useful for helping some of the agencies I work with. It’s received a lot of positive feedback which made me think I should share it more widely. Before it gets shared without the context of me explaining it, here are a few cautionary notes…
It’s important to realise this is only a spreadsheet. It doesn’t automate and it doesn’t integrate with anything, and that’s fine. It’s meant to be simple. Because it’s just a spreadsheet, it’s only as useful as the data you put in, and the work you do to update it. Having good, experienced and talented people review and plan what to do based on the best current information is the best recipe for success. It won’t provide you with neat, easy answers. What it aims to do is to start conversations in your management team about your projects, people and pipeline.
How to Get Started
1. Click the link for the Revenue Forecast template here
2. You will be asked if you want to create a copy. Go ahead and click Make a Copy. Rename the new Google Sheets file.
3. Read the [Instructions] tab. It explains some key concepts and then walks you through the steps to get started, along with some tips.
We’re providing this as open source so we can’t support it as such but please drop me an email if you have any questions or comments – I’m sure there is an even better format waiting to be built with your help. You’ll find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Luck, Have Fun
Leading professional services businesses is hard, and sometimes scary. I really hope this tool is useful to you in understanding your forecast and how it can help deliver a profitable business.
If you use the forecast do let me know how you get on with it, any improvements you make to it, and how it helps your business. Good luck!