If you can, whenever you can, start this year’s forecast by putting last year’s forecast onto this year’s spreadsheet. Then revise as needed. One of the real luxuries of the existing and ongoing company, compared with the startup, is that there is data. You have experience.

As soon as you have a forecast with last year’s numbers in it, then you starting thinking about what’s going to be different.

  • What’s new and different this year compared with last year? New products? New business relationships, new channels, new locations maybe?
  • What about bad news? Sometimes things are cooling, some new problems are developing. Maybe new competition shows up.
  • Will pricing change?

You can look at costs and expenses, too. Normally we assume costs and expenses rising gradually. That’s just a general matter of inflation. Is it going to apply for your business in the next year? Why? Or why not?

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.