When it comes to starting and managing a business, forecasting your sales is essential. Having a sales forecast can help you budget and manage your business’s funds, create a plan for expansion, and avoid unpleasant surprises.

However, if you’re not a “numbers person,” you might feel understandably intimidated by the process. To that end, here are our best resources on sales forecasting, starting with the basics and moving on to industry-specific examples.

The basics of sales forecasting

1. How to Forecast Sales

If you only read one article on forecasting sales, let this be it.

Our comprehensive overview of the sales forecasting process offers an explanation of why sales forecasting is essential, gives examples, and offers helpful insights into how to forecast sales within your own business (hint: it isn’t about predicting the future).

2. Don’t Want to Plan? Just Do a Sales Forecast

Perhaps you’re pressed for time, and you’d just like to validate the numbers you’re assuming are in reach. Or, you just don’t want to write a lengthy business plan.

While we’re big advocates of the simpler, faster Lean Planning method, doing just a sales forecast is also an effective way to quickly validate your initial assumptions before writing up a business plan.

3. Top Startup Mistake: Unrealistic Forecasts

So, sales forecasts might not involve predicting the future—but they do need to rest on realistic assumptions.

Here, you’ll learn what not to do when forecasting sales, and how to build a forecast on realistic sales projections—rather than the dreaded “hockey stick” forecast.

Industry-specific forecasting guides

If you’d like to see more specific examples of forecasting sales, check out the following articles, which detail how to forecast sales with a subscription business model, and how to forecast sales for a restaurant.

4. A Complete Guide to Forecasting Sales for Your Monthly Subscription (SaaS) Business

If you have a SaaS or subscription service business, this guide is for you. You’ll also learn more about which SaaS metrics you should be keeping an eye on during the forecasting process.

5. A Detailed Sample Restaurant Sales Forecast

In a completely different direction, take a look at this restaurant sales forecast to get a sense of how forecasting works for a business that has a physical product.

If you’re starting a business in an industry prone to failure (such as the restaurant industry), having a solid, realistic sales forecast is essential. So, if you’re planning on starting a restaurant, this guide is a must-read.

Is there a specific aspect of the sales forecasting process that you’d like to see us discuss? Would you like to see a sales forecast for a certain industry?

Let us know by sharing this article and telling us what you think, or reach out to me directly on Twitter @BrianaMorgaine.

AvatarBriana Morgaine

Briana is a content and digital marketing specialist, editor, and writer. She enjoys discussing business, marketing, and social media, and is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Bri is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and she can be found, infrequently, on Twitter.