While extremely rewarding, getting a winery up and running can be very difficult to do. Not only does it require a large amount of capital and resources to start with, but you also won’t even start selling wine until a few years down the line. It’s a large investment with a substantial amount of risk – especially if you don’t plan accordingly.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can use financial forecasting and cash flow planning to ensure that your winery is set up for success.
What Is Financial Forecasting?
Financial forecasting is the process of estimating your expected financial status in future periods. Usually, forecasting involves making use of existing data and is most commonly seen in income statements. However, more complete financial models will have forecasts for all of their financial statements, including the balance sheet, cash flow, and statement of owner’s equity.
Financial forecasting models vary from business to business. Some companies use historic figures and data as a basis for future trends, which are easier to calculate but not as reliable. Other companies favor studying expansion and inflation rates and other forecasted data, which can be more time-consuming but possibly more accurate.
Here are some of the most commonly used methods of financial forecasting to give you a better idea of how they work:
Arguably the easiest financial forecasting method, the straight-line method uses linear growth as basis for computation. If you were to chart the growth on a graph, you would notice a straight line moving up or down, hence the term “straight-line.”
To calculate using the straight-line method, all you need to do is calculate the growth rate of any relevant data you wish to forecast, such as sales. Then, multiply the current data by the growth rate to get the future amount. This process can be repeated indefinitely.
The main downside to the straight-line method is that it’s not a very accurate one, especially for smaller, more volatile businesses.
Linear regression is a popular method of financial forecasting that makes use of trends and extrapolating forecasted data from them. Similar to the straight-line method, linear regression does involve lines, but instead of the values forming the line, the values are fitted into a linear equation.
Because of its accuracy, linear regression and its various sub-methods have become one of the most common ways to forecast financial data. Unless you have the knowledge and expertise, however, you may want to refer to professionals for an accurate analysis.
What Do I Do with Data from Financial Forecasting?
Once you have a predictive model of your financial data, you can then begin to make decisions to maximize gains or minimize losses. If you’re expecting more sales in the future, you can increase production now to gain even more profits. If sales are forecasted to go down next year, you may want to cut your losses by lowering your prices. The data itself won’t save your businesses – only you can.
What Is Cash Flow Planning?
Cash flow planning is a subcategory of financial forecasting. Instead of predicting all of your financial data, however, it focuses on the future inflows and outflows of cash in your business.
Cash flow planning is such an important tool because cash is the most liquid asset that drives nearly all transactions. A business that runs out of cash dies.
To make an accurate cash flow plan, you need to consider multiple factors. Here are some of the most important ones:
This is by far the most important (and most predictable) outflow of cash. Every day, week, month, quarter, or year, you have recurring expenses that the business must pay to keep running. Common examples of this are payroll, rent, and utility bills.
Not everything goes perfectly in business. Sometimes, your business may incur losses that aren’t part of your regular expenses. These losses aren’t very predictable and can leave you with little to no liquidity.
Examples of losses include accidents (such as car accidents), natural disasters, and even spoilage. Since you can’t really predict when these events will occur during the year, some businesses set aside an amount that’s reserved for losses.
The market’s always changing, and so do the prices of goods. For wineries, this can be the difference between a large profit margin and barely breaking even. By understanding and taking into account the price changes of materials, ingredients, and even equipment, you’re able to more accurately determine your expenses and earnings for the period.
How Often Should I Make Cash Flow Plans?
Since cash flow plans involve your most liquid asset, they are best made on a month-to-month basis or even more frequently. A lot of businesses would benefit at looking at their expected cash position before making weekly payments so they can consider if delaying of payments are necessary or if they need to talk to investors or lenders to extend funds to get through high cash flow period (think about all the additional needs for cash during harvest).
Making cash flow plans for the next year is difficult, and often changing but most businesses need to plan more than a few months out, especially manufacturers, which would include wineries. At a minimum a business should be forecasting 3 months out but forecasting 1 year out will be very important to allow to make better decisions.
After making a cash flow plan, you should now have a good idea of what to expect for the next few months, and whether or not you’re going to have sufficient funds to cover your current needs.
Financial forecasting and cash flow planning are useful tools to help you make financial decisions to maximize your profits and ensure your business never runs out of cash. Financial forecasting can give you an idea of the general direction your business is headed, whereas cash flow plans help you stay on top of your month-to-month operational expenses and assisting in making long term financing decisions..
By understanding how financial forecasting and cash flow planning works, you can guarantee the success of your winery for years to come.
Many of us are looking forward to putting 2020 behind us and welcoming in a new year. The idea of a fresh start is refreshing and business owners are looking to prepare their businesses for 2021 and beyond.
Looking back on 2020 and acknowledging what worked and didn’t work for you and your business is vital to mapping your 2021 approach. While there are numerous areas to think about, including operations, human resources, and sales, these four key steps will help point your business in the right direction.
“Flexibility will be the central theme for 2021. Preparing multiple options may help the process of being prepared for the unexpected.”
Build Your Budget
The start of the new year is a great time to prepare your budget. And entering 2021 marks a critical time to sit down and analyze your future.
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 caused many businesses to realize that the traditional static budget of using fixed inputs and outputs was no longer necessarily useful. Creating a fluid and flexible budget that can adapt to changing business realities is now the new reality.
As many small businesses were stretched to the max in 2020, feeling like you were always reacting was the norm. You were stress-tested and learned some valuable information. Use that knowledge and combine it with a proactive approach.
Creating a “perfect” budget for 2021 is probably unrealistic, as things possibly get more difficult before returning to normal, building a better budgeting process is attainable. Businesses should consider preparing a few different budgets that capture best and worst-case scenarios that roll back spending to factor in contingencies for scarce resources or slowed demand. This rolled back spending can create contingency funds that can be used say when demand for your products in certain parts of the country increases or when customer retention rates drop.
Collaborate with your managers to prioritize tasks and projects to justify when and how much to spend. New or special projects that were important at the start of 2020 may be optional for 2021. If you pivoted and launched new products in 2020, access whether you want to include these revenue sources in your 2021 budget.
Flexibility will be the central theme for 2021. Preparing multiple options may help the process of being prepared for the unexpected.
Talk to Banks and Shareholders
If you haven’t already been having an ongoing dialogue with your bank, start one in 2021. With 2020’s unprecedented business environment, banks have been working round the clock to help their customers. They’ve likely encountered every possible scenario a business could face. You should rely on their expertise to guide you, but they can only help you if you are honest and prepared
Whether you need a bridge loan to finance operations, need help completing your PPP loan forgiveness application, or need a line of credit in the event you need short-term cash flow in 2021, start the conversation today.
Similarly, start a conversation with your shareholders and partners. Set a realistic tone and expectation for 2021. This will be easier to do once you’ve completed your budgeting scenarios. Let them know the worst and best-case scenarios and explain how you’re prepared to adapt as the uncertainty of 2021 unfolds.
Although the thought of having these difficult conversations with shareholders may be stressful, they will appreciate your honesty and place further trust in you that you’re making the right decisions for business success in 2021.
Move Your Back-office Away from Paper
If you weren’t previously optimizing your use of technology, the pandemic quickly forced you to. When administrative offices closed to keep employees safe, working remotely became the new norm and accessing documents remotely became vital.
While having multiple filing cabinets and heaps of paper was sufficient when employees worked in an office, it quickly showed its ineffectiveness when the pandemic struck.
Continue the trend to move your office away from reliance on paper files and documents. With numerous electronic storage options, it’s now cost-effective to move away from paper filing cabinets.
Cloud storage providers ensure your data is secure and easily accessible. And unlike paper filing cabinets, electronic document storage is easily duplicated to create back-up copies.
Having only paper files is risky. With only one copy of documents stored in a cabinet or a box means that if that paper is misplaced or damaged (fires are a real risk these days), you have no back-up copy.
Upgrade Your Accounting and Bookkeeping
With 2021 being the year of flexibility, having an agile accounting team will position your winery for continued success.
If 2020 caused you to reduce your bookkeeping and accounting staff, your business might be at a disadvantage now. If you find your books are not up-to-date or you’re not receiving regular financial reports from your accounting department, you may be operating leaner than you should.
With more uncertainty to come, having timely financial information about your business’s health has never been more critical. When you’re going to need to make decisions quickly in 2021, you’ll need current, accurate financial statements.
But if you’re uncertain about bringing on more employees, outsourced bookkeeping and accounting may be what you need.
With outsourced accounting, you can quickly scale your resources to meet your business needs. You’ll not have to wait to find and hire new staff and train them so they’re up to speed. Your outsourced team can add new members immediately who are already experts in the winery and beverage industry. And if business slows down, you can scale down your outsourced team until business picks back up again.
Outsourcing your accounting can provide immediate expert advisors who can provide guidance and financial direction in uncertain times. While you might think that having industry expert accountants on your team may be a luxury your business can’t afford, the numerous flexible fee options at Protea fit any budget. With professionals with decades of experience in the winery and beverage industry, you’ll receive the specialized knowledge you need with the personalized service you deserve.
Reach out to us today to schedule your initial evaluation, and let us help you take some of the uncertainty out of 2021.
Outsourcing routine tasks is an easy way to simplify and grow your business. Accounting, customer service, and marketing are easy places to start when it comes to outsourcing. None of these tasks are unique to your business but all are necessary for a successful business.
Fewer in-house employees and the legal and financial complexities that come with them mean you’ll be able to quickly adapt when the time comes to grow your business. But is outsourcing your accounting right for you?
Consider these five advantages when looking to hire an outsourced accounting team.
Save Money and Reinvest to Grow Your Company
Employee hiring can be expensive. Recruitment, pre-screening reports, training, and payroll taxes add up quickly when hiring a full-time accountant. The ongoing salary and taxes will eat into your profits even when your business is in a lull.
By using an outsourced accounting team, you’ll pay a fraction of the money you’d spend on full-time employees. And that money you’ll save can be used to grow your business.
Perhaps your winery needs to replace its aging cooperage or purchase a new point of sale system for your retail operations. Reducing your payroll costs can help fund these new investments and grow your business.
As an extra bonus, no more searching for an employee with decades of experience in the beverage industry who knows the industry jargon and nuances. You’ll have a team of winery accounting experts on hand.
Promote or Reinforce Good Business Habits
If you’ve been attempting to do your own bookkeeping and find that it’s not a priority and doesn’t get completed until the bank, the tax preparer, or an investor asks, you’re not setting yourself up for victory. Accounting is the language of business and your business needs to be fluent.
When you work with an outsourced accounting firm, you’re working with a team of financial experts with years of experience in bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, and internal controls.
An outsourced accounting team can help with calculating winery inventory costs and design internal controls to prevent employee theft. Relying on your team of experts allows you to have up-to-date bookkeeping records so you’ll always know where your business stands.
These solid habits will pay off when the time comes to expand your business. Outside investors will love seeing that you have complete control over your business and its operations.
Receive Unbiased Advice From Your Accounting Team
If growing your business means soliciting outside investors or competing in a new market, your outsourced accounting team can provide you with the unbiased advice you deserve.
Your team of experts can offer tips on how to reduce your cost of goods sold to obtain a higher profit margin to make your winery attractive to investors. Or they can help you evaluate various warehouses to find the best fit for you.
And if you’re in need of improving cash flow, ask your team how you can reduce your accounts receivable and encourage customers to pay quickly. Offering a discount for prompt payment may cut into your profits but if it decreases your need to rely on expensive short-term loans to meet your cash needs, it may well be what your business needs to hear.
Outsourced accountants can see your business from the outside, something that may be challenging for the business owner. They can see what’s working and what isn’t. And any fair and trustworthy accountant will give you an honest take on the health of your business.
Reduce Burdens on You and Your Managers
As a winery owner, you’re pulled in dozens of different directions. Harvesting, production, operations, finance, and customer relations all compete for your attention each day.
You can alleviate stress on you and your management team by letting a team of expert accountants handle the day-to-day finances. Let them get into the trenches so you don’t have to. They will keep your bookkeeping records current so that you’re free to focus on areas that need your personal touch.
Relying on your team’s expertise gives you the confidence you need to make sound business decisions.
Your expert outsourced accounting team can even help with production reporting and TBB compliance – freeing up your operations team to focus on quality production.
Grow Your Business Together
When the time comes for your business to expand, your outsourced team will be able to grow with you. You won’t be slowed down searching for and hiring additional full-time employees. Start with a team now that has the ability to meet your needs today and tomorrow.
Rely on a team of experts who can help you answer questions like:
- Am I pricing my cases correctly?
- Which customers are most profitable?
- Can I afford to offer seasonal sales incentives?
And if the time comes when business is slow, your outsourced team can easily be scaled back. You won’t have to continue incurring overhead payroll costs when revenue has dipped. Your outsourced team can fluidly adjust to your business needs.
If you’re considering outsourcing your accounting, do your due diligence to find the right team of experts to complement your business. With the right outsourced team, you’ll be able to tap into the top talent in the accounting industry setting your business up for continued success.
Let Protea be your team for today and tomorrow. Discover why we’re the premier winery and beverage accounting experts on the West Coast by requesting your complete business evaluation today.
Few of us like to think about bookkeeping and accounting. Without it though, you’ll find yourself in the dark about how your winery is performing.
Bookkeeping is the backbone of all businesses. To know what’s happening at the most basic financial level, you’ll need to have a great bookkeeping system.
Today, learn why bookkeeping is essential for a small business and how it prepares your business for continued success.
Understand the Who, What, and Why
Accurate and timely bookkeeping lets you know who owes you money, who you owe money to, and how much you own.
Your bookkeeping will allow you to know:
1. Who owes you money,
2. What they owe you, and
3. Why they owe you.
You’ll have receivables if you’re making sales on account. And without good bookkeeping, you won’t know whether you’ve been paid for all of your sales.
Keeping on top of your receivables will help you maintain your cash flow and avoid charging late fees and chasing collections.
Tracking the who, what, and why with bookkeeping helps you with payables too.
You want to know who you owe money to and how much you owe them. Paying your vendors and suppliers on time avoids paying late fees and helps to maintain a strong working relationship. Plus, these vendors could provide trade references when you’re applying for credit with another supplier or a loan from a lender.
Great bookkeeping lets you know how much equity you have in your business.
Your equity is more than just the cash you invest. It’s also the assets, liabilities, and accumulated profits of the business. Equity calculations are important when applying for loans or taking on new investors. If you don’t know how much equity you have in your business, a lender or an investor won’t be comfortable giving you money.
Improve budgeting and planning
Proper bookkeeping is essential for budgeting and cash flow management.
When you keep track of your receivables, you can manage your cash flow better. You want to ensure that money is flowing in on a consistent basis to offset the money that goes out each month. If you let several customers become past due, you’ll need to use other resources, like delaying payments to suppliers or using your own capital, to make up for the cash shortfall.
Keeping on top of your bookkeeping and cash flow will let you budget effectively. Budgeting is an essential process for anyone in the beverage industry. It allows you to allocate money to processes critical for your business’s success and prioritize spending.
Without a solid budget, you will feel like you’re just running in a circle, never knowing if you’re meeting your goals. Investing a little bit of your time now to get your bookkeeping in line to prepare your budget will free up your time and energy.
Elevate analysis and decision making
Great bookkeeping will produce essential reports you’ll need to make decisions for your business.
Although you may be in the winery industry for your love of wine, you’re also in business to make money. You’ll need an income statement, also called a profit and loss statement, to know whether you’re turning a profit. The income statement will show you profit margins and where you’re spending money on overhead expenses.
With a current income statement, you’ll be able to make decisions on whether it’s necessary to cut costs or if you need to grow your sales revenue.
The income statement receives most of the attention of business owners, but the balance sheet is just as important. Here you’ll be able to see everything you own and owe in one place.
This is where you’ll see if you’ve kept on top of collecting on your receivables and how much inventory you have on hand. The balance sheet is also where you’ll see your equity amount.
Streamline Tax Planning and Prep
Do you find yourself scrambling each year to get your company’s financial affairs in order for your tax preparer? Although some last-minute calculations for things like depreciation are common, most of your financial information should be up-to-date at year-end.
Your bookkeeping is essential to preparing your financials for tax time. It will ensure you receive the maximum deductions and credits.
And when your books are organized, you’ll likely receive fewer questions from your tax professional.
Access to accurate financial data will put you on the path to success. And if you need help with your bookkeeping needs, start by asking us how we can help.At Protea, our dedicated and experienced staff are industry experts in the winery industry. Let us help with the day-to-day finances so you can get back to making great wine. Our team works hard to make sure you’re positioned on the right path. Reach out today for an evaluation to learn what Protea can do for your winery.
It’s been a tough summer. First, the COVID pandemic slowed down commerce, and most recently the massive wildfires are burning throughout Northern California. This year’s fires came earlier than they historically have and this early arrival means grape harvesting is caught in the crossfire.
Many winery owners are rightfully nervous about what the future holds and are thinking about what they can do to protect their business. Fortunately, the government has stepped in to help businesses impacted by the wildfires and there are numerous action steps you can take today to help prepare you and your business for future natural disasters.
Extended Tax Deadlines
The IRS recently granted some relief to taxpayers impacted by the California wildfires. It extended the filing deadline for all tax returns and payments that were due starting on August 14 through December 15. The new deadline for these returns and payments is December 15. The California Franchise Tax Board followed suit and issued a similar extension.
So, C-corporations that timely filed for an extension to file their annual tax return would have had to file by October 15. The new deadline is now December 15.
Likewise, S-corps, partnerships, and sole proprietors would have had to file by September 15 but now have until December 15 to do so.
Any estimated income tax payments that would have been due on September 15 are now bumped back until December 15.
Those 3rd quarter payroll tax returns and any payment that would have been due on October 31 are now due by December 15.
If your county has been declared a federal disaster area by FEMA, you will receive this automatic extension. This new extended deadline is automatically applied by the IRS and there is no need to file any paperwork. As of September 2020, FEMA has declared the following counties federal disaster areas: Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Yolo, Butte, Solano, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.
All penalties and interest will be waived so long as you file all your returns and pay all your tax by December 15.
Disasters and Insurance
Most wineries have multiple layers of insurance protection. Property, business interruption, and viticulture policies just to name a few.
Now might be that time you need to make use of your insurance. If you’ve suffered damage from the wildfires, contact your insurance agent right away. Many property insurance policies cover natural disasters like wildfires. And some policies will cover a portion of lost revenue and increased expenses due to business interruptions.
Reviewing your insurance needs should be a regular occurrence. And if you haven’t had that conversation with your agent in a while, now is a good time. Talk through all your business needs to craft the coverage that’s right for your winery.
It’s never a fun topic to discuss but disaster preparation and plans should be an important part of your winery’s business strategy. With a proper plan and early preparation, you can lessen the chance of being negatively impacted by a natural disaster.
Regular Maintenance Is a Must
Winery owners should make sure their property is in the best possible shape to withstand any natural disaster. Repairs and maintenance should be made regularly, including clearing fallen debris and removing dead or dying landscaping.
Create a Continuity Plan
Have a plan in place to communicate with winery staff in the event of an emergency. Create a contact list with all employee’s names and phone numbers and establish procedures about how communication will happen in the event of a disaster. Don’t forget to consider how you’ll communicate with customers and suppliers.
Have a point person at your winery who is responsible for monitoring natural disasters. This person should have clear authority to make decisions about the safety of your crop, inventory, and staff.
Ensure your plan includes how you’ll protect your equipment, buildings, and inventory.
Protect Your Electronic Data
With so much of your business data stored electronically, be sure that it’s backed up regularly. The backup should happen off-site so that in the event your computers and servers are damaged, you’ll still have access to all your records.
If you’ve been hesitant to use the cloud to store your data, consider making the switch. Most cloud storage providers make multiple backups each day and access is easy from anywhere you have an internet connection. Cloud storage could help your employees to continue working even if your winery has been evacuated or damaged from a natural disaster.
Document, Document, Document.
Keep thorough and complete records of all your business assets and keeping pictures of all your assets will help if you have to make a claim to your insurance carrier.
You’ll want to document:
- The type of asset, including model number and serial number, if applicable
- The year it was placed in service
- The price you paid for it
- Any customizations made to the asset
A good place to start would be using a fixed asset schedule or report. If you don’t keep this schedule, your tax accountant should have a copy.
Keep in mind all your assets might not be on the fixed asset schedule. Inexpensive equipment like computers or office furniture may not be on the fixed asset schedule, but you’ll want to keep track of those, too.
Managing and Protecting Inventory Before a Disaster
Inventory is one of the largest assets a winery owns. With a robust inventory management system, you’ll know exactly what you have, and protecting your inventory from a natural disaster should be included in your contingency plan.
Your wine racks should be sturdy enough to withstand the shaking of an earthquake or strong winds from storms and your wine inventory should be well organized and labeled correctly.
Keeping your inventory system up to date and organized will be helpful in the event you need to file an insurance claim.
Your inventory management system should know the exact dollar value of all your inventory at any given moment. And if you hold a large amount of inventory, ensure your insurance policy covers all of it. A report with your costs and quantities can be created quickly.
If your business has been affected by the wildfires in California or you could use a helping hand with your business strategy or accounting, get in touch with Protea now. Our professionals are experts at bookkeeping for wineries and work tirelessly to ensure your financial goals are met. Learn how outsourced accounting and bookkeeping can save your winery time and money.