We recommend selecting a start date for your LivePlan forecast that reflects when you first begin to experience financial activity, such as spending or sales, or important milestones. This way, the initial expenditures you make as you prepare to open your business (i.e., on marketing or equipment) are captured in your forecast.
Changing your forecast start date
To change the start date of your forecast, click on the Options tab:
And then find the Start of forecast setting:
Note: For existing businesses, the start date is not necessarily the day your business was established; instead, you should enter the date you will begin implementing the business plan.
The month that you chose for the start date will be month 1 of the first year of your plan, and the rest of the plan years will follow. So, if you start a plan in May, the years in the plan will span from May to April each year. Accountants use the term fiscal year to describe this effect of having a 12-month operating period that may not match up with the calendar year (January through December).
Fiscal years are numbered according to the year in which they end. For example, a fiscal year ending in February 2013 will be labeled FY2013, even though most of the year took place in the calendar year of 2012.
If you want the dates in your plan to align with a calendar year, you need to set the start date for the plan to January. LivePlan always includes 12 months of detail for the first year in your plan. If you don't have sales beginning in January, and you choose the calendar year option, you may need to adjust your forecast to reflect that you do not have sales for those first several months of your plan.
In this case, if you want to ensure that you have 12+ months of sales detail, you can change the number of years that have monthly detail in your forecast.
Click the Save Changes button:
Calendar Year or Fiscal Year?
You can set your LivePlan forecast so it reflects either a calendar year or a fiscal year. When you set your forecast start date to January, LivePlan will automatically create a calendar year forecast, with each year running from January through December in the same year.
When you set your forecast start date to a month other than January, LivePlan will create a fiscal year structure. In that structure, each year will run 12 months from its start date. For example, if you start a forecast in April 2017, the fiscal year would run from April 2017 through March 2018.
When you have a fiscal year forecast, the fiscal years are labeled according to the year in which they end. Using the previous example, with a forecast starting in April 2017, the fiscal year would end in March 2018, and that would label it as Fiscal Year 2018. All financial statements and tables will display that year as "FY 2018," as shown below:
How this change affects your forecast entries
When you change the start date of a forecast that already has existing entries, the start date of every entry will shift accordingly. For example:
- Let's say your forecast originally starts in April 2017, and you have several revenue streams that also begin in April 2017. If you change the start date of this forecast to June 2017, all of those revenue streams will then start in June 2017.
- Let's say that your forecast originally starts in April 2017, and you have some expense items that start four months later, in August 2017. If you change your forecast start date to June 2017, then these expense items will still begin four months after the new start date, which moves them to October 2017.
Once you've changed your forecast start date, you can go back and edit your existing forecast items as needed.
How this change affects multiple forecasts
If you're using multiple forecasts in your company, it's important to know that changing the start date of one forecast will automatically make the same change to every other forecast attached the same company.
If you'd like to create forecasts for the same company that have different start dates, you can make a copy of your company, and change the start date in the copy. Read Managing Your Companies for more details.
If you want to change the number of years included in your financial forecast, read Changing the length of your forecast