LivePlan's current financial model is designed to represent future forecasting. Our recommendation is that you set your forecast start date as either the present date, or a future point when your business operations will begin.
With that said, you can still represent past performance in your business plan. There are are a few different approaches. Feel free to choose the one that best meets your needs.
Using Starting Balances
LivePlan has an input called Starting Balances, which is designed to represent your company's total assets, liabilities, and equity as of the start date you've set for your forecast. When you complete the Starting Balances entries, these totals will populate the Balance Sheet in your plan, starting with the month before your start date. They are then incorporated into your future forecast. For more on Starting Balances, read Entering starting balances for an existing company.
Using the Dashboard
In LivePlan, the feature that's best designed to represent your past performance is the Dashboard. There, you can import your past actuals from QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, or Xero, or you can enter them manually. You can enter up to 2 years worth of past actuals, and the data can be displayed in a number of different ways. For more information, read Connecting LivePlan to your accounting solution and Dashboard metrics.
The Dashboard data doesn't automatically populate your business plan in LivePlan, but you can easily take a screen capture of any metric display you like. You can then create a custom topic, add it to your plan outline, and title it "Past Performance." Then you can import your screen capture image there.
When you use the Dashboard to represent your past data, you'll have the added bonus of being able to share this data in detail alongside your plan, by inviting guests or contributors to view your plan online.
Including a past Profit & Loss report
You could export a profit and loss statement representing your previous years from QuickBooks (or whatever accounting software you use), and include that with your plan using one of these methods:
- You can print the P&L and include it with a printed copy of your finished plan.
- You can save the P&L as a Word document, and export your finished plan to Word as well. In Word, you can merge the documents, or copy and paste the table into an additional page in your plan. Let us know if you'd like some help with that.
- You can take a screen capture of the P&L and import it as an image into a text section of your plan. You can easily create a custom topic, add it to your plan outline, and title it "Past Performance." Then you can import your table image there.
What about setting my forecast start date in the past and entering past data into LivePlan?
As a general rule, we don't recommend using a forecast start date in the past. There are two reasons for this:
- You build your LivePlan forecast by setting up calculators for your revenues, costs, and other forecast entries. This model is great for future forecasting, but makes it challenging to recreate your past actuals exactly.
- Planning and accounting are very different things. We recommend that planning numbers and accounting numbers be kept separate. For more on this idea, read Planning vs. Accounting: 2 Different Dimensions.