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How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan
Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.
Taking Stock of Expenses
The income statement, the cash flow projection, the balance sheet.
The financial section of your business plan determines whether or not your business idea is viable and will be the focus of any investors who may be attracted to your business idea. The financial section is composed of four financial statements: the income statement, the cash flow projection, the balance sheet, and the statement of shareholders' equity. It also should include a brief explanation and analysis of these four statements.
Think of your business expenses as two cost categories: your start-up expenses and your operating expenses. All the costs of getting your business up and running should be considered start-up expenses. These may include:
- Business registration fees
- Business licensing and permits
- Starting inventory
- Rent deposits
- Down payments on a property
- Down payments on equipment
- Utility setup fees
Your own list will expand as soon as you start to itemize them.
Operating expenses are the costs of keeping your business running . Think of these as your monthly expenses. Your list of operating expenses may include:
- Salaries (including your own)
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Telecommunication expenses
- Raw materials
- Loan payments
- Office supplies
Once you have listed all of your operating expenses, the total will reflect the monthly cost of operating your business. Multiply this number by six, and you have a six-month estimate of your operating expenses. Adding this amount to your total startup expenses list, and you have a ballpark figure for your complete start-up costs.
Now you can begin to put together your financial statements for your business plan starting with the income statement.
The income statement shows your revenues, expenses, and profit for a particular period—a snapshot of your business that shows whether or not your business is profitable. Subtract expenses from your revenue to determine your profit or loss.
While established businesses normally produce an income statement each fiscal quarter or once each fiscal year, for the purposes of the business plan, an income statement should be generated monthly for the first year.
Not all of the categories in this income statement will apply to your business. Eliminate those that do not apply, and add categories where necessary to adapt this template to your business.
If you have a product-based business, the revenue section of the income statement will look different. Revenue will be called sales, and you should account for any inventory.
The cash flow projection shows how cash is expected to flow in and out of your business. It is an important tool for cash flow management because it indicates when your expenditures are too high or if you might need a short-term investment to deal with a cash flow surplus. As part of your business plan, the cash flow projection will show how much capital investment your business idea needs.
For investors, the cash flow projection shows whether your business is a good credit risk and if there is enough cash on hand to make your business a good candidate for a line of credit, a short-term loan , or a longer-term investment. You should include cash flow projections for each month over one year in the financial section of your business plan.
Do not confuse the cash flow projection with the cash flow statement. The cash flow statement shows the flow of cash in and out of your business. In other words, it describes the cash flow that has occurred in the past. The cash flow projection shows the cash that is anticipated to be generated or expended over a chosen period in the future.
There are three parts to the cash flow projection:
- Cash revenues: Enter your estimated sales figures for each month. Only enter the sales that are collectible in cash during each month you are detailing.
- Cash disbursements: Take the various expense categories from your ledger and list the cash expenditures you actually expect to pay for each month.
- Reconciliation of cash revenues to cash disbursements: This section shows an opening balance, which is the carryover from the previous month's operations. The current month's revenues are added to this balance, the current month's disbursements are subtracted, and the adjusted cash flow balance is carried over to the next month.
The balance sheet reports your business's net worth at a particular point in time. It summarizes all the financial data about your business in three categories:
- Assets : Tangible objects of financial value that are owned by the company.
- Liabilities: Debt owed to a creditor of the company.
- Equity: The net difference when the total liabilities are subtracted from the total assets.
The relationship between these elements of financial data is expressed with the equation: Assets = Liabilities + Equity .
For your business plan , you should create a pro forma balance sheet that summarizes the information in the income statement and cash flow projections. A business typically prepares a balance sheet once a year.
Once your balance sheet is complete, write a brief analysis for each of the three financial statements. The analysis should be short with highlights rather than in-depth analysis. The financial statements themselves should be placed in your business plan's appendices.
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Start » startup, business plan financials: 3 statements to include.
The finance section of your business plan is essential to securing investors and determining whether your idea is even viable. Here's what to include.
If your business plan is the blueprint of how to run your company, the financials section is the key to making it happen. The finance section of your business plan is essential to determining whether your idea is even viable in the long term. It’s also necessary to convince investors of this viability and subsequently secure the type and amount of funding you need. Here’s what to include in your business plan financials.
[Read: How to Write a One-Page Business Plan ]
What are business plan financials?
Business plan financials is the section of your business plan that outlines your past, current and projected financial state. This section includes all the numbers and hard data you’ll need to plan for your business’s future, and to make your case to potential investors. You will need to include supporting financial documents and any funding requests in this part of your business plan.
Business plan financials are vital because they allow you to budget for existing or future expenses, as well as forecast your business’s future finances. A strongly written finance section also helps you obtain necessary funding from investors, allowing you to grow your business.
Sections to include in your business plan financials
Here are the three statements to include in the finance section of your business plan:
Profit and loss statement
A profit and loss statement , also known as an income statement, identifies your business’s revenue (profit) and expenses (loss). This document describes your company’s overall financial health in a given time period. While profit and loss statements are typically prepared quarterly, you will need to do so at least annually before filing your business tax return with the IRS.
Common items to include on a profit and loss statement :
- Revenue: total sales and refunds, including any money gained from selling property or equipment.
- Expenditures: total expenses.
- Cost of goods sold (COGS): the cost of making products, including materials and time.
- Gross margin: revenue minus COGS.
- Operational expenditures (OPEX): the cost of running your business, including paying employees, rent, equipment and travel expenses.
- Depreciation: any loss of value over time, such as with equipment.
- Earnings before tax (EBT): revenue minus COGS, OPEX, interest, loan payments and depreciation.
- Profit: revenue minus all of your expenses.
Businesses that have not yet started should provide projected income statements in their financials section. Currently operational businesses should include past and present income statements, in addition to any future projections.
[Read: Top Small Business Planning Strategies ]
A strongly written finance section also helps you obtain necessary funding from investors, allowing you to grow your business.
A balance sheet provides a snapshot of your company’s finances, allowing you to keep track of earnings and expenses. It includes what your business owns (assets) versus what it owes (liabilities), as well as how much your business is currently worth (equity).
On the assets side of your balance sheet, you will have three subsections: current assets, fixed assets and other assets. Current assets include cash or its equivalent value, while fixed assets refer to long-term investments like equipment or buildings. Any assets that do not fall within these categories, such as patents and copyrights, can be classified as other assets.
On the liabilities side of your balance sheet, include a total of what your business owes. These can be broken down into two parts: current liabilities (amounts to be paid within a year) and long-term liabilities (amounts due for longer than a year, including mortgages and employee benefits).
Once you’ve calculated your assets and liabilities, you can determine your business’s net worth, also known as equity. This can be calculated by subtracting what you owe from what you own, or assets minus liabilities.
Cash flow statement
A cash flow statement shows the exact amount of money coming into your business (inflow) and going out of it (outflow). Each cost incurred or amount earned should be documented on its own line, and categorized into one of the following three categories: operating activities, investment activities and financing activities. These three categories can all have inflow and outflow activities.
Operating activities involve any ongoing expenses necessary for day-to-day operations; these are likely to make up the majority of your cash flow statement. Investment activities, on the other hand, cover any long-term payments that are needed to start and run your business. Finally, financing activities include the money you’ve used to fund your business venture, including transactions with creditors or funders.
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How to Craft the Financial Section of Business Plan (Hint: It’s All About the Numbers)
Writing a small business plan takes time and effort … especially when you have to dive into the numbers for the financial section. But, working on the financial section of business plan could lead to a big payoff for your business.
Read on to learn what is the financial section of a business plan, why it matters, and how to write one for your company.
What is the financial section of business plan?
Generally, the financial section is one of the last sections in a business plan. It describes a business’s historical financial state (if applicable) and future financial projections. Businesses include supporting documents such as budgets and financial statements, as well as funding requests in this section of the plan.
The financial part of the business plan introduces numbers. It comes after the executive summary, company description , market analysis, organization structure, product information, and marketing and sales strategies.
Businesses that are trying to get financing from lenders or investors use the financial section to make their case. This section also acts as a financial roadmap so you can budget for your business’s future income and expenses.
Why it matters
The financial section of the business plan is critical for moving beyond wordy aspirations and into hard data and the wonderful world of numbers.
Through the financial section, you can:
- Forecast your business’s future finances
- Budget for expenses (e.g., startup costs)
- Get financing from lenders or investors
- Grow your business
- Growth : 64% of businesses with a business plan were able to grow their business, compared to 43% of businesses without a business plan.
- Financing : 36% of businesses with a business plan secured a loan, compared to 18% of businesses without a plan.
So, if you want to possibly double your chances of securing a business loan, consider putting in a little time and effort into your business plan’s financial section.
Writing your financial section
To write the financial section, you first need to gather some information. Keep in mind that the information you gather depends on whether you have historical financial information or if you’re a brand-new startup.
Your financial section should detail:
- Business expenses
Financial statements, break-even point, funding requests, exit strategy, business expenses.
Whether you’ve been in business for one day or 10 years, you have expenses. These expenses might simply be startup costs for new businesses or fixed and variable costs for veteran businesses.
Take a look at some common business expenses you may need to include in the financial section of business plan:
- Licenses and permits
- Cost of goods sold
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Payroll costs (e.g., salaries and taxes)
Write down each type of expense and amount you currently have as well as expenses you predict you’ll have. Use a consistent time period (e.g., monthly costs).
Indicate which expenses are fixed (unchanging month-to-month) and which are variable (subject to changes).
How much do you anticipate earning from sales each month?
If you operate an existing business, you can look at previous monthly revenue to make an educated estimate. Take factors into consideration, like seasonality and economic ups and downs, when basing projections on previous cash flow.
Coming up with your financial projections may be a bit trickier if you are a startup. After all, you have nothing to go off of. Come up with a reasonable monthly goal based on things like your industry, competitors, and the market. Hint : Look at your market analysis section of the business plan for guidance.
A financial statement details your business’s finances. The three main types of financial statements are income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets.
Income statements summarize your business’s income and expenses during a period of time (e.g., a month). This document shows whether your business had a net profit or loss during that time period.
Cash flow statements break down your business’s incoming and outgoing money. This document details whether your company has enough cash on hand to cover expenses.
The balance sheet summarizes your business’s assets, liabilities, and equity. Balance sheets help with debt management and business growth decisions.
If you run a startup, you can create “pro forma financial statements,” which are statements based on projections.
If you’ve been in business for a bit, you should have financial statements in your records. You can include these in your business plan. And, include forecasted financial statements.
You’re just in luck. Check out our FREE guide, Use Financial Statements to Assess the Health of Your Business , to learn more about the different types of financial statements for your business.
Potential investors want to know when your business will reach its break-even point. The break-even point is when your business’s sales equal its expenses.
Estimate when your company will reach its break-even point and detail it in the financial section of business plan.
If you’re looking for financing, detail your funding request here. Include how much you are looking for, list ideal terms (e.g., 10-year loan or 15% equity), and how long your request will cover.
Remember to discuss why you are requesting money and what you plan on using the money for (e.g., equipment).
Back up your funding request by emphasizing your financial projections.
Last but not least, your financial section should also discuss your business’s exit strategy. An exit strategy is a plan that outlines what you’ll do if you need to sell or close your business, retire, etc.
Investors and lenders want to know how their investment or loan is protected if your business doesn’t make it. The exit strategy does just that. It explains how your business will make ends meet even if it doesn’t make it.
When you’re working on the financial section of business plan, take advantage of your accounting records to make things easier on yourself. For organized books, try Patriot’s online accounting software . Get your free trial now!
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13 Min Read
If someone were to ask you about your business financials, could you give them a detailed answer?
Let’s say they ask—how do you allocate your operating expenses? What is your cash flow situation like? What is your exit strategy? And a series of similar other questions.
Instead of mumbling what to answer or shooting in the dark, as a founder, you must prepare yourself to answer this line of questioning—and creating a financial plan for your startup is the best way to do it.
A business plan’s financial plan section is no easy task—we get that.
But, you know what—this in-depth guide and financial plan example can make forecasting as simple as counting on your fingertips.
Ready to get started? Let’s begin by discussing startup financial planning.
What is Startup Financial Planning?
Startup financial planning, in simple terms, is a process of planning the financial aspects of a new business. It’s an integral part of a business plan and comprises its three major components: balance sheet, income statement, and cash-flow statement.
Apart from these statements, your financial section may also include revenue and sales forecasts, assets & liabilities, break-even analysis, and more. Your first financial plan may not be very detailed, but you can tweak and update it as your company grows.
- Realistic assumptions, thorough research, and a clear understanding of the market are the key to reliable financial projections.
- Cash flow projection, balance sheet, and income statement are three major components of a financial plan.
- Preparing a financial plan is easier and faster when you use a financial planning tool .
- Exploring “what-if” scenarios is an ideal method to understand the potential risks and opportunities involved in the business operations.
Why is Financial Planning Important to Your Startup?
Poor financial planning is one of the biggest reasons why most startups fail. In fact, a recent CNBC study reported that running out of cash was the reason behind 44% of startup failures in 2022.
A well-prepared financial plan provides a clear financial direction for your business, helps you set realistic financial objectives, create accurate forecasts, and shows your business is committed to its financial objectives.
It’s a key element of your business plan for winning potential investors. In fact, YC considered recent financial statements and projections to be critical elements of their Series A due diligence checklist .
Your financial plan demonstrates how your business manages expenses and generates revenue and helps them understand where your business stands today and in 5 years.
Makes sense why financial planning is important to your startup, doesn’t it? Let’s cut to the chase and discuss the key components of a startup’s financial plan.
Key Components of a Startup Financial Plan
Whether creating a financial plan from scratch for a business venture or just modifying it for an existing one, here are the key components to consider including in your startup’s financial planning process.
An Income statement , also known as a profit-and-loss statement(P&L), shows your company’s income and expenditures. It also demonstrates how your business experienced any profit or loss over a given time.
Consider it as a snapshot of your business that shows the feasibility of your business idea. An income statement can be generated considering three scenarios: worst, expected, and best.
Your income or P&L statement must list the following:
- Cost of goods or cost of sale
- Gross margin
- Operating expenses
- Revenue streams
- EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, & amortization)
Established businesses can prepare annual income statements, whereas new businesses and startups should consider preparing monthly statements.
Cash flow Statement
A cash flow statement is one of the most critical financial statements for startups that summarize your business’s cash in-and-out flows over a given time.
This section provides details on the cash position of your business and its ability to meet monetary commitments on a timely basis.
Your cash flow projection consists of the following three components:
✅ Cash revenue projection: Here, you must enter each month’s estimated or expected sales figures.
✅ Cash disbursements: List expenditures that you expect to pay in cash for each month over one year.
✅ Cash flow reconciliation: Cash flow reconciliation is a process used to ensure the accuracy of cash flow projections. The adjusted amount is the cash flow balance carried over to the next month.
Furthermore, a company’s cash flow projections can be crucial while assessing liquidity, its ability to generate positive cash flows and pay off debts, and invest in growth initiatives.
Your balance sheet is a financial statement that reports your company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholder equity at a given time.
Consider it as a snapshot of what your business owns and owes, as well as the amount invested by the shareholders.
This statement consists of three parts: assets, liabilities, and the balance calculated by the difference between the first two. The final numbers on this sheet reflect the business owner’s equity or value.
Balance sheets follow the following accounting equation with assets on one side and liabilities plus Owner’s equity on the other:
Here is what’s the core purpose of having a balance-sheet:
- Indicates the capital need of the business
- It helps to identify the allocation of resources
- It calculates the requirement of seed money you put up, and
- How much finance is required?
Since it helps investors understand the condition of your business on a given date, it’s a financial statement you can’t miss out on.
Break-even analysis is a startup or small business accounting practice used to determine when a company, product, or service will become profitable.
For instance, a break-even analysis could help you understand how many candles you need to sell to cover your warehousing and manufacturing costs and start making profits.
Remember, anything you sell beyond the break-even point will result in profit.
You must be aware of your fixed and variable costs to accurately determine your startup’s break-even point.
- Fixed costs: fixed expenses that stay the same no matter what.
- Variable costs: expenses that fluctuate over time depending on production or sales.
A break-even point helps you smartly price your goods or services, cover fixed costs, catch missing expenses, and set sales targets while helping investors gain confidence in your business. No brainer—why it’s a key component of your startup’s financial plan.
Having covered all the key elements of a financial plan, let’s discuss how you can create a financial plan for your startup.
How to Create a Financial Section of a Startup Business Plan?
1. determine your financial needs.
You can’t start financial planning without understanding your financial requirements, can you? Get your notepad or simply open a notion doc; it’s time for some critical thinking.
Start by assessing your current situation by—calculating your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities, what the startup costs are, how much you have against them, and how much financing you need.
Assessing your current financial situation and health will help determine how much capital you need for your startup and help plan fundraising activities and outreach.
Furthermore, determining financial needs helps prioritize operational activities and expenses, effectively allocate resources, and increase the viability and sustainability of a business in the long run.
Having learned to determine financial needs, let’s head straight to setting financial goals.
2. Define Your Financial Goals
Setting realistic financial goals is fundamental in preparing an effective financial plan. So, it would help to outline your long-term strategies and goals at the beginning of your financial planning process.
Let’s understand it this way—if you are a SaaS startup pursuing VC financing rounds, you may ask investors about what matters to them the most and prepare your financial plan accordingly.
However, a coffee shop owner seeking a business loan may need to create a plan that appeals to banks, not investors. At the same time, an internal financial plan designed to offer financial direction and resource allocation may not be the same as previous examples, seeing its different use case.
Feeling overwhelmed? Just define your financial goals—you’ll be fine.
You can start by identifying your business KPIs (key performance indicators); it would be an ideal starting point.
3. Choose the Right Financial Planning Tool
Let’s face it—preparing a financial plan using Excel is no joke. One would only use this method if they had all the time in the world.
Having the right financial planning software will simplify and speed up the process and guide you through creating accurate financial forecasts.
Many financial planning software and tools claim to be the ideal solution, but it’s you who will identify and choose a tool that is best for your financial planning needs.
Create a Financial Plan with Upmetrics in no time
Enter your Financial Assumptions, and we’ll calculate your monthly/quarterly and yearly financial projections.
4. Make Assumptions Before Projecting Financials
Once you have a financial planning tool, you can move forward to the next step— making financial assumptions for your plan based on your company’s current performance and past financial records.
You’re just making predictions about your company’s financial future, so there’s no need to overthink or complicate the process.
You can gather your business’ historical financial data, market trends, and other relevant documents to help create a base for accurate financial projections.
After you have developed rough assumptions and a good understanding of your business finances, you can move forward to the next step—projecting financials.
5. Prepare Realistic Financial Projections
It’s a no-brainer—financial forecasting is the most critical yet challenging aspect of financial planning. However, it’s effortless if you’re using a financial planning software.
Upmetrics’ forecasting feature can help you project financials for up to 7 years. However, new startups usually consider planning for the next five years. Although it can be contradictory considering your financial goals and investor specifications.
Following are the two key aspects of your financial projections:
In simple terms, revenue projections help investors determine how much revenue your business plans to generate in years to come.
It generally involves conducting market research, determining pricing strategy, and cash flow analysis—which we’ve already discussed in the previous steps.
The following are the key components of an accurate revenue projection report:
- Market analysis
- Sales forecast
- Pricing strategy
- Growth assumptions
- Seasonal variations
This is a critical section for pre-revenue startups, so ensure your projections accurately align with your startup’s financial model and revenue goals.
Both revenue and expense projections are correlated to each other. As revenue forecasts projected revenue assumptions, expense projections will estimate expenses associated with operating your business.
Accurately estimating your expenses will help in effective cash flow analysis and proper resource allocation.
These are the most common costs to consider while projecting expenses:
- Fixed costs
- Variable costs
- Employee costs or payroll expenses
- Operational expenses
- Marketing and advertising expenses
- Emergency fund
Remember, realistic assumptions, thorough research, and a clear understanding of your market are the key to reliable financial projections.
6. Consider “What if” Scenarios
After you project your financials, it’s time to test your assumptions with what-if analysis, also known as sensitivity analysis.
Using what-if analysis with different scenarios while projecting your financials will increase transparency and help investors better understand your startup’s future with its best, expected, and worst-case scenarios.
Exploring “what-if” scenarios is the best way to better understand the potential risks and opportunities involved in business operations. This proactive exercise will help you make strategic decisions and necessary adjustments to your financial plan.
7. Build a Visual Report
If you’ve closely followed the steps leading to this, you know how to research for financial projections, create a financial plan, and test assumptions using “what-if” scenarios.
Now, we’ll prepare visual reports to present your numbers in a visually appealing and easily digestible format.
Don’t worry—it’s no extra effort. You’ve already made a visual report while creating your financial plan and forecasting financials.
Check the dashboard to see the visual presentation of your projections and reports, and use the necessary financial data, diagrams, and graphs in the final draft of your financial plan.
Here’s what Upmetrics’ dashboard looks like:
8. Monitor and Adjust Your Financial Plan
Even though it’s not a primary step in creating a good financial plan, it’s quite essential to regularly monitor and adjust your financial plan to ensure the assumptions you made are still relevant, and you are heading in the right direction.
There are multiple ways to monitor your financial plan.
For instance, you can compare your assumptions with actual results to ensure accurate projections based on metrics like new customers acquired and acquisition costs, net profit, and gross margin.
Consider making necessary adjustments if your assumptions are not resonating with actual numbers.
Also, keep an eye on whether the changes you’ve identified are having the desired effect by monitoring their implementation.
And that was the last step in our financial planning guide. However, it’s not the end. Have a look at this financial plan example.
Startup Financial Plan Example
Having learned about financial planning, let’s quickly discuss a coffee shop startup financial plan example prepared using Upmetrics.
- The sales forecast is conservative and assumes a 5% increase in Year 2 and a 10% in Year 3.
- The analysis accounts for economic seasonality – wherein some months revenues peak (such as holidays ) and wanes in slower months.
- The analysis assumes the owner will not withdraw any salary till the 3rd year; at any time it is assumed that the owner’s withdrawal is available at his discretion.
- Sales are cash basis – nonaccrual accounting
- Moderate ramp- up in staff over the 5 years forecast
- Barista salary in the forecast is $36,000 in 2023.
- In general, most cafes have an 85% gross profit margin
- In general, most cafes have a 3% net profit margin
Projected Balance Sheet
Projected Cash-Flow Statement
Projected Profit & Loss Statement
Break Even Analysis
Start Preparing Your Financial Plan
We covered everything about financial planning in this guide, didn’t we? Although it doesn’t fulfill our objective to the fullest—we want you to finish your financial plan.
Sounds like a tough job? We have an easy way out for you—Upmetrics’ financial forecasting feature. Simply enter your financial assumptions, and let it do the rest.
So what are you waiting for? Try Upmetrics and create your financial plan in a snap.
About the Author
Ajay is a SaaS writer and personal finance blogger who has been active in the space for over three years, writing about startups, business planning, budgeting, credit cards, and other topics related to personal finance. If not writing, he’s probably having a power nap. Read more
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Business Plan Section 7: Financial Information
In this section of your business plan, learn how to put your business finances into context to influence potential lenders or investors.
This section of your business plan is crucial if you’re presenting your plan to potential lenders or investors, but it’s also important if you’re using it in-house as a roadmap to get started and continue to grow. You may have the best idea in the world for a business-or it may need tweaking. You won’t actually know until you sit down and work up the numbers for your financial information section.
As a startup, spelling out your sales projections for the future will help you closely examine your business model and costs, how you’ll allocate your resources, and figure out whether you actually do have a viable idea. For existing businesses, think of this as a financial checkup: a way to examine your previous sales figures and ensure your health going forward.
If you’re applying for a loan or making a presentation to investors, this section is the companion piece to your Funding Request. It’s where you support the numbers you put together in your sales and marketing plan, and demonstrate why you’re a good investment. In this section, you’ll take all of the marketing, sales, and product information you’ve amassed, and show how they translate into dollars. Sharpen your pencil and get your spreadsheet on!
Writing the Financial Section
There are two parts to the financial component of a business plan: historical data and prospective data. If you’re a startup, you obviously won’t have any previous financial information for the company, so many lenders will want to see your personal financial information in lieu of, or in addition to, your business financials.
Spell out how much money you’re investing in the business, along with specifics about the assets you plan to use. If you’re looking for financing, you’ll probably have to show personal income tax returns for the last few years. Be prepared with documentation for the last three to five years, depending on how long you’ve been in business. You’ll need income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and tax returns.
Income statements document how much money you’ve taken in for the business, where the money came from, what your expenses were, and your net income, or how much you wound up with after paying all the expenses. The statements are usually prepared quarterly, and will show at a glance whether the company is making money or operating at a loss.
Balance sheets list the type and value of all of your business’s assets and liabilities, along with ownership interest (who owns what in the company, and how much). Assets will include your cash on hand, accounts receivable, inventory, equipment, and property you own. Liabilities are things such as your accounts payable and long-term debt. The balance sheet is a snapshot of your company’s financial position at the time it’s prepared, comparing what you own with what you owe.
Cash Flow Statements
Cash flow statements show all the cash you have coming in and out of the company, whether as a direct result of your business activities or from any outside investments you’ve made.
How your business is structured will determine which tax forms you have to file with the Internal Revenue Service each year, so these may be your personal tax returns with a Schedule C attachment, or separate corporate tax returns.
If you’re looking for a loan, you’ll most likely also need to show the value of any collateral you’re offering to ensure payments, like real estate, vehicles, inventory, stocks and bonds, and equipment.
Now, everyone knows you don’t have a crystal ball and can’t actually predict what will happen over the next five years, but there’s a point to putting the projections together. Lenders and investors really want to see that you have thought things through and considered the possible outcomes as your business progresses. They want to understand the thought process behind your numbers and why you’ve made those assumptions.
This means you need to do a significant amount of planning before sitting down to work on your projections, critically thinking through different scenarios. Again, the work and research you’ve already done for previous sections of your business plan will be invaluable here in making the assumptions needed to put your projections together.
Include projected income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, which we described above, along with a capital expenditure budget.
Capital Expenditure Budget
A capital expense is a tangible, physical asset like property, buildings or equipment. This budget is your plan for how much you’ll spend to buy or upgrade these assets, whether that might be purchasing new machinery or repairing your HVAC system.
Funders may also want to see an analysis of how your results would change if some of the variables changed, so consider including a section on that, as well. As an added benefit, this isn’t just a theoretical exercise on your part, but will actually help you run the business and make adjustments as they become necessary. Business Insider offers a look at how to make realistic projections that will be meaningful to your business as well as to lenders and investors.
If you’re just at the beginning stages of business, make sure to also include any startup costs you’ll have. Some may be specific to your industry, such as particular types of equipment, tools or store fixtures. Others are fairly common across the board, like professional fees for lawyers or accountants, licensing and incorporation fees, security deposits and rent, and computers.
As a rule, the financial part of your plan should follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as set by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, especially if you’re putting it together primarily to get a loan or a line of credit. For this section, it helps to be fluent with spreadsheets, as that’s the best and most accepted way to present this information. This is one part of the business plan that you may want to get some outside assistance with, perhaps from your accountant or financial advisor, to help put the numbers together and present them properly. If you use an accountant, and your financial statements have been audited, make a note of that in the plan. If you want to give it a go on your own, SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, has a financial projections template available on its website.
Attention to detail is very important throughout the whole process of writing a business plan, but we can’t stress it strongly enough with regards to your finances. Be VERY careful to make sure that your projections match the numbers you put together for the funding request portion of the plan. At best, any inconsistencies here could delay consideration of your application, and at worst, could be a signal that you’re not as on top of things as you should be, disqualifying you altogether.
Visuals help. Yes, there may be professional number crunchers going over your data, but consider showing your projections graphically along with the requisite spreadsheets, especially if the graphs demonstrate a positive trend.
Include a brief analysis of the financial information you’re presenting to explain the numbers, putting them into context for someone that has less of an understanding about your business and industry than you do.
Whether you have a startup or existing business, there’s an excellent likelihood you’ll also be asked for personal financial information, so consider including that as part of your business plan. Your credit history or a copy of a recent credit report can go in the appendix, together with copies of your tax returns or any additional information a lender may request.
Next Article: Business Plan Section 8 – Funding Request
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How to Complete the Financial Section of Business Plan
A plan intends to explain the business, introduce critical contributors, products and, services and defines the goals for the future. It paints a picture of the founder’s expectations and helps others see their vision. The financial section of the plan provides the proof behind the story. It is the section that investors and lenders are most interested in, and often the first section they read, despite it being near the end of the plan. It also acts as a roadmap and a guide for the direction the company will take into the future.
Financial Section Elements
While it may sound complicated, the financial section of a business plan only contains three documents and a brief explanation of each. It is necessary to prepare an income statement, cash flow projection and a balance sheet either using spreadsheets, or software that does all of the calculations automatically. Before beginning this statement, it’s necessary to gather the following information:
Business Start-Up Expenses
This list of all of the costs associated with getting the business up and running comprises what primarily are one-time fees such as registering the company. Following is only a partial list of possible start-up costs, every business is unique, and the list may, or may not, contain these items and more.
- Business registration fees
- Licensing and permits
- Product inventory
- Deposit on rental property
- Down payment to purchase property
- Down payment on machines and equipment
- Set-up fees for utilities
Business Operating Costs
As the name implies, operating costs are the ongoing expenses that need to be paid to keep the business running. These expenses are usually monthly bills, and for a start-up, estimate six months worth of these costs. A company’s list of operating expenses might include:
- Monthly mortgage payment or rent
- Logistics and distribution
- Marketing and promotion
- Loan paymentsRaw materials
- Office supplies
- Building/vehicle maintenance
The Income Statement
This financial statement details the company’s revenues, expenses, and profit for a set period. Established businesses generated these annually, or semi-annually, based on actual performance. Start-ups with no previous years to look at have to use statistical data within the industry to make reasonable projections. A start-up will also produce monthly versions of this statement to show the forecast of growth. This section will include the data such as:
- Gross revenue (sales, interest income and sales of assets)
- General and administrative expenses (start-up and operating costs)
- Corporate tax rate (expected tax liabilities)
The math is simple here: subtract the expenditures from the revenue, and the remaining number is profit. When put into the proper format, an income statement gives a clear view of the financial viability of a company.
This statement shows how you expect cash to flow in to, and out of, your business. It’s an essential internal cash management tool and a source of data that shows what your business’s capital needs will be in the near future. For investors and bank loan officers, it helps determine your creditworthiness and amount you can borrow. The cash-flow projection contains three parts:
- Cash revenues — This part details the incoming cash from sales for specific periods of time, usually monthly. It is an estimate, based upon past performance and future projections for current businesses, and industry averages for start-ups.
- Cash disbursements — Every monthly bill or other expense that is paid out in cash gets listed in this section. As with revenue, these are estimates, either based upon historical data, current data, or industry data.
- Cash flow projection — This merely is a reconciliation of the cash revenues to cash disbursements. Adding the current month’s revenues to the carried-over balance, then subtracting the month’s disbursements creates estimated cash flow.
The Balance Sheet
The final financial statement required for the business plan’s financial section is a balance sheet. This statement is a snapshot of the company’s net worth at a given point in time. Established businesses produce a balance sheet annually. Information from the income statement and cash flow projection are used to complete this statement. It summarizes the business’s financial data into three main categories:
- Assets — This is the total of all of the tangible items that the company owns that hold monetary value. That includes equipment, property, and cash-on-hand, for example.
- Liabilities — This is the total amount of debt that the company owes its creditors. You’ll include every debt, whether recurring, one-time, fixed, or variable.
- Equity — This is merely the difference between the company’s assets, including retained earnings and current earnings, and its liabilities.
Side-Notes and Details
In some cases, it may be necessary to explain details within the financial statements. Denote these instances within the statement and include a brief explanation sheet as an attachment. It may also be useful to add information on the process used to estimate revenues and expenses, which will show interested parties the intent and help them better understand the data.
Don’t Sweat the Process
It’s important to note that the order in which these financial statements is created may vary from the way they are presented here. This is to be expected. In fact, most business plan creators end up going back and forth with these statements as the numbers reveal the business’s financial reality. It paints a crystal clear picture of its economic viability, which can present to a lender, investor, or shareholder with confidence.
All of these financial documents can be created by using accounting and business software readily available online. Even so, some people aren’t entirely comfortable creating financial statements for their business plan, and outsource this critical task to a professional. Even the largest corporations struggle with financial planning and reporting, and they often hire the job out to someone more qualified. It’s merely a matter of making sure that the data is accurate, easy to track, and based on sound accounting practices.
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