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How to Prepare a Financial Plan for Startup Business (w/ example)

Financial Statements Template

Free Financial Statements Template

Ajay Jagtap

  • December 7, 2023

13 Min Read

financial plan for startup business

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.

Key Takeaways

  • 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.

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financial planning of business 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.

Income Statement

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.

Balance Sheet

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

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.

financial planning of business plan

Create a Financial Plan with Upmetrics in no time

Enter your Financial Assumptions, and we’ll calculate your monthly/quarterly and yearly financial projections.

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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:

Revenue 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.

Expense Projections

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:

Upmetrics financial projections visual report

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.

Important Assumptions

  • 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 Balance Sheet

Projected Cash-Flow Statement

Cash-Flow Statement

Projected Profit & Loss Statement

Profit & Loss Statement

Break Even Analysis

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.

Build your Business Plan Faster

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Frequently Asked Questions

How often should i update my financial projections.

Well, there is no particular rule about it. However, reviewing and updating your financial plan once a year is considered an ideal practice as it ensures that the financial aspirations you started and the projections you made are still relevant.

How do I estimate startup costs accurately?

You can estimate your startup costs by identifying and factoring various one-time, recurring, and hidden expenses. However, using a financial forecasting tool like Upmetrics will ensure accurate costs while speeding up the process.

What financial ratios should startups pay attention to?

Here’s a list of financial ratios every startup owner should keep an eye on:

  • Net profit margin
  • Current ratio
  • Quick ratio
  • Working capital
  • Return on equity
  • Debt-to-equity ratio
  • Return on assets
  • Debt-to-asset ratio

What are the 3 different scenarios in scenario analysis?

As discussed earlier, Scenario analysis is the process of ascertaining and analyzing possible events that can occur in the future. Startups or businesses often consider analyzing these three scenarios:

  • base-case (expected) scenario
  • Worst-case scenario
  • best case scenario.

About the Author

financial planning of business plan

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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How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan

An outline of your company's growth strategy is essential to a business plan, but it just isn't complete without the numbers to back it up. here's some advice on how to include things like a sales forecast, expense budget, and cash-flow statement..

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A business plan is all conceptual until you start filling in the numbers and terms. The sections about your marketing plan and strategy are interesting to read, but they don't mean a thing if you can't justify your business with good figures on the bottom line. You do this in a distinct section of your business plan for financial forecasts and statements. The financial section of a business plan is one of the most essential components of the plan, as you will need it if you have any hope of winning over investors or obtaining a bank loan. Even if you don't need financing, you should compile a financial forecast in order to simply be successful in steering your business. "This is what will tell you whether the business will be viable or whether you are wasting your time and/or money," says Linda Pinson, author of Automate Your Business Plan for Windows  (Out of Your Mind 2008) and Anatomy of a Business Plan (Out of Your Mind 2008), who runs a publishing and software business Out of Your Mind and Into the Marketplace . "In many instances, it will tell you that you should not be going into this business." The following will cover what the financial section of a business plan is, what it should include, and how you should use it to not only win financing but to better manage your business.

Dig Deeper: Generating an Accurate Sales Forecast

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How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan: The Purpose of the Financial Section Let's start by explaining what the financial section of a business plan is not. Realize that the financial section is not the same as accounting. Many people get confused about this because the financial projections that you include--profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow--look similar to accounting statements your business generates. But accounting looks back in time, starting today and taking a historical view. Business planning or forecasting is a forward-looking view, starting today and going into the future. "You don't do financials in a business plan the same way you calculate the details in your accounting reports," says Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software, who blogs at and is writing a book, The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan. "It's not tax reporting. It's an elaborate educated guess." What this means, says Berry, is that you summarize and aggregate more than you might with accounting, which deals more in detail. "You don't have to imagine all future asset purchases with hypothetical dates and hypothetical depreciation schedules to estimate future depreciation," he says. "You can just guess based on past results. And you don't spend a lot of time on minute details in a financial forecast that depends on an educated guess for sales." The purpose of the financial section of a business plan is two-fold. You're going to need it if you are seeking investment from venture capitalists, angel investors, or even smart family members. They are going to want to see numbers that say your business will grow--and quickly--and that there is an exit strategy for them on the horizon, during which they can make a profit. Any bank or lender will also ask to see these numbers as well to make sure you can repay your loan. But the most important reason to compile this financial forecast is for your own benefit, so you understand how you project your business will do. "This is an ongoing, living document. It should be a guide to running your business," Pinson says. "And at any particular time you feel you need funding or financing, then you are prepared to go with your documents." If there is a rule of thumb when filling in the numbers in the financial section of your business plan, it's this: Be realistic. "There is a tremendous problem with the hockey-stick forecast" that projects growth as steady until it shoots up like the end of a hockey stick, Berry says. "They really aren't credible." Berry, who acts as an angel investor with the Willamette Angel Conference, says that while a startling growth trajectory is something that would-be investors would love to see, it's most often not a believable growth forecast. "Everyone wants to get involved in the next Google or Twitter, but every plan seems to have this hockey stick forecast," he says. "Sales are going along flat, but six months from now there is a huge turn and everything gets amazing, assuming they get the investors' money."  The way you come up a credible financial section for your business plan is to demonstrate that it's realistic. One way, Berry says, is to break the figures into components, by sales channel or target market segment, and provide realistic estimates for sales and revenue. "It's not exactly data, because you're still guessing the future. But if you break the guess into component guesses and look at each one individually, it somehow feels better," Berry says. "Nobody wins by overly optimistic or overly pessimistic forecasts."

Dig Deeper: What Angel Investors Look For

How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan: The Components of a Financial Section

A financial forecast isn't necessarily compiled in sequence. And you most likely won't present it in the final document in the same sequence you compile the figures and documents. Berry says that it's typical to start in one place and jump back and forth. For example, what you see in the cash-flow plan might mean going back to change estimates for sales and expenses.  Still, he says that it's easier to explain in sequence, as long as you understand that you don't start at step one and go to step six without looking back--a lot--in between.

  • Start with a sales forecast. Set up a spreadsheet projecting your sales over the course of three years. Set up different sections for different lines of sales and columns for every month for the first year and either on a monthly or quarterly basis for the second and third years. "Ideally you want to project in spreadsheet blocks that include one block for unit sales, one block for pricing, a third block that multiplies units times price to calculate sales, a fourth block that has unit costs, and a fifth that multiplies units times unit cost to calculate cost of sales (also called COGS or direct costs)," Berry says. "Why do you want cost of sales in a sales forecast? Because you want to calculate gross margin. Gross margin is sales less cost of sales, and it's a useful number for comparing with different standard industry ratios." If it's a new product or a new line of business, you have to make an educated guess. The best way to do that, Berry says, is to look at past results.
  • Create an expenses budget. You're going to need to understand how much it's going to cost you to actually make the sales you have forecast. Berry likes to differentiate between fixed costs (i.e., rent and payroll) and variable costs (i.e., most advertising and promotional expenses), because it's a good thing for a business to know. "Lower fixed costs mean less risk, which might be theoretical in business schools but are very concrete when you have rent and payroll checks to sign," Berry says. "Most of your variable costs are in those direct costs that belong in your sales forecast, but there are also some variable expenses, like ads and rebates and such." Once again, this is a forecast, not accounting, and you're going to have to estimate things like interest and taxes. Berry recommends you go with simple math. He says multiply estimated profits times your best-guess tax percentage rate to estimate taxes. And then multiply your estimated debts balance times an estimated interest rate to estimate interest.
  • Develop a cash-flow statement. This is the statement that shows physical dollars moving in and out of the business. "Cash flow is king," Pinson says. You base this partly on your sales forecasts, balance sheet items, and other assumptions. If you are operating an existing business, you should have historical documents, such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets from years past to base these forecasts on. If you are starting a new business and do not have these historical financial statements, you start by projecting a cash-flow statement broken down into 12 months. Pinson says that it's important to understand when compiling this cash-flow projection that you need to choose a realistic ratio for how many of your invoices will be paid in cash, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and so on. You don't want to be surprised that you only collect 80 percent of your invoices in the first 30 days when you are counting on 100 percent to pay your expenses, she says. Some business planning software programs will have these formulas built in to help you make these projections.
  • Income projections. This is your pro forma profit and loss statement, detailing forecasts for your business for the coming three years. Use the numbers that you put in your sales forecast, expense projections, and cash flow statement. "Sales, lest cost of sales, is gross margin," Berry says. "Gross margin, less expenses, interest, and taxes, is net profit."
  • Deal with assets and liabilities. You also need a projected balance sheet. You have to deal with assets and liabilities that aren't in the profits and loss statement and project the net worth of your business at the end of the fiscal year. Some of those are obvious and affect you at only the beginning, like startup assets. A lot are not obvious. "Interest is in the profit and loss, but repayment of principle isn't," Berry says. "Taking out a loan, giving out a loan, and inventory show up only in assets--until you pay for them." So the way to compile this is to start with assets, and estimate what you'll have on hand, month by month for cash, accounts receivable (money owed to you), inventory if you have it, and substantial assets like land, buildings, and equipment. Then figure out what you have as liabilities--meaning debts. That's money you owe because you haven't paid bills (which is called accounts payable) and the debts you have because of outstanding loans.
  • Breakeven analysis. The breakeven point, Pinson says, is when your business's expenses match your sales or service volume. The three-year income projection will enable you to undertake this analysis. "If your business is viable, at a certain period of time your overall revenue will exceed your overall expenses, including interest." This is an important analysis for potential investors, who want to know that they are investing in a fast-growing business with an exit strategy.

Dig Deeper: How to Price Business Services

How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan: How to Use the Financial Section One of the biggest mistakes business people make is to look at their business plan, and particularly the financial section, only once a year. "I like to quote former President Dwight D. Eisenhower," says Berry. "'The plan is useless, but planning is essential.' What people do wrong is focus on the plan, and once the plan is done, it's forgotten. It's really a shame, because they could have used it as a tool for managing the company." In fact, Berry recommends that business executives sit down with the business plan once a month and fill in the actual numbers in the profit and loss statement and compare those numbers with projections. And then use those comparisons to revise projections in the future. Pinson also recommends that you undertake a financial statement analysis to develop a study of relationships and compare items in your financial statements, compare financial statements over time, and even compare your statements to those of other businesses. Part of this is a ratio analysis. She recommends you do some homework and find out some of the prevailing ratios used in your industry for liquidity analysis, profitability analysis, and debt and compare those standard ratios with your own. "This is all for your benefit," she says. "That's what financial statements are for. You should be utilizing your financial statements to measure your business against what you did in prior years or to measure your business against another business like yours."  If you are using your business plan to attract investment or get a loan, you may also include a business financial history as part of the financial section. This is a summary of your business from its start to the present. Sometimes a bank might have a section like this on a loan application. If you are seeking a loan, you may need to add supplementary documents to the financial section, such as the owner's financial statements, listing assets and liabilities. All of the various calculations you need to assemble the financial section of a business plan are a good reason to look for business planning software, so you can have this on your computer and make sure you get this right. Software programs also let you use some of your projections in the financial section to create pie charts or bar graphs that you can use elsewhere in your business plan to highlight your financials, your sales history, or your projected income over three years. "It's a pretty well-known fact that if you are going to seek equity investment from venture capitalists or angel investors," Pinson says, "they do like visuals."

Dig Deeper: How to Protect Your Margins in a Downturn

Related Links: Making It All Add Up: The Financial Section of a Business Plan One of the major benefits of creating a business plan is that it forces entrepreneurs to confront their company's finances squarely. Persuasive Projections You can avoid some of the most common mistakes by following this list of dos and don'ts. Making Your Financials Add Up No business plan is complete until it contains a set of financial projections that are not only inspiring but also logical and defensible. How many years should my financial projections cover for a new business? Some guidelines on what to include. Recommended Resources: More than 100 free sample business plans, plus articles, tips, and tools for developing your plan. Planning, Startups, Stories: Basic Business Numbers An online video in author Tim Berry's blog, outlining what you really need to know about basic business numbers. Out of Your Mind and Into the Marketplace Linda Pinson's business selling books and software for business planning. Palo Alto Software Business-planning tools and information from the maker of the Business Plan Pro software. U.S. Small Business Administration Government-sponsored website aiding small and midsize businesses. Financial Statement Section of a Business Plan for Start-Ups A guide to writing the financial section of a business plan developed by SCORE of northeastern Massachusetts.

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Creating a Financial Plan for Startups: The Ultimate Guide

Brittany Wren

The top reason startups fail is because they run out of money, according to a 2020 survey by Wilbur Labs . And one of the main reasons they run out of money is because their financial planning consists of rosy projections of the best-case scenario, based on bad data — or no financial planning at all.

Creating a financial plan is essential to a startup’s success. For one thing, most investors need to see a startup’s financial plan before they even consider funding it. More importantly, a financial plan allows you to quantify your business assumptions, define specific benchmarks, plan for worst- and best-case scenarios, and measure your company’s success (even before you start making a profit).

The bottom line is: if you have expenses, you should have a financial plan. But you don’t need an accounting degree (or even an accountant) to get started.

What is startup financial planning?

Your startup’s financial plan is the roadmap that lays out the path for your company’s future financial success. In it, you make predictions and plans based on historical performance and industry research. Start with your company’s current financial situation, add in future goals and predictions, and strategize how to get there. Financial plans include details about:

  • Fixed/variable expenses
  • Gross/operating margins
  • Profit potential and durability
  • Break-even point
  • Cash balance
  • Cash flow changes

Don’t have all that information close at hand? That’s okay. The first financial plan you create may not be very detailed. You’ll keep building and tweaking it as your company iterates.

A financial plan is NOT the same as a business plan

A business plan is written in paragraphs. A financial plan is (traditionally) a giant Excel spreadsheet. It’s synonymous with Pro Forma financial, which is the finance industry term for three detailed reports: cash flow statement, profit and loss (P&L) , and balance sheet . Financial planning is part of the due diligence process , which you’ll need to provide to investors prior to signing a Series A term sheet.

Financial planning is made up of several smaller activities:

These activities include:

  • Creating a hiring plan
  • Making projections about sales, expenses, cash flow, income statement, and balance sheet
  • Analyzing projections
  • Producing profit and loss statements
  • Financial projections and modeling
  • Analyzing internal controls
  • Creating annual growth strategies

Before you start: collect data and tools

You can’t create a financial plan in a vacuum. First, you’ll need to assemble some critical things:

financial planning of business plan

Before you can accurately create a financial plan, identify and assemble all your existing financial data. What financial accounts (bank accounts, credit cards) are you using for your business income and expenses? Where/how are you doing your bookkeeping (e.g., QuickBooks, Xero, NetSuite), and is that information up to date?

You’ll need to import the above information into your financial plan. Updates can be done manually with a spreadsheet or automatically using software (more on that below). Generally, it’s better if updates can be automated so you know you’re looking at the latest data and can be more nimble with decision-making.

Now you need to decide what tools you’ll use to create a financial plan. Options include a spreadsheet, dedicated software, or outsourcing to a CPA.

If you opt for a spreadsheet, you can download an Excel or Google Sheet template from an online resource, or you can create it yourself. If you create it yourself, a finance analyst, HR manager, or office manager can maintain it, and then later, a CFO can run point on the whole process.

The problem with a spreadsheet is that it’s often too fragile for everyone to use collaboratively — it’s not automatically version controlled, and it’s too manual. That’s why you might choose software like Pry, Finmark, Brixx, or Causal. Obviously, we think Pry is the best choice for financial planning. But whatever you choose, the main reason to use software is it will scale as you grow.

Finally, you can hire a CPA to build a financial plan for you. This option can afford you some peace of mind. However, it costs a lot more than a DIY spreadsheet or software approach. Additionally, you’ll understand your business better if you create your financial plan internally.

Steps to create a financial plan

Startup financial planning can seem daunting at first, especially if you’re an early-stage founder and this is your first time. We’ll break it down below.

1. Visualize the end result

At the beginning of the financial planning process, you should sketch out long-term strategies and goals. If you’re pursuing a financing round, ask your investors about what metrics matter the most to them. That way you can bring those details to the forefront instead of burying them in a series of complex tabs.

A good starting point is to determine your company’s KPIs. What are the things you want to track and forecast? Remember that different metrics are important to different business models . For example, SaaS companies should include metrics like MRR (monthly recurring revenue) , as well as bank balance and budget vs. actuals.

Thinking back to your best lever of growth, what will be your key milestones? This could include acquiring a certain number of customers, raising a round of fundraising, or making an acquisition.

This sounds like, “To reach X, we need to hit A, B, C, and D milestones. Here’s how we think we’ll get from A to B, then B to C, then C to D.” – Underscore VC

financial planning of business plan

2. Pick the right template or software

It’s hard to create a generic template for all sorts of businesses, so find a template that matches your business model. Sometimes you can access these templates for free, like the one in this LinkedIn thread . Or you can download a template in exchange for your contact info, like this one for SaaS startups.

Of course, you can also choose software that creates this template for you instead of trying to retrofit some random online spreadsheet template. At Pry, we can customize reports and dashboards to your specific business model for $500 with our custom onboarding.

financial planning of business plan

3. Import existing data

Now you’ll need to import your existing information from different financial accounts like QuickBooks or Xero (depending on which you use), bank account(s), and/or credit card(s). This is sometimes referred to as the “ Chart of Accounts .” Your bank data could be a statement, or it could just be today’s balance. Ideally, you should pull as much as possible, so you have the clearest, most detailed picture.

The information you should import can be broken down as follows:

  • Assets (e.g., checking, savings, amounts owed to the company from customers, inventory, prepaid expenses)
  • Liabilities (e.g., line of credit, credit card payable, the amount owed to vendors, payroll taxes payable)
  • Equity (assets minus liabilities)
  • Income (e.g., product sales, interest)
  • Expenses (e.g., cost of goods sold, marketing, travel, rent, office supplies)

If your financial plan is a spreadsheet, you’ll need to manually export your existing data and then import it into your spreadsheet. This process looks slightly different for each different financial account. QuickBooks and Xero both outline how to do this on their websites.

If you’re using a financial planning tool like Pry, you can connect these accounts so they sync automatically via an API integration .

financial planning of business plan

4. Project expenses

Once you have an accurate picture of current accounts, you should start projecting future expenses. These can be broken into two broad categories: direct expenses (aka, costs of sales) and indirect expenses (aka, selling, general, and administrative expenses). Direct expenses include any raw materials, production equipment depreciation, hosting fees, etc. Everything else (other than product costs and capital purchases) is considered an indirect expense.

Salaries and benefits (an indirect expense) are usually the biggest expense at this point, so we recommend starting with this one. You should add existing employees and forecast future hires to predict the additional cost of roles and salaries over time. Be sure to include benefits and payroll taxes. Also, don’t project people out by dollars spent on them — do it by name/role/salary, then convert salary into a monthly cost. For example, 4 Software Engineers, $100k each, Start Dates: July 2021, September 2021, November 2021, January 2022 .

Build a headcount plan by role for the pro forma period by month. This approach creates a hiring plan based on revenue timing to properly support the business. It also allows for quick adjustments when modeling revenue changes. – Tiffany Hovland, CPA, Journal of Accountancy

  • Legal and professional services (e.g., the costs of incorporating a new business, like business license fees)
  • IT (e.g., data storage, software, data security)
  • Office rent
  • Office supplies

As you make projections about future expenses, remember to focus on high-level estimates based on industry standards, location, and company size.A lot of things can change, and you shouldn’t waste time perfecting predictions — they may not come true, anyway.

financial planning of business plan

5. Project revenue

Now you’ll describe how your company will produce income. If your company is pre-revenue, you can start with industry standards. Realistic revenue projections are important to investors, and they influence all other assumptions about profit and loss (P&L) . If revenue projections are drastically wrong, you may over- or understaff your company or make big purchases you can’t afford.

To make accurate projections, define the revenue levers, drivers, and assumptions. Revenue levers could be products and/or services, software maintenance agreements, or channel partner sales. You also need to identify which activities increase or decrease revenue, as well as pricing and activity assumptions.

One important revenue projection for SaaS businesses is MRR. Here’s an example of this type of revenue projection:

  • Revenue lever: monthly subscription revenue
  • Revenue driver: marketing spend and conversion rates
  • Revenue assumptions: $200 subscription price, 100 initial customers, 25 new signups per month, two churned customers per month

To project MRR using software like Pry, use this formula: MRR = total customers * average subscription price.

financial planning of business plan

6. Build a report

After you have collected all your current financial information and built out some projections, it’s time to present it in an easily digestible format to drive decision-making. A dashboard is a visual way to summarize and report on the data. It makes it easy for business owners, board members, and investors to look at and know the status of the company.

Now that the estimates are complete, it is time to transform the work into a collection of facts that potential investors and business owners can use to drive decisions. The initial information and discussions should focus on high-level assumptions and give confidence that the business can scale and grow as the example outlines. – Tiffany Hovland, CPA, Journal of Accountancy

If you’re using Excel for your financial plan, you can build these reports as pivot tables. Or, if you find pivot tables too cumbersome, you can create a dashboard easily using software. Here’s what Pry’s dashboard looks like:

financial planning of business plan

7. Test assumptions

The final step of financial planning is often called a what-if analysis or sensitivity analysis. Now that you’ve built some assumptions about the future, try playing with some different ones — some aggressive and some conservative. Change some inputs and review the reports in different scenarios. This will help you see how the assumptions relate and ensure that the end model makes sense.

Another way to test your assumptions is to compare your company’s metrics to those of other companies. Larger companies might check the SEC’s website for public competitors or companies in a similar space with similar net revenue. If you can’t find a good comparison, though, you can check with investors to see which assumptions you should tweak. Then revise accordingly.

We picked a list of IPO comparables—enterprise-class SaaS companies that had gone public. We look at up to three years of their financial data, and based on our growth rate, revenue, and expenses as a percentage of revenue, we compare ourselves against their metrics. These comparables are a way to validate our progress against our three-year plan. – Jason Purcell, CEO of Salsify

Now it’s your turn (we can help)

The bottom line is that if your startup has expenses, you should also have a financial plan. And now that you know how to create one, it’s time to get started.If the prospect of making pivot tables in Excel intimidates you, try creating a financial plan with an out-of-box tool like Pry. It does everything the expensive firms do but without the hefty price tag.

View Pry’s pricing ->

Keep reading...

Revenue forecasting for founders: how to make projections early.

Revenue forecasting is looking at existing data and predicting how much money your company will bring in from sales in future months, quarters, or years. Even early-stage startups need to track these metrics because accurate and realistic revenue forecasts are the only way you can avoid a big cash flow shortage and complete company meltdown.

financial planning of business plan

Business Financial Plan Example: Strategies and Best Practices

Any successful endeavor begins with a robust plan – and running a prosperous business is no exception. Careful strategic planning acts as the bedrock on which companies build their future. One of the most critical aspects of this strategic planning is the creation of a detailed business financial plan. This plan serves as a guide, helping businesses navigate their way through the complex world of finance, including revenue projection, cost estimation, and capital expenditure, to name just a few elements. However, understanding what a business financial plan entails and how to implement it effectively can often be challenging. With multiple components to consider and various economic factors at play, the financial planning process may appear daunting to both new and established business owners.

This is where we come in. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the specifics of a business financial plan. We discuss its importance, the essential elements that make it up, and the steps to craft one successfully. Furthermore, we provide a practical example of a business financial plan in action, drawing upon real-world-like scenarios and strategies. By presenting the best practices and demonstrating how to employ them, we aim to equip business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to create a robust, realistic, and efficient business financial plan. This in-depth guide will help you understand not only how to plan your business finances but also how to use this plan as a roadmap, leading your business towards growth, profitability, and overall financial success. Whether you're a seasoned business owner aiming to refine your financial strategies or an aspiring entrepreneur at the beginning of your journey, this article is designed to guide you through the intricacies of business financial planning and shed light on the strategies that can help your business thrive.

Understanding a Business Financial Plan

At its core, a business financial plan is a strategic blueprint that sets forth how a company will manage and navigate its financial operations, guiding the organization towards its defined fiscal objectives. It encompasses several critical aspects of a business's financial management, such as revenue projection, cost estimation, capital expenditure, cash flow management, and investment strategies.

Revenue projection is an estimate of the revenue a business expects to generate within a specific period. It's often based on market research, historical data, and educated assumptions about future market trends. Cost estimation, on the other hand, involves outlining the expenses a business anticipates incurring in its operations. Together, revenue projection and cost estimation can give a clear picture of a company's expected profitability. Capital expenditure refers to the funds a company allocates towards the purchase or maintenance of long-term assets like machinery, buildings, and equipment. Understanding capital expenditure is vital as it can significantly impact a business's operational capacity and future profitability. The cash flow management aspect of a business financial plan involves monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing the company's cash inflows and outflows. A healthy cash flow ensures that a business can meet its short-term obligations, invest in its growth, and provide a buffer for future uncertainties. Lastly, a company's investment strategies are crucial for its growth and sustainability. They might include strategies for raising capital, such as issuing shares or securing loans, or strategies for investing surplus cash, like purchasing assets or investing in market securities.

A well-developed business financial plan, therefore, doesn't just portray the company's current financial status; it also serves as a roadmap for the business's fiscal operations, enabling it to navigate towards its financial goals. The plan acts as a guide, providing insights that help business owners make informed decisions, whether they're about day-to-day operations or long-term strategic choices. In a nutshell, a business financial plan is a key tool in managing a company's financial resources effectively and strategically. It allows businesses to plan for growth, prepare for uncertainties, and strive for financial sustainability and success.

Essential Elements of a Business Financial Plan

A comprehensive financial plan contains several crucial elements, including:

  • Sales Forecast : The sales forecast represents the business's projected sales revenues. It is often broken down into segments such as products, services, or regions.
  • Expenses Budget : This portion of the plan outlines the anticipated costs of running the business. It includes fixed costs (rent, salaries) and variable costs (marketing, production).
  • Cash Flow Statement : This statement records the cash that comes in and goes out of a business, effectively portraying its liquidity.
  • Income Statements : Also known as profit and loss statements, income statements provide an overview of the business's profitability over a given period.
  • Balance Sheet : This snapshot of a company's financial health shows its assets, liabilities, and equity.

Crafting a Business Financial Plan: The Steps

Developing a business financial plan requires careful analysis and planning. Here are the steps involved:

Step 1: Set Clear Financial Goals

The initial stage in crafting a robust business financial plan involves the establishment of clear, measurable financial goals. These objectives serve as your business's financial targets and compass, guiding your company's financial strategy. These goals can be short-term, such as improving quarterly sales or reducing monthly overhead costs, or they can be long-term, such as expanding the business to a new location within five years or doubling the annual revenue within three years. The goals might include specific targets such as increasing revenue by a particular percentage, reducing costs by a specific amount, or achieving a certain profit margin. Setting clear goals provides a target to aim for and allows you to measure your progress over time.

Step 2: Create a Sales Forecast

The cornerstone of any business financial plan is a robust sales forecast. This element of the plan involves predicting the sales your business will make over a given period. This estimate should be based on comprehensive market research, historical sales data, an understanding of industry trends, and the impact of any marketing or promotional activities. Consider the business's growth rate, the overall market size, and seasonal fluctuations in demand. Remember, your sales forecast directly influences the rest of your financial plan, particularly your budgets for expenses and cash flow, so it's critical to make it as accurate and realistic as possible.

Step 3: Prepare an Expense Budget

The next step involves preparing a comprehensive expense budget that covers all the costs your business is likely to incur. This includes fixed costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, salaries, insurance, and other overheads that remain relatively constant regardless of your business's level of output. It also includes variable costs, such as raw materials, inventory, marketing and advertising expenses, and other costs that fluctuate in direct proportion to the level of goods or services you produce. By understanding your expense budget, you can determine how much revenue your business needs to generate to cover costs and become profitable.

Step 4: Develop a Cash Flow Statement

One of the most crucial elements of your financial plan is the cash flow statement. This document records all the cash that enters and leaves your business, presenting a clear picture of your company's liquidity. Regularly updating your cash flow statement allows you to monitor the cash in hand and foresee any potential shortfalls. It helps you understand when cash comes into your business from sales and when cash goes out of your business due to expenses, giving you insights into your financial peaks and troughs and enabling you to manage your cash resources more effectively.

Step 5: Prepare Income Statements and Balance Sheets

Another vital part of your business financial plan includes the preparation of income statements and balance sheets. An income statement, also known as a Profit & Loss (P&L) statement, provides an overview of your business's profitability over a certain period. It subtracts the total expenses from total revenue to calculate net income, providing valuable insights into the profitability of your operations.

On the other hand, the balance sheet provides a snapshot of your company's financial health at a specific point in time. It lists your company's assets (what the company owns), liabilities (what the company owes), and equity (the owner's or shareholders' investment in the business). These documents help you understand where your business stands financially, whether it's making a profit, and how your assets, liabilities, and equity balance out.

Step 6: Revise Your Plan Regularly

It's important to remember that a financial plan is not a static document, but rather a living, evolving roadmap that should adapt to your business's changing circumstances and market conditions. As such, regular reviews and updates are crucial. By continually revisiting and revising your plan, you can ensure it remains accurate, relevant, and effective. You can adjust your forecasts as needed, respond to changes in the business environment, and stay on track towards achieving your financial goals. By doing so, you're not only keeping your business financially healthy but also setting the stage for sustained growth and success.

Business Financial Plan Example: Joe’s Coffee Shop

Now, let's look at a practical example of a financial plan for a hypothetical business, Joe’s Coffee Shop.

Sales Forecast

When constructing his sales forecast, Joe takes into account several significant factors. He reviews his historical sales data, identifies and understands current market trends, and evaluates the impact of any upcoming promotional events. With his coffee shop located in a bustling area, Joe expects to sell approximately 200 cups of coffee daily. Each cup is priced at $5, which gives him a daily sales prediction of $1000. Multiplying this figure by 365 (days in a year), his forecast for Year 1 is an annual revenue of $365,000. This projection provides Joe with a financial target to aim for and serves as a foundation for his further financial planning. It is worth noting that Joe's sales forecast may need adjustments throughout the year based on actual performance and changes in the market or business environment.

Expenses Budget

To run his coffee shop smoothly, Joe has identified several fixed and variable costs he'll need to budget for. His fixed costs, which are costs that will not change regardless of his coffee shop's sales volume, include rent, which is $2000 per month, salaries for his employees, which total $8000 per month, and utilities like electricity and water, which add up to about $500 per month.

In addition to these fixed costs, Joe also has variable costs to consider. These are costs that fluctuate depending on his sales volume and include the price of coffee beans, milk, sugar, and pastries, which he sells alongside his coffee. After a careful review of all these expenses, Joe estimates that his total annual expenses will be around $145,000. This comprehensive expense budget provides a clearer picture of how much Joe needs to earn in sales to cover his costs and achieve profitability.

Cash Flow Statement

With a clear understanding of his expected sales revenue and expenses, Joe can now proceed to develop a cash flow statement. This statement provides a comprehensive overview of all the cash inflows and outflows within his business. When Joe opened his coffee shop, he invested an initial capital of $50,000. He expects that the monthly cash inflows from sales will be about $30,417 (which is his annual revenue of $365,000 divided by 12), and his monthly cash outflows for expenses will amount to approximately $12,083 (his total annual expenses of $145,000 divided by 12). The cash flow statement gives Joe insights into his business's liquidity. It helps him track when and where his cash is coming from and where it is going. This understanding can assist him in managing his cash resources effectively and ensure he has sufficient cash to meet his business's operational needs and financial obligations.

Income Statement and Balance Sheet

With the figures from his sales forecast, expense budget, and cash flow statement, Joe can prepare his income statement and balance sheet. The income statement, or Profit & Loss (P&L) statement, reveals the profitability of Joe's coffee shop. It calculates the net profit by subtracting the total expenses from total sales revenue. In Joe's case, this means his net profit for Year 1 is expected to be $220,000 ($365,000 in revenue minus $145,000 in expenses).

The balance sheet, on the other hand, provides a snapshot of the coffee shop's financial position at a specific point in time. It includes Joe's initial capital investment of $50,000, his assets like coffee machines, furniture, and inventory, and his liabilities, which might include any loans he took to start the business and accounts payable.

The income statement and balance sheet not only reflect the financial health of Joe's coffee shop but also serve as essential tools for making informed business decisions and strategies. By continually monitoring and updating these statements, Joe can keep his finger on the pulse of his business's financial performance and make necessary adjustments to ensure sustained profitability and growth.

Best Practices in Business Financial Planning

While crafting a business financial plan, consider the following best practices:

  • Realistic Projections : Ensure your forecasts are realistic, based on solid data and reasonable assumptions.
  • Scenario Planning : Plan for best-case, worst-case, and most likely scenarios. This will help you prepare for different eventualities.
  • Regular Reviews : Regularly review and update your plan to reflect changes in business conditions.
  • Seek Professional Help : If you are unfamiliar with financial planning, consider seeking assistance from a financial consultant.

The importance of a meticulously prepared business financial plan cannot be overstated. It forms the backbone of any successful business, steering it towards a secure financial future. Creating a solid financial plan requires a blend of careful analysis, precise forecasting, clear and measurable goal setting, prudent budgeting, and efficient cash flow management. The process may seem overwhelming at first, especially for budding entrepreneurs. However, it's crucial to understand that financial planning is not an event, but rather an ongoing process. This process involves constant monitoring, evaluation, and continuous updating of the financial plan as the business grows and market conditions change.

The strategies and best practices outlined in this article offer an invaluable framework for any entrepreneur or business owner embarking on the journey of creating a financial plan. It provides insights into essential elements such as setting clear financial goals, creating a sales forecast, preparing an expense budget, developing a cash flow statement, and preparing income statements and balance sheets. Moreover, the example of Joe and his coffee shop gives a practical, real-world illustration of how these elements come together to form a coherent and effective financial plan. This example demonstrates how a robust financial plan can help manage resources more efficiently, make better-informed decisions, and ultimately lead to financial success.

Remember, every grand journey begins with a single step. In the realm of business, this step is creating a well-crafted, comprehensive, and realistic business financial plan. By following the guidelines and practices suggested in this article, you are laying the foundation for financial stability, profitability, and long-term success for your business. Start your journey today, and let the road to financial success unfold.

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Simple Business Plan Template for Startups, Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Financial plan, what is a financial plan.

A business’ financial plan is the part of your business plan that details how your company will achieve its financial goals. It includes information on your company’s projected income, expenses, and cash flow in the form of a 5-Year Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement. The plan should also detail how much funding your company needs and the key uses of these funds.

The financial plan is an important part of the business plan, as it provides a framework for making financial decisions. It can be used to track progress and make adjustments as needed.

Why Your Financial Plan is Important

The financial section of your business plan details the financial implications of running your company. It is important for the following two reasons:

Making Informed Decisions

A financial plan provides a framework for making decisions about how to use your money. It can help you determine whether or not you can afford to make a major purchase, such as a new piece of equipment.

It can also help you decide how much money to reinvest in your business, and how much to save for paying taxes.

A financial plan is like a roadmap for your business. It can help you track your progress and make adjustments as needed. The plan can also help you identify potential problems before they arise.

For example, if your sales are below your projections, you may need to adjust your budget accordingly.

Your financial plan helps you understand how much outside funding is required, when your levels of cash might fall low, and what sales and other goals you need to hit to become financially viable.

Securing Funding

This section of your plan is absolutely critical if you are trying to secure funding. Your financial plan should include information on your revenue, expenses, and cash flow.

This information will help potential investors or lenders understand your business’s financial situation and decide whether or not to provide funding.

Include a detailed description of how you plan to use the funds you are requesting. For example, what are the key uses of the funds (e.g., purchasing equipment, paying staff, etc.) and what are the future timings of these financial outlays.

The financial information in your business plan should be realistic and accurate. Do not overstate your projected revenues or underestimate your expenses. This can lead to problems down the road.

Potential investors and lenders will be very interested in your future projections since it indicates whether you will be able to repay your loans and/or provide a nice return on investment (ROI) upon exit.

Financial Plan Template: 4 Components to Include in Your Financial Plan

The financial section of a business plan should have the following four sub-sections:

Revenue Model

Here you will detail how your company generates revenues. Oftentimes this is very straightforward, for instance, if you sell products. Other times, your answer might be more complex, such as if you’re selling subscriptions (particularly at different price/service levels) or if you are selling multiple products and services.

Financial Overview & Highlights

In developing your financial plan, you need to create full financial forecasts including the following financial statements.

5-Year Income Statement / Profit and Loss Statement

An income statement, also known as a profit and loss statement (P&L), shows how much revenue your business has generated over a specific period of time, and how much of that revenue has turned into profits. The statement includes your company’s revenues and expenses for a given time period, such as a month, quarter, or year. It can also show your company’s net income, which is the amount of money your company has made after all expenses have been paid.

5-Year Balance Sheet

A balance sheet shows a company’s financial position at a specific point in time. The balance sheet lists a company’s assets (what it owns), its liabilities (what it owes), and its equity (the difference between its assets and its liabilities).

The balance sheet is important because it shows a company’s financial health at a specific point in time. A strong balance sheet indicates that a company has the resources it needs to grow and expand. A weak balance sheet, on the other hand, may indicate that a company is struggling to pay its bills and may be at risk of bankruptcy.

5-Year Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement shows how much cash a company has on hand, as well as how much cash it is generating (or losing) over a specific period of time. The statement includes both operating and non-operating activities, such as revenue from sales, expenses, investing activities, and financing activities.

While your full financial projections will go in your Appendix, highlights of your financial projections will go in the Financial Plan section.

These highlights include your Total Revenue, Direct Expenses, Gross Profit, Other Expenses, EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), and Net Income projections. Also include key assumptions used in creating these future projections such as revenue and cost growth rates.

Funding Requirements/Use of Funds

In this section, you will detail how much outside funding you require, if any, and the core uses of these funds.

For example, detail how much of the funding you need for:

  • Product Development
  • Product Manufacturing
  • Rent or Office/Building Build-Out

Exit Strategy

If you are seeking equity capital, you need to explain your “exit strategy” here or how investors will “cash out” from their investment.

To add credibility to your exit strategy, conduct market research. Specifically, find other companies in your market who have exited in the past few years. Mention how they exited and the amounts of the exit (e.g., XYZ Corp. bought ABC Corp. for $Y).  

Business Plan Financial Plan FAQs

What is a financial plan template, how can i download a financial plan template, how do you make realistic assumptions in your business plan.

When forecasting your company’s future, you need to make realistic assumptions. Conduct market research and speak with industry experts to get a better idea of the key trends affecting your business and realistic growth rates.

You should also use historical data to help inform your projections. For example, if you are launching a new product, use past sales data to estimate how many units you might sell in Year 1, Year 2, etc.

Learn more about how to make the appropriate financial assumptions for your business plan.

How Do You Make the Proper Financial Projections for Your Business Plan?

Your business plan’s financial projections should be based on your business model and your market research. The goal is to make as realistic and achievable projections as possible.

To create a good financial projection, you need to understand your revenue model and your target market. Once you have this information, you can develop assumptions around revenue growth, cost of goods sold, margins, expenses, and other key metrics.

Once you have your assumptions set, you can plug them into a financial model to generate your projections.

Learn more about how to make the proper financial projections for your business plan.

What Financials Should Be Included in a Business Plan?

There are a few key financials that should be included in a traditional business plan format. These include the Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement.

Income Statements, also called Profit and Loss Statements, will show your company’s expected income and expense projections over a specific period of time (usually 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years). Balance Sheets will show your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. Cash Flow Statements will show how much cash your company has generated and used over a specific period of time.


  • Business Plan Template Home
  • 1. Executive Summary
  • 2. Company Overview
  • 3. Industry Analysis
  • 4. Customer Analysis
  • 5. Competitive Analysis
  • 6. Marketing Plan
  • 7. Operations Plan
  • 8. Management Team
  • 9. Financial Plan
  • 10. Appendix
  • Business Plan Summary

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6 Elements of a Successful Financial Plan for a Small Business

Improve your chances of growth by covering these bases in your plan.

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Table of Contents

Many small businesses lack a full financial plan, even though evidence shows that it is essential to the long-term success and growth of any business. 

For example, a study in the New England Journal of Entrepreneurship found that entrepreneurs with a business plan are more successful than those without one. If you’re not sure how to get started, read on to learn the six key elements of a successful small business financial plan.

What is a business financial plan, and why is it important? 

A business financial plan is an overview of a business’s financial situation and a forward-looking projection for growth. A business financial plan typically has six parts: sales forecasting, expense outlay, a statement of financial position, a cash flow projection, a break-even analysis and an operations plan.

A good financial plan helps you manage cash flow and accounts for months when revenue might be lower than expected. It also helps you budget for daily and monthly expenses and plan for taxes each year.

Importantly, a financial plan helps you focus on the long-term growth of your business. That way, you don’t get so caught up in the day-to-day activities that you lose sight of your goals. Focusing on the long-term vision helps you prioritize your financial resources. 

The 6 components of a successful financial plan for business

1. sales forecasting.

You should have an estimate of your sales revenue for every month, quarter and year. Identifying any patterns in your sales cycles helps you better understand your business, and this knowledge is invaluable as you plan marketing initiatives and growth strategies . 

For instance, a seasonal business can aim to improve sales in the off-season to eventually become a year-round venture. Another business might become better prepared by understanding how upticks and downturns in business relate to factors such as the weather or the economy.

Sales forecasting is also the foundation for setting company growth goals. For instance, you could aim to improve your sales by 10 percent over each previous period.

2. Expense outlay

A full expense plan includes regular expenses, expected future expenses and associated expenses. Regular expenses are the current ongoing costs of your business, including operational costs such as rent, utilities and payroll. 

Regular expenses relate to standard business activities that occur each year, such as conference attendance, advertising and marketing, and the office holiday party. It’s a good idea to distinguish essential expenses from expenses that can be reduced or eliminated if needed.

Expected future expenses are known future costs, such as tax rate increases, minimum wage increases or maintenance needs. Generally, a part of the budget should also be allocated to unexpected future expenses, such as damage to your business caused by fire, flood or other unexpected disasters. Planning for future expenses ensures your business is financially prepared via budget reduction, increases in sales or financial assistance.

Associated expenses are the estimated costs of various initiatives, such as acquiring and training new hires, opening a new store or expanding delivery to a new territory. An accurate estimate of associated expenses helps you properly manage growth and prevents your business from exceeding your cost capabilities. 

As with expected future expenses, understanding how much capital is required to accomplish various growth goals helps you make the right decision about financing options.

3. Statement of financial position (assets and liabilities)

Assets and liabilities are the foundation of your business’s balance sheet and the primary determinants of your business’s net worth. Tracking both allows you to maximize your business’s potential value. 

Small businesses frequently undervalue their assets (such as machinery, property or inventory) and fail to properly account for outstanding bills. Your balance sheet offers a more complete view of your business’s health than a profit-and-loss statement or a cash flow report. 

A profit-and-loss statement shows how the business performed over a specific time period, while a balance sheet shows the financial position of the business on any given day.

4. Cash flow projection

You should be able to predict your cash flow on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Projecting cash flow for the full year allows you to get ahead of any financial struggles or challenges. 

It can also help you identify a cash flow problem before it hurts your business. You can set the most appropriate payment terms, such as how much you charge upfront or how many days after invoicing you expect payment .

A cash flow projection gives you a clear look at how much money is expected to be left at the end of each month so you can plan a possible expansion or other investments. It also helps you budget, such as by spending less one month for the anticipated cash needs of another month.

5. Break-even analysis

A break-even analysis evaluates fixed costs relative to the profit earned by each additional unit you produce and sell. This analysis is essential to understanding your business’s revenue and potential costs versus profits of expansion or growth of your output. 

Having your expenses fully fleshed out, as described above, makes your break-even analysis more accurate and useful. A break-even analysis is also the best way to determine your pricing.

In addition, a break-even analysis can tell you how many units you need to sell at various prices to cover your costs. You should aim to set a price that gives you a comfortable margin over your expenses while allowing your business to remain competitive.

6. Operations plan

To run your business as efficiently as possible, craft a detailed overview of your operational needs. Understanding what roles are required for you to operate your business at various volumes of output, how much output or work each employee can handle, and the costs of each stage of your supply chain will aid you in making informed decisions for your business’s growth and efficiency.

It’s important to tightly control expenses, such as payroll or supply chain costs, relative to growth. An operations plan can also make it easier to determine if there is room to optimize your operations or supply chain via automation, new technology or superior supply chain vendors.

For this reason, it is imperative for a business owner to conduct due diligence and become knowledgeable about merchant services before acquiring an account. Once the owner signs a contract, it cannot be changed, unless the business owner breaks the contract and acquires a new account with a new merchant services provider. 

Tips on writing a business financial plan

Business owners should create a financial plan annually to ensure they have a clear and accurate picture of their business’s finances and a realistic view for future growth or expansion. A financial plan helps the business’s leaders make informed decisions about purchases, debt, hiring, expense control and overall operations for the year ahead. 

A business financial plan is essential if a business owner is looking to sell their business, attract investors or enter a partnership with another business. Here are some tips for writing a business financial plan.

Review the previous year’s plan.

It’s a good idea to compare the previous year’s plan against actual performance and finances to see how accurate the previous plan and forecast were. That way, you can address any discrepancies or overlooked elements in next year’s plan.

Collaborate with other departments.

A business owner or other individual charged with creating the business financial plan should collaborate with the finance department, human resources department, sales team , operations leader, and those in charge of machinery, vehicles or other significant business tools. 

Each division should provide the necessary data about projections, value and expenses. All of these elements come together to create a comprehensive financial picture of the business.

Use available resources.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE, the SBA’s nonprofit partner, are two excellent resources for learning about financial plans. Both can teach you the elements of a comprehensive plan and how best to work with the different departments in your business to collect the necessary information. Many websites, including , and service providers, such as Intuit, offer advice on this matter. 

If you have questions or encounter challenges while creating your business financial plan, seek advice from your accountant or other small business owners in your network. Your city or state has a small business office that you can contact for help.

Business financial plan templates

Many business organizations offer free information that small business owners can use to create their financial plan. For example, the SBA’s Learning Platform offers a course on how to create a business plan. It also offers worksheets and templates to help you get started. You can seek additional help and more personalized service from your local office.

SCORE is the largest volunteer network of business mentors. It began as a group of retired executives (SCORE stands for “Service Corps of Retired Executives”) but has expanded to include business owners and executives from many industries. Advice is free and available online, and there are SBA district offices in every U.S. state. In addition to participating in group or at-home learning, you can be paired with a mentor for individualized help. 

SCORE offers templates and tips for creating a small business financial plan. SCORE is an excellent resource because it addresses different levels of experience and offers individualized help.

Other templates can be found in Microsoft Office’s template library, QuickBooks’ online resources, Shopify’s blog and other places. You can also ask your accountant for guidance, since many accountants provide financial planning services in addition to their usual tax services.

Diana Wertz contributed to the writing and research in this article.


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The Essential Guide To Navigating Financial Planning For Small Business Growth

The Essential Guide To Navigating Financial Planning For Small Business Growth

As a small business owner, financial planning is an essential part of ensuring success. It’s important to understand the implications of your financial decisions and how they will impact your future. In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of financial planning for small business growth and how to navigate the process.

  • Developing a Budget
  • Creating a Cash Flow Plan
  • Setting Financial Goals
  • Assessing Your Financial Situation
  • Identifying Investment Opportunities
  • Managing Risk
  • Saving for Retirement
  • Working with a Professional

1. Developing a Budget

An accurate budget is the cornerstone of successful small business financial planning. By keeping a close eye on your profits and spending, you can create a reliable roadmap for your business. Start by gathering all your financial statements, including bank statements, income and expenses. This will give you an overview of your financial activity and help you identify areas of improvement.

Next, create a budget based on your income and expenses. This should include both fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are those that remain the same each month, such as rent and utilities. Variable expenses are those that fluctuate from month to month, such as marketing or staff costs. Make sure to include a cushion for unexpected expenses.

Once you have developed a budget, you should review it regularly. This will allow you to adjust your budget as needed and ensure that you are staying on track. If you have any questions or concerns, consider speaking with a financial advisor who can provide you with expert advice and guidance.

Monitoring your budget is key to successful financial planning for small business growth. By keeping an accurate budget, you can ensure that you are staying on track and making progress toward your goals. With careful planning and regular reviews, you can ensure your business stays on the path to success.

2. Creating a Cash Flow Plan

A cash flow plan is an important part of your financial planning for small business growth. As a business owner, understanding how your money is flowing in and out is essential for predicting and managing any potential shortfalls or emergency expenses. To create a successful cash flow plan, you should begin by looking at your current finances and estimating what you expect your income and expenses to be over the next quarter or year.

When you have a better understanding of your expected income and expenses, you can create a budget that factors in any additional costs or investments you may need to make. This can help you anticipate any potential cash flow issues and plan ahead for them. Additionally, you can use this budget to plan for any expected or unexpected growth over the next quarter or year. This will give you a better idea of the resources you need to allocate to ensure that your business continues to grow.

Creating a cash flow plan can seem daunting, but it is essential for small business growth. In addition to helping you plan ahead for any potential issues, it can also help you prioritize your investments and make sure that all of your money is being used efficiently. With a cash flow plan in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are doing everything you can to ensure your business’s success.

3. Setting Financial Goals

Having financial goals is an important step in any small business owner’s journey. While some business owners may choose to focus on short-term goals, such as cutting costs or increasing sales, longer-term goals can be equally as important. Setting financial goals helps you to understand where you want your business to be in the future and how you can get there.

When setting financial goals, it’s important to make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This will ensure that you have something to strive for and that you can track your progress. For example, you might set a goal of increasing your profits by 30% within the next 12 months. This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

When setting financial goals, it’s important to ensure that they are realistic and achievable. It’s also important to break down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps. This will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and will ensure that you’re making progress towards your goals.

It’s also important to review and adjust your financial goals regularly. As your business grows and changes, your goals should also change to reflect this. You should review your goals every few months to ensure that they still reflect your business’s current needs and objectives.

Having financial goals is an essential part of financial planning for small business growth. By setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals, you can ensure that you are making progress and that you are on track to achieve success.

4. Assessing Your Financial Situation

Once you have an understanding of your current financial situation, you can start to plan for the future. Assessing your financial situation is the foundation for all of your future financial planning and can help you understand what steps to take next. Taking an honest look at your financial situation can help you identify areas of improvement and areas where you can make better decisions.

It is important to keep track of your spending, income, and assets so you can accurately assess your financial situation. Make sure to document any changes you make, such as taking on debt or investing in assets. This can help you keep track of the progress you are making over time.

Creating a budget and tracking your expenses is also a great way to assess your financial situation. This can help you identify areas where you are spending more or less money than necessary and create a plan for how to better manage your finances. It can also help you identify areas where you can cut back and save money in order to increase your financial stability.

In addition to assessing your financial situation, it is important to understand the implications of different financial decisions. This includes understanding the risks and rewards associated with taking on debt, investing in assets, and other financial decisions. Understanding the potential impacts of different financial decisions can help you make better decisions and plan for the future.

Assessing your financial situation is the first step to financial planning for small business growth. Taking the time to understand where you are starting from and how your decisions will affect the future can help you make more informed decisions and increase the success of your business.

5. Identifying Investment Opportunities

When it comes to financial planning for small business growth, it’s essential to identify potential investment opportunities. Investing in the right assets can be a key factor in maximizing success and achieving financial goals. While stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are the most common forms of investments, there are many other options available. Real estate investments, venture capital funds, and private equity funds can be great ways to increase capital and secure future growth.

It’s important to understand the risks and rewards associated with each investment option and to research the best options for your business. Investing in the stock market can be a great way to increase capital, but there is also a risk of loss. Investing in real estate can provide a steady income, but it also requires a large initial investment. A financial advisor can be a great resource for understanding the different types of investment options and helping to decide which is best for your business.

Identifying potential investment opportunities is a critical part of financial planning for small business growth. It’s important to take the time to understand the different types of investments available and to research the best options for your business. With careful planning and research, you can make wise decisions and maximize the potential for success.

6. Managing Risk

Managing risk when it comes to financial planning is a critical component of success for any small business. As an entrepreneur, it’s essential to understand the potential risks of any investments you make and how to protect your business from potential losses. It’s also important to understand the implications of your financial decisions and how they will impact your future.

When assessing risk, it’s important to look at the long-term effects of any decision you make and to be cognizant of the potential downside. For example, investing in a new piece of equipment may be necessary for growth, but it may also require a considerable upfront cost and a high risk of failure if the venture doesn’t succeed.

It’s also important to consider the potential for fraud and theft when dealing with investments. As a small business owner, you should take extra precautions to ensure that any funds you’re investing are secure and that your assets are protected. This includes taking extra steps to verify the legitimacy of any investment opportunity and doing thorough research on any company you’re partnering with.

Finally, it’s important to establish a system of checks and balances to monitor your finances and ensure that your investments are performing as expected. This includes keeping track of your expenses and income on a regular basis and monitoring your investments for any potential risks. Doing so can help you identify any potential issues before they become too costly.

By understanding the potential risks of any investments you make and taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your business, you can make sure that your financial planning decisions will benefit you in the long run. With the right approach and the right attitude, you can ensure that your small business will be able to grow and thrive.

7. Saving for Retirement

Saving for retirement is a crucial part of financial planning for small business owners. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s important to start building a retirement fund now. There are many ways to do this, from setting aside a certain amount of income each month to investing in retirement accounts such as IRA’s and 401k’s.

When determining how much to save for retirement, it’s a good idea to consult a financial advisor to get a full understanding of your financial picture. This should include an analysis of your current income, expenses, debts, and other factors. A financial advisor can also help you decide which investments are best suited for your retirement fund.

For those who are self-employed, there are additional options to consider, such as SEP IRA’s or Solo 401k’s. These are retirement plans specifically designed for sole proprietors. Again, a financial advisor can help you determine which plan is right for you.

It’s also important to remember that saving for retirement should be treated as an ongoing process. You should be regularly reviewing your investments and adjusting your retirement strategy as needed. This will help ensure that you’re on track to reach your retirement goals.

Creating a retirement savings plan may seem daunting, but it’s an essential part of financial planning for small business growth. With the right strategy in place, you’ll be able to retire comfortably and enjoy the rewards of your hard work.

8. Working with a Professional

Working with a professional can be a great way to navigate the financial planning process for small business growth. A financial planner can provide you with the necessary expertise to help you make the best decisions for your business. Not only do they have the knowledge and experience to help guide you through the process, but they can also be a great sounding board for ideas and strategies.

When looking for a financial planner, it’s important to find one who has experience with small businesses. You want someone who understands the unique needs and challenges of running a small business. Ask for references and speak to other business owners to get a sense of how the planner has helped them.

When you find a financial planner that you’re comfortable with, be sure to ask about their fees and services. Make sure they understand your goals and the strategies they will use to reach them. It’s important to keep in mind that a financial planner is not a substitute for taking responsibility for your own financial decisions. They should be a resource to help you make informed decisions about your business growth.

Working with a professional financial planner can be a great way to ensure that you have the best advice available to guide you through the financial planning process for small business growth. With the right guidance, you can make the right decisions to help you reach your goals.

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Financial Planning for Small Business Owners

Learn the basics of creating a financial plan for small business owners.

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A small business owner puts up an Open sign.

There are many different kinds of small business owners in all stages of their business. Some have just started putting their ideas into action in a startup, while others are in the growth stage or even planning an exit strategy.

No matter which stage your business is in and whether you're a dreamer or more of a pragmatist, there is one thing you can't afford not to do. You need a holistic financial plan that takes into account where your business is now and what the plan is for the future.

For small business owners, establishing a financial plan comes with an added complexity, which is the business. In some ways, the business and personal sides of your financial plan will be mutually exclusive.

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Separate your personal financial goals from your business goals 

Before making any plans, it's critical to understand that you are not your business. Most small business owners have goals for their business, but it's important to also make financial goals for yourself and to keep them separate.

It can be tempting to combine the two, especially for sole proprietors or single-member LLC owners whose business is included on their individual income tax return. However, by not separating your business from your personal financial goals, you could be missing out on some amazing personal achievements.

For example, some personal financial goals might include setting up and contributing to an education fund for your child, boosting your retirement savings, funding and going on a vacation, and buying your first home or downsizing when your children move out of the house.

On the other hand, some financial goals for your business might include increasing sales to a particular amount, finding more customers, or establishing a certain percentage of growth rate.

Consider alternative funding options to diversify your business-related risk 

You may also want to look at other places where you can further separate yourself personally from your business. The easiest place to look is at the many available funding options for your business.

Most small business owners invest in their own businesses using their own money and time, which may be appropriate in certain situations. However, just as you would diversify your investment portfolio, so you may also want to diversify your business-related risks.

Using your own capital, or, in a worst-case scenario, your own credit cards, places you at significant personal financial risk if something happens to the business. In some cases, though, it might make sense to cede some of that risk to another party. After all, today's digital world has brought a wider array of potential funding options that range from venture capital and private equity to crowdfunding, business loans, and even more creative options like a small business incubator or accelerator.

The Small Business Administration is also an excellent resource for business owners, not only for information and guidance but also, in some cases, for low-interest business loans.

Remember to plan for retirement

For small business owners, retirement planning actually sits at the crossroads between personal and business financial planning. It can be tempting to just keep pouring your money back into the business, but that can make it difficult, if not impossible, to save for retirement.

Many small business owners don't save for retirement because they believe they'll be able to sell their business and live off the proceeds of the sale in retirement. However, most overestimate what their business might be worth, especially when looking decades into the future.

Simplified Employee Pension ( SEP ) IRAs and individual 401(k)s both enable small business owners to plan ahead for the days when they finally retire.

Diversify everywhere 

Another important thing small business owners should remember when creating their personal financial plans for themselves and their business is diversification. A small business is a piece of a larger investment portfolio, but many business owners don't recognize this.

Being in business represents a significant risk, even if it seems like you're in a safe industry. As a result, it makes sense for small business owners to target low-risk investments for the rest of their investment portfolio.

Prepare your exit strategies 

Finally, small business owners should prepare their exit strategies — for both their personal legacy and their business. From a personal perspective, business owners can't afford not to have a will and estate plan to ensure the business doesn't fold upon their death. Many also want to leave their business to the next generation, but without a will, ownership succession becomes hazy.

In terms of the business, you should also create a succession plan designating who will take over when you retire or pass. The financial reasons for creating a succession plan are similar to those for creating a will and estate plan, although these plans differ from a practical standpoint. In terms of your personal financial plan, you're designating heirs, while for your business financial plan, you're designating the next CEO or manager. They could be the same person or different people, depending on your situation.

Don't be too busy to plan

These guidelines are only the very basics of what a small business owner needs to consider when creating a financial plan. Some other factors that may play a role in your personal and business financial plans include insurance (property, professional, and otherwise), preparations for growth, planning for disability, and more. No two financial plans are the same, and these other factors may fall under some of the earlier headings.

Unfortunately, many small business owners find themselves tapped out when it comes to financial planning. It takes so much energy and enthusiasm to keep the business going that they sacrifice their personal financial wellbeing. However, your busiest times will be when you need these financial plans the most, and having separate personal and business financial plans will make everything much easier.

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Jacob is the founder and CEO of ValueWalk. What started as a hobby 10 years ago turned into a well-known financial media empire focusing in particular on simplifying the opaque world of the hedge fund world. Before doing ValueWalk full time, Jacob worked as an equity analyst specializing in mid and small-cap stocks. Jacob also worked in business development for hedge funds. He lives with his wife and five children in New Jersey. Full Disclosure: Jacob only invests in broad-based ETFs and mutual funds to avoid any conflict of interest.

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Free Financial Templates for a Business Plan

By Andy Marker | July 29, 2020

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In this article, we’ve rounded up expert-tested financial templates for your business plan, all of which are free to download in Excel, Google Sheets, and PDF formats.

Included on this page, you’ll find the essential financial statement templates, including income statement templates , cash flow statement templates , and balance sheet templates . Plus, we cover the key elements of the financial section of a business plan .

Financial Plan Templates

Download and prepare these financial plan templates to include in your business plan. Use historical data and future projections to produce an overview of the financial health of your organization to support your business plan and gain buy-in from stakeholders

Business Financial Plan Template

Business Financial Plan Template

Use this financial plan template to organize and prepare the financial section of your business plan. This customizable template has room to provide a financial overview, any important assumptions, key financial indicators and ratios, a break-even analysis, and pro forma financial statements to share key financial data with potential investors.

Download Financial Plan Template

Word | PDF | Smartsheet

Financial Plan Projections Template for Startups

Startup Financial Projections Template

This financial plan projections template comes as a set of pro forma templates designed to help startups. The template set includes a 12-month profit and loss statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement for you to detail the current and projected financial position of a business.

‌ Download Startup Financial Projections Template

Excel | Smartsheet

Income Statement Templates for Business Plan

Also called profit and loss statements , these income statement templates will empower you to make critical business decisions by providing insight into your company, as well as illustrating the projected profitability associated with business activities. The numbers prepared in your income statement directly influence the cash flow and balance sheet forecasts.

Pro Forma Income Statement/Profit and Loss Sample

financial planning of business plan

Use this pro forma income statement template to project income and expenses over a three-year time period. Pro forma income statements consider historical or market analysis data to calculate the estimated sales, cost of sales, profits, and more.

‌ Download Pro Forma Income Statement Sample - Excel

Small Business Profit and Loss Statement

Small Business Profit and Loss Template

Small businesses can use this simple profit and loss statement template to project income and expenses for a specific time period. Enter expected income, cost of goods sold, and business expenses, and the built-in formulas will automatically calculate the net income.

‌ Download Small Business Profit and Loss Template - Excel

3-Year Income Statement Template

3 Year Income Statement Template

Use this income statement template to calculate and assess the profit and loss generated by your business over three years. This template provides room to enter revenue and expenses associated with operating your business and allows you to track performance over time.

Download 3-Year Income Statement Template

For additional resources, including how to use profit and loss statements, visit “ Download Free Profit and Loss Templates .”

Cash Flow Statement Templates for Business Plan

Use these free cash flow statement templates to convey how efficiently your company manages the inflow and outflow of money. Use a cash flow statement to analyze the availability of liquid assets and your company’s ability to grow and sustain itself long term.

Simple Cash Flow Template

financial planning of business plan

Use this basic cash flow template to compare your business cash flows against different time periods. Enter the beginning balance of cash on hand, and then detail itemized cash receipts, payments, costs of goods sold, and expenses. Once you enter those values, the built-in formulas will calculate total cash payments, net cash change, and the month ending cash position.

Download Simple Cash Flow Template

12-Month Cash Flow Forecast Template

financial planning of business plan

Use this cash flow forecast template, also called a pro forma cash flow template, to track and compare expected and actual cash flow outcomes on a monthly and yearly basis. Enter the cash on hand at the beginning of each month, and then add the cash receipts (from customers, issuance of stock, and other operations). Finally, add the cash paid out (purchases made, wage expenses, and other cash outflow). Once you enter those values, the built-in formulas will calculate your cash position for each month with.

‌ Download 12-Month Cash Flow Forecast

3-Year Cash Flow Statement Template Set

3 Year Cash Flow Statement Template

Use this cash flow statement template set to analyze the amount of cash your company has compared to its expenses and liabilities. This template set contains a tab to create a monthly cash flow statement, a yearly cash flow statement, and a three-year cash flow statement to track cash flow for the operating, investing, and financing activities of your business.

Download 3-Year Cash Flow Statement Template

For additional information on managing your cash flow, including how to create a cash flow forecast, visit “ Free Cash Flow Statement Templates .”

Balance Sheet Templates for a Business Plan

Use these free balance sheet templates to convey the financial position of your business during a specific time period to potential investors and stakeholders.

Small Business Pro Forma Balance Sheet

financial planning of business plan

Small businesses can use this pro forma balance sheet template to project account balances for assets, liabilities, and equity for a designated period. Established businesses can use this template (and its built-in formulas) to calculate key financial ratios, including working capital.

Download Pro Forma Balance Sheet Template

Monthly and Quarterly Balance Sheet Template

financial planning of business plan

Use this balance sheet template to evaluate your company’s financial health on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. You can also use this template to project your financial position for a specified time in the future. Once you complete the balance sheet, you can compare and analyze your assets, liabilities, and equity on a quarter-over-quarter or year-over-year basis.

Download Monthly/Quarterly Balance Sheet Template - Excel

Yearly Balance Sheet Template

financial planning of business plan

Use this balance sheet template to compare your company’s short and long-term assets, liabilities, and equity year-over-year. This template also provides calculations for common financial ratios with built-in formulas, so you can use it to evaluate account balances annually.

Download Yearly Balance Sheet Template - Excel

For more downloadable resources for a wide range of organizations, visit “ Free Balance Sheet Templates .”

Sales Forecast Templates for Business Plan

Sales projections are a fundamental part of a business plan, and should support all other components of your plan, including your market analysis, product offerings, and marketing plan . Use these sales forecast templates to estimate future sales, and ensure the numbers align with the sales numbers provided in your income statement.

Basic Sales Forecast Sample Template

Basic Sales Forecast Template

Use this basic forecast template to project the sales of a specific product. Gather historical and industry sales data to generate monthly and yearly estimates of the number of units sold and the price per unit. Then, the pre-built formulas will calculate percentages automatically. You’ll also find details about which months provide the highest sales percentage, and the percentage change in sales month-over-month. 

Download Basic Sales Forecast Sample Template

12-Month Sales Forecast Template for Multiple Products

financial planning of business plan

Use this sales forecast template to project the future sales of a business across multiple products or services over the course of a year. Enter your estimated monthly sales, and the built-in formulas will calculate annual totals. There is also space to record and track year-over-year sales, so you can pinpoint sales trends.

Download 12-Month Sales Forecasting Template for Multiple Products

3-Year Sales Forecast Template for Multiple Products

3 Year Sales Forecast Template

Use this sales forecast template to estimate the monthly and yearly sales for multiple products over a three-year period. Enter the monthly units sold, unit costs, and unit price. Once you enter those values, built-in formulas will automatically calculate revenue, margin per unit, and gross profit. This template also provides bar charts and line graphs to visually display sales and gross profit year over year.

Download 3-Year Sales Forecast Template - Excel

For a wider selection of resources to project your sales, visit “ Free Sales Forecasting Templates .”

Break-Even Analysis Template for Business Plan

A break-even analysis will help you ascertain the point at which a business, product, or service will become profitable. This analysis uses a calculation to pinpoint the number of service or unit sales you need to make to cover costs and make a profit.

Break-Even Analysis Template

Break Even Analysis

Use this break-even analysis template to calculate the number of sales needed to become profitable. Enter the product's selling price at the top of the template, and then add the fixed and variable costs. Once you enter those values, the built-in formulas will calculate the total variable cost, the contribution margin, and break-even units and sales values.

Download Break-Even Analysis Template

For additional resources, visit, “ Free Financial Planning Templates .”

Business Budget Templates for Business Plan

These business budget templates will help you track costs (e.g., fixed and variable) and expenses (e.g., one-time and recurring) associated with starting and running a business. Having a detailed budget enables you to make sound strategic decisions, and should align with the expense values listed on your income statement.

Startup Budget Template

financial planning of business plan

Use this startup budget template to track estimated and actual costs and expenses for various business categories, including administrative, marketing, labor, and other office costs. There is also room to provide funding estimates from investors, banks, and other sources to get a detailed view of the resources you need to start and operate your business.

Download Startup Budget Template

Small Business Budget Template

financial planning of business plan

This business budget template is ideal for small businesses that want to record estimated revenue and expenditures on a monthly and yearly basis. This customizable template comes with a tab to list income, expenses, and a cash flow recording to track cash transactions and balances.

Download Small Business Budget Template

Professional Business Budget Template

financial planning of business plan

Established organizations will appreciate this customizable business budget template, which  contains a separate tab to track projected business expenses, actual business expenses, variances, and an expense analysis. Once you enter projected and actual expenses, the built-in formulas will automatically calculate expense variances and populate the included visual charts. 

‌ Download Professional Business Budget Template

For additional resources to plan and track your business costs and expenses, visit “ Free Business Budget Templates for Any Company .”

Other Financial Templates for Business Plan

In this section, you’ll find additional financial templates that you may want to include as part of your larger business plan.

Startup Funding Requirements Template

Startup Funding Requirements Template

This simple startup funding requirements template is useful for startups and small businesses that require funding to get business off the ground. The numbers generated in this template should align with those in your financial projections, and should detail the allocation of acquired capital to various startup expenses.

Download Startup Funding Requirements Template - Excel

Personnel Plan Template

Personnel Plan Template

Use this customizable personnel plan template to map out the current and future staff needed to get — and keep — the business running. This information belongs in the personnel section of a business plan, and details the job title, amount of pay, and hiring timeline for each position. This template calculates the monthly and yearly expenses associated with each role using built-in formulas. Additionally, you can add an organizational chart to provide a visual overview of the company’s structure. 

Download Personnel Plan Template - Excel

Elements of the Financial Section of a Business Plan

Whether your organization is a startup, a small business, or an enterprise, the financial plan is the cornerstone of any business plan. The financial section should demonstrate the feasibility and profitability of your idea and should support all other aspects of the business plan. 

Below, you’ll find a quick overview of the components of a solid financial plan.

  • Financial Overview: This section provides a brief summary of the financial section, and includes key takeaways of the financial statements. If you prefer, you can also add a brief description of each statement in the respective statement’s section.
  • Key Assumptions: This component details the basis for your financial projections, including tax and interest rates, economic climate, and other critical, underlying factors.
  • Break-Even Analysis: This calculation helps establish the selling price of a product or service, and determines when a product or service should become profitable.
  • Pro Forma Income Statement: Also known as a profit and loss statement, this section details the sales, cost of sales, profitability, and other vital financial information to stakeholders.
  • Pro Forma Cash Flow Statement: This area outlines the projected cash inflows and outflows the business expects to generate from operating, financing, and investing activities during a specific timeframe.
  • Pro Forma Balance Sheet: This document conveys how your business plans to manage assets, including receivables and inventory.
  • Key Financial Indicators and Ratios: In this section, highlight key financial indicators and ratios extracted from financial statements that bankers, analysts, and investors can use to evaluate the financial health and position of your business.

Need help putting together the rest of your business plan? Check out our free simple business plan templates to get started. You can learn how to write a successful simple business plan  here . 

Visit this  free non-profit business plan template roundup  or download a  fill-in-the-blank business plan template  to make things easy. If you are looking for a business plan template by file type, visit our pages dedicated specifically to  Microsoft Excel ,  Microsoft Word , and  Adobe PDF  business plan templates. Read our articles offering  startup business plan templates  or  free 30-60-90-day business plan templates  to find more tailored options.

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How to Create a Financial Plan for Your Business

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Home » Blog » How to Create a Financial Plan for Your Business

A wise old Certified Public Accountant gave me some priceless advice when I began my entrepreneurial journey.

“If the math doesn’t work, neither will your business.” 

Upon seeing my blank expression, he explained it a little further.

“A successful business earns more than it spends, and you ensure that happens (within reason) by creating a financial plan that controls every dollar you make.”

How so? I asked.

“Because your financial plan empowers you to control your cash flow, prepare for uncertainties, and take advantage of future opportunities.”

That’s when I knew I needed one.

If so, my step-by-step guide explains how to create a business financial plan that reflects your goals and controls every dollar you make.

What is a financial plan?

At its most basic level, a business financial plan is a document that shows you what money flows in and out of your business, how you earn it, and where you spend it. 

Similar to businesses, no 2 financial plans are the same.

However, a solid financial plan contains several components, including an income statement, cash flow statement, personnel plan, balance sheet, financial projections, and break-even analysis. 

Together, these enable you to control your budget, highlight potential future risks, set goals, calculate your funding requirements, and implement strategies to achieve them. 

While there’s no such thing as a sure thing in life, your financial plan brings your future into your present so that you can control it now.

Why is a financial plan important for a small business?

As you know (or will when you start your business ), entrepreneurs work long hours and make many decisions to ensure their business is on track. A business financial plan helps remove uncertainty from those decisions, replacing it with figures you can rely on and preparing you to take full advantage of investment opportunities when they arise. 

Here’s what Warren Buffet says about opportunities:

“Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.”

Your financial plan ensures you’ve got a bucket!

We also use a financial plan to control our cash flow, forecast our future financial business performance (including our income, expenses, and profitability), and stay within budget. 

Together, these help us maximize our assets, confidently navigate any problems during our entrepreneurial journey, and convince investors to believe in our vision. 

What is the difference between a business financial plan and a personal financial plan?

While most financial plans include the same information, some essential differences exist between business and personal plans because your goals likely differ from those of your SMB.

For example, an individual’s financial plan might include retirement, investment strategies, a minimum annual income to reduce tax liabilities, and securing an estate for their children.

In contrast, a business’s financial plan might focus on hiring additional staff, increasing inventory, bringing new products online, expanding into other markets, and even a new brick-and-mortar location. 

As you can see, the goals differ from one to the other, as might yours. That’s why a financial plan is as unique as the business it serves; however, some elements are vital for every financial business plan! 

The key components of a business financial plan

We now know that a thorough financial plan is imperative to the success and stability of your small business. 

Here are the components that can help make that happen:

  • Income Statement: Contains information on your revenue, profits, and losses.
  • Cash flow statement: Documents how money flows in and out of your business. 
  • Balance sheet: Shows your business assets and expenses at a specific time.
  • Financial projections: This helps predict your future income and expenses.
  • Personnel plan: Identifies if and when you should hire employees.
  • Break-Even Analysis: Confirms when you’ll make a profit.

Okay, now let’s look at how you use them to create yours:

How to Create a Business Financial Plan

To create your business financial plan, you must first collect financial information relevant to the 6 critical components you’ll use for its structure. 

Budding entrepreneurs who have yet to start their businesses might be wondering, `How do I collect information I haven’t got?` 

Good point!

Here’s where your business plan comes into play because it contains a financial section that includes your startup and running costs , financial projections, and break-even analysis. 

And those are 3 of the critical components in your business financial plan!

1. Income statement

An income statement (also known as a pro forma income or profit-and-loss statement) contains information on revenue, profits, losses, and fixed and variable operating expenses over a specific period, such as monthly, quarterly, or yearly.

It includes 2 columns containing your income and expenses and, at the bottom, your net profit or loss total.

Here’s an example of how it should look:

  • Cost of goods sold (COGS) and operating expenses: These are the direct costs of producing your goods or services and the costs for running your business, such as rent, utilities, wages, insurance, licenses, etc.
  • Revenue streams: Usually direct sales or ongoing subscriptions/
  • Total net profit or loss: Subtract your costs (and taxes) from your total gross profit.
  • Net income: Your total income after you subtract your expenses and taxes.

Next comes your cash flow statement, which might initially look like your income statement, but there are distinct differences.

Your income statement calculates your business’s revenues, expenses, and profits and reflects its financial performance. Your cash flow statement shows where you earn and spend your money, which is essential for staying within budget and paying your bills. 

2. Cash flow statement

Most small businesses need regular cash injections to survive.

But did you know that a lack of cash is the number one reason 82% of small US businesses fail? Source: .

So, it’s crucial to control it using a cash flow statement. 

A cash flow statement for established businesses could include bank statements showing credits (profits) and debits (expenditures). Startups with little cash flow information could include their startup and running costs and any funding sources. 

You can create a cash flow statement using two columns, one for your income and the other for your expenditures. 

And add the name, date, and invoice/receipt number to each transaction to make it easy to follow and correlate with your invoices and receipts. Trust me, your bookkeeper will love you for it!

3. Balance sheet

Your balance sheet is a financial snapshot of your business at a specific moment that lets you view your liabilities, assets, equity, and any up-and-coming extra expenses.

You use a balance sheet to subtract your debts (liabilities) from what you own (assets) to show you your net worth, also known as equity.

Let’s break those down so you know what they involve:


Your liabilities are business debts, such as outstanding inventory fees, utility bills, employee wages or compensation, and unpaid taxes.

These fall into 2 categories: current and fixed. 

  • Your current assets can include your business bank balance, available cash, and outstanding invoices, known as accounts receivable.
  • Your fixed assets include tangible things like your business property, equipment, vehicles, or land.

Note: Some businesses also have intangible assets, such as patents and copyrights.

Your business equity is the value of your assets minus your liabilities, which could also include any stock and share options.

4. Financial projections

A financial projection (also called an income projection) forecasts how much money you think might flow in and out of your business over a set period based on past performances or for startups on their business plan’s market research .

Financial projections can help you in several ways, including:

  • Many small businesses need financial projections to identify and prepare for slow sales because of low seasonal demand or a shift in consumer buying trends.
  • Your financial projections help you understand the cash you need to reach your business goals by estimating their costs.
  • Most new businesses need solid (believable) financial projections to get funding, as they help show you can repay your debts.
  • And to help entrepreneurs running a side hustle know when they can take it full-time .

To create your income projection, estimate your future sales income minus your fixed and variable expenses.

5. Personnel plan

Most businesses need the right people to meet their goals and maintain a healthy cash flow.

You use a personnel plan to determine whether to hire employees and if they should be full-time, part-time, freelancers, or contractors on a need-only basis. 

Your personnel plan also calculates employee costs like wages, benefits, worker’s compensation insurance, and payroll taxes to ensure you only hire when you can afford to.

6. Break-even analysis

Your break-even analysis projects when you’ll recoup your investment and earn more than your spending to run your business.

You calculate your break-even date by dividing your variable and fixed costs by your gross profit margin to get a financial figure your business must make to break even.

Need help to determine what your fixed and variable costs are?

No worries:

  • Your fixed costs include expenses that remain the same regardless of how many products or services you sell. These include your rent, insurance policies, license and permit expenses , accounting fees, and wages.
  • Your variable costs fluctuate relative to your sales or production volume.

The takeaway:

Your break-even analysis tells you the number of products or services you must sell to cover your business and production costs. 

Tips on creating an effective financial plan for your business

Preparation is the key to creating a business financial plan, and you prepare by setting goals, assessing present and future credit needs, estimating every business expense, planning for contingencies, and seeking professional financial advice if required. 

And once your plan is in place, regular monitoring helps ensure your business is on its financial target.

Let’s look at how you do it:

Set your financial goals

Your goals are relative to your business. Some examples include forming an LLC , hiring employees, expanding your product range or services, entering a new marketplace, opening a new branch, or trading abroad.

You must define them (regardless of what they are) because your financial plan aims to help you achieve them.

Consider this proverb when choosing your financial business goals:

“The art is not in making money, but making your money work for you.”

And that’s pretty much the secret to how people get rich!

That’s why now is the time to define your goals and create a strategically driven financial business plan that guides every business decision and ensures you maximize your investments.

Speaking of which!

Know your credit needs 

Your business credit needs are any loans you require when starting, running, or expanding your business.

As most small business owners know, the golden rule in running a small business is to minimize your expenditures because the less money you borrow, the higher your profits and the more accurate your business financial plan will be.

But sometimes, we must borrow to exploit market opportunities , buy equipment, or expand, and knowing your credit needs (and score) can help you get the best deals.

Include those little expenses

No income or expense is too small to consider when running a business that relies on a consistent cash flow.

Benjamin Franklin put it this way:

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” 

The problem many new business owners experience is that it’s easy to account for significant expenses (especially fixed costs), but it’s the small, variable everyday ones that can catch us out and scupper our budget. 

To avoid a sinking feeling, evaluate your monthly fixed and variable expenditures and avoid unnecessary, unbudgeted expenses at all costs.

Monitor your goals

Creating your financial plan is your first step, implementing it the second, and monitoring it the third because that’s how you ensure your strategies are achieving your financial goals. 

To monitor your goals, use those key elements of your business financial plan, including your income and cash flow statement, balance sheet, and financial projections, as they provide an up-to-date assessment.

Regular monitoring also helps you identify potential problems and implement any changes before they harm your business’s financial health. 

Plan for contingencies

Planning for problems relative to your niche, like seasonal fluctuations and new competitors, is standard best business practice. But as recent history has taught us, we must also prepare for the unforeseeable!

You can spot worst-case scenarios (like a falling income) by evaluating your business financial plan’s balance sheet and cash flow statement.

Some ways to plan for contingencies are to have a credit line available and cash reserves that can help keep you afloat should the going get rough. 

Consider hiring help 

Many of the most successful business leaders have a shared secret to their success!

They surround themselves with people who know more than they do about every aspect of their business. 

Steve Jobs explains it perfectly:

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Fortunately, financial experts are available to help you create your business financial plan.

Consider hiring a financial advisor to inform you of prudent financial decisions and investments, and your bank manager can help assess your creditworthiness while considering any past problems that could affect present loan applications.

Financial planning FAQs

What is a business financial plan.

An effective business financial plan contains your business goals and outlines your strategies.

It’s a GPS that guides your SMB’s financial activities by ensuring you make informed decisions on how and where to invest your resources. 

How do you write a business financial plan?

Your financial plan begins with a strategic plan that contains your business goals and what you’ll need to achieve them.

Next, you must create your financial projections, plan for contingencies, and monitor to assess your actual results against your projections to adjust if required. 

What are the 6 components of a financial plan?

Financial plans are as unique as the business they serve. However, 6 components you must include are:

  • Cash flow statement: Documents how money flows in and out of your business.
  • Personnel plan: Identifies whether you should hire employees.
  • Break-Even Analysis: Confirms when you'll make a profit.

What is the best financial statement for a small business?

Your income statement best assesses your business’s financial performance, containing your profits, losses, and equity.

Your balance sheet and cash flow statement are also crucial for running a profitable business. 

Entrepreneurs need many skills, and one of the most important is financial intelligence because it ensures we keep our fingers on our businesses’ financial pulse.

Learning how to create a business financial plan is a great way to gain that skill.

And when you control your income and expenditures, you take control of your business’s financial destiny. Sweet.

One last thing to remember when creating a business financial plan.

The numbers never lie!

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.

Terry O'Toole

Terry OToole

Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.

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Financial Planning Business Plan

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Grizzly Bear Financial Managers

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

There are people in the Portland Oregon who are in need  of investing advice, and those that are in need of estate planning help.

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers is a comprehensive financial planning and estate planning consultancy.  Grizzly’s services are comprehensive in terms of offered products (mutual funds, equities, estate planning) and depth of research.  Although it costs a fair amount of money for Grizzly to do an in-depth amount of research into prospective investments as well as possible options for the client, this up-front cost will be eclipsed by a long-term relationship that is likely to be established out of earned respect.

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers will be marketing their services to two different groups of people, those in need of investing advice, and those that are in need of estate planning help.  These two groups will be targeted through networking activities and public seminars.  Grizzly’s competitive advantage of thoroughness of services offered as well as in-depth research will turn prospective clients into long-term customers.


The buying patterns of consumers are more often than not based on networking or who the person knows.  This is because the industry of financial planning is so populated it is quite hard to make a decision for choosing a service provider.  Since many/most people after a certain age have at least visited a financial planner it is not difficult to get a referral for a planner.

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers’ mission is to provide comprehensive financial planning services for our customers.  We exist to attract and maintain customers.  When we adhere to this maxim, everything else will fall into place.  Our services will exceed the expectations of our customers.


Grizzly will reach profitability by month eight and will have modest profits by the end of year three.

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

Meghan will be putting in $23,000 to start this business. 

Problem & Solution

Problem worth solving, our solution.

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers serves the Portland Metropolitan area.  Grizzly will be generating new clients through a combination of networking and monthly public seminars that introduces otherwise unreachable segments of the population.  Besides the seminars developing new business, it is also a way that Grizzly can give back to the community.

Target Market

Market size & segments.

Market Segmentation

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers will target two different groups of customers.  Both groups will be from the middle to upper-middle class socio-economic groups.

  • Middle-aged people in need of estate planning . This group is making plans for their estate and are in need of advice on how to structure their estate.  They might have already made arrangements for their estate and wish to modify them, or be starting from scratch.
  • Middle-aged people interested in investing . This group is interested in some sort of investing, whether it is mutual funds, stocks, bonds, treasury notes, etc. They may have already done some investing, but want to change their risk profile or take a different approach.  This might also be their first time investing and want expert advice.

Target Market Segment 

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers has chosen these two groups because they both have money to invest and most need assistance in determining how to invest or how to structure their estate.

These groups will be targeted through two methods.  The first is old fashioned networking.  Meghan made a lot of different contacts in her pursuit for her MBA.  In addition to networking her contacts from school, Meghan will also network using her social contacts.

Meghan will also be targeting these groups through the production of public seminars on estate planning and investing.  These seminars typically take place in a public area such as a library hall.  The seminars provide a basic level of knowledge. The seminar is not meant to substitute Meghan’s services, they are meant to whet people’s appetites for more information.  The real reason for the seminars is to get a diverse crowd of people interested in Meghan and the services she offers, creating new business.

Current Alternatives

Competition comes from many different sources:

  • Independent financial planners : these are often most like Grizzly Bear Financial Managers.  They do not belong to a larger company and they are not affiliated with any type of company, mutual fund, or otherwise.
  • Financial planners that are part of a larger organization : American Express, Charles Schwaab, and Merrill Lynch.  While these planners might offer good advice, they are often biased, having a financial interest in the companies that they sell equity in.
  • Tax and estate planning attorneys : professionals with a legal background who offer similar financial services, sometimes as a sideline to their practice of law.
  • True niche players who only are stock brokers or who only do estate planning : while these people probably have very detailed information about their area of specialization, estate planning or financial planning often requires a breadth of knowledge in many areas. 

Our Advantages

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers’ competitive advantage is their comprehensive approach to research and services provided.  It is Meghan’s philosophy that she can develop more value for her customers by investing more time up front while researching different options.  Most planning firms will do adequate research in terms of looking into different options, certainly enough to meet due diligence requirements. While this is sufficient for some, Meghan adheres to the philosophy that its is better to invest the time upfront in support of the customers.  This will then pay off in the future by developing long lasting relationships.  This attention to detail and thoroughness will certainly be appreciated by clients who are trusting their financial future to Meghan.

Keys to Success

Our keys to success are:

  • To create a service-based company whose primary goal is to exceed customer’s expectations.
  • To increase the number of clients served by at least 20% per year through superior performance and word-of-mouth referrals.
  • To develop a sustainable financial management company that generates value for their customers. 

Marketing & Sales

Marketing plan.

Pro Tip:

Meghan will also be doing a lot of networking to drum up business.  One outstanding source of networking is with her friends from her MBA program.  While everyone that went through the MBA program has a good educational foundation for financial management, most people do not do their own planning by themselves but are assisted by a specialist.  Meghan will be contacting her colleagues through social occassions as well as calling them, to keep in touch with them and offer her services if they are in need.  These two methods will accurately target the segmented populations and allow Meghan to build her client list.

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers’ sales strategy will be to emphasize their competitive advantage of comprehensive research and product offerings.  This is likely to turn prospective clients into long-term customers because people are often cautious with their financial future and offering a comprehensive solution will likely allay their concerns because Grizzly Bear Financial Managers is willing to work extra hard to research all options. 

This approach takes a lot of time up front for Meghan, but the customers will recognize this effort and choose Grizzly Bear Financial Managers as their service provider.

Locations & Facilities

Class B office space in a small office suite in the South Waterfront area, below OHSU, along the river. 

Milestones & Metrics

Milestones table.

Milestone Due Date
Jan 31, 2020
Apr 04, 2020
July 11, 2020
Oct 04, 2020
Dec 13, 2020

Key Metrics

Our key metrics are: 

  • # of customers per month 
  • # of positive reviews and re-tweets 
  • # of new customers coming in from phone inquiries 
  • # of Facebook page views and website link shares 

Ownership & Structure

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers is a sole proprietorship owned by Meghan Malcolm

Management Team

Meghan Malcolm received her Bachelor of Arts from Reed College.  While at Reed College, Meghan supplemented her school loans with income from being an accounting clerk for Hollywood video.  While Meghan learned accounting backwards and forwards from this job, she found it boring.  After graduation Meghan took the GMAT’s in preparation for getting her MBA.

Meghan decided that she needed to take at least a year off between school so she worked for a bicycle touring company that took clients on mountain bike trips through the Rocky Mountains. Meghan developed people and communication skills on this trip.  It was her responsibility to make sure that the clients were always happy.  Although at the time Meghan did not know how valuable these communication skills would become, she did recognize that they were useful.

Meghan entered Willamette’s MBA program a year after graduating from Reed.  During the second year Meghan was allowed to choose her courses and she took a concentration of finance, investing, options, etc.  She enjoyed the investing of money, and it was at this point that she realized that this is the type of work that she wanted to do.  She figured it would be initially tough to start her own financial planning company by herself, but with all of the contacts that she has made over the years, first at Reed then at Willamette, she was prepared to go ahead with her dream.

Personnel Table

2020 2021 2022
Meghan $43,200 $44,064 $44,945
Admin Assistant $33,600 $34,272 $34,957
Totals $76,800 $78,336 $79,902

Financial Plan investor-ready personnel plan .">

Key assumptions.

  • Stability in investment markets
  • No significant change in regulatory environment
  • Trackable, provable performance results
  • Good word of mouth bolstered by social media

Revenue by Month

Expenses by month, net profit (or loss) by year, use of funds.

Grizzly Bear Financial Managers will incur the following start-up costs:

  • Desk, chair and file cabinet.
  • Couch and table.
  • Fax machine, copier.
  • Computer with printer, CD-RW, and Internet connection.
  • Legal fees for business formation.

Please note that the items which are considered assets to be used for more than a year will labeled long-term assets and will be depreciated using G.A.A.P. approved straight-line depreciation method.

Sources of Funds

Meghan will invest $23,000. 

Projected Profit & Loss

2020 2021 2022
Revenue $121,494 $180,000 $280,000
Direct Costs $3,645 $5,400 $8,400
Gross Margin $117,849 $174,600 $271,600
Gross Margin % 97% 97% 97%
Operating Expenses
Salaries & Wages $76,800 $78,336 $79,902
Employee Related Expenses $15,360 $15,667 $15,981
Sales and Marketing $1,200 $1,200 $1,200
Insurance $1,800 $1,800 $1,800
Rent $18,000 $18,000 $18,000
Startup Expenses $900
Total Operating Expenses $114,060 $115,003 $116,883
Operating Income $3,789 $59,597 $154,718
Interest Incurred
Depreciation and Amortization $456 $456 $456
Gain or Loss from Sale of Assets
Income Taxes $833 $14,785 $38,566
Total Expenses $118,994 $135,644 $164,304
Net Profit $2,500 $44,356 $115,696
Net Profit/Sales 2% 25% 41%

Projected Balance Sheet

2020 2021 2022
Cash $22,229 $39,904 $12,001
Accounts Receivable $0 $0 $0
Other Current Assets
Total Current Assets $22,229 $39,904 $12,001
Long-Term Assets $4,560 $4,560 $4,560
Accumulated Depreciation ($456) ($912) ($1,368)
Total Long-Term Assets $4,104 $3,648 $3,192
Total Assets $26,333 $43,552 $15,193
Accounts Payable $0 $0 $0
Income Taxes Payable $833 $3,696 $9,641
Sales Taxes Payable $0 $0 $0
Short-Term Debt
Prepaid Revenue
Total Current Liabilities $833 $3,696 $9,641
Long-Term Debt
Long-Term Liabilities
Total Liabilities $833 $3,696 $9,641
Paid-In Capital $23,000 $23,000 $23,000
Retained Earnings ($27,500) ($133,144)
Earnings $2,500 $44,356 $115,696
Total Owner’s Equity $25,500 $39,856 $5,552
Total Liabilities & Equity $26,333 $43,552 $15,193

Projected Cash Flow Statement

2020 2021 2022
Net Cash Flow from Operations
Net Profit $2,500 $44,356 $115,696
Depreciation & Amortization $456 $456 $456
Change in Accounts Receivable $0 $0 $0
Change in Inventory
Change in Accounts Payable $0 $0 $0
Change in Income Tax Payable $833 $2,863 $5,945
Change in Sales Tax Payable $0 $0 $0
Change in Prepaid Revenue
Net Cash Flow from Operations $3,789 $47,675 $122,097
Investing & Financing
Assets Purchased or Sold ($4,560)
Net Cash from Investing ($4,560)
Investments Received $23,000
Dividends & Distributions ($30,000) ($150,000)
Change in Short-Term Debt
Change in Long-Term Debt
Net Cash from Financing $23,000 ($30,000) ($150,000)
Cash at Beginning of Period $0 $22,229 $39,904
Net Change in Cash $22,229 $17,675 ($27,903)
Cash at End of Period $22,229 $39,904 $12,001

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Financial Planning Model Definition

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Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by subject matter experts.

Updated on August 03, 2023

Are You Retirement Ready?

Table of contents.

A Financial Planning Model is a framework that helps you identify how much money you need, what sources of income will be available, and the expenses you expect.

This model is helpful for business owners, entrepreneurs, or anyone who wants to know how they can better plan their financial future.

Financial planning starts with creating a budget so that you know where your earnings are coming from and where all of your spending's are going.

The financial planning model takes this knowledge and uses it to balance your earning, spending and build up assets like savings.

Have questions about creating a financial planning model? Click here .

Who Develops the Financial Planning Model?

The financial planning model is usually developed by a professional who understands all the laws governing investing and financial planning.

This person can be a financial planner trained to make the model or someone like an accountant or lawyer.

These professionals will take information from the client and use it to create a financial plan that can be used for future growth of income, expenses, or savings goals. The financial planning model provides a blueprint for future success with money, so it needs to be created by someone who knows what they are doing.

How Does a Financial Planning Model Work?

The financial planning model will take the information you provide to the professional and create a plan based on it.

This can be done in several ways, like balancing your earning sources with outgoings or creating an asset allocation that works best for you.

Different modes of financial planning use different models; some are better than others depending on what kind of financial planning you need.

The model will give an output, like a balance sheet or statement of income and expenses that shows what kind of plan is best for your situation.

Why Use a Financial Planning Model?

There are many reasons why people use these tools.

  • They make the financial planning process easier by taking a lot of information and creating something useful.
  • The model is based on knowledge and expertise, so it will be accurate and useful.
  • The numbers and financial data it provides can be used to better understand your situation.
  • There are professionals who feel more confident about investing with guidance from this kind of financial plan rather than going it alone without understanding all of the numbers behind making decisions.
  • It can help you implement a plan that will lead to financial success.

Using a financial planning model is a great way to better understand your financial situation and give you the tools that you need to be successful.

Examples of Financial Models

There are many financial models that you can use.

Some of the most common types include:

financial planning of business plan

Cash flow model - It is a financial model that helps you to understand how cash flows in and out of your business.

Net worth model - The net worth model shows how the combination of your assets, liabilities , and equity add up to determine what you own or owe.

Investment portfolio model - The investment portfolio model is used for investing in securities, including stocks and bonds .

Retirement planning model - The retirement planning model helps create a steady stream of income that you can rely on when you get older. However, it needs to be worked into your financial plan from the beginning so that there will still be money available decades down the line.

How Do You Build a Financial Model?

You will need a list of all current assets and liabilities, an income statement for at least one year's time period if possible, and a rough idea about how much money you want to have in savings by specific dates.

If your budget is already balanced, this part should be easy enough since you know where every penny goes each month. However, if your finances are not balanced, you may need to do some work to ensure that all of the numbers add up.

This is where a financial model might be helpful. A financial model can be built in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. You'll need to have at least the following columns:

  • Inputs for monthly income and expenses
  • Assets/liabilities that you own or owe over time, including current asset values as well as projected future value if they are investments
  • Projected bank account balances each month using your inputs so far plus what is needed to pay down debt or add towards savings goals

If there are any other figures you would like included, these should also be added along with their formulas so that it makes sense mathematically when looking through them later on.

Once your financial model is complete, review all of the inputs and make sure that they are accurate so that there won't be any problems with projections over time if things don't turn out as planned financially.

Common Mistakes People Make When Creating Their Own Financial Plans

The biggest mistake people make when creating their financial planning model is not learning all of the required information.

If you don't know about tax laws or how interest rates work, that can lead to problems in your plan where money isn't being saved or invested in the most effective way possible.

This can lead to problems down the line if you hope to reach specific goals for your finances.

Some common mistakes include:

  • Not understanding inflation rates over time
  • Assuming numbers will stay consistent without any changes being made, so they don't take into account future expenditures or income sources where there are unknowns at this point in time
  • Not starting with a plan and instead just diving into creating the model so that it is harder to pinpoint what changes need to be made along the way.

Why Should You Hire a Professional to Help With Your Finances?

There are many reasons that people choose to work with financial planners and other types of professionals when it comes time for them to create their own financial plan or model. Some expected benefits include:

  • Knowing all of the rules and regulations that come along with different financial products
  • Having someone who can explain complicated terms in a way that makes sense for their client’s specific needs
  • Understanding how interest rates , income tax brackets, investment returns, inflation rates, or other economic factors can impact what you decide to do financially over time
  • Having someone work with your numbers to be personalized for what you want to achieve rather than something generic because not everyone's financial situation is the same.

If you want a better future or just feel like you need someone to help guide you through your financial decisions, then hiring a professional is the best way to go about it.

A financial plan model will help you create a plan that can be tracked over time to see if you are meeting your goals or falling short of them.

These plans will look at income from all sources and expenses and debts, allowing the user to make changes for their financial future to remain secure.

With these models in place, it is possible to reach savings goals faster, invest more efficiently, and avoid costly mistakes when working with a professional who understands how finance works best.

Financial Planning Model FAQs

What is a financial planning model.

A financial planning model is a tool used to help individuals with their finances by creating projections over time. This will give them more insight into what they want to do financially and how they can make changes along the way if needed. The financial planning model can also show the estimated future value of different investments over time, with tax implications factored into them if desired.

Who creates financial planning models?

Financial planners are the ones who typically create these types of financial models. While individuals can do it on their own, this requires a lot more time and effort to get right. This is why professionals tend to be better suited for creating them.

How does a financial planning model work?

A financial planning model works by looking at the user’s income sources and expenses. This will help them create projections over time to track what they want to achieve financially so that it can be measured along the way. The end goal is for this person's finances to remain secure, allowing them to reach any financial goals they may have. If they need to make changes along the way, they can do that with a financial planning model in place.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when creating financial plans?

Some of the most common mistakes that people make when creating their financial planning models are not starting with a plan and instead just diving into creating the model so that it is harder to pinpoint what changes need to be made along the way. Another mistake would be for them to take future expenditures or income sources where there are unknowns at this point in time. Finally, people make another mistake when creating financial models: not putting in enough detail or trying to save time by creating something generic that doesn’t reflect what they actually want.

Why should you hire a professional to help with your finances?

A financial planner will help you understand complex terms and what it means for your finances. They can also help you invest in a most beneficial way to achieve the goals that are important to you with their knowledge of how finance works best. You need someone who understands these things because they have put in the time required to get good at it. Hiring a professional will allow you to take the steps needed to reach financial freedom faster and help save money along the way.

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide , a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University , where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon , Nasdaq and Forbes .

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More From Forbes

How To Start A Business Plan: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Creating a business plan is a critical first step for any entrepreneur. Knowing how to start a business plan will help you create a roadmap, guiding your business from startup to growth and beyond. Whether you're looking for investment, trying to set clear goals, or simply organizing your thoughts, a solid business plan can make all the difference.

Here is a guide to help you get started on your business plan:

1. executive summary.

What It Is: This section summarizes your business plan as a whole and outlines your company profile and goals.

What to Include:

  • Business name and location
  • Products or services offered
  • Mission statement
  • The purpose of the plan (e.g., seeking funding, guiding the startup process)

Tip: Keep it concise. Although it's the first section, it's often best to write it last, after you’ve detailed everything else.

2. Company Description

What It Is: This section provides detailed information about your company, including who you are, what you do, and what markets you serve.

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  • Your business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation)
  • The industry and marketplace needs your business meets
  • Your business’s objectives and how you stand out from competitors

Tip: Use this section to highlight your company’s strengths and what makes you unique.

3. Market Research

What It Is: Market research demonstrates your understanding of the industry and target market.

  • Market size and growth potential
  • Target customer demographics
  • Market trends and outlook
  • Competitive analysis, including strengths and weaknesses of competitors

Tip: Include data and statistics to back up your findings and show that you’ve done your homework.

4. Organization and Management

What It Is: This section outlines your business’s organizational structure and management team.

  • Organizational chart
  • Information about the ownership of the company
  • Backgrounds and qualifications of the management team
  • Roles and responsibilities within the company

Tip: Highlight the skills and experiences of your team that will help the business succeed.

5. Products or Services Line

What It Is: Here, you detail the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

  • A description of each product or service
  • The lifecycle of products or services
  • Research and development activities, if applicable
  • Intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks

Tip: Focus on the benefits your products or services bring to your customers.

6. Marketing and Sales Strategy

What It Is: This section explains how you will attract and retain customers.

  • Marketing strategies, including advertising, promotions, and public relations
  • Sales strategies, including sales processes, channels, and tactics
  • Pricing strategy and how it compares to competitors

Tip: Ensure your marketing and sales strategies are aligned with your market research findings.

7. Funding Request

What It Is: If you’re seeking funding , this section outlines your requirements.

  • Your current funding needs
  • Future funding requirements over the next five years
  • How you intend to use the funds
  • Potential future financial plans (e.g., selling the business, repaying debt)

Tip: Be specific and realistic about how much funding you need and how it will be used.

8. Financial Projections

What It Is: Financial projections provide a forecast of your business’s financial future.

  • Income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Break-even analysis

Tip: Use realistic and conservative estimates. Consider hiring a financial professional to help with this section if needed.

9. Appendix

What It Is: The appendix includes any additional information that supports your business plan.

  • Resumes of key management team members
  • Permits and leases
  • Legal documents
  • Detailed market research data
  • Product photos

Tip: Only include essential information that adds value to your business plan.

Final Tips for Creating a Business Plan

Creating a business plan requires clarity and precision. First and foremost, keep your business plan clear and concise. Avoid using jargon or complex language that could make the plan difficult to read or understand. Your aim should be to communicate your ideas effectively and efficiently.

Next, be realistic in your approach. Ensure that your goals and financial projections are attainable based on your research and understanding of the market. Overly ambitious projections can undermine your credibility and potentially lead to unrealistic expectations.

It's also essential to remember that a business plan is a dynamic document. As your business grows and market conditions change, you should revisit and revise your plan regularly. This helps you stay aligned with your goals and adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

Finally, seek feedback from experienced business professionals. Having someone with business experience review your plan can provide valuable insights and help identify any potential issues or areas for improvement. Their feedback can enhance the overall quality and effectiveness of your business plan.

By following these tips, you'll be better equipped to create a robust and effective business plan that can guide your business towards success.

The bottom line is that starting a business plan may seem challenging, but with careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a comprehensive guide to steer your business toward success. Use this step-by-step guide to ensure that all essential components are covered, giving your business the best possible start.

Melissa Houston, CPA is the author of Cash Confident: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating a Profitable Business and the founder of She Means Profit . As a Business Strategist for small business owners, Melissa helps women making mid-career shifts, to launch their dream businesses, and I also guide established business owners to grow their businesses to more profitably.

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace any professional or expert accounting and/or tax advice whatsoever.

Melissa Houston

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  • What is financial planning? 

6 steps to create a financial plan

Benefits of financial planning.

  • The bottom line

Financial planning basics: How to create a financial plan

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  • Financial planning is a practice that helps you track and manage your money with the purpose of reaching your financial goals.
  • Create a strong financial plan by setting goals, tracking cash flow, budgeting, investing, and paying down debt. 
  • A CFA or CFP can assist you in creating a personalized financial plan.

Life may be full of twists and turns, but a strong financial plan can help you stay on track toward reaching your goals. From paying off your student loans to buying a house, a comprehensive individualized plan is the best way to go. 

Financial planning is a broad and encompassing practice that aids you and your family in better managing your money and preparing for potential risks. No matter what your current financial situation is, a solid financial plan offers guidance and insight beneficial to all households.

Read about our picks for the best financial advisors here.

What is financial planning? 

Financial planning is essential to achieving long-term and short-term financial goals, while also preparing you for potential future risks and obligations. No two financial plans are the same. Your plan should accurately reflect your own financial needs, goals, and best course of action. 

"The purpose of a financial plan is to help clients — whether it be an individual, family, or business — achieve their financial goals and objectives by creating a structured roadmap for managing their finances effectively," says Chloe Wohlforth, CFP, Partner at Angeles Wealth Management . "A well-crafted financial plan considers a person's current financial situation, future financial goals, and risk tolerance."

Financial plans often address retirement savings, wealth-building strategies, emergency savings plans, tax optimization strategies, college funds, and debt consolidation .

To create a comprehensive plan, you'll need to thoroughly evaluate your current financial situation, such as household income and debt (including car payments, loans, and credit card debt). Most plans tend to involve budgeting, saving, and routine investing. 

You can craft a financial plan yourself or enlist professional assistance. Search for the best online financial advisors or planners, or look for in-person advisors.

"Financial advisors can help you create a financial plan by understanding your goals, values and risk tolerance, and then building a customized path that they can guide you along to enrich your life to its fullest potential," says Jordan Gilberti, CFP and senior lead planner at Facet.

Financial planning isn't as hard as you might think. Here are six steps you can take to create your own financial plan. 

1. Set financial goals

The first step in creating a strong financial plan is identifying your goals. Whether by yourself or with a partner, you should know what you're aiming for. 

"Set your goals and priorities by envisioning a future for yourself over the short, medium, and long term, and what you would like to achieve financially," says Gilberti. "Get yourself organized by gathering all relevant financial documents, including your investment accounts, insurance policies, debts, and other assets."

You can start by asking yourself: What do you want to achieve in five years? How about in 10 or 20 years? Are you looking to buy a house? Have kids? Plan a huge trip? 

Financial planning should feel intentional, and you can more easily draw motivation from clear, obtainable objectives. Consider at least three goals with the following information: 

  • How much will it cost? If you're looking to save for a house or pay off student debt, for example, you should have a number you're aiming for. For instance, how much will it cost to buy a house and how much are you needing to save to make it happen?
  • What is my deadline? Once you know how much you need to save, you'll need to set a realistic timeline. For example, how long do you think it will take to save up for a down payment on a house? 
  • Where should I store the funds? While you can store all your funds in the same bank account, you may want to separate your funds into different savings accounts or brokerage accounts. 

2. Track your finances

What's coming in and what's going out? Before you can start responsibly budgeting, review your cash flow to reveal more ways to save. While some expenses — like rent or gas — are mandatory expenses, you may uncover nonessential charges that are draining your funds.

"The best way to budget is to ask for help. Often clients don't budget because they don't know where to begin. An advisor can help you think about your expenses in different categories. What is discretionary, what is non-discretionary? What is an expense that might be costly now, but only for a fixed amount of time?" says Wohlforth.

Once you have a grasp on your spending habits, you can budget. A beginner-friendly method of budgeting is the 50/30/20 rule , which is suitable for both consistent and irregular-income households. Basically, this plan is a rule of thumb that designates 50% of your income to mandatory expenses, 30% to wants, and 20% to debt or savings.

But keep in mind that everyone's financial situation is unique and the 50/30/20 budget plan won't be suitable for everyone. 

3. Create an emergency fund

Part of establishing a realistic budget is setting aside cash in case of emergencies.

"An emergency fund is typically a savings account that serves as a safety net from unforeseen financial difficulties that you may face throughout your life," Gilberti says. "Examples may include a job loss, disability, home appliance breaking, and more."

Emergencies are unexpected, so having the extra funds on hand can help you pay for medical emergencies and other sudden bills. An emergency budget may also protect you against racking up credit card debt and interest. 

Check out Insider's picks for the best budgeting apps

4. Reduce and manage debt

Reducing and managing debt is a crucial step in financial planning. Even if you're storing a good chunk of cash in a savings or brokerage account, high-interest debt will weigh you down. The longer your debt accumulates interest, the more money you'll lose in the long run. 

You may want to pay down expenses like credit card balances, student loans , and car payments sooner rather than later. You may want to include regular debt payments in your budget plan. 

5. Diversify your investment portfolio

One of the best ways to save for future financial goals and build wealth is through investing. While investing can be risky, a diverse portfolio of stocks, bonds, ETFs, and alternative investments can significantly lower the risk. There are plenty of beginner-friendly online brokerages, robo-advisors, and investing platforms.

The best investing apps for beginners and the best online brokerages for beginners are low-cost and best for passive traders. These sites also allow you to customize your investing portfolio based on your financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Automatic investing platforms like SoFi Invest , Fidelity Go , and Wealthfront are also ideal for new investors. Robo-advisors are a flexible and accessible way for hands-off traders to buy and sell assets. 

6. Plan for retirement

A retirement account is one type of investing account. Early retirement may even be one of your long-term financial goals. The best retirement plan for you depends on your individual situation. 

One of the easiest ways to start savings for retirement is through an employee-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k) , 403(b) , or SEP IRA . These are tax-advantaged accounts that collect a portion of your salary. Some plans, like most 401(k)s, may offer to match an employee's contributions up to a certain percentage. 

In order to grow your account faster, find out how much your employer matches and contribute enough to reach the maximum contribution amount.  In 2023, you can contribute up to $22,500 if you're under 50 years old (people age 50 or older can add an additional $7,500), but keep in mind that you can't withdraw funds until you're 59 1/2. 

Another option is an individual retirement account (IRA), which functions similarly to a 401(k) but it is not sponsored by an employer. IRAs are also tax-advantaged accounts and are often more flexible. In 2023, you can contribute up to $6,500 if you're under 50 (up to $7,500 if you're 50 or older). You also can't withdraw until you're at least 59 1/2. 

A well-thought-out plan not only helps you meet your financial goals but will also map out an accessible course of action based on your individual circumstances. Not only can you better your understanding of your own finances, but you can also focus on reaching important steps. Plus, you're more likely to reach your goals faster. 

While it may be stressful in the beginning, having a clear insight into your income and spending can reduce future stress and financial worry. The more you understand your own financial needs, the more realistic your expectations about the future.

You may also be better prepared for emergencies, like disability or financial trouble. Routinely contributing to an emergency fund is a great way to reduce financial stress and prevent your savings from being drained if trouble arises. 

Financial planning frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Financial planning means that an individual(s) tracks cash flow, budgets expenses, saves for retirement, pays down/manages debt, and invests funds in order to reach long and short-term financial goals. It's a personalized plan based on individual values, risk tolerances, and time horizons.

An example of financial planning may look like a young couple with dual income devising a plan to buy a home in five years based on their current cash flow. In order to reach this goal, the couple establishes a reasonable budget based on necessary monthly expenses (including debt payments), consistent monthly income, and what's left over to save. They develop a plan to pay down their high-interest credit card debt first. Then they open a high-yield savings account and put savings for their down payment into this account, while also contributing to an emergency fund in case any unexpected expenses come up in the next five years.

You can start financial planning by determining your financial goals and tracking your cash flow. If you're struggling to start, you can reach out to a financial planner, financial advisor, or financial consultant for help. 

How to start financial planning

Everyone can benefit from financial planning, no matter what your current financial situation is. A plan can lay out the steps you need to take to reach your long and short-term goals. Whether it's early retirement, buying a house, savings up for a wedding or creating a college fund , a personalized financial plan can help you get there. 

You can start planning by setting goals, tracking your cash flow, budgeting, paying down debt , investing in a diversified investment portfolio, and saving for retirement.

But remember that financial plans aren't static. You'll need to consistently reevaluate your plan in order to make sure it reflects your current situation and goals. 

"While you should be constantly monitoring and adjusting your plan as your life changes, some typical triggers for an update in your financial plan may include a change in income/employment, change in marital status, birth of a child, receiving an inheritance, and much more," says Gilberti. 

If you're having trouble getting started, a certified financial advisor or financial planner can guide you through the process. You can find a financial advisor through online reviews or by talking with friends and family. 

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Home » Insights » Retirement » Pros and Cons of Cash Balance Plans

Pros and Cons of Cash Balance Plans

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Director of Retirement Group, Wealth Advisor

  • July 11, 2024

Learn how a cash balance plan can help business owners lower tax burdens and build a more comfortable retirement.

Discussing Pros and Cons of Cash Balance Plans

  • Small Business , Retirement Planning , Executive Compensation , Business Owners

Cash benefit plans have seen a surge of popularity in recent years and now account for almost half of all defined benefit plans. 1 The plans are particularly attractive to high earning sole business owners or professional groups such as attorneys, physicians, and accountants.

A cash balance plan can help business owners reduce their tax burdens and build a more comfortable retirement. Establishing and contributing to a cash balance plan can result in sizable retirement savings and big tax deductions. In addition, employers may contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to a cash balance plan each year.

Here’s why small businesses owners, especially those approaching retirement, should consider a cash balance plan.

How it works

A cash balance plan is a form of defined benefit plan that also includes features of a defined contribution plan like a 401(k).

In a typical cash balance plan, the employer makes contributions to a pension trust fund account. Each participant is allocated a portion of the account or “cash balance” for record-keeping purposes. Contribution amounts (pay credits) are usually a percentage of the participant’s salary but may also be a flat dollar amount in some cases. A participant’s balance adjusts every year by an “interest credit” tied to a target return or index stated in the plan documents.

  • Interest credit rates are often tied to a target return between 4% to 6%.
  • When the account investment returns are less than the target return for interest credits, the employer may increase contributions, thereby increasing related tax deductions.
  • When investment returns exceed the target return, the surplus may offset future contributions, but also decrease the related tax deductions.

The range of amounts that an employer contributes each year is determined by an actuary. In addition to prior contributions, the crediting rate, and investment returns, actuaries also consider:

  • Retirement benefits promised by the plan
  • Life expectancy, salary, and retirement age of the participants
  • Projected future salary increases of the participants
  • Projected turnover, disability, and mortality of the participants

The participant’s balance at the time benefit payments begin can never be less than the sum of all the contribution credits to the participant’s cash balance. This is referred to as the preservation of capital requirement.


At retirement, cash balance plans may allow plan participants to take the money out as a lump sum in addition to the annuity payment option offered in other pension plans.

Vested plan benefits are generally portable. Funds can be rolled over to an IRA or another employer retirement plan, preserving tax deferral benefits.

Why use a cash balance plan

Cash balance plans can be compelling for business owners for several other reasons:

Maximized Savings and Tax Deductions : Business owners, especially those who are also employees of their own business, can maximize their retirement savings while receiving substantial tax deductions.

Flexibility : Employers can structure the plan to help meet specific goals, such as retaining key employees and managing compensation costs; contribution levels can be set based on the different classes of employees.

Attraction and Retention : Cash balance plans offer a unique and attractive incentive to attract and retain valuable employees.

Creditor Protection : Funds in the cash balance plan may be protected bankruptcy and other creditor claims.

Employees can benefit from cash balance plans because:

Employer-driven contributions : The employer, not the employee, funds the plan.

Predictability : Employees do not bear the investment risks. Unlike a 401(k) and other defined contribution plans, the cash balance plan has a defined benefit at retirement, determined by the pay credits and interest credits defined in the plan document.

Portability : At retirement, participants can roll the lump sum into an IRA or another employer’s plan, which makes it portable and continues tax deferral benefits.

Combining a cash balance plan and a 401(k)

Business owners can sometimes maximize their retirement savings and tax benefits by combining a cash balance plan and a 401(k) plan. The two plans aren’t merged into one. Rather, the business maintains both plans simultaneously and independently, each with its own rules, contribution limits, and investment options. While there can be additional costs associated with having both a cash balance plan and a 401(k), there can also be several advantages worth considering:

Higher contribution limits : The maximum contribution to a 401(k) for 2024 is $22,500 plus an additional $7,500 catch-up for those over 50. For those who have already maxed out these limits, a cash balance plan may allow business owners to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars more, tax deferred.

Diversified savings options : While cash balance plans target moderate returns (usually 4% to 6%), investment options inside a 401(k) can include more growth-oriented investments like stock mutual funds.

Employee retention and recruitment : Offering two types of retirement plan options can help attract and retain top talent.

In short, by combining a cash balance plan and a 401(k), a business can take advantage of the unique features offered by each and provide employees with more than one retirement savings option. Flexibility and customization can benefit both the owner and the employees.

Bottom line

A cash balance plan provides a hybrid approach to retirement savings, offering high contribution limits and defined benefits of a pension plan along with the individual account features like a 401(k). This makes it a particularly attractive option for high-income earners and business owners looking to help maximize their retirement savings while benefiting from tax advantages. At the same time, business owners want to carefully weigh the costs versus the benefits to ensure a cash balance plan aligns with their financial and business goals. Reach out to your financial advisor to see what type of retirement plan is optimal for your business.

1 National Cash Balance Research Report, 12 th Annual Edition. FuturePlan. March 2023.

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Mercer Advisors Inc. is a parent company of Mercer Global Advisors Inc. and is not involved with investment services. Mercer Global Advisors Inc. (“Mercer Advisors”) is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC. The firm only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements.

All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of publication and are subject to change. . The information is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed or warranted by Mercer Advisors. Content, research, tools, and stock or option symbols are for educational and illustrative purposes only and do not imply a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell a particular security or to engage in any particular investment strategy. For financial planning advice specific to your circumstances, talk to a qualified professional at Mercer Advisors.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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How to develop a money management plan

PayPal Editorial Staff

July 9, 2024

A money management plan can help individuals stay on top of daily expenses and save for the future. Digital tools can help make the process easy, convenient, and personalized based on unique financial situations.

Why is a money management plan needed?

A money management plan can help individuals manage personal finances and work toward achieving long-term and short-term goals . These could include:

  • Savings. Allocate and save funds for specific savings goals, like an emergency fund  or a vacation.
  • Avoiding debt.  Monitor spending and increase financial awareness to avoid debt.
  • Making informed decisions.  Get a clear overview of income and expenses to manage bills  and other expenditures.
  • Reducing financial stress.  Make a plan to secure finances and know that financial goals are on track to reduce money-related stress and anxiety.

Step-by-step guide to building a money management plan

A comprehensive budget plan that tracks income and expenses helps to provide a clear path to financial stability.

Here's how to set financial goals and track expenses to create a budget plan effectively.

Step 1: Gather financial information

The first step is to collect all financial details, including:

  • Income sources, like a primary job, side hustles, investments, and any other income.
  • Recurring expenses, such as rent, utilities, and different types of household expenses .
  • Non-essential spending,  like entertainment and dining out.

Step 2: Choose a tracking method

The next step is to choose a method to track finances:

  • Budgeting apps can automatically track spending , offering convenience and accuracy. But they might have additional fees.
  • Spreadsheets,  like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, can be customized to individual needs. However, they require regular manual updates.
  • Pen and paper are good for beginners but are more error-prone than digital methods.

Step 3: Set SMART financial goals

Next, set financial goals that are:

  • Specific.  Define clearly what to achieve.
  • Measurable.  Set a specific amount to track progress.
  • Achievable.  Ensure the goal is realistic.
  • Relevant.  Make sure the goal fits overall financial plans.
  • Time-bound.  Set a deadline to reach the goal.

A SMART financial goal could be: "Save $5,000 for a vacation in the next six months by setting aside $833 each month." SMART goals provide clear targets that may help improve the chances of success.

Step 4: Analyze spending habits

To analyze spending, categorize expenses into essentials (like housing and food) and non-essentials (like entertainment and dining out).

For expensive essentials, explore cheaper alternatives or consider maximizing savings by using cash back apps . For non-essentials, consider which expenses to reduce or eliminate.

Step 5: Create a budget

To create a budget that addresses savings and expenses, consider the 50/30/20 rule. It allocates 50% of income to necessities, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings and paying off debt.

Choosing a specific budgeting strategy will depend on each individual’s needs, so evaluate all options to find the right fit for one’s situation.

Step 6: Consider automating finances

Automating personal finances can improve financial discipline. Automated savings apps , for example, automatically transfer funds into a savings account. PayPal Savings 1 allows users to setup automatic transfers into their account and allocate funds to specific goals.

Another example is scheduling automatic payments for recurring bills, which can help save time and avoid potential late fees.

Step 7: Regularly review and update budgets

Regularly review the budget to ensure it aligns with changing goals and life circumstances. If one’s income, expenses, or spending patterns change, the budget should be updated to reflect this.

Examples of money management strategies

There are different strategies to manage money. Some examples include:

  • Daily expense tracking to get a clear picture of where money is being spent.
  • Budgeting tools or budgeting templates to help visualize and stick to financial plans.
  • 52-week savings challenge to help save a little more each week throughout the year.
  • Rewards programs  to earn cash back or perks on everyday purchases.
  • Budgeting tips such  as planning meals, negotiating bills, and unsubscribing from unused services.

Start building a money management plan

Knowing how to build a money management plan and stick to it is crucial for gaining control over finances.

Start effective money management with the PayPal digital wallet . It helps in splitting bills, tracking spending, and monitoring savings all in one place.

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