Startup Forecasting: Pro Forma Template for Startups

how to make financial projections for a startup

Unrealistic expectations are the problem, not the numbers. The most successful founders were probably realistic in their projections, and they still saw stronger growth than they thought reasonable or possible. The growth numbers of the fastest growing companies are mind bending… though perhaps not as much as the forecasts that exist only in excel.

Step 2: Make Assumptions For Growth

how to make financial projections for a startup

Despite all the above, we often come across critical variables that – no matter how knowledgeable we are about the industry – can make or break the whole model. These are things like initial growth rate, main conversion rate, repeated customer rate, or churn. As a startup, your forecasted growth does depend on your business and the industry growth rate, but it is also heavily influenced by your stage of development. Startups have a tendency to grow slowly until they reach Product Market Fit (PMF), and then extremely quickly once there. These are going to be great references for your own startup projections, especially for your net and gross profitability. In the first year of business, you’ll want to create a monthly income statement.

Easily test the viability of your business ideas with interactive financial simulations

  • Sales forecasts can be created using a number of different forecasting methods designed to determine how much an individual, team, or company will sell in a given amount of time.
  • Our focus here is to track how much revenue and expense we have on any given month, but that doesn’t tell us how much cash we have left in the bank.
  • With countless financial reporting features and detailed guides on creating accurate financial forecasts, FreshBooks can help you gain the insight you need to let your business thrive.
  • Likewise, the only way to get accurate predictions is if your data is error-free.
  • They also show what you intend to do with your money and how you expect your business to grow.

No matter how great your idea may be or how compelling your story is, most investors want to see the numbers behind it. Financial projections are the most common way to present financial information to investors. Just click on the “Export” tab in the Forecast+ section, and you can download the current models. Financial planning involves looking at a business’s current performance, short-term goals, and long-term goals and deciding what to do to reach those goals.

How to present financials in a startup with no revenue?

how to make financial projections for a startup

If your business has been operating for six months or more, you can create a fairly accurate cash flow projection with your past cash flow financial statements. For new businesses, you’ll need to factor in this step of creating a financial forecast when doing your industry research. From there, the focus can shift to the financial performance that is expected to flow from the team. The typical place to start is with the three financial statements from the prior period — the balance sheet, the income statement (or profit and loss statement), and the cash flow statement.

  • By keeping your projection up to date, you can show potential investors that you are a responsible and capable entrepreneur; as your startup grows and changes, so will your financial situation.
  • In this article, we cover all the basics you need to start defining and generating startup financial projections.
  • The documents will also be vital for building a case for business loans.
  • We’ll sometimes make some basic level assumptions for these as well, but they won’t have as much impact on our strategic plans.

Understanding Financial Models for Startups

I recorded an entire course on this, but I have listed some tools and some slides below to show you my typical research process. Here are some examples of businesses where I would take a capacity-based approach. The 3 main types of revenue models are subscription, usage, and transaction. This model describes the different pricing points, subscription types, upsells and cross-sells, discounts, and any other features you may have in your sales process. First, you need to make sure that your projection is realistic.

how to make financial projections for a startup

As with all of the components of your projections, the more granular you get, the more accurate the results are likely to be. It’s best to use software with real-time data because the process can become too unwieldy or time-consuming to be practical if you’re working off manual spreadsheets. Many times that can be average selling price per customer, or deal, customer acquisition cost, churn rate, things like that, that all feed into lifetime value of the customer. Those are the big variables that are going to drive your business.

  • To do forecasts right, you need access to detailed financial data, and the best way to do that is through the use of financial data analytics software.
  • These are going to be great references for your own startup projections, especially for your net and gross profitability.
  • The assumptions will frame most of what the rest of the income statement will show, like our revenue or variable expenses.
  • In addition, it will help you create realistic financial projections vs optimistic scenarios.
  • For a company that is more product-led, you’ll need to understand the expected amount of traffic that your marketing team can generate to your website and what conversion rates will be reasonable.
  • For the time being, we just need to make sure we cover the basics of where to track revenue and where to track costs.

What Is Included in a Startup’s Financial Projections

Plug your expenses and revenues into a cash flow projection that shows monthly inflows and outflows of money for the first 12 months of operations. For the second year, you can make quarterly or yearly projections. If you’d like to see a sample of the state of the art, check out our financial projections template, and for more detail, our partner ProjectionHub has templates for all types of businesses. Projecting three years into the future should enable you to forecast the break-even point, which is the point at which your business stops operating at a loss and begins to turn a profit. Most startups break even in about 18 months, although that threshold will vary based on your business model and industry.


I have already mentioned this before, but I commonly take a different approach to creating projections for an existing business compared to a startup compared to modeling a business acquisition. The basis for this projection is profit and loss and also cash flow statements. When creating startup financial projections, there are a few key things to consider.

Making Growth Plans

Optimize your hiring strategy with our hiring planner and calculator, understanding the financial impact of future employees on your bottom line. Easily calculate payroll expenses, including wages, accounting services for startups taxes, and benefits, and visualize results through tables or Gantt charts detailing the timeline for each employee’s tenure. Why spend $2,000 or more on a CPA for financial projections?

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