Startups create financial models to raise capital, sell to an acquirer or to manage the team’s budget. On this page, you’ll find financial models that you can download and use on your own, tips on how to build a financial model and information on how to work with an outsourced financial modeling firm like Kruze Consulting.
Click here to jump to our free financial model templates that you can use on your own.Free Model Templates
Kruze Consulting clients have raised over $500 million in venture funding in the past year. Click here to schedule a time to speak with Kruze about a modeling project.Talk with an Expert
A financial model is the numerical expression of your startup’s goals - how many customers you’ll have, how many people you’ll hire, how your margins will improve. The creation of a financial model should tease out the key metrics and assumptions that you will test as you execute your business plan. The best startup financial models are usually not “right” - but the differences between the projections and the actual results can drive insight into the company’s potential and the targeted industry’s dynamics. Understanding the difference between your projections and your actual results can also help your executive team make important business decisions.
We have created several financial models that you can use for free. These are excel spreadsheets that will help you create projections for your startup, provide the information you need to your 409A valuation firm, think through your cash burn and more. You’ll find helpful modeling tips, how-to instructions and videos below on this page - click here to jump to the modeling help section below. Simply click on the financial model you want to download to get started - they are free! And if you need help with your modeling project, reach out to us at Kruze Consulting and we’ll see if it makes sense to work with us on a consulting project.
Let’s talk about forecasting best practices, that’s building a three-year model that’s dynamic.
Video: What Are the Best Practices to Build a Forecast for Your Startup?
You want your model to easily change assumptions for each year, and you want to include a waterfall throughout the entire sales funnel, that’s going to include conversion rates and unit economics.
This is a best practice that the best CEOs do, because it provides an understanding of resources and effort required to close a sale. You also want to remember to include delays due to sales cycle and customer collections. This is going to affect your cash flows.
Next, you want to stress test your model, conversion rates, growth rates and see what the impacts are. When these start to go sideways, you’re going to be prepared. If not, it can kill your cash. Next, your model should include a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flows. Finally, be honest with yourself in building your model.
In the early days of a startup, projecting cash flow is relatively simple, because it’s a one-way street. Payroll, rent, R&D and maybe some legal costs equal the cash out the door, with no revenue yet to offset the cash burn. Modeling this out in a spreadsheet is easy for most entrepreneurs.
Understanding cash flow gets a lot more complicated when an early-stage company starts servicing clients - and this is where we see super-basic, back of the envelope financial models start to breakdown. There are a few places where revenue-generating clients can “mess up” a nice cash flow model. At this point of your company's life/growth, understanding and being able to model working capital comes into play.
Working Capital = the difference between current assets and current liabilities on a company’s balance sheet. What this really means for most startups is the difference between when a startup gets paid by clients vs. how long it has to pay your expenses.
The timing of payments from clients usually starts pretty simple but can get complicated quickly. Super easy SaaS companies may collect a Stripe bill each month from their clients. Unfortunately, not all billing platforms wire revenue quickly. Some of the app store billing systems wait up to 60 days to share the cash with their app developers. It doesn’t take long before a simple SaaS business has a variety of receivables to wait on from a variety of billing platforms. Fast growth may mean that customer count is spiking (and costs along with it), but with lagging cash collection, even a gross margin positive customer can drain cash for a while.
Purchase orders make selling into the enterprise even harder. Just because a new Fortune 500 client signs a contract does not mean that payment is on the way. Many larger companies have a Purchase Order system that can add on months to the actual receipt of payment. And if different enterprise clients are requesting different invoices or purchase orders, payment can take a long time to show up.
On the positive side, companies that sell annual subscriptions can get large payments upfront. This can really boost cash flow but does create some modeling issues vis a vis deferred revenue and revenue recognition. (We’ve got a whole video on deferred revenue here).
Expenses that companies incurred as they grow sometimes are automatically paid every month (like your monthly bookkeeping cost)- but others may be paid “manually” - as in when the executive in charge of bill pay decides to pay them. Stretching bill payment does have a positive impact on cash flow, but may not be worth the manual effort. Plus, it may annoy your vendors to the point where they stop providing their service, so this is not a great game to play if you are a startup founder.
Thinking through your startup’s working capital will help you have better projections.
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