A plan intends to explain the business, introduce critical contributors, products and, services and defines the goals for the future. It paints a picture of the founder’s expectations and helps others see their vision. The financial section of the plan provides the proof behind the story. It is the section that investors and lenders are most interested in, and often the first section they read, despite it being near the end of the plan. It also acts as a roadmap and a guide for the direction the company will take into the future.
Financial Section Elements
While it may sound complicated, the financial section of a business plan only contains three documents and a brief explanation of each. It is necessary to prepare an income statement, cash flow projection and a balance sheet either using spreadsheets, or software that does all of the calculations automatically. Before beginning this statement, it’s necessary to gather the following information:
Business Start-Up Expenses
This list of all of the costs associated with getting the business up and running comprises what primarily are one-time fees such as registering the company. Following is only a partial list of possible start-up costs, every business is unique, and the list may, or may not, contain these items and more.
- Business registration fees
- Licensing and permits
- Product inventory
- Deposit on rental property
- Down payment to purchase property
- Down payment on machines and equipment
- Set-up fees for utilities
Business Operating Costs
As the name implies, operating costs are the ongoing expenses that need to be paid to keep the business running. These expenses are usually monthly bills, and for a start-up, estimate six months worth of these costs. A company’s list of operating expenses might include:
- Monthly mortgage payment or rent
- Logistics and distribution
- Marketing and promotion
- Loan paymentsRaw materials
- Office supplies
- Building/vehicle maintenance
The Income Statement
This financial statement details the company’s revenues, expenses, and profit for a set period. Established businesses generated these annually, or semi-annually, based on actual performance. Start-ups with no previous years to look at have to use statistical data within the industry to make reasonable projections. A start-up will also produce monthly versions of this statement to show the forecast of growth. This section will include the data such as:
- Gross revenue (sales, interest income and sales of assets)
- General and administrative expenses (start-up and operating costs)
- Corporate tax rate (expected tax liabilities)
The math is simple here: subtract the expenditures from the revenue, and the remaining number is profit. When put into the proper format, an income statement gives a clear view of the financial viability of a company.
This statement shows how you expect cash to flow in to, and out of, your business. It’s an essential internal cash management tool and a source of data that shows what your business’s capital needs will be in the near future. For investors and bank loan officers, it helps determine your creditworthiness and amount you can borrow. The cash-flow projection contains three parts:
- Cash revenues — This part details the incoming cash from sales for specific periods of time, usually monthly. It is an estimate, based upon past performance and future projections for current businesses, and industry averages for start-ups.
- Cash disbursements— Every monthly bill or other expense that is paid out in cash gets listed in this section. As with revenue, these are estimates, either based upon historical data, current data, or industry data.
- Cash flow projection— This merely is a reconciliation of the cash revenues to cash disbursements. Adding the current month’s revenues to the carried-over balance, then subtracting the month’s disbursements creates estimated cash flow.
The Balance Sheet
The final financial statement required for the business plan’s financial section is a balance sheet. This statement is a snapshot of the company’s net worth at a given point in time. Established businesses produce a balance sheet annually. Information from the income statement and cash flow projection are used to complete this statement. It summarizes the business’s financial data into three main categories:
- Assets — This is the total of all of the tangible items that the company owns that hold monetary value. That includes equipment, property, and cash-on-hand, for example.
- Liabilities — This is the total amount of debt that the company owes its creditors. You’ll include every debt, whether recurring, one-time, fixed, or variable.
- Equity — This is merely the difference between the company’s assets, including retained earnings and current earnings, and its liabilities.
Side-Notes and Details
In some cases, it may be necessary to explain details within the financial statements. Denote these instances within the statement and include a brief explanation sheet as an attachment. It may also be useful to add information on the process used to estimate revenues and expenses, which will show interested parties the intent and help them better understand the data.
Don’t Sweat the Process
It’s important to note that the order in which these financial statements is created may vary from the way they are presented here. This is to be expected. In fact, most business plan creators end up going back and forth with these statements as the numbers reveal the business’s financial reality. It paints a crystal clear picture of its economic viability, which can present to a lender, investor, or shareholder with confidence.
All of these financial documents can be created by using accounting and business software readily available online. Even so, some people aren’t entirely comfortable creating financial statements for their business plan, and outsource this critical task to a professional. Even the largest corporations struggle with financial planning and reporting, and they often hire the job out to someone more qualified. It’s merely a matter of making sure that the data is accurate, easy to track, and based on sound accounting practices.