How to Write a Small Business Financial Plan

Stairs leading up to a dollar sign. Represents creating a financial plan to achieve profitability.

Noah Parsons

3 min. read

Updated January 3, 2024

Creating a financial plan is often the most intimidating part of writing a business plan. It’s also one of the most vital. Businesses with well-structured and accurate financial statements in place are more prepared to pitch to investors, receive funding, and achieve long-term success.

Thankfully, you don’t need an accounting degree to successfully put your budget and forecasts together. Here is everything you need to include in your financial plan along with optional performance metrics, specifics for funding, and free templates.

  • Key components of a financial plan

A sound financial plan is made up of six key components that help you easily track and forecast your business financials. They include your:

Sales forecast

What do you expect to sell in a given period? Segment and organize your sales projections with a personalized sales forecast based on your business type.

Subscription sales forecast

While not too different from traditional sales forecasts—there are a few specific terms and calculations you’ll need to know when forecasting sales for a subscription-based business.

Expense budget

Create, review, and revise your expense budget to keep your business on track and more easily predict future expenses.

How to forecast personnel costs

How much do your current, and future, employees’ pay, taxes, and benefits cost your business? Find out by forecasting your personnel costs.

Profit and loss forecast

Track how you make money and how much you spend by listing all of your revenue streams and expenses in your profit and loss statement.

Cash flow forecast

Manage and create projections for the inflow and outflow of cash by building a cash flow statement and forecast.

Balance sheet

Need a snapshot of your business’s financial position? Keep an eye on your assets, liabilities, and equity within the balance sheet.

What to include if you plan to pursue funding

Do you plan to pursue any form of funding or financing? If the answer is yes, then there are a few additional pieces of information that you’ll need to include as part of your financial plan.

Highlight any risks and assumptions

Every entrepreneur takes risks with the biggest being assumptions and guesses about the future. Just be sure to track and address these unknowns in your plan early on.

Plan your exit strategy

Investors will want to know your long-term plans as a business owner. While you don’t need to have all the details, it’s worth taking the time to think through how you eventually plan to leave your business.

  • Financial ratios and metrics

With all of your financial statements and forecasts in place, you have all the numbers needed to calculate insightful financial ratios. While these metrics are entirely optional to include in your plan, having them easily accessible can be valuable for tracking your performance and overall financial situation.

Common business ratios

Unsure of which business ratios you should be using? Check out this list of key financial ratios that bankers, financial analysts, and investors will want to see.

Break-even analysis

Do you want to know when you’ll become profitable? Find out how much you need to sell to offset your production costs by conducting a break-even analysis.

How to calculate ROI

How much could a business decision be worth? Evaluate the efficiency or profitability by calculating the potential return on investment (ROI).

  • Financial plan templates and tools

Download and use these free financial templates and calculators to easily create your own financial plan.

financials for business plan

Sales forecast template

Download a free detailed sales forecast spreadsheet, with built-in formulas, to easily estimate your first full year of monthly sales.

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Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

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Table of Contents

  • What to include for funding

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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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financials for 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.

financials for 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.

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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

financials for 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

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

financials for business plan

Taking Stock of Expenses

The income statement, the cash flow projection, the balance sheet.

The financial section of your business plan determines whether or not your business idea is viable and will be the focus of any investors who may be attracted to your business idea. The financial section is composed of four financial statements: the income statement, the cash flow projection, the balance sheet, and the statement of shareholders' equity. It also should include a brief explanation and analysis of these four statements.

Think of your business expenses as two cost categories: your start-up expenses and your operating expenses. All the costs of getting your business up and running should be considered start-up expenses. These may include:

  • Business registration fees
  • Business licensing and permits
  • Starting inventory
  • Rent deposits
  • Down payments on a property
  • Down payments on equipment
  • Utility setup fees

Your own list will expand as soon as you start to itemize them.

Operating expenses are the costs of keeping your business running . Think of these as your monthly expenses. Your list of operating expenses may include:

  • Salaries (including your own)
  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Telecommunication expenses
  • Raw materials
  • Distribution
  • Loan payments
  • Office supplies
  • Maintenance

Once you have listed all of your operating expenses, the total will reflect the monthly cost of operating your business. Multiply this number by six, and you have a six-month estimate of your operating expenses. Adding this amount to your total startup expenses list, and you have a ballpark figure for your complete start-up costs.

Now you can begin to put together your financial statements for your business plan starting with the income statement.

The income statement shows your revenues, expenses, and profit for a particular period—a snapshot of your business that shows whether or not your business is profitable. Subtract expenses from your revenue to determine your profit or loss.

While established businesses normally produce an income statement each fiscal quarter or once each fiscal year, for the purposes of the business plan, an income statement should be generated monthly for the first year.

Not all of the categories in this income statement will apply to your business. Eliminate those that do not apply, and add categories where necessary to adapt this template to your business.

If you have a product-based business, the revenue section of the income statement will look different. Revenue will be called sales, and you should account for any inventory.

The cash flow projection shows how cash is expected to flow in and out of your business. It is an important tool for cash flow management because it indicates when your expenditures are too high or if you might need a short-term investment to deal with a cash flow surplus. As part of your business plan, the cash flow projection will show how  much capital investment  your business idea needs.

For investors, the cash flow projection shows whether your business is a good credit risk and if there is enough cash on hand to make your business a good candidate for a line of credit, a  short-term loan , or a longer-term investment. You should include cash flow projections for each month over one year in the financial section of your business plan.

Do not confuse the cash flow projection with the cash flow statement. The cash flow statement shows the flow of cash in and out of your business. In other words, it describes the cash flow that has occurred in the past. The cash flow projection shows the cash that is anticipated to be generated or expended over a chosen period in the future.

There are three parts to the cash flow projection:

  • Cash revenues: Enter your estimated sales figures for each month. Only enter the sales that are collectible in cash during each month you are detailing.
  • Cash disbursements: Take the various expense categories from your ledger and list the cash expenditures you actually expect to pay for each month.
  • Reconciliation of cash revenues to cash disbursements: This section shows an opening balance, which is the carryover from the previous month's operations. The current month's revenues are added to this balance, the current month's disbursements are subtracted, and the adjusted cash flow balance is carried over to the next month.

The balance sheet reports your business's net worth at a particular point in time. It summarizes all the financial data about your business in three categories:

  • Assets :  Tangible objects of financial value that are owned by the company.
  • Liabilities: Debt owed to a creditor of the company.
  • Equity: The net difference when the  total liabilities  are subtracted from the total assets.

The relationship between these elements of financial data is expressed with the equation: Assets = Liabilities + Equity .

For your  business plan , you should create a pro forma balance sheet that summarizes the information in the income statement and cash flow projections. A business typically prepares a balance sheet once a year.

Once your balance sheet is complete, write a brief analysis for each of the three financial statements. The analysis should be short with highlights rather than in-depth analysis. The financial statements themselves should be placed in your business plan's appendices.

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How to Craft the Financial Section of Business Plan (Hint: It’s All About the Numbers)

Writing a small business plan takes time and effort … especially when you have to dive into the numbers for the financial section. But, working on the financial section of business plan could lead to a big payoff for your business.

Read on to learn what is the financial section of a business plan, why it matters, and how to write one for your company.  

What is the financial section of business plan?

Generally, the financial section is one of the last sections in a business plan. It describes a business’s historical financial state (if applicable) and future financial projections. Businesses include supporting documents such as budgets and financial statements, as well as funding requests in this section of the plan.  

The financial part of the business plan introduces numbers. It comes after the executive summary, company description , market analysis, organization structure, product information, and marketing and sales strategies.

Businesses that are trying to get financing from lenders or investors use the financial section to make their case. This section also acts as a financial roadmap so you can budget for your business’s future income and expenses. 

Why it matters 

The financial section of the business plan is critical for moving beyond wordy aspirations and into hard data and the wonderful world of numbers. 

Through the financial section, you can:

  • Forecast your business’s future finances
  • Budget for expenses (e.g., startup costs)
  • Get financing from lenders or investors
  • Grow your business

describes how you can use the four ways to use the financial section of business plan

  • Growth : 64% of businesses with a business plan were able to grow their business, compared to 43% of businesses without a business plan.
  • Financing : 36% of businesses with a business plan secured a loan, compared to 18% of businesses without a plan.

So, if you want to possibly double your chances of securing a business loan, consider putting in a little time and effort into your business plan’s financial section. 

Writing your financial section

To write the financial section, you first need to gather some information. Keep in mind that the information you gather depends on whether you have historical financial information or if you’re a brand-new startup. 

Your financial section should detail:

  • Business expenses 

Financial projections

Financial statements, break-even point, funding requests, exit strategy, business expenses.

Whether you’ve been in business for one day or 10 years, you have expenses. These expenses might simply be startup costs for new businesses or fixed and variable costs for veteran businesses. 

Take a look at some common business expenses you may need to include in the financial section of business plan:

  • Licenses and permits
  • Cost of goods sold 
  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Payroll costs (e.g., salaries and taxes)
  • Utilities 
  • Equipment 
  • Supplies 
  • Advertising 

Write down each type of expense and amount you currently have as well as expenses you predict you’ll have. Use a consistent time period (e.g., monthly costs). 

Indicate which expenses are fixed (unchanging month-to-month) and which are variable (subject to changes). 

How much do you anticipate earning from sales each month? 

If you operate an existing business, you can look at previous monthly revenue to make an educated estimate. Take factors into consideration, like seasonality and economic ups and downs, when basing projections on previous cash flow.

Coming up with your financial projections may be a bit trickier if you are a startup. After all, you have nothing to go off of. Come up with a reasonable monthly goal based on things like your industry, competitors, and the market. Hint : Look at your market analysis section of the business plan for guidance. 

A financial statement details your business’s finances. The three main types of financial statements are income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets.

Income statements summarize your business’s income and expenses during a period of time (e.g., a month). This document shows whether your business had a net profit or loss during that time period. 

Cash flow statements break down your business’s incoming and outgoing money. This document details whether your company has enough cash on hand to cover expenses.

The balance sheet summarizes your business’s assets, liabilities, and equity. Balance sheets help with debt management and business growth decisions. 

If you run a startup, you can create “pro forma financial statements,” which are statements based on projections.

If you’ve been in business for a bit, you should have financial statements in your records. You can include these in your business plan. And, include forecasted financial statements. 

financials for business plan

You’re just in luck. Check out our FREE guide, Use Financial Statements to Assess the Health of Your Business , to learn more about the different types of financial statements for your business.

Potential investors want to know when your business will reach its break-even point. The break-even point is when your business’s sales equal its expenses. 

Estimate when your company will reach its break-even point and detail it in the financial section of business plan.

If you’re looking for financing, detail your funding request here. Include how much you are looking for, list ideal terms (e.g., 10-year loan or 15% equity), and how long your request will cover. 

Remember to discuss why you are requesting money and what you plan on using the money for (e.g., equipment). 

Back up your funding request by emphasizing your financial projections. 

Last but not least, your financial section should also discuss your business’s exit strategy. An exit strategy is a plan that outlines what you’ll do if you need to sell or close your business, retire, etc. 

Investors and lenders want to know how their investment or loan is protected if your business doesn’t make it. The exit strategy does just that. It explains how your business will make ends meet even if it doesn’t make it. 

When you’re working on the financial section of business plan, take advantage of your accounting records to make things easier on yourself. For organized books, try Patriot’s online accounting software . Get your free trial now!

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Start » startup, business plan financials: 3 statements to include.

The finance section of your business plan is essential to securing investors and determining whether your idea is even viable. Here's what to include.

 Businessman reviews financial documents

If your business plan is the blueprint of how to run your company, the financials section is the key to making it happen. The finance section of your business plan is essential to determining whether your idea is even viable in the long term. It’s also necessary to convince investors of this viability and subsequently secure the type and amount of funding you need. Here’s what to include in your business plan financials.

[Read: How to Write a One-Page Business Plan ]

What are business plan financials?

Business plan financials is the section of your business plan that outlines your past, current and projected financial state. This section includes all the numbers and hard data you’ll need to plan for your business’s future, and to make your case to potential investors. You will need to include supporting financial documents and any funding requests in this part of your business plan.

Business plan financials are vital because they allow you to budget for existing or future expenses, as well as forecast your business’s future finances. A strongly written finance section also helps you obtain necessary funding from investors, allowing you to grow your business.

Sections to include in your business plan financials

Here are the three statements to include in the finance section of your business plan:

Profit and loss statement

A profit and loss statement , also known as an income statement, identifies your business’s revenue (profit) and expenses (loss). This document describes your company’s overall financial health in a given time period. While profit and loss statements are typically prepared quarterly, you will need to do so at least annually before filing your business tax return with the IRS.

Common items to include on a profit and loss statement :

  • Revenue: total sales and refunds, including any money gained from selling property or equipment.
  • Expenditures: total expenses.
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS): the cost of making products, including materials and time.
  • Gross margin: revenue minus COGS.
  • Operational expenditures (OPEX): the cost of running your business, including paying employees, rent, equipment and travel expenses.
  • Depreciation: any loss of value over time, such as with equipment.
  • Earnings before tax (EBT): revenue minus COGS, OPEX, interest, loan payments and depreciation.
  • Profit: revenue minus all of your expenses.

Businesses that have not yet started should provide projected income statements in their financials section. Currently operational businesses should include past and present income statements, in addition to any future projections.

[Read: Top Small Business Planning Strategies ]

A strongly written finance section also helps you obtain necessary funding from investors, allowing you to grow your business.

Balance sheet

A balance sheet provides a snapshot of your company’s finances, allowing you to keep track of earnings and expenses. It includes what your business owns (assets) versus what it owes (liabilities), as well as how much your business is currently worth (equity).

On the assets side of your balance sheet, you will have three subsections: current assets, fixed assets and other assets. Current assets include cash or its equivalent value, while fixed assets refer to long-term investments like equipment or buildings. Any assets that do not fall within these categories, such as patents and copyrights, can be classified as other assets.

On the liabilities side of your balance sheet, include a total of what your business owes. These can be broken down into two parts: current liabilities (amounts to be paid within a year) and long-term liabilities (amounts due for longer than a year, including mortgages and employee benefits).

Once you’ve calculated your assets and liabilities, you can determine your business’s net worth, also known as equity. This can be calculated by subtracting what you owe from what you own, or assets minus liabilities.

Cash flow statement

A cash flow statement shows the exact amount of money coming into your business (inflow) and going out of it (outflow). Each cost incurred or amount earned should be documented on its own line, and categorized into one of the following three categories: operating activities, investment activities and financing activities. These three categories can all have inflow and outflow activities.

Operating activities involve any ongoing expenses necessary for day-to-day operations; these are likely to make up the majority of your cash flow statement. Investment activities, on the other hand, cover any long-term payments that are needed to start and run your business. Finally, financing activities include the money you’ve used to fund your business venture, including transactions with creditors or funders.

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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.

A financial plan template is a pre-formatted spreadsheet that you can use to create your own financial plan. The financial plan template includes formulas that will automatically calculate your revenue, expenses, and cash flow projections.

How Can I Download a Financial Plan Template?

Download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template which includes a complete financial plan template and more to help you write a solid business plan in hours.

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.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template includes a complete financial plan template to easily create these financial statements and more so you can write a great business plan in hours.


  • 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

Other Helpful Business Planning Articles & Templates

Expert Business Plan Writers

How to Develop a Small Business Financial Plan

By Andy Marker | April 29, 2022

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Financial planning is critical for any successful small business, but the process can be complicated. To help you get started, we’ve created a step-by-step guide and rounded up top tips from experts.

Included on this page, you’ll find what to include in a financial plan , steps to develop one , and a downloadable starter kit .

What Is a Small Business Financial Plan?

A small business financial plan is an outline of the financial status of your business, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow information. A financial plan can help guide a small business toward sustainable growth.

Craig Hewitt

Financial plans can aid in business goal setting and metrics tracking, as well as provide proof of profitable ideas. Craig Hewitt, Founder of Castos , shares that “creating a financial plan will show you if your business ideas are sustainable. A financial plan will show you where your business stands and help you make better decisions about resource allocation. It will also help you plan growth, survive cash flow shortages, and pitch to investors.”

Why Is It Important for a Small Business to Have a Financial Plan?

All small businesses should create a financial plan. This allows you to assess your business’s financial needs, recognize areas of opportunity, and project your growth over time. A strong financial plan is also a bonus for potential investors.

Mark Daoust

Mark Daoust , the President and CEO of Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc., explains why a financial plan is important for small businesses: “It can sometimes be difficult for business owners to evaluate their own progress, especially when starting a new company. A financial plan can be helpful in showing increased revenues, cash flow growth, and overall profit in quantifiable data. It's very encouraging for small business owners who are often working long hours and dealing with so many stressful decisions to know that they are on the right track.”

To learn more about other important considerations for a small business, peruse our list of free startup plan, budget, and cost templates .

What Does a Small Business Financial Plan Include?

All small businesses should include an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement in their financial plan. You may also include other documents, such as personnel plans, break-even points, and sales forecasts, depending on the business and industry.

Ahmet Yuzbasioglu

  • Balance Sheet: A balance sheet determines the difference between your liabilities and assets to determine your equity. “A balance sheet is a snapshot of a business’s financial position at a particular moment in time,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “It adds up everything your business owns and subtracts all debts — the difference reflects the net worth of the business, also referred to as equity .” Yüzbaşıoğlu explains that this statement consists of three parts: assets, liabilities, and equity. “Assets include your money in the bank, accounts receivable, inventories, and more. Liabilities can include your accounts payables, credit card balances, and loan repayments, for example. Equity for most small businesses is just the owner’s equity, but it could also include investors’ shares, retained earnings, or stock proceeds,” he says.
  • Cash Flow Statement: A cash flow statement shows where the money is coming from and where it is going. For existing businesses, this will include bank statements that list deposits and expenditures. A new business may not have much cash flow information, but it can include all startup costs and funding sources. “A cash flow statement shows how much cash is generated and used during a given period of time. It documents all the money flowing in and out of your business,” explains Yüzbaşıoğlu.
  • Break-Even Analysis: A break-even analysis is a projection of how long it will take you to recoup your investments, such as expenses from startup costs or ongoing projects. In order to perform this analysis, Yüzbaşıoğlu explains, “You need to know the difference between fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are the expenses that stay the same, regardless of how much you sell or don't sell. For example, expenses such as rent, wages, and accounting fees are typically fixed. Variable costs are the expenses that change in accordance with production or sales volume. “In other words, [a break-even analysis] determines the units of products or services you need to sell at least to cover your production costs. Generally, to calculate the break-even point in business, divide fixed costs by the gross profit margin. This produces a dollar figure that a company needs to break even,” Yüzbaşıoğlu shares.
  • Personnel Plan: A personnel plan is an outline of various positions or departments that states what they do, why they are necessary, and how much they cost. This document is generally more useful for large businesses, or those that find themselves spending a large percentage of their budget on labor.
  • Sales Forecast: A sales forecast can help determine how many sales and how much money you expect to make in a given time period. To learn more about various methods of predicting these figures, check out our guide to sales forecasting .

How to Write a Small Business Financial Plan

Writing a financial plan begins with collecting financial information from your small business. Create income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, and any other documents you need using that information. Then share those documents with relevant stakeholders.

“Creating a financial plan is key to any business and essential for success: It provides protection and an opportunity to grow,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “You can use [the financial plan] to make better-informed decisions about things like resource allocation on future projects and to help shape the success of your company.”

1. Create a Plan

Create a strategic business plan that includes your business strategy and goals, and define their financial impact. Your financial plan will inform decisions for every aspect of your business, so it is important to know what is important and what is at stake.

2. Gather Financial Information

Collect all of the available financial information about your business. Organize bank statements, loan information, sales numbers, inventory costs, payroll information, and any other income and expenses your business has incurred. If you have not already started to do so, regularly record all of this information and store it in an easily accessible place.

3. Create an Income Statement

Your income statement should display revenue, expenses, and profit for a given time period. Your revenue minus your expenses equals your profit or loss. Many businesses create a new statement yearly or quarterly, but small businesses with less cash flow may benefit from creating statements for shorter time frames.

Income Statement

4. Create a Balance Sheet

Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’s financial status at a particular moment in time. You should update it on the same schedule as your income statement. To determine your equity, calculate all of your assets minus your liabilities.

Balance Sheet

5. Create a Cash Flow Statement

As mentioned above, the cash flow statement shows all past and projected cash flow for your business. “Your cash flow statement needs to cover three sections: operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities,” suggests Hewitt. “Operating activities are the movement of cash from the sale or purchase of goods or services. Investing activities are the sale or purchase of long-term assets. Financing activities are transactions with creditors and investments.”

Cash Flow

6. Create Other Documents as Needed

Depending on the age, size, and industry of your business, you may find it useful to include these other documents in your financial plan as well.

Breakeven Point

  • Sales Forecast: Your sales forecast should reference sales numbers from your past to estimate sales numbers for your future. Sales forecasts may be more useful for established companies with historical numbers to compare to, but small businesses can use forecasts to set goals and break records month over month. “To make future financial projections, start with a sales forecast,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “Project your sales over the course of 12 months. After projecting sales, calculate your cost of sales (also called cost of goods or direct costs). This will let you calculate gross margin. Gross margin is sales less the cost of sales, and it's a useful number for comparing with different standard industry ratios.”

7. Save the Plan for Reference and Share as Needed

The most important part of a financial plan is sharing it with stakeholders. You can also use much of the same information in your financial plan to create a budget for your small business.

Janet Patterson

Additionally, be sure to conduct regular reviews, as things will inevitably change. “My best tip for small businesses when creating a financial plan is to schedule reviews. Once you have your plan in place, it is essential that you review it often and compare how well the strategy fits with the actual monthly expenses. This will help you adjust your plan accordingly and prepare for the year ahead,” suggests Janet Patterson, Loan and Finance Expert at  Highway Title Loans.

Small Business Financial Plan Example

Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template

Download Small Business Financial Plan Example Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Here is an example of what a completed small business financial plan dashboard might look like. Once you have completed your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements, use a template to create visual graphs to display the information to make it easier to read and share. In this example, this small business plots its income and cash flow statements quarterly, but you may find it valuable to update yours more often.

Small Business Financial Plan Starter Kit

Download Small Business Financial Plan Starter Kit

We’ve created this small business financial plan starter kit to help you get organized and complete your financial plan. In this kit, you will find a fully customizable income statement template, a balance sheet template, a cash flow statement template, and a dashboard template to display results. We have also included templates for break-even analysis, a personnel plan, and sales forecasts to meet your ongoing financial planning needs.

Small Business Income Statement Template 

Small Business Income Statement Template

Download Small Business Income Statement Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this small business income statement template to input your income information and track your growth over time. This template is filled to track by the year, but you can also track by months or quarters. The template is fully customizable to suit your business needs.

Small Business Balance Sheet Template 

Small Business Balance Sheet Template

Download Small Business Balance Sheet Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

This customizable balance sheet template was created with small businesses in mind. Use it to create a snapshot of your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity quarter over quarter. 

Small Business Cash Flow Statement Template 

Small Business Cash Flow Template

Download Small Business Cash Flow Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this customizable cash flow statement template to stay organized when documenting your cash flow. Note the time frame and input all of your financial data in the appropriate cell. With this information, the template will automatically generate your total cash payments, net cash change, and ending cash position.

Break-Even Analysis Template 

Break Even Analysis Template

Download Break-Even Analysis Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

This powerful template can help you determine the point at which you will break even on product investment. Input the sale price of the product, as well as its various associated costs, and this template will display the number of units needed to break even on your initial costs.

Personnel Plan Template  

Personnel Plan Template

Download Personnel Plan Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this simple personnel plan template to help organize and define the monetary cost of the various roles or departments within your company. This template will generate a labor cost total that you can use to compare roles and determine whether you need to make cuts or identify areas for growth.

Sales Forecast Template

Sales Forecast Template

Download Sales Forecast Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this customizable template to forecast your sales month over month and determine the percentage changes. You can use this template to set goals and track sales history as well.

Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template

Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template

Download Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

This dashboard template provides a visual example of a small business financial plan. It presents the information from your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in a graphical form that is easy to read and share.

Tips for Completing a Financial Plan for a Small Business

You can simplify the development of your small business financial plan in many ways, from outlining your goals to considering where you may need help. We’ve outlined a few tips from our experts below:

Jesse Thé

  • Outline Your Business Goals: Before you create a financial plan, outline your business goals. This will help you determine where money is being well spent to achieve those goals and where it may not be. “Before applying for financing or investment, list the expected business goals for the next three to five years. You can ask a certified public accountant for help in this regard,” says Thé. The U.S. Small Business Administration or a local small business development center can also help you to understand the local market and important factors for business success. For more help, check out our quick how-to guide on writing a business plan .
  • Make Sure You Have the Right Permits and Insurance: One of the best ways to keep your financial plan on track is to anticipate large expenditures. Double- and triple-check that you have the permits and insurances you need so that you do not incur any fines or surprise expenses down the line. “If you own your own business, you're no longer able to count on your employer for your insurance needs. It's important to have a plan for how you're going to pay for this additional expense and make sure that you know what specific insurance you need to cover your business,” suggests Daost.
  • Separate Personal Goals from Business Goals: Be as unbiased as possible when creating and laying out your business’s financial goals. Your financial and prestige goals as a business owner may be loftier than what your business can currently achieve in the present. Inflating sales forecasts or income numbers will only come back to bite you in the end.
  • Consider Hiring Help: You don’t know what you don’t know, but fortunately, many financial experts are ready to help you. “Hiring financial advisors can help you make sound financial decisions for your business and create a financial roadmap to follow. Many businesses fail in the first few years due to poor planning, which leads to costly mistakes. Having a financial advisor can help keep your business alive, make a profit, and thrive,” says Hewitt.
  • Include Less Obvious Expenses: No income or expense is too small to consider — it all matters when you are creating your financial plan. “I wish I had known that you’re supposed to incorporate anticipated internal hidden expenses in the plan as well,” Patterson shares. “I formulated my first financial plan myself and didn’t have enough knowledge back then. Hence, I missed out on essential expenses, like office maintenance, that are less common.”

Do Small Business Owners Need a Financial Planner?

Not all small business owners need a designated financial planner, but you should understand the documents and information that make up a financial plan. If you do not hire an advisor, you must be informed about your own finances.

Small business owners tend to wear many hats, but Powell says, “it depends on the organization of the owner and their experience with the financial side of operating businesses.” Hiring a financial advisor can take some tasks off your plate and save you time to focus on the many other details that need your attention. Financial planners are experts in their field and may have more intimate knowledge of market trends and changing tax information that can end up saving you money in the long run. 

Yüzbaşıoğlu adds, “Small business owners can greatly benefit from working with a financial advisor. A successful small business often requires more than just the skills of an entrepreneur; a financial advisor can help the company effectively manage risks and maximize opportunities.”

For more examples of the tasks a financial planner might be able to help with, check through our list of free financial planning templates .

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How to Complete the Financial Section of Business Plan

A plan intends to explain the business, introduce critical contributors, products and, services and defines the goals for the future. It paints a picture of the founder’s expectations and helps others see their vision. The financial section of the plan provides the proof behind the story. It is the section that investors and lenders are most interested in, and often the first section they read, despite it being near the end of the plan. It also acts as a roadmap and a guide for the direction the company will take into the future.

Financial Section Elements

While it may sound complicated, the financial section of a business plan only contains three documents and a brief explanation of each. It is necessary to prepare an income statement, cash flow projection and a balance sheet either using spreadsheets, or software that does all of the calculations automatically. Before beginning this statement, it’s necessary to gather the following information:

Business Start-Up Expenses

This list of all of the costs associated with getting the business up and running comprises what primarily are one-time fees such as registering the company. Following is only a partial list of possible start-up costs, every business is unique, and the list may, or may not, contain these items and more.

  • Business registration fees
  • Licensing and permits
  • Product inventory
  • Deposit on rental property
  • Down payment to purchase property
  • Down payment on machines and equipment
  • Set-up fees for utilities

Business Operating Costs

As the name implies, operating costs are the ongoing expenses that need to be paid to keep the business running. These expenses are usually monthly bills, and for a start-up, estimate six months worth of these costs. A company’s list of operating expenses might include:

  • Monthly mortgage payment or rent
  • Logistics and distribution
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Loan paymentsRaw materials
  • Office supplies
  • Building/vehicle maintenance

The Income Statement

This financial statement details the company’s revenues, expenses, and profit for a set period. Established businesses generated these annually, or semi-annually, based on actual performance. Start-ups with no previous years to look at have to use statistical data within the industry to make reasonable projections. A start-up will also produce monthly versions of this statement to show the forecast of growth. This section will include the data such as:

  • Gross revenue (sales, interest income and sales of assets)
  • General and administrative expenses (start-up and operating costs)
  • Corporate tax rate (expected tax liabilities)

The math is simple here: subtract the expenditures from the revenue, and the remaining number is profit. When put into the proper format, an income statement gives a clear view of the financial viability of a company.

Cash-Flow Projection

This statement shows how you expect cash to flow in to, and out of, your business. It’s an essential internal cash management tool and a source of data that shows what your business’s capital needs will be in the near future. For investors and bank loan officers, it helps determine your creditworthiness and amount you can borrow. The cash-flow projection contains three parts:

  • Cash revenues — This part details the incoming cash from sales for specific periods of time, usually monthly. It is an estimate, based upon past performance and future projections for current businesses, and industry averages for start-ups.
  • Cash disbursements — Every monthly bill or other expense that is paid out in cash gets listed in this section. As with revenue, these are estimates, either based upon historical data, current data, or industry data.
  • Cash flow projection — This merely is a reconciliation of the cash revenues to cash disbursements. Adding the current month’s revenues to the carried-over balance, then subtracting the month’s disbursements creates estimated cash flow.

The Balance Sheet

The final financial statement required for the business plan’s financial section is a balance sheet. This statement is a snapshot of the company’s net worth at a given point in time. Established businesses produce a balance sheet annually. Information from the income statement and cash flow projection are used to complete this statement. It summarizes the business’s financial data into three main categories:

  • Assets — This is the total of all of the tangible items that the company owns that hold monetary value. That includes equipment, property, and cash-on-hand, for example.
  • Liabilities — This is the total amount of debt that the company owes its creditors. You’ll include every debt, whether recurring, one-time, fixed, or variable.
  • Equity — This is merely the difference between the company’s assets, including retained earnings and current earnings, and its liabilities.

Side-Notes and Details

In some cases, it may be necessary to explain details within the financial statements. Denote these instances within the statement and include a brief explanation sheet as an attachment. It may also be useful to add information on the process used to estimate revenues and expenses, which will show interested parties the intent and help them better understand the data.

Don’t Sweat the Process

It’s important to note that the order in which these financial statements is created may vary from the way they are presented here. This is to be expected. In fact, most business plan creators end up going back and forth with these statements as the numbers reveal the business’s financial reality. It paints a crystal clear picture of its economic viability, which can present to a lender, investor, or shareholder with confidence.

All of these financial documents can be created by using accounting and business software readily available online. Even so, some people aren’t entirely comfortable creating financial statements for their business plan, and outsource this critical task to a professional. Even the largest corporations struggle with financial planning and reporting, and they often hire the job out to someone more qualified. It’s merely a matter of making sure that the data is accurate, easy to track, and based on sound accounting practices.

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6 Elements of a Successful Financial Plan for a Small Business

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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. 

Financial plans should be created annually at the beginning of the fiscal year as a collaboration of finance, HR, sales and operations leaders.

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.

Several small business organizations offer free financial plan templates for small business owners. You can find templates for the financial plan components listed here via SCORE .

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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Financial projections how to write a financial plan

Resources on Business Plan Writing :

An article of the Accelerated MBA written by:

Antoine Martin (Ph.D) | Business coach

Antoine Martin (Ph.D) | Business coach

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In this article:

Financial projections: how to write the financial plan in business plan.

So, you’ve decided to write a business plan? Good for you! It’s an important document that will help you outline your business goals, strategies, and tactics.

But it’s not just a document for you, as the business owner in charge of everything – it’s also important for potential investors and lenders.

In particular, one of the most important sections of your business plan should be your financial plan or, in other words, your overall financial projections for the next few years – understand, three to five years – distilled in a specific and highly codified format.

Why? Because the financial projections in a business plan are the numbers’ version of your pitch – if something doesn’t add-up, that’s where you see it.

Now, we know that numbers can be impressive (not to say daunting), so in this post, we’ll explain to you how to write a financial plan in your business plan.

We’ll also explain the logic you are supposed to follow to do things right (because financiers expect you to follow a very specific logic).

And we’ll explain what your business plan absolutely needs to include from a financial standpoint.

If that makes sense to you, then let’s get going!

By the way…

Before we dig into the financial projections’ discussion, let us give you a tiny bit of background!

We are professional business coaches, and our job is to push entrepreneurs and business owners to their next steps.

Business planning and business plans are part of that, obviously, therefore we have written a series of free articles on how to write a business plan – of which this page is a part.

We are on a mission to make entrepreneurship fun and accessible, so we provide about 80 percent of our content for free – including a free business plan template to be downloaded down this page.

Still, in case that’s not sufficient, we’ve also created our Business Plan Builder Module , which has been designed to make your life super easy.

Shameless plug: it gives you access to:

  • a complete and solid business plan writing work-frame tool
  • automated financial tables that take the hassle away (yayyy!)
  • two designer-made templates (comprehensive + pitch deck)
  • and two hours of tutorial videos recorded with a business coach to explain all the logic you’ll need to master if you plan on writing a business plan that converts.

There’s simply no way to make things easier!

Now, having said that, let’s get going.

As a reminder, what is a business plan about?

To start the discussion, remember that a business plan is about much more than just numbers. As we’ve explained in our article What are Business Plans For? , the role of such a document is to show that beyond a nice business plan pdf nobody really cares about, you have a real business and a plan to get it somewhere.

First, a business plan’s purpose is to help you explain what your project is about. In that sense, the document you need to write should be written as a storytelling instrument, designed, and formulated to tell people a story they will want to read AND remember.

Second, it should give you a way to showcase your main business objectives for the next few years, as well as the strategy you will put into place to get there and deliver on your promises.

Third, your business plan should also provide a market analysis, and a description of your main target segment. That gives the reader a better understanding of your ecosystem’s potential, but more importantly the exercise forces you to look around, open your eyes and do some meaningful research.

You wouldn’t want to drive blindfolded, would you?

Of course, your document should also have a financial component – which is the topic of this article – and there the challenge is to ensure that your financial projections make sense, that they are clear, accurate and easy to follow.

Long things short, investors and bankers expect you to match a very specific business plan outline and format (there’s a code!) and you don’t have much wiggle room there – so be careful in your approach!

What is a Financial Plan & what should it include?

Now, let’s get into the core of this article: financial plans and financial projections. What are they, why are they important – there is a lot to explore.

First things first, what is a financial plan? How important is it in a business plan? And what type of elements is it made of? What are the projected financial statements you need to provide? Oh, and what do we mean by ‘financial projections’ in the first place, by the way?

What is the role of a financial plan in business plan?

A financial plan is the financial part of your business plan. Its purpose is simple: explain to the reader what should be the ins and outs of your project from a financial perspective, and help them see if their own business projections are aligned with yours.

On the one hand, the idea is to put numbers on your project, to make it tangible and show that your vision includes the end and the means.

On the other, it is also to show that you are capable of defending your big idea as well as the projected financials that need to come with it – something that many wannabe entrepreneurs are actually unable to do…

As a side note, and as silly as that might sound, this means that your business plan should include a lot more than just a financial plan and a smart cash flow projection!

That point brings us back to the one we made earlier when we said that a business plan should follow a specific structure (go read that article!), but we mention it again because we want things to be very clear: your business plan should be a matter of storytelling, not just a matter of financial projections!

Typically, we often see accountants work on business plans, and what they produce is rarely enough because they only deliver financial estimates that make no real sense to non-accountants (even less to the entrepreneurs at stake) and leave aside the rest of the topics – particularly the storytelling!

Said differently? The numbers are one aspect of the story, but you still have to come up with the pitch – which is where the rest of the business plan comes in handy.

Make sure to deliver an easy-to-read mix!

Your financial plan must provide your financial projections

To get into the technical part of the discussion, the financial plan in your business plan should include your financial projections, organized in a very formal format.

That makes two distinct points to consider!

On the one hand, you should be able to show with clear numbers what money should come in and when (that’s the income forecasts), for this year but also for the next, the ones after that for three to five years.

On the other, you should also be able to show what money needs to go out to make the business roll. What are the production costs, the fixed and variable expenses, the salaries, and of course the various marketing expenses needed to generate the development you are planning on getting to.

On that point, remember that your cost of client acquisition should also be part of the formalized projections – otherwise your numbers will be flawed (and doomed).

Ultimately, you need to be very clear as to when your new business (or existing business) should break even, as to when should profits be expected, as to when lenders and investors will get their money back, so forth and so on.

It must include specific financial documents people will expect to see

From a very formal perspective, you shouldn’t be trying to make one single projection sheet. Nope! Your readers will expect to see three important financial documents in the financial section of the business plan you will introduce to them.

  • A profit and loss statement – also known as your P&L statement, or as an income statement
  • A cash flow statement
  • And a balance sheet.

First, the P&L table or income statement should show what money is expected to come in or go out, but it should also show if and when the business will make a profit or a loss, year by year, for the next five years.

The sales forecast and the operating expenses should be easy to understand at that stage, and you should also be able to provide your estimated gross profit, your gross margin, as well as your net profit and net margin.

In case you are wondering, your gross profit corresponds to your sales minus your cost of production. Your net profit corresponds to the gross profit minus all the remaining costs.

It’s okay to read that twice…

Not being profitable is also okay, by the way. That’s the game. However, you must be able to explain why you won’t be profitable in a given year, and how you plan on filling the gap in the bank – otherwise your business dies, right?

Second, the cashflow statement should explain your cash flow management strategy and indicate when you will need to fill the bank account in, and why.

For instance, important account receivables could justify a temporary cashflow need, but the gaps left from the previous years should also be visible. Obviously, the funding needs should also be there and aligned with the financial situation of the business.

Third, the balance sheet is a summary of the previous two tables, except that it shows the various elements in terms of assets or liabilities. For instance, the account receivables we mentioned just before would be an asset (because some money is owed to the business) while account payables would be a liability (since the business owes money to someone else).

Does all this sound a little complex?

That’s because it is.

No need to worry, though. We have you covered and will provide all the templates and tools you need further below. For now, just keep reading.

So, what’s the financial plan in a business plan for?

To conclude, the financial plan in business plan should act as a financial cartography of what you have in mind for that business of yours.

  • The financial plan should illustrate the plan you have for the business in terms of numbers
  • It should include precise financial projections of what you think can be achieved
  • It should clearly illustrate your cashflow management strategy
  • And it should summarize the information clearly
  • All of this through highly standardized tables financiers will understand very easily

What documents should a financial business plan contain?

Getting your financial business plan right is a lot simpler than it seems.

Now, when you’re pitching that business of yours to potential partners, investors or lenders, you’ll need to provide them with a series of financial statements.

Yet, how to produce those documents without jumping into a living nightmare? How to come up with cash flow projections that make sense instead of being purely random?

Word of caution: financial planning for businesses is typically complex.

The question is not only fair, but it is also super-duper common and literally blocks tons of entrepreneurs and small business owners on a daily basis.

Because financial planning for businesses is typically complex.

Because most people aren’t comfortable with numbers.

And because the vast majority of small business owners simply don’t know where to start.

That’s probably why you were looking for either a financial plan pdf template or an example of financial plan for small business owners a few minutes ago, isn’t it?

Typically, here is what happens.

Some try and do their best, but then they don’t feel confident with pitching and defending their financial analysis, so they keep delaying and nothing happens.

Others end up having recourse to external help, even though external business plan consultants usually aren’t a good idea at that stage.

And the rest gives up.

That’s a shame, especially if consider that financial planning for a small business and building a financial plan for a business plan are only a matter of having access to the right method and tools!

Yes, a big (big) part of the work is to guestimate, but the rest is about trusting the process with the right logic, method and tools – and there’s nothing you can’t manage here.

Especially with the right tools!

How to build your financial forecasts?

Now that you understand the different sections of a financial plan, let us talk about how to build financial forecasting.

In plain English, this part of the exercise is where you’ll estimate your company’s income and expenses for the next few years. Therefore, you should keep a few things in mind.

One, you need to have a good understanding of your business in order to create realistic forecasts.

Sounds silly? Maybe, but this is a mistake people make way too much, and when they fail at justifying their financial projections, everything else goes down.

Two, you absolutely want to make sure that your projections can explore various trends, i.e. your pessimistic, optimistic, and most likely scenarios.

  • If everything goes extremely well, we’ll get there.
  • If everything goes wrong, we’ll get there.
  • But… we should reasonably expect to achieve this and that if we obtain the funding we need…

Can you see the idea?

Be sure to also factor in any potential changes or risks that could affect your business.

For example, if you’re expecting a new competitor to enter the market, you’ll need to account for that in your projections. By being realistic and accounting for as many variables as possible, you’ll give yourself the best chance of success so give it some thought!

Pragmatically, how do I come up with reasonable financial forecasts for my business plan?

It’s all a question of common sense, really.

  • How much do you plan on selling?
  • What are your short, medium and long term financial goals?
  • What would be the cost of production?
  • What margin does that leave you with?
  • What fixed costs would you expect?
  • How about variable costs?
  • Have you included transaction fees and credit card fees in your costs?
  • What is the cost of insurance premiums?
  • Will there be any debt to repay?
  • What type of budget do you need for marketing purposes?
  • What is the cost of acquisition of the client?
  • What operational margin does it leave before the taxman comes in?
  • What kind of money do you need to meet your long term goals?
  • Have you planned for any emergency fund at all?

Right, that’s a long list. But! Answering those questions should give you a strong basis to build financial projections that make sense, because that’s literally how you would read your income statement in the end.

If you were trying to translate boring numbers into a meaningful story, that’s exactly where you would start!

Again, we have you covered with all this.

If you are looking for a concrete and practical financial plan example, make sure to download our business plan template down the page. It will give you the basic pro forma financials you’ll need.

If you need to understand the logic behind the template and would rather use an automated spreadsheet to get everything done, however, then it’s time to stop struggling.

The Impactified Business Plan Builder will provide everything you need: the automated tables and two hours of business coaching videos designed to explain all the logic you’ll need – what are you waiting for?

Why Are Financial Projections so Important in the end?

So, overall, why is creating financial projections so important? Are there various types of financial projections anyway? There are several things to keep in mind here.

First, your financial projections are important because they give bankers and investors the numbers they need (to make an informed decision) in a format they expect to see.

Second, your projections show whether your strategy is aligned with the means at your disposal to achieve it and whether you are aware of the financial engineering required to make your business roll.

Third, and in a related way, forecasts will give you, as the entrepreneur in charge, an opportunity to show if you understand the business for real (or if someone else not present during the discussion wrote the plan for you).

All of these documents are important, but you (nobody else!) will need to be able to tell a story around them.

Investors aren’t just looking for numbers! They invest in teams and people before investing in projects, so they want to know that you understand your business and that you have a plan for the future!

So, make sure your financial projections are accurate and be prepared to answer any questions investors have about them.

Understanding the investment process

To understand how to handle the exercise properly, understanding the investment and funding process in general is important.

What do bankers and investors expect when they are looking at a business plan? How do they decide whether to invest or not? And how do the financial projections help them make that decision?

In short, investors are looking for a return on their investment. So, they want to know what they can expect to earn from their investment, and how that compares to the risks they’re taking.

Your projected income statement is important there, but so are your cashflow projections!

Your financial estimates should therefore show how your business will grow and what profits you’ll generate, both in the short-term and long-term. This information will help investors determine whether or not your business is a good investment.

In contrast, bankers have a much lower risk tolerance and are not interested in funding you – they lend money to those who have money to repay the debt (or some assets to engage as collateral in case something goes wrong). Hence, what they look for is not a high return on investment based on risk, but a repayment capacity based on predictability and wise financial management.

Said differently? You need to create financial projections that make sense and adapt your financial pitch to your audience accordingly.

Show investors that there is a great opportunity to make money at a later stage and show bankers you will be able to start repaying as soon as possible.

Again, if you need to explore the question of investors’ mindsets, we elaborate on that in our video module – it’s time to give it a try!

Business valuation and exit thinking

Last but not least, understanding the investment process means that you also need to start thinking in terms of valuation and exit.

Or, said differently, the financial plan in your business plan must lead you to think about what your business will be worth a few years from now, and about how you will be able to make money (for you and your investment partners) by selling it.

On the one hand, exit thinking relates to the idea that investors invest in a business with the expectation that the business will raise more money later on, at which stage a larger investor will come in and buy the existing investors out.

To make your investors some money, therefore, you have to start thinking in terms of exiting the business at some point – which means progressively turning the business into an asset that works on its own, for you and as much as possible without you.

This mindset is absolutely key – think about it!

On the other hand, the discussion leads us to think in terms of business valuation – understand, how much is the business worth, and how much could it be sold for.

That topic is probably getting too technical for this article’s discussion, so we’ll explore it in another post.

Meanwhile, make sure to listen to the exit & valuation video in The Business Plan Builder module . We explain all this and even go as far as giving you an automated valuation calculator in the financial tables part of the tool – again, you have no excuse!

Avoiding the typical mistakes small businesses make with financial planning

To finish with the discussion, what should you keep in mind if you wanted to turn your financial plan into an asset that generates money rather than frustration?

Like it or not, but small business financial planning isn’t an intuitive thing and people tend to make very typical mistakes you should avoid at all costs!

Know your business

First piece of advice, you really (really, really) want to know your business from every angle.

When you are writing the financial plan in your business plan, it’s important to remember that your projections should represent an estimate of future performance. That’s how investors and lenders will read your numbers anyway.

So, your financial projections and forecasts should be based on realistic assumptions and calculations that you should always be prepared to adjust as needed.

In order to make accurate projections, it is therefore extremely important to have a good understanding of your business and the industry it operates in. You should also consult with industry experts and other professionals who can help you make informed decisions about your business.

Do the exercise yourself!

When you’re writing your financial plan, it’s important to avoid making common mistakes. One of the most common errors is underestimating how much money your business will need to operate.

Another is to rely on business plan consultants to write your financial projections without being able to understand the numbers yourself. This can lead to mistakes if the numbers are incorrect, and it can lead to embarrassing ahem! moments if you can’t explain how this or that number ended up in the document.

The best way to ensure accuracy is to do the exercise yourself with the right tools in hand and the brainstorming support of someone you trust to challenge your thoughts and conclusions.

This can be done with your acting CFO or close financial advisor if you have one, or with a fellow entrepreneur if anyone around you has the right mindset to dig into the discussion with you.

Alternatively, hiring a business coach is another way to brainstorm and challenge yourself – follow the link to find out more about that.

Don’t be a tourist. That’s stupid.

Third piece of advice: don’t enter into a discussion with a potential partner as a tourist – this is stupid, and that could very well kill you.

We have seen countless entrepreneurs walk into a room (let alone into a large startup event) saying that they were raising money for their startup. Yet, more often than not, their financial targets are not set or beyond approximative, which means they can’t explain why they need money and how they are going to spend it.

When you do that, the only thing you do is be stupid and make sure everyone knows about it.

First, because they won’t take you seriously. Would you invest money into someone who can’t tell you how they’ll use it and with what return on investment expectations?

And second, because the people you talk to will most likely ask you to come back to them once you have more information to provide. Which either means “don’t come back before six months to a year” or “please don’t come back at all, I have better things to do with my time and more competent people to talk to”.

Don’t be a tourist or you’ll just burn yourself. That’s stupid.

Turn your numbers into a story

The fourth piece of advice is going to be a repeat from earlier, but it’s important so let’s be redundant.

Now that you’ve written your financial projections, it’s time to go beyond the numbers and start telling your business story. The financial plan in your business plan is a great place to start but remember that it’s just one part of your overall pitch.

You’ll also need to be ready to pitch your idea, product, or service, and be ready to defend your financial plan against questions from investors or lenders.

Think holistically and build a story people will want to listen to, remember and act on. Period!

TL;DR: Get your financial projections right!

Now that you understand the different components of a financial plan, it’s time to learn how to write it. The key to writing a good financial plan is to be realistic. Don’t make assumptions that are unrealistic or impossible to achieve.

Start by estimating your sales and expenses for the first year of business. Be as specific as possible, and remember to include both fixed and variable costs. From there, you can create a cash flow statement that shows how your business will generate and spend money over time.

The goal of a financial plan is to paint a realistic picture of your business’s financial future. So make sure to update your plan as your business changes and grows. With careful planning and accurate numbers, you can ensure that your business will be successful for years to come.

What should your business plan financial plan include?

  • A profit and loss statement – also known as your P&L statement, or as an income statement
  • A cash flow statement showing if your business plan financial projections are realistic

What is the purpose of your business plan’s financial projections?

  • To how the plan you have for the business in terms of numbers
  • To show a financial overview of what you think can be achieved, by when, with what means
  • To show you have a cashflow management strategy that makes sense
  • To show you understand the standardized expectations and know how to play by the book
  • To show that, overall, your business proposal makes sense whatever the angle!

Need a reliable template and video tutorial to get your financial business plan & financial projections right?

It’s built around over 2 hours of explanatory videos and comes with everything you’ll need to:

  • Figure out what you need to figure out – powerful, uh?
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If you want to stop wasting your time, this is THE most simple business plan template, and you can’t afford to miss it!

Wanna’ start with something free? Our free business plan template is also here to help !

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More Insights on Business Plan Writing

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Hey coach! I’m writing a business plan and I’m wondering how to build the financial projections part of the document. What’s the importance of financial projections exactly – I mean, isn’t it absolute BS? How do I write the financial plan in business plan, and even more importantly, how can I make sense of all those messy tables? Can you help me understand this? Thanks in advance!

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Do I Need a Business Plan Consultant? No, You Don’t!

Hey there Coach! I’m a small business owner and I need to find some support with my business plan. People suggested that I find a business plan consultant near me, but that’s a big cost and I’m not too sure about what to expect from that. What’s your opinion about business plan consultants in general? Is there any alternative you would highly recommend? Thanks!

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Hey coach! I was wondering – how much does a business plan cost? I need one, and I’m thinking about having it written for me, so I’d love your insights. Also, I’ve heard business plan writers cost a lot of money, so I’m interested if you have tips for writing a low-cost business plan! Thanks!

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Tim Berry

Planning, Startups, Stories

Tim berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime., what do business plan financials look like.

People often ask: What do business plan financials look like? You can get away with a sales forecast, spending budget, and cash flow plan. That’s enough for actually running your startup. It’s the essential numbers in a lean business plan.

If you want to do it right you take it further and present projected (also called Pro Forma) versions of the three main business plan financial statements: Income Statement (also called Profit & Loss), Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow. Here’s how they are related to each other:

financials for business plan

And here’s another view:

financials for business plan

Projected Profit and Loss (also called Income)

This is where you project sales, costs, and expenses; and what’s left over is profits. Here is a general summary , and you might also check out  Your Profits are Way Too High , How to Forecast Sales and Profits Without Just Guessing . Profits are the performance of the business over a specified period of time, like a month, quarter, or year. You project sales , direct costs, and expenses .

Here’s what it looks like in a plan.

financials for business plan

Projected Balance Sheet

financials for business plan

Projected Cash Flow

The cash flow is the most important, because your business lives on cash, not profits . You can project cash flow using the direct method , or the indirect method . Either way works if you do it right. Here’s an example of what an indirect cash flow projection looks like in a business plan.

financials for business plan

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First Steps: Writing the Financials Section of Your Business Plan This quick guide offers tips that will help you create the financials section for your business plan.

By The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. • Jan 4, 2015

In their book Write Your Business Plan , the staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. offer an in-depth understanding of what's essential to any business plan, what's appropriate for your venture, and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, the authors outline what type of information you should include in the financials section of your business plan.

Financial data is always at the back of the business plan, but that doesn't mean it's any less important than such up-front material as the description of the business concept and the management team. Astute investors look carefully at the charts, tables, formulas and spreadsheets in the financial section because they know this information is like the pulse, respiration rate and blood pressure in a human being—it shows the condition of the patient. In fact, you'll find many potential investors taking a quick peak at the numbers before reading the plan.

Financial statements come in threes: income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. Taken together they provide an accurate picture of a company's current value, plus its ability to pay its bills today and earn a profit going forward. This information is very important to business plan readers.

You can typically gather information and use Excel or another financial program to create your spreadsheets. You'll also find them available in most business plan software; these programs also do the calculations.

Income statement.

An income statement shows whether you're making any money. It adds up all your revenue from sales and other sources, subtracts all your costs, and comes up with the net income figure, also known as the bottom line.

Income statements are called various names—profit and loss statement (P&L) and earnings statement are two common alternatives. They can get pretty complicated in their attempt to capture sources of income, such as interest, and expenses, such as depreciation. But the basic idea is pretty simple: If you subtract costs from income, what you have left is profit.

To figure your income statement, you need to gather a bunch of numbers, including your gross revenue, which is made up of sales and any income from interest or sales of assets; your sales, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses; what you paid out in interest and dividends, if anything; and your corporate tax rate. If you have those, you're ready to go.

If you're a startup and don't have any prior years' figures to look at, look for statistics about other businesses within your industry. The most important question to ask is: What has been the experience of similar companies? If you know that car dealers across the nation have averaged 12 percent annual sales gains, that's a good starting point for figuring your company's projections.

Balance sheet.

If the income sheet shows what you're earning, the balance sheet shows what you're worth. A balance sheet can help an investor see that a company owns valuable assets that don't show up on the income statement or that it may be profitable but is heavily in debt. It adds up everything your business owns, subtracts everything the business owes, and shows the difference as the net worth of the business.

Actually, accountants put it differently and, of course, use different names. The things you own are called assets. The things you owe money on are called liabilities. And net worth is referred to as equity.

A balance sheet shows your condition on a given date, usually the end of your fiscal year. Sometimes balance sheets are compared. That is, next to the figures for the end of the most recent year, you place the entries for the end of the prior period. This gives you a snapshot of how and where your financial position has changed.

A balance sheet also places a value on the owner's equity in the business. When you subtract liabilities from assets, what's left is the value of the equity in the business owned by you and any partners. Tracking changes in this number will tell you whether you're getting richer or poorer.

Balance sheets can also be projected into the future, and the projections can serve as targets to aim for or benchmarks to compare against actual results. Balance sheets are affected by sales, too. If your accounts receivable go up or inventory increases, your balance sheet reflects this. And, of course, increases in cash show up on the balance sheet. So it's important to look ahead to see how your balance sheet will appear given your sales forecast.

Cash flow statement.

The cash flow statement monitors the flow of cash over a period of time (a year, a quarter, a month) and shows you how much cash you have on hand at the moment.

The cash flow statement, also called the statement of changes in financial position, probes and analyzes changes that have occurred on the balance sheet. It's different from the income statement, which describes sales and profits but doesn't necessarily tell you where your cash came from or how it's being used.

A cash flow statement consists of two parts. One follows the flow of cash into and out of the company. The other shows how the funds were spent. The two parts are called, respectively, sources of funds and uses of funds. At the bottom is, naturally, the bottom line, called net changes in cash position. It shows whether you improved your cash position and by how much during the period.

Other Financial Information

If you're seeking investors for your company, you'll probably need to provide quite a bit more financial information than what is in the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements. For instance, a personal finance statement may be needed if you're guaranteeing loans yourself. Applying business data to other ratios and formulas will yield important information on what your profit margin is and what level of sales it will take for you to reach profitability. Still other figures, such as the various ratios, will help predict whether you'll be able to pay your bills for long. These bits of information are helpful to you as well as to investors, it should be noted. Understanding and, if possible, mastering them, will help you run your business more smoothly.

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  • Creating a Small Business Financial Plan

financials for business plan

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by subject matter experts.

Updated on September 02, 2023

Get Any Financial Question Answered

Table of contents, financial plan overview.

A financial plan is a comprehensive document that charts a business's monetary objectives and the strategies to achieve them. It encapsulates everything from budgeting and forecasting to investments and resource allocation.

For small businesses, a solid financial plan provides direction, helping them navigate economic challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and ensure sustainable growth.

The strength of a financial plan lies in its ability to offer a clear roadmap for businesses.

Especially for small businesses that may not have a vast reserve of resources, prioritizing financial goals and understanding where every dollar goes can be the difference between growth and stagnation.

It lends clarity, ensures informed decision-making, and sets the stage for profitability and success.

Understanding the Basics of Financial Planning for Small Businesses

Role of financial planning in business success.

Financial planning is the backbone of any successful business endeavor. It serves as a compass, guiding businesses toward profitability, stability, and growth.

With proper financial planning, businesses can anticipate potential cash shortfalls, make informed investment decisions, and ensure they have the capital needed to seize new opportunities.

For small businesses, in particular, tight financial planning can mean the difference between thriving and shuttering. Given the limited resources, it's vital to maximize every dollar and anticipate financial challenges.

Through diligent planning, small businesses can position themselves competitively, adapt to market changes, and drive consistent growth.

Core Components of a Financial Plan for Small Businesses

Every financial plan comprises several core components that, together, provide a holistic view of a business's financial health and direction. These include setting clear objectives, estimating costs , preparing financial statements , and considering sources of financing.

Each component plays a pivotal role in ensuring a thorough and actionable financial strategy .

For small businesses, these components often need a more granular approach. Given the scale of operations, even minor financial missteps can have significant repercussions.

As such, it's essential to tailor each component, ensuring they address specific challenges and opportunities that small businesses face, from initial startup costs to revenue forecasting and budgetary constraints.

Setting Clear Small Business Financial Objectives

Identifying business's short-term and long-term financial goals.

Every business venture starts with a vision. Translating this vision into actionable financial goals is the essence of effective planning.

Short-term goals could range from securing initial funding and achieving a set monthly revenue to covering startup costs. These targets, usually spanning a year or less, set the immediate direction for the business.

On the other hand, long-term financial goals delve into the broader horizon. They might encompass aspirations like expanding to new locations, diversifying product lines, or achieving a specific market share within a decade.

By segmenting goals into short-term and long-term, businesses can craft a step-by-step strategy, making the larger vision more attainable and manageable.

Understanding the Difference Between Profitability and Cash Flow

Profitability and cash flow, while closely linked, are distinct concepts in the financial realm. Profitability pertains to the ability of a business to generate a surplus after deducting all expenses.

It's a metric of success and indicates the viability of a business model . Simply put, it answers whether a business is making more than it spends.

In contrast, cash flow represents the inflow and outflow of cash within a business. A company might be profitable on paper yet struggle with cash flow if, for instance, clients delay payments or unexpected expenses arise.

For small businesses, maintaining positive cash flow is paramount. It ensures that they can cover operational costs, pay employees, and reinvest in growth, even if they're awaiting payments or navigating financial hiccups.

Estimating Small Business Startup Costs (for New Businesses)

Fixed vs variable costs.

When embarking on a new business venture, understanding costs is paramount. Fixed costs remain consistent regardless of production levels. They include expenses like rent, salaries, and insurance . These are predictable outlays that don't fluctuate with business performance.

Variable costs , conversely, change in direct proportion to production or business activity. Think of costs associated with materials for manufacturing or commission for sales .

For a startup, delineating between fixed and variable costs aids in crafting a more dynamic budget, allowing for adaptability as the business scales and evolves.

One-Time Expenditures vs Ongoing Expenses

Startups often grapple with numerous upfront costs. From purchasing equipment and setting up a workspace to initial marketing campaigns, these one-time expenditures lay the foundation for business operations.

They differ from ongoing expenses like utility bills, raw materials, or employee wages that recur monthly or annually.

For a small business owner, distinguishing between these costs is critical. One-time expenditures often demand a larger chunk of initial capital, while ongoing expenses shape the monthly and annual budget.

By categorizing them separately, businesses can strategize funding needs more effectively, ensuring they're equipped to meet both immediate and recurrent financial obligations.

Funding Sources for Small Businesses

Personal savings.

This is often the most straightforward way to fund a startup. Entrepreneurs tap into their personal savings accounts to jumpstart their business.

While this method has the benefit of not incurring debt or diluting company ownership, it intertwines the individual's personal financial security with the business's fate.

The entrepreneur must be prepared for potential losses, and there's the evident psychological strain of putting one's hard-earned money on the line.

Loans can be sourced from various institutions, from traditional banks to credit unions . They offer a substantial sum of money that can be paid back over time, usually with interest .

The main advantage of taking a loan is that the entrepreneur retains full ownership and control of the business.

However, there's the obligation of monthly repayments, which can strain a business's cash flow, especially in its early days. Additionally, securing a loan often requires collateral and a sound credit history.

Investors, including angel investors and venture capitalists , offer capital in exchange for equity or a stake in the company.

Angel investors are typically high-net-worth individuals who provide funding in the initial stages, while venture capitalists come in when there's proven business potential, often injecting larger sums. The advantage is substantial funding without the immediate pressure of repayments.

However, in exchange for their investment, they often seek a say in business decisions, which might mean compromising on some aspects of the original business vision.

Grants are essentially 'free money' often provided by government programs, non-profit organizations, or corporations to promote innovation and support businesses in specific sectors.

The primary advantage of grants is that they don't need to be repaid, nor do they dilute company ownership. However, they can be highly competitive and might come with stipulations on how the funds should be used.

Moreover, the application process can be lengthy and requires showcasing the business's potential or alignment with the specific goals or missions of the granting institution.

Funding Sources for Small Businesses

Preparing Key Financial Statements for Small Businesses

Income statement (profit & loss).

An Income Statement , often termed as the Profit & Loss statement , showcases a business's financial performance over a specific time frame. It details revenues , expenses, and ultimately, profits or losses.

By analyzing this statement, business owners can pinpoint revenue drivers, identify exorbitant costs, and understand the net result of their operations.

For small businesses, this document is instrumental in making informed decisions. For instance, if a certain product line is consistently unprofitable, it might be prudent to discontinue it. Conversely, if another segment is thriving, it might warrant further investment.

The Income Statement, thus, serves as a financial mirror, reflecting the outcomes of business strategies and decisions.

Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet offers a snapshot of a company's assets , liabilities , and equity at a specific point in time.

Assets include everything the business owns, from physical items like equipment to intangible assets like patents .

Liabilities, on the other hand, encompass what the company owes, be it bank loans or unpaid bills.

Equity represents the owner's stake in the business, calculated as assets minus liabilities.

This statement is crucial for small businesses as it offers insights into their financial health. A robust asset base, minimal liabilities, and growing equity signify a thriving enterprise.

In contrast, mounting liabilities or dwindling assets could be red flags, signaling the need for intervention and strategy recalibration.

Cash Flow Statement

While the Income Statement reveals profitability, the Cash Flow Statement tracks the actual movement of money.

It categorizes cash flows into operating (day-to-day business), investing (buying/selling assets), and financing (loans or equity transactions) activities. This statement unveils the liquidity of a business, indicating whether it has sufficient cash to meet immediate obligations.

For small businesses, maintaining positive cash flow is often more vital than showcasing profitability.

After all, a business might be profitable on paper yet struggle if clients delay payments or unforeseen expenses emerge.

By regularly reviewing the Cash Flow Statement, small business owners can anticipate cash crunches and strategize accordingly, ensuring seamless operations irrespective of revenue cycles.

Preparing Key Financial Statements for Small Businesses

Small Business Budgeting and Expense Management

Importance of budgeting for a small business.

Budgeting is the financial blueprint for any business, detailing anticipated revenues and expenses for a forthcoming period. It's a proactive approach, enabling businesses to allocate resources efficiently, plan for investments, and prepare for potential financial challenges.

For small businesses, a meticulous budget is often the linchpin of stability, ensuring they operate within their means and avoid financial pitfalls.

Having a well-defined budget also fosters discipline. It curtails frivolous spending, emphasizes cost-efficiency, and sets clear financial boundaries.

For small businesses, where every dollar counts, a stringent budget is the gateway to financial prudence, ensuring that funds are utilized judiciously, fostering growth, and minimizing wastage.

Strategies for Reducing Costs and Optimizing Expenses

Bulk purchasing.

When businesses buy supplies in large quantities, they often benefit from discounts due to economies of scale . This can significantly reduce per-unit costs.

However, while bulk purchasing leads to immediate savings, businesses must ensure they have adequate storage and that the products won't expire or become obsolete before they're used.

Renegotiating Vendor Contracts

Regularly reviewing and renegotiating contracts with suppliers or service providers can lead to better terms and lower costs. This might involve exploring volume discounts, longer payment terms, or even bartering services.

Building strong relationships with vendors often paves the way for such negotiations.

Adopting Energy-Saving Measures

Simple changes, like switching to LED lighting or investing in energy-efficient appliances, can lead to long-term savings in utility bills. Moreover, energy conservation not only reduces costs but also minimizes the environmental footprint, which can enhance the business's reputation.

Embracing Technology

Modern software and technology can streamline business processes. Automation tools can handle repetitive tasks, reducing labor costs.

Meanwhile, data analytics tools can provide insights into customer preferences and behavior, ensuring that marketing budgets are used effectively and target the right audience.

Streamlining Operations

Regularly reviewing and refining business processes can eliminate redundancies and improve efficiency. This might mean merging roles, cutting down on unnecessary meetings, or simplifying supply chains. A leaner operation often translates to reduced expenses.

Outsourcing Non-core Tasks

Instead of maintaining an in-house team for every function, businesses can outsource tasks that aren't central to their operations.

For instance, functions like accounting , IT support, or digital marketing can be outsourced to specialized agencies, often leading to cost savings and access to expert skills.

Cultivating a Culture of Frugality

Encouraging employees to adopt a cost-conscious mindset can lead to collective savings. This can be fostered through incentives, regular training, or even simple practices like recycling and reusing office supplies.

When everyone in the organization is attuned to the importance of cost savings, the cumulative effect can be substantial.

Strategies for Reducing Costs and Optimizing Expenses in a Small Business

Forecasting Small Business Revenue and Cash Flow

Techniques for predicting future sales in a small business, past sales data analysis.

Historical sales data is a foundational element in any forecasting effort. By reviewing previous sales figures, businesses can identify patterns, understand seasonal fluctuations, and recognize the effects of past initiatives.

This information offers a baseline upon which to build future projections, accounting for known recurring variables in the business cycle .

Market Research

Understanding the larger market dynamics is crucial for accurate forecasting. This involves tracking industry trends, monitoring shifts in consumer behavior, and being aware of potential market disruptions.

For instance, a sudden technological advancement can change consumer preferences or regulatory changes might impact an industry.

Local Trend Analysis

For small businesses, localized insights can be especially impactful. Observing local competitors, understanding regional consumer preferences, or noting shifts in the local economy can offer precise data points.

These granular details, when integrated into a larger forecasting model, can enhance prediction accuracy.

Customer Feedback

Direct feedback from customers is an invaluable source of insights. Surveys, focus groups, or even informal chats can reveal customer sentiments, preferences, and potential future purchasing behavior.

For instance, if a majority of loyal customers express interest in a new product or service, it can be indicative of future sales potential.

Moving Averages

This technique involves analyzing a series of data points (like monthly sales) by creating averages from different subsets of the full data set.

For yearly forecasting, a 12-month moving average can be used to smooth out short-term fluctuations and highlight longer-term trends or cycles.

Regression Analysis

Regression analysis is a statistical tool used to identify relationships between variables. In sales forecasting, it can help understand how different factors (like marketing spend, seasonal variations, or competitor actions) relate to sales figures.

Once these relationships are understood, businesses can predict future sales based on planned actions or expected external events.

Techniques for Predicting Future Sales in a Small Business

Understanding the Cash Cycle of Business

The cash cycle encompasses the time it takes for a business to convert resource investments, often in the form of inventory, back into cash.

This involves the processes of purchasing inventory, selling it, and subsequently collecting payment. A shorter cycle implies quicker cash turnarounds, which are vital for liquidity.

For small businesses, a firm grasp of the cash cycle can aid in managing cash flow more effectively.

By identifying bottlenecks or delays, businesses can strategize to expedite processes. This might involve renegotiating payment terms with suppliers, offering discounts for prompt customer payments, or optimizing inventory levels to prevent overstocking.

Ultimately, understanding and optimizing the cash cycle ensures that a business remains liquid and agile.

Preparing for Seasonality and Unexpected Changes

Seasonality affects many businesses, from the ice cream vendor witnessing summer surges to the retailer bracing for holiday shopping frenzies.

By analyzing historical data and market trends, businesses can prepare for these cyclical shifts, ensuring they stock up, staff appropriately, and market effectively.

Small businesses, often operating on tighter margins , need to be especially vigilant. Beyond seasonality, they must also brace for unexpected changes – a local construction project obstructing store access, a sudden competitor emergence, or unforeseen regulatory changes.

Building a financial buffer, diversifying product or service lines, and maintaining flexible operational strategies can equip small businesses to weather these unforeseen challenges with resilience.

Securing Small Business Financing and Capital

Role of debt and equity financing.

When businesses seek external funding, they often grapple with the debt vs. equity conundrum. Debt financing involves borrowing money, typically via loans. While it doesn't dilute ownership, it necessitates regular interest payments, potentially impacting cash flow.

Equity financing, on the other hand, entails selling a stake in the business to investors. It might not demand regular repayments, but it dilutes ownership and might influence business decisions.

Small businesses must weigh these options carefully. While loans offer a structured repayment plan and retained control, they might strain finances if the business hits a rough patch.

Equity financing, although relinquishing some control, might bring aboard strategic partners, offering expertise and networks in addition to funds.

The optimal choice hinges on the business's financial health, growth aspirations, and the founder's comfort with sharing control.

Choosing Between Different Types of Loans

A staple in the lending arena, term loans offer businesses a fixed amount of capital that is paid back over a specified period with interest. They're often used for significant one-time expenses, such as purchasing machinery, real estate , or even business expansion.

With predictable monthly payments, businesses can plan their budgets accordingly. However, they might require collateral and a robust credit history for approval.

Lines of Credit

Unlike term loans that provide funds in a lump sum, a line of credit grants businesses access to a pool of funds up to a certain limit.

Businesses can draw from this line as needed, only paying interest on the amount they use. This makes it a versatile tool, especially for managing cash flow fluctuations or unexpected expenses. It serves as a financial safety net, ready for use whenever required.

As the name suggests, microloans are smaller loans designed to cater to businesses that might not need substantial amounts of capital. They're particularly beneficial for startups, businesses with limited credit histories, or those in need of a quick, small financial boost.

Since they are of a smaller denomination, the approval process might be more lenient than traditional loans.

Peer-To-Peer Lending

A contemporary twist to the traditional lending model, peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms connect borrowers directly with individual lenders or investor groups.

This direct model often translates to quicker approvals and competitive interest rates as the overheads of traditional banking structures are removed. With technology at its core, P2P lending can offer a more user-friendly, streamlined process.

However, creditworthiness still plays a pivotal role in determining interest rates and loan amounts.

Crowdfunding and Alternative Financing Options

In an increasingly digital age, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo have emerged as viable financing avenues.

These platforms enable businesses to raise small amounts from a large number of people, often in exchange for product discounts, early access, or other perks. This not only secures funds but also validates the business idea and fosters a community of supporters.

Other alternatives include invoice financing, where businesses get an advance on pending invoices, or merchant cash advances tailored for businesses with significant credit card sales.

Each financing mode offers unique advantages and constraints. Small businesses must meticulously evaluate their financial landscape, growth trajectories, and risk appetite to harness the most suitable option.

Small Business Tax Planning and Management

Basic tax obligations for small businesses.

Navigating the maze of taxation can be daunting, especially for small businesses. Yet, understanding and fulfilling tax obligations is crucial.

Depending on the business structure—whether sole proprietorship , partnership , LLC , or corporation—different tax rules apply. For instance, while corporations are taxed on their earnings, sole proprietors report business income and expenses on their personal tax returns.

In addition to income taxes, small businesses may also be responsible for employment taxes if they have employees. This covers Social Security , Medicare , federal unemployment, and sometimes state-specific taxes.

There might also be sales taxes, property taxes, or special state-specific levies to consider.

Consistently maintaining accurate financial records, being aware of filing deadlines, and setting aside funds for tax obligations are essential practices to avoid penalties and ensure compliance.

Advantages of Tax Planning and Potential Deductions

Tax planning is the strategic approach to minimizing tax liability through the best use of available allowances, deductions, exclusions, and breaks.

For small businesses, effective tax planning can lead to significant savings.

This might involve strategies like deferring income to a later tax year, choosing the optimal time to purchase equipment, or taking advantage of specific credits available to businesses in certain sectors or regions.

Several potential deductions can reduce taxable income for small businesses. These include expenses like rent, utilities, business travel, employee wages, and even certain meals.

By keeping abreast of tax law changes and actively seeking out eligible deductions, small businesses can optimize their financial landscape, ensuring they're not paying more in taxes than necessary.

Importance of Hiring a Tax Professional or Accountant

While it's feasible for small business owners to manage their taxes, the intricate nuances of tax laws make it beneficial to consult professionals.

An experienced accountant or tax consultant can not only ensure compliance but can proactively recommend strategies to reduce tax liability.

They can guide businesses on issues like whether to classify someone as an employee or a contractor, how to structure the business for optimal taxation, or when to make certain capital investments.

Beyond just annual tax filing, these professionals offer year-round counsel, helping businesses maintain clean financial records, stay updated on tax law changes, and plan for future financial moves.

The investment in professional advice often pays dividends , saving businesses from costly mistakes, penalties, or missed financial opportunities.

Regularly Reviewing and Adjusting the Small Business Financial Plan

Setting checkpoints and milestones.

Like any strategic blueprint, a financial plan isn't static. It serves as a guiding framework but should be flexible enough to adapt to evolving business realities.

Setting regular checkpoints— quarterly , half-yearly, or annually—can help businesses assess whether they're on track to meet their financial objectives.

Milestones, such as reaching a specific sales target, launching a new product, or expanding into a new market, offer tangible markers of progress. Celebrating these victories can bolster morale, while any shortfalls can serve as lessons, prompting strategy tweaks. F

or small businesses, where agility is an asset, regularly revisiting the financial plan ensures that the business remains aligned with its overarching financial goals while being responsive to the dynamic marketplace.

Using Financial Ratios to Monitor Business Health

Financial ratios offer a distilled snapshot of a business's health. Ratios like the current ratio ( current assets divided by current liabilities ) can shed light on liquidity, indicating whether a business can meet short-term obligations.

The debt-to-equity ratio , contrasting borrowed funds with owner's equity, offers insights into the business's leverage and potential financial risk.

Profit margin , depicting profitability relative to sales, can highlight operational efficiency. By consistently monitoring these and other pertinent ratios, small businesses can glean actionable insights, understanding their financial strengths and areas needing attention.

In a realm where early intervention can stave off major financial setbacks, these ratios serve as vital diagnostic tools, guiding informed decision-making.

Pivoting Strategies Based on Financial Performance

In the ever-evolving world of business, flexibility is paramount. If financial reviews indicate that certain strategies aren't yielding anticipated results, it might be time to pivot.

This could involve tweaking product offerings, revising pricing strategies, targeting a different customer segment, or even overhauling the business model.

For small businesses, the ability to pivot can be a lifeline. It allows them to respond swiftly to market changes, customer feedback, or internal challenges.

A robust financial plan, while offering direction, should also be pliable, accommodating shifts in strategy based on real-world performance. After all, in the business arena, adaptability often spells the difference between stagnation and growth.

Creating a Small Business Financial Plan

Bottom Line

Financial foresight is integral for the stability and growth of small businesses. Effective revenue and cash flow forecasting, anchored by historical sales data and enhanced by market research, local trends, and customer feedback, ensures businesses are prepared for future demands.

With the unpredictability of the business environment, understanding the cash cycle and preparing for unforeseen challenges is essential.

As businesses contemplate external financing, the decision between debt and equity and the myriad of loan types, should be made judiciously, keeping in mind the business's health, growth aspirations, and risk appetite.

Furthermore, diligent tax planning, with professional guidance, can lead to significant financial benefits. Regular reviews using financial ratios allow businesses to gauge their performance, adapt strategies, and pivot when necessary.

Ultimately, the agility to adapt, guided by a well-structured financial plan, is pivotal for businesses to thrive in a dynamic marketplace.

Creating a Small Business Financial Plan FAQs

What is the importance of a financial plan for small businesses.

A financial plan offers a structured roadmap, guiding businesses in making informed decisions, ensuring growth, and navigating financial challenges.

How do forecasting revenue and understanding cash cycles aid in financial planning?

Forecasting provides insights into expected income, aiding in budget allocation, while understanding cash cycles ensures effective liquidity management.

What are the core components of a financial plan for small businesses?

Core components include setting objectives, estimating startup costs, preparing financial statements, budgeting, forecasting, securing financing, and tax management.

Why is tax planning vital for small businesses?

Tax planning ensures compliance, optimizes tax liabilities through available deductions, and helps businesses save money and avoid penalties.

How often should a small business review its financial plan?

Regular reviews, ideally quarterly or half-yearly, ensure alignment with business goals and allow for strategy adjustments based on real-world performance.

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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How to Write a Successful Business Plan for a Loan

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Table of Contents

What does a loan business plan include?

What lenders look for in a business plan, business plan for loan examples, resources for writing a business plan.

A comprehensive and well-written business plan can be used to persuade lenders that your business is worth investing in and hopefully, improve your chances of getting approved for a small-business loan . Many lenders will ask that you include a business plan along with other documents as part of your loan application.

When writing a business plan for a loan, you’ll want to highlight your abilities, justify your need for capital and prove your ability to repay the debt. 

Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

How much do you need?

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We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

A successful business plan for a loan describes your financial goals and how you’ll achieve them. Although business plan components can vary from company to company, there are a few sections that are typically included in most plans.

These sections will help provide lenders with an overview of your business and explain why they should approve you for a loan.  

Executive summary

The executive summary is used to spark interest in your business. It may include high-level information about you, your products and services, your management team, employees, business location and financial details. Your mission statement can be added here as well.

To help build a lender’s confidence in your business, you can also include a concise overview of your growth plans in this section.

Company overview

The company overview is an area to describe the strengths of your business. If you didn’t explain what problems your business will solve in the executive summary, do it here. 

Highlight any experts on your team and what gives you a competitive advantage. You can also include specific details about your business such as when it was founded, your business entity type and history.

Products and services

Use this section to demonstrate the need for what you’re offering. Describe your products and services and explain how customers will benefit from having them. 

Detail any equipment or materials that you need to provide your goods and services — this may be particularly helpful if you’re looking for equipment or inventory financing . You’ll also want to disclose any patents or copyrights in this section.

Market analysis

Here you can demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and showcase your understanding of your industry, current outlook, trends, target market and competitors.

You can add details about your target market that include where you’ll find customers, ways you plan to market to them and how your products and services will be delivered to them.

» MORE: How to write a market analysis for a business plan

Marketing and sales plan

Your marketing and sales plan provides details on how you intend to attract your customers and build a client base. You can also explain the steps involved in the sale and delivery of your product or service.

At a high level, this section should identify your sales goals and how you plan to achieve them — showing a lender how you’re going to make money to repay potential debt.

Operational plan

The operational plan section covers the physical requirements of operating your business on a day-to-day basis. Depending on your type of business, this may include location, facility requirements, equipment, vehicles, inventory needs and supplies. Production goals, timelines, quality control and customer service details may also be included.

Management team

This section illustrates how your business will be organized. You can list the management team, owners, board of directors and consultants with details about their experience and the role they will play at your company. This is also a good place to include an organizational chart .

From this section, a lender should understand why you and your team are qualified to run a business and why they should feel confident lending you money — even if you’re a startup.

Funding request

In this section, you’ll explain the amount of money you’re requesting from the lender and why you need it. You’ll describe how the funds will be used and how you intend to repay the loan.

You may also discuss any funding requirements you anticipate over the next five years and your strategic financial plans for the future.

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

Financial statements

When you’re writing a business plan for a loan, this is one of the most important sections. The goal is to use your financial statements to prove to a lender that your business is stable and will be able to repay any potential debt. 

In this section, you’ll want to include three to five years of income statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets. It can also be helpful to include an expense analysis, break-even analysis, capital expenditure budgets, projected income statements and projected cash flow statements. If you have collateral that you could put up to secure a loan, you should list it in this section as well.

If you’re a startup that doesn’t have much historical data to provide, you’ll want to include estimated costs, revenue and any other future projections you may have. Graphs and charts can be useful visual aids here.

In general, the more data you can use to show a lender your financial security, the better.

Finally, if necessary, supporting information and documents can be added in an appendix section. This may include credit histories, resumes, letters of reference, product pictures, licenses, permits, contracts and other legal documents.

Lenders will typically evaluate your loan application based on the five C’s — or characteristics — of credit : character, capacity, capital, conditions and collateral. Although your business plan won't contain everything a lender needs to complete its assessment, the document can highlight your strengths in each of these areas.

A lender will assess your character by reviewing your education, business experience and credit history. This assessment may also be extended to board members and your management team. Highlights of your strengths can be worked into the following sections of your business plan:

Executive summary.

Company overview.

Management team.

Capacity centers on your ability to repay the loan. Lenders will be looking at the revenue you plan to generate, your expenses, cash flow and your loan payment plan. This information can be included in the following sections:

Funding request.

Financial statements.

Capital is the amount of money you have invested in your business. Lenders can use it to judge your financial commitment to the business. You can use any of the following sections to highlight your financial commitment:

Operational plan.

Conditions refers to the purpose and market for your products and services. Lenders will be looking for information such as product demand, competition and industry trends. Information for this can be included in the following sections:

Market analysis.

Products and services.

Marketing and sales plan.

Collateral is an asset pledged to a lender to guarantee the repayment of a loan. This can be equipment, inventory, vehicles or something else of value. Use the following sections to include information on assets:

» MORE: How to get a business loan

Writing a business plan for a loan application can be intimidating, especially when you’re just getting started. It may be helpful to use a business plan template or refer to an existing sample as you’re going through the draft process.

Here are a few examples that you may find useful:

Business Plan Outline — Colorado Small Business Development Center

Business Plan Template — Iowa Small Business Development Center

Writing a Business Plan — Maine Small Business Development Center

Business Plan Workbook — Capital One

Looking for a business loan?

See our overall favorites, or narrow it down by category to find the best options for you.

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U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA offers a free self-paced course on writing a business plan. The course includes several videos, objectives for you to accomplish, as well as worksheets you can complete.

SCORE. SCORE, a nonprofit organization and resource partner of the SBA, offers free assistance that includes a step-by-step downloadable template to help startups create a business plan, and mentors who can review and refine your plan virtually or in person.

Small Business Development Centers. Similarly, your local SBDC can provide assistance with business planning and finding access to capital. These organizations also have virtual and in-person training courses, as well as opportunities to consult with business experts.

Business plan software. Although many business plan software platforms require a subscription, these tools can be useful if you want a templated approach that can break the process down for you step-by-step. Many of these services include a range of examples and templates, instruction videos and guides, and financial dashboards, among other features. You may also be able to use a free trial before committing to one of these software options.

A loan business plan outlines your business’s objectives, products or services, funding needs and finances. The goal of this document is to convince lenders that they should approve you for a business loan.

Not all lenders will require a business plan, but you’ll likely need one for bank and SBA loans. Even if it isn’t required, however, a lean business plan can be used to bolster your loan application.

Lenders ask for a business plan because they want to know that your business is and will continue to be financially stable. They want to know how you make money, spend money and plan to achieve your financial goals. All of this information allows them to assess whether you’ll be able to repay a loan and decide if they should approve your application.

On a similar note...

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What Is a Financial Plan? (2024 Guide)

Holly Humbert Photo

Holly Humbert is a freelance writer who is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business and financial literacy. In addition to writing, Holly works in marketing helping clients harness the power of social media for their small businesses.

When she is not writing, she is testing out new recipes, tasting the newest Trader Joe’s finds or binging the latest true crime podcast. She resides in Utah with her husband, two daughters and dog, Max.

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David Gregory is a sharp-eyed content editor with more than a decade of experience in the financial services industry. Before that, he worked as a child and family therapist until his love of adventure caused him to quit his job, give away everything he owned and head off to Asia. David spent years working and traveling through numerous countries before returning home with his wife and two kids in tow. His love of reading led him to seek out training at UC San Diego to become an editor, and he has been working as an editor ever since. When he’s not working, he’s either reading a book, riding his bicycle or playing a board game with his kids (and sometimes with his wife).

A financial plan is a comprehensive strategy outlining your current financial situation and actionable steps necessary to achieve short-term and long-term goals.

Key Takeaways

  • A financial plan is a strategic roadmap to help you achieve your monetary goals. 
  • Key components of a comprehensive financial plan include income streams, budgeting, debt and risk management, allocations, retirement planning and more.
  • A well-structured financial plan provides clear insight into your financial life, leading to long-term financial health and stability. 

A financial plan is like a map to achieve your financial goals. It involves a clear understanding of your current financial status, creating financial objectives and implementing steps to achieve those goals.

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Learn more about our methodology and editorial guidelines .

Key Components of a Financial Plan

You can use a financial plan to accomplish a variety of goals — getting out of debt, saving for a house, preparing for retirement, etc. While the specifics will vary on a person-by-person basis, you generally need to include these key components: 

  • Current financial standing : Make an honest assessment of your current financial status, including assets (what you own), liabilities (what you owe), income and expenses.
  • Budget: Dive deep into your everyday expenses and income, ensuring your spending aligns with your saving objectives and goals. 
  • Financial goals : Establish clear objectives to make your personal finance journey targeted and purposeful. Your goals can include funding education, saving for a home, getting out of debt, and much more. 
  • Strategies : Adopt tailored strategies to help you achieve them. Financial strategies include tactics for increasing your income, reducing your debt, investing and more. 
  • Insurance coverage : Have adequate insurance coverage, including health, disability, life, car and property insurance, to help protect you from unexpected financial losses and stop your financial plan from becoming unraveled. 
  • Retirement and estate planning : Include details on how you’re going to achieve your retirement goals and how you want your assets distributed once you die. 

Benefits of Financial Planning

Financial planning brings a host of benefits. It serves as a guide for everyday financial decisions but can also lay the foundation for future security and wealth.

Creating Your Financial Plan

By methodically walking through the steps below, you can lay the groundwork for financial stability and success. 

1. Assess your current financial situation 

This comprehensive overview sets the stage for informed goal formation. Take inventory of your current financial reality, including your income, expenses, assets, debts and any other financial obligations. 

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. financial goals

S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound and is a formula for creating achievable goals. Here’s how each aspect can help you set financial goals:

  • Specific : Define your goal clearly. This can be easier in the financial realm because you can assign precise dollar amounts to your goals. Specific goals can enhance your motivation and are easier to track.

For example, instead of “I want to save for a house,” make your goal, “I will save $50,000 in 30 months for my down payment.” 

  • Measurable : Without a destination, it’s difficult to know how much progress you’re making. You can measure your bigger financial goals with benchmarks to keep you motivated and on track.

For example, instead of “I will save more money,” make your goal, “I will save $50 a week by bringing lunch from home instead of eating out.” 

  • Achievable: It’s important to strike a balance between overly ambitious and modest goals. If you have a particularly large goal, create mini-milestones that promote a sense of accomplishment. 

For example, instead of “I will increase my income by $50,000 next year,” make your goal, “I will initiate a side hustle that increases my income by $300 each month within the next two months.”

  • Realistic: Your financial goals should be both challenging and attainable — if they’re not, you could end up feeling discouraged and unmotivated. Ensure your financial goals are realistic compared to your circumstances.

For example, instead of “I will become a millionaire in two years,” make your goal, “I will invest 15% of my income to grow my net worth.” 

  • Time-bound: Have a specific deadline. This will help keep you accountable as well as help you stay on track and use your resources effectively.

For example, instead of “I will pay off my house,” make your goal, “I will put an extra $200 toward my principal mortgage balance each month to pay off my home in nine years.” 

Consider meeting with a financial planner or advisor who can help walk you through these steps and give insights to help you craft a financial plan. 

3. Calculate your net worth

Your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities. An asset is anything you own that has monetary value, including cash and cash equivalents, real estate, investments and personal property (e.g., cars, collections or jewelry). Liabilities are obligations you owe, including a mortgage, credit card debt and loans (e.g., car, personal or student loans). 

Net worth can be either positive or negative (if your liabilities outweigh your assets). The best way to increase your net worth is by reducing your liabilities while increasing your assets. 

4. Create a budget

Budgeting is a strategy for ensuring each dollar has a specific role. Following a budget can help prevent wasteful spending on unnecessary purchases, 

For those new to budgeting, zero-based budgeting is a great place to start. This method involves creating a detailed list of your income and expenses for the upcoming month. You should direct any extra funds to a category — this can be saving up for a future expense or investing it for your financial future. 

Another budget plan is the 50/30/20 strategy. This plan aims for you to put 50% of your money toward needs (food, housing, etc.), 30% toward wants (entertainment, hobbies, etc.) and 20% toward savings and debt repayment. 

At the end of each month, no matter what budget plan you use, review how the last month went and note any categories where you under- or overspent. Using this information, readjust your projected expenses for the following month. 

5. Reduce high-interest debt

Reducing high-interest debt frees up significant monthly cash and saves you from paying a hefty amount of interest. The debt snowball method is a popular strategy for debt repayment. It involves listing your debts from the smallest principal balance to the largest and then funneling all excess monthly cash flow to the smallest debt (while continuing to make the minimum monthly payment on all your other debts). 

Once you’ve paid off the smallest debt, you’ll roll that payment (both the minimum and any extra) into the next smallest debt. This process continues until you’ve repaid all your debts. 

6. Build an emergency fund

The majority of Americans struggle to cover a $500 emergency. Having a rainy day fund can protect you against having to borrow money or stress about unexpected expenses.

It’s commonly suggested you have three to six months’ worth of expenses saved in a liquid emergency fund, but this will vary based on your personal risk tolerance. You should store this fund away from regular accounts to avoid dipping into it when it’s not a true emergency. Consider putting it into a high-yield savings account where you can earn interest.

It’s also important to consider other types of emergency protection such as long-term disability and life insurance, especially if you have dependents. 

7. Open investment accounts

There are multiple types of investment accounts you can choose from. Some may be specific for retirement, such as a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA), while others, such as a high-yield savings account (HSYA), are everyday accounts.

Investments are part of a long-term plan, taking advantage of compound interest and growth over many years. Working with a financial advisor can help you figure out what investments would be right for your situation and risk tolerance levels. 

The Bottom Line: Financial Planning

Financial planning is a dynamic process that requires regular review and adjustment. A financial plan outlines your current financial status, goals and the steps and strategies necessary to achieve your financial objectives.

Essential components of a financial plan include income, debts, risk, budgeting, investments and retirement and estate planning. Periodically reassessing your plan can help ensure it stays aligned with your current situation and future goals.

FAQ: What Is a Financial Plan?

What are the key elements of a financial plan.

The key elements of a financial plan are assessing your current financial standing, creating S.M.A.R.T. goals, calculating your net worth, creating a budget, reducing high-interest debt, building an emergency fund and opening investment accounts.

How often should I review and update my financial plan?

You should revisit your financial plan at least once per year. If you experience significant life events or financial fluctuations, it may be necessary to adjust your financial plan every few months.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when creating a financial plan?

Common pitfalls include setting goals that are not specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Other common mistakes include underestimating your expenses, particularly those that are less frequent or unexpected, ignoring debt and failing to update your financial plan as your life evolves.

Editor’s Note: Before making significant financial decisions, consider reviewing your options with someone you trust, such as a financial adviser, credit counselor or financial professional, since every person’s situation and needs are different.

financials for business plan

FinCEN’s Anti-Money Laundering Plan Should Put Advisers on Alert

Eric Mikkelson

The Treasury Department may finally see success in its third attempt to extend anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, or AML/CFT, requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act to investment advisers.

The protectionist political climate, coupled with the Treasury’s additional efforts in publishing the risk assessment, suggest persistence may pay off this time.

While some advisers already implement many AML/CFT requirements, either voluntarily or due to affiliations with banks and broker-dealers, all SEC-registered investment advisers and exempt reporting advisers may want to start evaluating risks and identifying steps to compliance.

They can start this process by reviewing extensive guidance already available to other entities already subject to AML/CFT. One such resource, an AML tool for broker-dealers, available on the SEC’s website , is full of practical lists, examples, FAQs, and other resources for compliance.

The Treasury had proposed a rule in February requiring registered investment and exempt reporting advisers to implement an AML/CFT program, including written policies, procedures, and internal controls reasonably designed to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit financing activities.

These intentionally include advisers to private funds, such as hedge funds, venture capital funds, and private equity funds. Investment advisers registered at the state level—generally meaning advisers with less than $100 million of assets under management—would be excluded.

In the notice, the Treasury reported that investment advisers are a major vulnerability in defenses against financial crimes, money laundering, and terrorism finance in its 2024 investment adviser risk assessment , asserting that lack of uniform applicability and compliance across the industry creates opportunities for illicit activity.

It cites examples such as Russian oligarchs obscuring wealth derived from corruption or other illicit activity, as well as governments, such as China, investing in venture capital funds as a back door to steal critical and emerging US technology.

Any AML/CFT program would have to be approved by the adviser’s board of directors or equivalent. A specific person would be designated as responsible for implementation. Affected advisers would be expected to tailor such programs to identify and mitigate specific risks for their unique business, clients, geographies, and strategies.

For now, the proposal doesn’t extend the Bank Secrecy Act’s customer identification program, nor related beneficial ownership information requirements, to registered investment and exempt reporting advisers—although the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has indicated it may do so in the future.

FinCEN is accepting comments on the proposal through April 15 and has requested comments in areas that may change before finalization, such as whether other exclusions are warranted in lower risk areas. The compliance date would be 12 months after the effective date of any final rule, and enforcement would be largely delegated to the SEC.

AML/CFT rules already apply to other financial institutions, such as banks and broker-dealers. Attempts to expand the definition in 2003 and 2015 were withdrawn following stiff industry opposition.

As with any new, major proposed federal regulation, court challenges are possible. The presidential election in November also could impact implementing the proposed rule.

Despite this uncertainty, a prudent investment adviser will begin the internal review and preparation process to be ready for timely compliance. Keeping abreast of comments and any court challenges while the rule is pending may provide advance insight as to whether, and if so in what form, the rule will eventually be implemented.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg Industry Group, Inc., the publisher of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg Tax, or its owners.

Author Information

Eric Mikkelson is partner at Stinson, where he co-chairs its investment management practice group.

Write for Us: Author Guidelines

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at [email protected] ; Daniel Xu at [email protected]

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Barry Callebaut jumps as volumes hold up despite cocoa price surge

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Empoyees of chocolate and cocoa product maker Barry Callebaut prepare chocolates in Zurich

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  • Shares jump as much as 10%
  • H1 EBIT 178 mln Swiss francs vs forecast 266 mln

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Switzerland's UBS and three other systemically relevant banks must face tougher capital requirements, the Swiss government said on Wednesday, in an effort to shield the country from a repeat of the collapse of Credit Suisse.

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  • Become Debt-Free Student debt relief due to financial   hardship could be on its way
  • Earn Over 150,000 student loan borrowers   will soon have their debt forgiven
  • Become Debt-Free Some student loan borrowers will start   seeing their debt forgiven in February
  • Become Debt-Free President Biden forgives student debt for   nearly 78,000 borrowers through PSLF
  • Earn Americans making student loan payments have   up to 36% less saved for retirement

25 million student loan borrowers could see their balances shrink under Biden’s new forgiveness plan


President Joe Biden and his administration are moving forward with plans to provide student debt relief to as many people as possible.

The administration announced Monday the details of its new plan to reduce student debt balances for millions of borrowers. The proposed regulations — which were drafted as part of the months-long negotiated rulemaking process — feature several different ways for borrowers to see their debt balances reduced, if not eliminated entirely. 

The provisions of the plan include forgiving excessive interest that has accrued, discharging balances that have been in repayment for 20 years or more and relief for borrowers who attended now-closed or insolvent institutions.

"[The] plan is focused on the reasons that people are struggling with their student loan debt," James Kvaal, Under Secretary of Education, told CNBC Make It. 

"People who are upside down on their student loans because interest has racked up faster than they could pay it, people who have been making payments on their loans for decades and still owe those loans — it's a sign of how aggressive the President is [being] in tackling the student loan crisis," he said.

The relief provisions will soon be open for a public comment period where the administration will consider revisions to its proposal before it goes into effect. Some provisions are expected to roll out as early as this fall, the administration said.

As with Biden's previous student debt forgiveness proposals, it's possible this plan will come under legal scrutiny if challenged by opponents. But this plan differs from his previous action by using a different legal authority — the Higher Education Act — and narrowing the scope of borrowers eligible for relief.

In the event this plan is enacted and a future presidential administration wanted to repeal it, it would need to go through the same lengthy rulemaking process, Kvaal said.

Here's the relief borrowers may expect to see in the coming months.

Up to $20,000 of accrued interest forgiven

Interest accrues daily on student loans and some borrowers have interest rates as high as 8%. As a result, many borrowers wind up with balances higher than what they initially took out for school, despite making regular payments.

Biden's plan aims to address that "runaway interest" by canceling up to $20,000 of the amount a borrower's balance has grown due to unpaid interest after entering repayment. Single borrowers who earn $120,000 or less and married borrowers earning $240,000 or less who enroll in an income-driven repayment plan would be eligible to have their entire excess interest balances discharged, the administration said. 

Some 25 million borrowers stand to benefit from their interest balances being reduced if the plan goes into effect as proposed. An estimated 23 million of those borrowers will have their entire balance growth forgiven, according to the administration.

Automatic loan discharge for forgiveness-eligible borrowers

The Biden administration has canceled debt for over 1 million borrowers through existing forgiveness programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness , income-driven repayment and closed school loan discharges.

The administration estimates another 2 million borrowers are eligible to have their debt forgiven under these programs, but have not yet applied .

The new plan will allow the administration to use available data to identify and automatically clear balances for these borrowers as they are eligible, without borrower action.

Debt forgiveness for long-term borrowers

Another 2 million borrowers could benefit from a provision that will clear debt balances that are at least 20 years old for undergraduate borrowers and 25 years for graduate borrowers. It will apply to undergraduate borrowers with direct loans or direct consolidation loans who entered repayment on or before July 1, 2005, and graduate school borrowers who entered repayment on or before or July 1, 2000.

Currently, borrowers enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education plan or other income-driven repayment plans are eligible to have their remaining balances discharged after 20 or 25 years, but the new regulation would eliminate the IDR requirement.

Relief for attendees of 'low-financial-value' programs

The Biden administration has made a concerted effort to "hold colleges accountable when they leave students with mountains of debt and without good job prospects," it said in its statement. 

As such, the new plan would waive loans for borrowers who attended institutions or programs the administration identifies as "low-financial-value."

That includes schools that have lost eligibility to receive federal student aid or were denied recertification due to cheating or taking advantage of students, as well as programs that have since closed or have a history of leaving students with high debt loads and poor earnings outcomes.

Help for borrowers facing financial hardship

The administration says it is committed to pursuing a "specific action" for student loan borrowers experiencing a variety of financial hardships , although it's not yet clear who may receive relief and to what degree their balances will be reduced.

"This could include delivering automatic forgiveness to borrowers predicted to be likely to default on their loans, or through an individualized applications where borrowers could detail their financial hardship that is preventing them from being able to fully pay back their loan, such as a child care or medical expense," the administration said in its statement.

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Construction cranes at construction sites near office buildings of the main business district in Beijing, China

Ratings agency downgrades China debt outlook over economic uncertainty

Fitch cut to negative comes as country moves away from reliance on growth from property sector

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Fitch has downgraded the outlook on China’s debt as it warned of increased risks to the economy while the country moves away from its reliance on growth from the property sector.

On Wednesday the US-based agency said it had revised China’s sovereign credit rating from stable to negative, saying this reflected the “increasing risks to China’s public finance outlook” as the country “contends with more uncertain economic prospects”.

The downgrade comes amid a prolonged crisis in the country’s property sector that has been running since 2021, when a regulatory crackdown on debt-fuelled construction triggered a liquidity squeeze.

The huge Chinese property company Evergrande was ordered to go into liquidation earlier this year , while last week the rival crisis-hit developer Country Garden suspended trade in its shares in Hong Kong after delaying the publication of its annual financial results.

Beijing has responded with moves to address the issues and recently announced a series of targeted measures to move growth to other parts of the economy.

This has included steps to help other sectors, including the issuance of billions of dollars in sovereign bonds, aimed at boosting infrastructure spending and spurring consumption.

Fitch said that the country’s economic prospects were uncertain because of this transition away from “property-reliant growth”, to what the government views as a more “sustainable growth model”.

It said: “Wide fiscal deficits and rising government debt in recent years have eroded fiscal buffers from a ratings perspective.”

The agency added that while the Chinese government’s fiscal policy was likely to play an important role in driving growth in the coming years, it could also keep debt on a “steady upward trend”.

Fitch forecasts that the general government deficit will rise to 7.1% of gross domestic product in 2024, from 5.8% in 2023. While it lowered its outlook from “stable”, indicating a downgrade is possible over the medium term, the agency affirmed China’s issuer default rating at A+.

The Chinese government said the decision was “regrettable” and said the ratings methodology had “failed to effectively reflect the positive effects of China’s fiscal policies on boosting economic growth”.

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Beijing last month set a goal of 5% growth for the world’s second biggest economy in 2024.

Lynn Song, chief economist for Greater China at ING, said China needed to strike a careful balancing act. “Fiscal support in our view is important in order to avoid falling … into a negative feedback loop of weak confidence, falling asset prices, and slower economic growth. This will cause government debt levels to rise in the near term,” she said.

“On the other hand, long-term fiscal consolidation efforts remain important. In China’s case, finding a viable alternative for land sales is an important step to take in the medium term, but the obvious solutions to this – like increasing other taxes – are unpalatable.”

Dan Wang, the chief economist of Hang Seng Bank China, said Fitch’s move reflected “fundamental concern” over China’s fiscal health and its ability to drive long-term growth.

Gary Ng, an Asia-Pacific senior economist at Natixis, stressed that the downgrade did not mean China would default any time soon, adding: “Fitch’s outlook revision reflects the more challenging situation in China’s public finance regarding the double whammy of decelerating growth and more debt.”

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