The CFO'S Perspective

Financial Projections for Startups – A How-To Guide

Financial projections are a critical component of a sound business plan. These projections (or “financial forecasts”) are used externally to obtain funding as well as internally to create a strategic growth roadmap with key milestones.

At the core of these projections are logical assumptions for revenue, COGS (cost of goods sold), SG&A (sales, general, and administrative) expenses, capital investments, and cash flow that serve as building blocks for the final figures that result. Because your financial projections rely on these pillars, it is crucial to find a balance with these inputs. Being too conservative or too aggressive with your assumptions will skew the resulting projections, damaging their overall credibility. The goal is to inspire confidence externally as well as internally while maintaining high ethical standards, which requires a balanced approach toward creating assumptions for financial projections.

Use existing financial information, even if it is limited by the newness of your business, to justify these assumptions and inform your financial forecasting process. Your resulting financial projections should include a P&L statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, capitalization table, and strategic investment plan.

Topics: Funding Planning Financial Projections Financial Reports Forecasting Financing

2020 Advice - is Your Business Prepared for an Economic Downturn?

Being prepared for an economic downturn is fundamentally good advice. The economy is cyclical and eventually there will be a downturn of some sort. Preparation ultimately boils down to two basic business disciplines.

Topics: Economic Trends Planning Forecasting

What if Tomorrow is Not Like Today? Part II: Preparing for Disasters at Work

Most of us believe we are prepared for the everyday kind of disaster at work:  We carry extra cash, safety pins, and a cell phone.  We keep a granola bar (or five) in our desk.  In Seattle, we never, ever, let the coffee pot run out. But while all these things are good (especially the coffee pot), most of us never think about what we would do if a true disaster struck during the time we are at work -- the place/s where we spend more waking hours than anywhere else.   

Let's take the case of an earthquake, since that's our most likely Puget Sound area disaster, and the basic things to prepare for if one occurs during our workday apply to many other scenarios as well.  

Topics: Planning Financial Projections Forecasting

Predicting the Future - What if Tomorrow is Not Like Today? Part I

Recent sad news about the wildfires disaster in California which has destroyed homes, businesses and caused so many deaths is a reminder for us again to consider the future.

…up to 40% of businesses hit by natural or human-caused disasters never re-open.”

According to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Association, up to 40% of businesses hit by natural or human-caused disasters never re-open.  They close because their normal processes are overwhelmed by loss:  loss of data, inventory, space, personnel, or all of the above.

Topics: Financial Projections Forecasting

How to Close a Business Successfully

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
- Thomas A. Edison

For whatever reason, you've determined that it's time to close the doors and walk away from your business. Shutting down your business may be the hardest thing you'll ever do, but it's not uncommon. In fact, 90 percent of start-ups and early-stage companies close each year in the U.S.

If it's any consolation, most successful entrepreneurs have failed previously at some venture - or several. Walt Disney was reportedly fired by a newspaper editor for having no imagination and lacking good ideas.

Currently the world's richest businessman, Jeff Bezos had several failed ideas before Amazon took off. Most notably, his auction business called zShops never gained any traction. It's important to realize that it's okay to stop pursuing an enterprise that isn't working and start doing something else.

Closing a business, however, involves more than just shutting the doors and walking away. If you do this, you could open yourself up to unnecessary fees, loss of personal and business reputation, and even lawsuits. When making decisions about closing a business,  visibility to see issues coming is vital. Good financial advice is a great place to start.

Topics: Planning Budgeting Forecasting