Businessman reviews financial documents
Whether you're positioning your business to secure an investor or to simply be successful, creating and analyzing a few specific financial statements is key. — Getty Images/kate_sept2004

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.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published April 19, 2021