A financial projection is a tool used to estimate the financial performance of a company over a certain period of time. It is an essential part of any startup’s business plan as it enables the business owners to make sensible decisions based on comprehensive facts and figures. It helps attract investors and financial institutions to provide support or make investments.

Creating a financial projection can seem daunting, but it is not as complicated as it may appear. A step-by-step guide can help you prepare a comprehensive financial projection and enable smart business decisions.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the purpose of a financial projection
  • Gather necessary data for financial projections
  • Use templates to create projections more easily
  • Recognize the importance of accuracy

Research & Market Analysis

In order to accurately project your startup’s future financial performance, comprehensive market research and analysis are essential. In this section, we’ll discuss the key steps for assessing the industry and competitive landscape, identifying market size and trends, and conducting a market opportunity analysis.

Assessing the industry and competitive landscape

The first step in creating your startup financial projection is to gain an in-depth understanding of the industry and competitive landscape. This will help you get a clear picture of your company's current positioning and the competitive advantages that can be leveraged going forward. To best assess the industry and competitive landscape, it is advised to complete the following steps:

  • Evaluate industry trends and determine which markets offer the most opportunity
  • Research current players in the market and analyze their competitive positions
  • Analyze your company's strengths and weaknesses in relation to competitors
  • Develop a list of competitors and analyze the scope of their products, services, and offerings

Identifying market size and trends

Once you have a clear picture of the industry and competitive landscape, the next step is to identify the size and trends of the market you operate in. To do this, you should consider the following metrics:

  • Market share vs. competitors: Determine your company’s current market share and identify what markets offer more potential for growth.
  • Target customer segment: Who are the primary customers you’re targeting? What is the size of this segment and what trends are impacting their behavior?
  • Product demand: What is the current and forecasted demand for your product or service?
  • Growth rate: What is the current rate of growth in the market and what is the anticipated future growth?

Conducting a market opportunity analysis

Finally, you can use the research and data gathered to conduct a comprehensive market opportunity analysis. This will help you understand which areas of the market offer the most potential for growth for your startup. When conducting a market opportunity analysis, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What opportunities exist in the market for my company?
  • How can I capitalize on those opportunities?
  • Who are the primary competitors?
  • How can I set myself apart from them?
  • What strategies can be implemented to increase market share?

Financial Plan Development

Developing an accurate financial plan is a crucial part of launching a startup. By creating a financial plan, you can get a better understanding of the costs associated with launching your startup and can estimate your potential revenue and profits. As a result, you'll be better prepared to make key operational and financial decisions.

In this section, we will discuss how you can create a financial plan for your startup. We will cover topics such as estimating startup costs, creating a three-year revenue projection, and developing a gross profit margin.

Estimating Startup Costs

The first step to creating a financial plan is estimating your startup costs. To get a complete picture of the costs associated with launching your startup business, you should consider both one-time expenses (such as office furniture and equipment) and ongoing expenses (such as salaries and recruitment fees).

When estimating your startup costs, you should also factor in the cost of any services or products you plan to purchase before launching your business. These include items such as website design, software subscriptions, and other services you may need.

Creating a Three-Year Revenue Projection

Once you have a clear picture of your startup costs, you can begin to develop a three-year revenue projection. To create a realistic projection, you should consider any potential changes to the market, such as changes in customer spending habits or the introduction of a new competitor. You should also factor in the cost of any additional capital or investments that may be necessary as your business grows.

When creating your projection, it's important to remain flexible and realistic. Remember that this is only an estimate and that the actual results may vary.

Developing a Gross Profit Margin

Gross profit margin is the ratio of a company's gross profits to total revenue. This measure of financial performance is useful for evaluating a business's efficiency and assessing its long-term financial health. When developing your gross profit margin, you should consider the cost of goods and services you offer, the cost of production and processing, and other costs associated with running your business.

By understanding your gross profit margin, you can better assess the potential profitability of your startup and how it may change over time.

Revenue Model Building

Creating an effective financial projection is an essential element of planning for any startup. To make sure the longevity of your business is secured, understanding your income needs to be a major priority. Revenue model building is key to making sure your business model is sound. Keep reading to learn more about the steps involved in this process.

Assessing resource profitability

Before you can move forward, you need an idea of the resources that you have available. Having an understanding of how your resources will impact your profit margins is paramount. Calculating your expenses and how much you need to bring in for the resources you have will be essential in creating an effective projection.

Identifying crucial revenue sources

Understanding what sources will contribute to your income is essential. Some sources will bring in more income than others, such as services, sales, and investments. Identifying your major sources of income will help you determine how much money you need to make in order to remain profitable.

Setting Realistic Revenue Targets

Once you have an understanding of the sources of income, you need to determine how much of each source you need to reach your goals. Setting realistic targets is key and it's important to make sure you have potential sources of income should one of your major sources unexpectedly fail.

It's important to keep in mind that building your revenue model is an ongoing process that needs to be monitored and adjusted as the years pass. Your targets should be continually reassessed and new sources of income should be incorporated as necessary.

Cash Flow Plan Development

The development of a cash flow plan should be one of the first tasks undertaken as you create your startup’s financial projection. Creating a successful cash flow plan requires forecasting cash flow and monitoring cash flow drivers. It is also important to estimate expected cash flow in order to make the best decisions for your company’s financial future.

Forecasting cash flow

Forecasting your startup’s cash flow involves estimating the amount of cash you expect to receive and spend over a specified period of time. This process should include obtaining information on different sources of revenue as well as estimating expenses such as overhead, marketing, staff, office space, and other operational costs. Being aware of how cash is moving in and out of the business will give you the information you need to make confident financial decisions.

Monitoring cash flow drivers

In order to effectively forecast cash flow, you’ll need to be aware of the key drivers that can affect how money moves in and out of your business. This includes factors such as customer demand, supplier costs, inventory management, seasonality, economic factors, and changes in taxes. Understanding these drivers will give you insight into potential opportunities to increase revenue, reduce costs, improve liquid funds, and reduce overhead.

Estimating expected cash flow

Once you’ve identified the key drivers, the next step in developing your startup’s cash flow plan is to estimate the expected cash flow. This involves estimating the amount of cash that is anticipated to flow in and out of your business. By doing this, you’ll be able to understand where money is likely to come from, where money is likely to go, and how it all affects the budget. Additionally, this research will allow you to make informed decisions about how to manage the cash flow of your startup.

6. Revisiting and Modifying the Plan

Creating a successful financial planning strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process that requires frequent revisions. To stay ahead of market conditions, challenges and changes, startups need to continuously adjust their projections. Here are the essential steps of regularly revisiting and modifying your financial planning.

A. Adjusting the financial forecast based on actual performance

Business startups need to continuously monitor actual performance against their projected financial plan. This assessment process enables them to make necessary tweaks in the plan if needed. It helps keep the plan on track with the expectations. Alternatively, if the startup has exceeded their goals in one quarter, it may be beneficial to reevaluate the plan to take advantage of the current success.

B. Creating a contingency plan for difficult economic situations

The economic climate can change quickly and businesses need to be prepared to weather any storms. Putting in place a contingency plan can help in dealing with an economic downturn or new market challenges. Establishing a “worst-case scenario” budget and a cash-in-hand buffer can ensure the business is prepared to handle any change in market conditions.

C. Estimating the impact of future strategic changes

When the business has a plan to launch or experiment with a new venture, it is important to forecast the impact on the financials. Estimating the growth and profit expectation of the venture can reveal where the company is likely to be headed in the near-term. By forecasting the potential outcomes, startups can better plan for any required resources, potential capital needs and hiring plans.


Creating your startup financial projections is essential for preparing the company for success. This step-by-step guide provides an overview of the critical components in building financial projections. Knowing the key elements that are included in a financial projection can help to ensure that the projections are organized and well-structured.

Summary of the Financial Projection Steps

The process of creating financial projections involves identifying sources of revenue, estimating expenses, assigning realistic assumptions to support the model, and forecasting performance of the business. Preparing a financial projection generally includes these steps:

  • Defining the forecasting period
  • Gathering the necessary data and sources
  • Organizing the data into easily readable format
  • Analyzing the data and making assumptions
  • Building the financial projections
  • Monitoring the projections and making changes

Key Components of Effective Financial Projection

A successful financial projection should include these components:

  • Revenue projections that reflect realistic expectations
  • Expenses that include necessary and capital costs
  • Balanced cash flow that represents seasonal changes
  • Financial ratios to compare the performance of the company

Importance of Periodically Reviewing the Financial Projection

It’s important to regularly review the financial projections to make sure that the assumptions are still accurate and that the projections remain realistic. If the assumptions and projections change, it is important to revise the projections to stay on track. Periodic reviews help to ensure that the projections are up-to-date and provide an accurate picture of the business.

Expert-built startup financial model templates

500+ Excel financial model templates for your business plan