How to develop a financial plan in 13 hours

…and impress your investors

For most startup founders, few things make eyes glaze over faster than financial modelling and business plan generation. What’s not to love about numbers and wild projections?!

If you are in startup or fundraising mode, chances are that these are high up on your list of things-that-must-be-done. Despite limited time and energy (hello, 100-hour work weeks), we prioritize these because they’re linked to funding and getting VCs attention. Of course, if you’ve started and/or scaled a SaaS company before, none of this may apply to you.

Waitbutwhy, time, free financial plan template
How much time and money are you going to spend developing a financial plan for your SaaS startup?

At Go Moment, I spent 100+ hours with my team and outside vendors working to create a bespoke financial model. It wasn’t pleasant. I still have my battle scars from these times.

What we were trying to do and why it was painful

We set out to create a model from scratch. I tried to do it myself initially, and failed. I was modeling too many things far too granularly for the model to be useful. Numeracy and fluency with Excel were not my friends in this activity.

For the next go, I roped in quantitatively gifted team members, then expanded that to outside consultants, fractional CFOs, advisors… you name it. We went through three or four iterations – and ended up with a result that was, at best, a 5/10. If you want to hear about the details of financial resources that all this took up, you will have to contact me.

I failed not because I didn’t have quantitative expertise – or people with it. It’s hard to know the dimensions to model, the metrics that matter most to the business, and more importantly, to the investors.

There is another way.

Look for the wheel

It was invented a long time ago.

Meet Christoph Janz – a partner at Point Nine Capital. He blogs at The Angel VC (incidentally the tagline for Point Nine Capital too) and is more frequently on Twitter as @chrija. Point Nine Cap, by the way, has a prolific history of backing SaaS startups like Zendesk, Typeform, Algolia (etc).

In 2016, Janz shared a financial plan template that is available for free download. And he topped that with detailed documentation, notes and comments to explain the variables and understand the model better.

It took me about 12 hours to get really comfortable with the linkages and variables, and the output is ~8.5/10. ROI-wise, that’s a 10x return! More time to build… you know, the actual business! 😉

Christoph – thank you. This is my first time writing to say what a difference you made by sharing that template so freely. Having heard you on podcasts like SaaStr, your wisdom and startup experience shine through brilliantly. I’ve shared this model with 20+ founders personally.

If you are a VC, take a look at Janz’ template. I found it later than I would have liked; but it may save you (and your many investees) valuable time, money, and agony. Let me know if it helped you. More to the point, let Janz know what a valuable contribution he has made to the startup community.



One thought on “How to develop a financial plan in 13 hours

  1. Lean plans are best for companies and startups who are in earlier stages of development or who plan to change their product on a regular basis. For some SaaS startups, this plan often leaves more room to accommodate for different product lines, packages, and changes that will eventually happen over time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.