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

4 min. read

Updated April 22, 2024

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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 are more prepared to pitch to investors, receive funding, and achieve long-term success.

Thankfully, you don’t need an accounting degree to successfully create your budget and forecasts.

Here is everything you need to include in your financial plan, along with optional performance metrics, funding specifics, mistakes to avoid , 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 your financial statements and forecasts in place, you have all the numbers needed to calculate insightful financial ratios.

While including these metrics in your plan is entirely optional, having them easily accessible can be valuable for tracking your performance and overall financial situation.

Key financial terms you should know

It’s not hard. Anybody who can run a business can understand these key financial terms. And every business owner and entrepreneur should know them.

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).

  • How to improve your financial plan

Your financial statements are the core part of your business plan that you’ll revisit most often. Instead of worrying about getting it perfect the first time, check out the following resources to learn how to improve your projections over time.

Common mistakes with business forecasts

I was glad to be asked about common mistakes with startup financial projections. I read about 100 business plans per year, and I have this list of mistakes.

How to improve your financial projections

Learn how to improve your business financial projections by following these five basic guidelines.

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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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  • Creating a Small Business Financial Plan

how to develop a financial plan for business

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by subject matter experts.

Updated on September 02, 2023

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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 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 Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan

An outline of your company's growth strategy is essential to a business plan, but it just isn't complete without the numbers to back it up. here's some advice on how to include things like a sales forecast, expense budget, and cash-flow statement..

Hands pointing to a engineer's drawing

A business plan is all conceptual until you start filling in the numbers and terms. The sections about your marketing plan and strategy are interesting to read, but they don't mean a thing if you can't justify your business with good figures on the bottom line. You do this in a distinct section of your business plan for financial forecasts and statements. The financial section of a business plan is one of the most essential components of the plan, as you will need it if you have any hope of winning over investors or obtaining a bank loan. Even if you don't need financing, you should compile a financial forecast in order to simply be successful in steering your business. "This is what will tell you whether the business will be viable or whether you are wasting your time and/or money," says Linda Pinson, author of Automate Your Business Plan for Windows  (Out of Your Mind 2008) and Anatomy of a Business Plan (Out of Your Mind 2008), who runs a publishing and software business Out of Your Mind and Into the Marketplace . "In many instances, it will tell you that you should not be going into this business." The following will cover what the financial section of a business plan is, what it should include, and how you should use it to not only win financing but to better manage your business.

Dig Deeper: Generating an Accurate Sales Forecast

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How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan: The Purpose of the Financial Section Let's start by explaining what the financial section of a business plan is not. Realize that the financial section is not the same as accounting. Many people get confused about this because the financial projections that you include--profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow--look similar to accounting statements your business generates. But accounting looks back in time, starting today and taking a historical view. Business planning or forecasting is a forward-looking view, starting today and going into the future. "You don't do financials in a business plan the same way you calculate the details in your accounting reports," says Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software, who blogs at and is writing a book, The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan. "It's not tax reporting. It's an elaborate educated guess." What this means, says Berry, is that you summarize and aggregate more than you might with accounting, which deals more in detail. "You don't have to imagine all future asset purchases with hypothetical dates and hypothetical depreciation schedules to estimate future depreciation," he says. "You can just guess based on past results. And you don't spend a lot of time on minute details in a financial forecast that depends on an educated guess for sales." The purpose of the financial section of a business plan is two-fold. You're going to need it if you are seeking investment from venture capitalists, angel investors, or even smart family members. They are going to want to see numbers that say your business will grow--and quickly--and that there is an exit strategy for them on the horizon, during which they can make a profit. Any bank or lender will also ask to see these numbers as well to make sure you can repay your loan. But the most important reason to compile this financial forecast is for your own benefit, so you understand how you project your business will do. "This is an ongoing, living document. It should be a guide to running your business," Pinson says. "And at any particular time you feel you need funding or financing, then you are prepared to go with your documents." If there is a rule of thumb when filling in the numbers in the financial section of your business plan, it's this: Be realistic. "There is a tremendous problem with the hockey-stick forecast" that projects growth as steady until it shoots up like the end of a hockey stick, Berry says. "They really aren't credible." Berry, who acts as an angel investor with the Willamette Angel Conference, says that while a startling growth trajectory is something that would-be investors would love to see, it's most often not a believable growth forecast. "Everyone wants to get involved in the next Google or Twitter, but every plan seems to have this hockey stick forecast," he says. "Sales are going along flat, but six months from now there is a huge turn and everything gets amazing, assuming they get the investors' money."  The way you come up a credible financial section for your business plan is to demonstrate that it's realistic. One way, Berry says, is to break the figures into components, by sales channel or target market segment, and provide realistic estimates for sales and revenue. "It's not exactly data, because you're still guessing the future. But if you break the guess into component guesses and look at each one individually, it somehow feels better," Berry says. "Nobody wins by overly optimistic or overly pessimistic forecasts."

Dig Deeper: What Angel Investors Look For

How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan: The Components of a Financial Section

A financial forecast isn't necessarily compiled in sequence. And you most likely won't present it in the final document in the same sequence you compile the figures and documents. Berry says that it's typical to start in one place and jump back and forth. For example, what you see in the cash-flow plan might mean going back to change estimates for sales and expenses.  Still, he says that it's easier to explain in sequence, as long as you understand that you don't start at step one and go to step six without looking back--a lot--in between.

  • Start with a sales forecast. Set up a spreadsheet projecting your sales over the course of three years. Set up different sections for different lines of sales and columns for every month for the first year and either on a monthly or quarterly basis for the second and third years. "Ideally you want to project in spreadsheet blocks that include one block for unit sales, one block for pricing, a third block that multiplies units times price to calculate sales, a fourth block that has unit costs, and a fifth that multiplies units times unit cost to calculate cost of sales (also called COGS or direct costs)," Berry says. "Why do you want cost of sales in a sales forecast? Because you want to calculate gross margin. Gross margin is sales less cost of sales, and it's a useful number for comparing with different standard industry ratios." If it's a new product or a new line of business, you have to make an educated guess. The best way to do that, Berry says, is to look at past results.
  • Create an expenses budget. You're going to need to understand how much it's going to cost you to actually make the sales you have forecast. Berry likes to differentiate between fixed costs (i.e., rent and payroll) and variable costs (i.e., most advertising and promotional expenses), because it's a good thing for a business to know. "Lower fixed costs mean less risk, which might be theoretical in business schools but are very concrete when you have rent and payroll checks to sign," Berry says. "Most of your variable costs are in those direct costs that belong in your sales forecast, but there are also some variable expenses, like ads and rebates and such." Once again, this is a forecast, not accounting, and you're going to have to estimate things like interest and taxes. Berry recommends you go with simple math. He says multiply estimated profits times your best-guess tax percentage rate to estimate taxes. And then multiply your estimated debts balance times an estimated interest rate to estimate interest.
  • Develop a cash-flow statement. This is the statement that shows physical dollars moving in and out of the business. "Cash flow is king," Pinson says. You base this partly on your sales forecasts, balance sheet items, and other assumptions. If you are operating an existing business, you should have historical documents, such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets from years past to base these forecasts on. If you are starting a new business and do not have these historical financial statements, you start by projecting a cash-flow statement broken down into 12 months. Pinson says that it's important to understand when compiling this cash-flow projection that you need to choose a realistic ratio for how many of your invoices will be paid in cash, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and so on. You don't want to be surprised that you only collect 80 percent of your invoices in the first 30 days when you are counting on 100 percent to pay your expenses, she says. Some business planning software programs will have these formulas built in to help you make these projections.
  • Income projections. This is your pro forma profit and loss statement, detailing forecasts for your business for the coming three years. Use the numbers that you put in your sales forecast, expense projections, and cash flow statement. "Sales, lest cost of sales, is gross margin," Berry says. "Gross margin, less expenses, interest, and taxes, is net profit."
  • Deal with assets and liabilities. You also need a projected balance sheet. You have to deal with assets and liabilities that aren't in the profits and loss statement and project the net worth of your business at the end of the fiscal year. Some of those are obvious and affect you at only the beginning, like startup assets. A lot are not obvious. "Interest is in the profit and loss, but repayment of principle isn't," Berry says. "Taking out a loan, giving out a loan, and inventory show up only in assets--until you pay for them." So the way to compile this is to start with assets, and estimate what you'll have on hand, month by month for cash, accounts receivable (money owed to you), inventory if you have it, and substantial assets like land, buildings, and equipment. Then figure out what you have as liabilities--meaning debts. That's money you owe because you haven't paid bills (which is called accounts payable) and the debts you have because of outstanding loans.
  • Breakeven analysis. The breakeven point, Pinson says, is when your business's expenses match your sales or service volume. The three-year income projection will enable you to undertake this analysis. "If your business is viable, at a certain period of time your overall revenue will exceed your overall expenses, including interest." This is an important analysis for potential investors, who want to know that they are investing in a fast-growing business with an exit strategy.

Dig Deeper: How to Price Business Services

How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan: How to Use the Financial Section One of the biggest mistakes business people make is to look at their business plan, and particularly the financial section, only once a year. "I like to quote former President Dwight D. Eisenhower," says Berry. "'The plan is useless, but planning is essential.' What people do wrong is focus on the plan, and once the plan is done, it's forgotten. It's really a shame, because they could have used it as a tool for managing the company." In fact, Berry recommends that business executives sit down with the business plan once a month and fill in the actual numbers in the profit and loss statement and compare those numbers with projections. And then use those comparisons to revise projections in the future. Pinson also recommends that you undertake a financial statement analysis to develop a study of relationships and compare items in your financial statements, compare financial statements over time, and even compare your statements to those of other businesses. Part of this is a ratio analysis. She recommends you do some homework and find out some of the prevailing ratios used in your industry for liquidity analysis, profitability analysis, and debt and compare those standard ratios with your own. "This is all for your benefit," she says. "That's what financial statements are for. You should be utilizing your financial statements to measure your business against what you did in prior years or to measure your business against another business like yours."  If you are using your business plan to attract investment or get a loan, you may also include a business financial history as part of the financial section. This is a summary of your business from its start to the present. Sometimes a bank might have a section like this on a loan application. If you are seeking a loan, you may need to add supplementary documents to the financial section, such as the owner's financial statements, listing assets and liabilities. All of the various calculations you need to assemble the financial section of a business plan are a good reason to look for business planning software, so you can have this on your computer and make sure you get this right. Software programs also let you use some of your projections in the financial section to create pie charts or bar graphs that you can use elsewhere in your business plan to highlight your financials, your sales history, or your projected income over three years. "It's a pretty well-known fact that if you are going to seek equity investment from venture capitalists or angel investors," Pinson says, "they do like visuals."

Dig Deeper: How to Protect Your Margins in a Downturn

Related Links: Making It All Add Up: The Financial Section of a Business Plan One of the major benefits of creating a business plan is that it forces entrepreneurs to confront their company's finances squarely. Persuasive Projections You can avoid some of the most common mistakes by following this list of dos and don'ts. Making Your Financials Add Up No business plan is complete until it contains a set of financial projections that are not only inspiring but also logical and defensible. How many years should my financial projections cover for a new business? Some guidelines on what to include. Recommended Resources: More than 100 free sample business plans, plus articles, tips, and tools for developing your plan. Planning, Startups, Stories: Basic Business Numbers An online video in author Tim Berry's blog, outlining what you really need to know about basic business numbers. Out of Your Mind and Into the Marketplace Linda Pinson's business selling books and software for business planning. Palo Alto Software Business-planning tools and information from the maker of the Business Plan Pro software. U.S. Small Business Administration Government-sponsored website aiding small and midsize businesses. Financial Statement Section of a Business Plan for Start-Ups A guide to writing the financial section of a business plan developed by SCORE of northeastern Massachusetts.

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Select Funding

How to Create a Small Business Financial Plan (w/ Example)

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy but in any given year, thousands of small businesses close their doors. There are many reasons that may happen, but one is a lack of proper financial planning.

At Select Funding, small business owners are at the heart of what we do. We understand how crucial it is for any business to have a financial plan that spells out the company’s business goals, plans for financial management , and all other relevant information. With that in mind, here is your guide to creating a small business financial plan. We’ve even included a template to help you create your own financial plan.

What is Small Business Financial Planning?

Small business financial planning involves reviewing the financial status of your small business to get an overview and determine whether you have the resources you need to turn your small business into a success story.

The process of financial planning, while challenging, can help you understand how much cash and other resources you have to enable you to measure your progress and meet your business goals. It’s a key step in determining whether your business idea is sustainable.

The document that you need to create is a small business financial plan, which should incorporate key figures including information about your business income and cash flow and other details that will provide you with a clear picture of your finances.

We will share a full template to create a financial plan with you later in this post, but for now, the most important thing to understand is that your financial plan is an overview of your business finances and resources.

Free Download: Small Business Budget Template

Why is it Important for a Small Business to Have a Financial Plan?

We believe that it’s beneficial and essential for every small business to have a financial plan. Here are some of the most important reasons to have one.

Benefit #1: It Helps You Assess Your Business Financial Needs

A small business financial plan is essential because it helps business owners to assess their business’s financial needs. Without a clear overview of your financial status and prospects, it may be difficult to know when it’s time to obtain additional small business financing.

Benefit #2: It Helps You Project Your Growth

It’s difficult to get a small business off the ground and grow it into a successful and sustainable organization. Having a small business financial plan puts the financial facts at your fingertips, making it easy to project your future growth and – just as importantly – set realistic and achievable financial goals.

Benefit #3: It Helps You Recognize Opportunities

When you own and run a small business, it’s essential to have the agility ( and resources ) to recognize and take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Without proper financial management, including the creation of a financial plan, it’s likely that you’ll miss opportunities or lack the resources to take advantage of them when you spot them.

Benefit #4: It Helps You Evaluate Your Progress

If you’re not tracking key metrics such as cash flow and revenue, you may not realize how far your company has come – or how far it could go. A small business financial plan is a living document that you can use to assess your progress, celebrate your achievements, and reallocate resources when necessary.

Benefit #5: It Empowers You for Crisis Management

Even the most successful companies experience a crisis now and again. An example is what happened when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many businesses or required them to pivot to survive in unforeseen circumstances. Having a financial plan allows small business owners to review their finances and resources quickly, so they can make informed decisions that benefit the company and ensure its survival.

Benefit #6: It Helps with Risk Management

Running a business comes with some unavoidable risks, but some risks are avoidable and having a business financial plan can help you identify them and avoid them before they damage your company. For example, you can put guidelines in place to avoid overspending and create a contingency plan and emergency fund to use if you experience a sales slump or some other crisis.

Benefit #7: It Helps with Fundraising

Finally, every small business needs an injection of cash at some point. The cash may come from small business financing such as a term loan or a line of credit or it may come from a private investor. Either way, having a financial plan will help you determine how much cash you need. It will also make you more attractive to lenders and investors when you have a handle on your finances.

What Does a Small Business Financial Plan Include?

Before we get into the steps required to write a small business financial plan, here’s an overview of the things that should be included in such a plan:

  • Balance sheet. Your balance sheet serves as a snapshot of your company’s financial position, showing the differences between your assets and liabilities at the moment it is created. The difference between what you have and what you owe is your business’s net worth. The balance sheet should also include a snapshot of equity, including your equity as an owner and that of any investors.
  • Break-even analysis. Your break-even analysis is essential because it tells you how long it will take you to break even, or recoup your investments in your company. These investments may include startup costs and expenses for ongoing operations. The break-even should include a breakdown of both fixed and variable costs. You’ll need to use your sales projection to determine how long it will take you to break even.
  • Cash flow statement. Your cash flow statement should reveal both where your cash is coming from and where it’s going. If you’re starting a business, you may not have very much information, but you should include your funding sources and your start-up expenses. An established business can use bank statements to analyze cash flow.
  • Sales forecast. Your sales forecast is useful because it requires you to look ahead and determine how many sales you expect to make and how much money those sales will generate. 
  • Personnel plan. Finally, your personnel plan serves as an overview of departments within your business, individual positions within those departments, and information about the purpose of each. This element may not be necessary if your business has only a few employees.

Another way of looking at it is that your financial plan should serve as a complete overview of your business’s financial position and projections.

Download the Small Business Budget Template

How Do You Write a Small Business Financial Plan?

Before we share our small business financial plan template with you, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to create your small business financial plan:

  • Create a list of your existing business assets, liabilities, and equity. Make sure to include any cash you have on hand, including money from investors, as well as a list of any debts you have incurred.
  • Think about your strategic goals and what you hope to achieve. For each goal, estimate what resources, financial and otherwise, you will need to achieve it. You should also think about the impact each goal will have on your cash flow .
  • Work on your financial projections. These should include sales projections and income projections. It’s our recommendation to create a projection based on your most optimistic assumptions, one created based on your most pessimistic assumptions, and one that illustrates the most likely and realistic scenario.
  • Do the necessary calculations. Looking at the list of reports that should be included in your financial plan as outlined in the previous section, do the necessary calculations, so you can include correct figures in your plan.
  • Plan for contingencies. Think about what you will do if you run into a cash shortage or fail to meet one of your goals. Deciding ahead of time where you’ll find the money to make up a shortfall makes it less likely that you’ll take the wrong steps.

Once your small business financial plan is complete, it’s essential to revisit it periodically and update it with new cash flow projections, etc. Remember, your financial plan is a living document.

Small Business Financial Plan Template

Here is a basic template that you can use to create your small business financial plan.

Financial Overview: Use this space to provide an overview with key points and takeaways of the financial data included in your plan.



Key Financial Ratios and Indicators: Calculate key ratios and input them here, including ratios for debt, profitability, operations, liquidity, and working capital.

Break-Even Analysis

Financial Statements

Profit and Loss Statement

Cash Flow Statement

Balance Sheet

Sales Forecast


Use this section to support the values provided in your financial plan.

Keep in mind that creating a complete small business financial plan will increase the chances that you can meet financial challenges as they arise and attain your business goals.

Have You Done Financial Planning for Your Business?

Creating a small business financial plan is something that can help you as a business owner. Doing the calculations and making the recommended financial projections decreases the likelihood that you’ll stumble when faced with a crisis and increases your chances of success.

Do you need help with financial planning for your small business? Select Funding has the financing solutions you need. Click here to learn about our small business financing and begin the application process today.

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Creating a Financial Plan for Your Small Business: A How-to Guide

Small Business Financial Plan

If you run a small business, you know the struggle. You’re constantly on the move, juggling meetings, calls, emails, and handling social media ads while waiting for the food delivery.

It’s an exciting and dynamic environment. However, you also want to make sure the business is on the right track from a financial perspective.

What if we run out of cash? How to analyse and track performance? How to implement that 5-year strategy from the pitch deck?

If you’re confused about all of this, you’re not alone.

We know that corporations have robust and well-structured planning processes in place. That said, many fundamental principles also apply to small businesses.

I’d like to walk you through a simplified financial planning process that suits well the needs of a small organisation:

Set strategic goals → Build a financial model → Create a budget

As you see, it starts with setting or reviewing strategic goals, and these plans are reflected in a financial model. Subsequently, the model’s output is used to create a budget .

Let’s take a closer look at each stage.

Table of contents

Set strategic goals

Before diving into number crunching, we must make sure the long-term goals are relevant and align with the business’s mission.

Ask yourself:

  • What would we consider success in the next three to five years?
  • Should we introduce any new products or services?
  • How will our competitors react?
  • How can we serve our customers better?
  • What risks do we face, and how can we manage them?

Once you determine which goals are worth pursuing, confirm they are SMART — ‘Attract 15 new business customers before the end of the year’ is better than ‘find more customers’.

Big goals can be broken down into more specific actions and plotted on a timeline ( Gantt charts are great for that).

Additionally, link each objective to a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) — a quantifiable, outcome-based metric that you will track monthly to measure the progress.

By the way, you can involve team members in the process as well. You’ll set more achievable goals, and, as a bonus, this will give the team a sense of ownership and boost their motivation.

Build a financial model

The next step is to translate the strategy into numbers. For that, you’ll need to create a financial model.

It’s based on the three core financial statements:

  • An income statement (or statement of profit and loss ): shows revenue and expenses over a given period, usually a fiscal year. It also tells the net result — whether your business has made or lost money.
  • A balance sheet (or statement of financial position ): displays assets and how these assets are financed — through debt or equity. It’s a snapshot of what the business owns and owes at a specific time.
  • A cash flow statement (or statement of cash flows ): shows how much cash is generated and used, which helps to assess the business’s ability to pay bills. Similarly to the income statement, cash flows are aggregated for a specific period.

All three statements are used together to understand the financial health of your business.

But what exactly is a financial model?

In simple terms, it’s a forecast of financial statements. Its purpose is to tell you how the business is expected to perform in the future.

Most financial models are created using spreadsheets . You can download an Excel or Google Sheets template suitable for your industry.

First and foremost, establish the planning horizon for your model. Often, it’s a period of three to five years, aggregated on an annual basis. You can start with a shorter time frame and increase it in the future.

Estimating how things will play out can be challenging, especially if the business was established recently or is undergoing dynamic growth. However, you don’t have to worry about this now. Try to come up with a forecast to the best of your knowledge.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Forecast the income statement

Make assumptions about future revenue and costs, keeping in mind the strategic goals you defined previously. Consider these questions:

  • What drives revenue growth?
  • Are we going to make any long-term investments?
  • Should we raise additional capital?
  • How many more employees should we hire?
  • What about marketing, product development, administrative, and tax expenses?

Analysing past financial records could help you to make reasonable assumptions. Go further than the financial statements — for instance, you can review bank statements, loan agreements, payroll registers, and asset and liability ledgers.

Then take the current income statement and create projections for each line item. You can create separate sheets for more complex forecasts, such as revenue and payroll.

2. Forecast the balance sheet

Next, fill in the balance sheet by calculating accounts receivable, accounts payable, and inventory. Add net profit from the income statement to the equity section.

3. Forecast the cash flow statement

In the cash flow statement , we have to show the actual cash movement. To do that, take the net profit figure from the income statement and adjust it for non-cash transactions. The result should equal the difference between opening and closing cash in the balance sheet .

Note: if you’re unsure how financial statements are interrelated, skip the  balance sheet  and the  cash flow statement  for now. Forecasting the  income statement  is more important than the other two reports, especially if you’re light on assets and long-term commitments.

4. Calculate financial ratios

You can calculate ratios (such as net profit margin , quick ratio, and inventory turnover) to help you analyse the forecasted performance. Select a few of the most relevant ones for your industry.

5. Create a summary

Build a few charts and tables to summarise the key outputs of your model. For example, you can visualise a revenue trend, a breakdown of expenses, and cash at hand. The summary will also help you spot any errors made in the model.

Create a budget

Now that your financial model is prepared, it’s time to create a budget.

Somehow, budgeting sounds far less exciting than building a financial model. However, it’s basically a roadmap for the near-term future — often for 12 months — to help the organisation stick to the plan.

A good budget includes these elements:

  • Revenue. Preferably, divided into major streams and product or service types.
  • Fixed costs. These costs remain constant in the short-term, irrespective of the number of goods produced or services rendered. Most day-to-day expenses will fall into this category: rent, salaries, software licenses, loan payments, and insurance.
  • Variable costs. Contrary to fixed costs, variable costs depend on the output. Examples include sales commission, shipping costs, and raw materials used in production.
  • One-off expenses. These are major expenses that arise from non-operating activities, such as accounting and legal fees, purchasing and selling equipment and vehicles, and relocation.

Your task is to create monthly targets for each element, which will align with the projected income statement (the one you prepared in the financial model, remember?).

Start with revenue, then take each expense type separately. If the business is seasonal, take that into account.

When you finish allocating amounts to each line item, step back and look at the whole picture. Does the budget seem realistic? Did you set money aside for unforeseen events? Are there any factors you possibly didn’t take into account?

You may have to go back and refine your financial model (or even adjust strategic goals), which is perfectly fine — unexpected things will happen, and the purpose isn’t to capture all of them.

The most significant value of budgeting is in the process itself , which makes us think about how to achieve the goals practically.

Also, you will become more accurate in your estimations over time as you understand revenue and cost drivers better.

What’s next?

Congratulations, your financial plan is ready.

You’ve done a lot of work. Be proud of yourself — now you’re well-equipped to quickly course-correct when needed.

Now you need to set a routine to track the performance.

Set time aside in your schedule, preferably shortly after the month’s end, to go through the figures in the management team.

As you review each line item, compare actuals with the budget.

Pay attention to both positive and negative variances in absolute and percentage terms. Are they in line with your expectations? If anything seems suspicious, investigate the cause.

Example: let’s say you noticed an increase in advertising expenses. You extract the bank statement and discover several payments for a Google Ads campaign, which is no longer relevant. You inform the marketing manager to stop running the ads immediately to prevent the cash drain.

Similarly, don’t forget about the trends. Even minor month-on-month deviations can lead to significant differences over the year.

In the final part of your review, consider the overall performance. How does the bottom line compare to previous periods? Do you expect any events that can impact your business? Are you on track with KPIs linked to strategic objectives?

And always write down the reasons and actions you decide to take. This way, you can refer to your records when you need to update the financial plan — which you’ll do with ease next time.

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6 Elements of a Successful Financial Plan for a Small Business

Improve your chances of growth by covering these bases in your plan.

author image

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. 

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.

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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The Essential Guide To Navigating Financial Planning For Small Business Growth

The Essential Guide To Navigating Financial Planning For Small Business Growth

As a small business owner, financial planning is an essential part of ensuring success. It’s important to understand the implications of your financial decisions and how they will impact your future. In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of financial planning for small business growth and how to navigate the process.

  • Developing a Budget
  • Creating a Cash Flow Plan
  • Setting Financial Goals
  • Assessing Your Financial Situation
  • Identifying Investment Opportunities
  • Managing Risk
  • Saving for Retirement
  • Working with a Professional

1. Developing a Budget

An accurate budget is the cornerstone of successful small business financial planning. By keeping a close eye on your profits and spending, you can create a reliable roadmap for your business. Start by gathering all your financial statements, including bank statements, income and expenses. This will give you an overview of your financial activity and help you identify areas of improvement.

Next, create a budget based on your income and expenses. This should include both fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are those that remain the same each month, such as rent and utilities. Variable expenses are those that fluctuate from month to month, such as marketing or staff costs. Make sure to include a cushion for unexpected expenses.

Once you have developed a budget, you should review it regularly. This will allow you to adjust your budget as needed and ensure that you are staying on track. If you have any questions or concerns, consider speaking with a financial advisor who can provide you with expert advice and guidance.

Monitoring your budget is key to successful financial planning for small business growth. By keeping an accurate budget, you can ensure that you are staying on track and making progress toward your goals. With careful planning and regular reviews, you can ensure your business stays on the path to success.

2. Creating a Cash Flow Plan

A cash flow plan is an important part of your financial planning for small business growth. As a business owner, understanding how your money is flowing in and out is essential for predicting and managing any potential shortfalls or emergency expenses. To create a successful cash flow plan, you should begin by looking at your current finances and estimating what you expect your income and expenses to be over the next quarter or year.

When you have a better understanding of your expected income and expenses, you can create a budget that factors in any additional costs or investments you may need to make. This can help you anticipate any potential cash flow issues and plan ahead for them. Additionally, you can use this budget to plan for any expected or unexpected growth over the next quarter or year. This will give you a better idea of the resources you need to allocate to ensure that your business continues to grow.

Creating a cash flow plan can seem daunting, but it is essential for small business growth. In addition to helping you plan ahead for any potential issues, it can also help you prioritize your investments and make sure that all of your money is being used efficiently. With a cash flow plan in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are doing everything you can to ensure your business’s success.

3. Setting Financial Goals

Having financial goals is an important step in any small business owner’s journey. While some business owners may choose to focus on short-term goals, such as cutting costs or increasing sales, longer-term goals can be equally as important. Setting financial goals helps you to understand where you want your business to be in the future and how you can get there.

When setting financial goals, it’s important to make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This will ensure that you have something to strive for and that you can track your progress. For example, you might set a goal of increasing your profits by 30% within the next 12 months. This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

When setting financial goals, it’s important to ensure that they are realistic and achievable. It’s also important to break down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps. This will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and will ensure that you’re making progress towards your goals.

It’s also important to review and adjust your financial goals regularly. As your business grows and changes, your goals should also change to reflect this. You should review your goals every few months to ensure that they still reflect your business’s current needs and objectives.

Having financial goals is an essential part of financial planning for small business growth. By setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals, you can ensure that you are making progress and that you are on track to achieve success.

4. Assessing Your Financial Situation

Once you have an understanding of your current financial situation, you can start to plan for the future. Assessing your financial situation is the foundation for all of your future financial planning and can help you understand what steps to take next. Taking an honest look at your financial situation can help you identify areas of improvement and areas where you can make better decisions.

It is important to keep track of your spending, income, and assets so you can accurately assess your financial situation. Make sure to document any changes you make, such as taking on debt or investing in assets. This can help you keep track of the progress you are making over time.

Creating a budget and tracking your expenses is also a great way to assess your financial situation. This can help you identify areas where you are spending more or less money than necessary and create a plan for how to better manage your finances. It can also help you identify areas where you can cut back and save money in order to increase your financial stability.

In addition to assessing your financial situation, it is important to understand the implications of different financial decisions. This includes understanding the risks and rewards associated with taking on debt, investing in assets, and other financial decisions. Understanding the potential impacts of different financial decisions can help you make better decisions and plan for the future.

Assessing your financial situation is the first step to financial planning for small business growth. Taking the time to understand where you are starting from and how your decisions will affect the future can help you make more informed decisions and increase the success of your business.

5. Identifying Investment Opportunities

When it comes to financial planning for small business growth, it’s essential to identify potential investment opportunities. Investing in the right assets can be a key factor in maximizing success and achieving financial goals. While stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are the most common forms of investments, there are many other options available. Real estate investments, venture capital funds, and private equity funds can be great ways to increase capital and secure future growth.

It’s important to understand the risks and rewards associated with each investment option and to research the best options for your business. Investing in the stock market can be a great way to increase capital, but there is also a risk of loss. Investing in real estate can provide a steady income, but it also requires a large initial investment. A financial advisor can be a great resource for understanding the different types of investment options and helping to decide which is best for your business.

Identifying potential investment opportunities is a critical part of financial planning for small business growth. It’s important to take the time to understand the different types of investments available and to research the best options for your business. With careful planning and research, you can make wise decisions and maximize the potential for success.

6. Managing Risk

Managing risk when it comes to financial planning is a critical component of success for any small business. As an entrepreneur, it’s essential to understand the potential risks of any investments you make and how to protect your business from potential losses. It’s also important to understand the implications of your financial decisions and how they will impact your future.

When assessing risk, it’s important to look at the long-term effects of any decision you make and to be cognizant of the potential downside. For example, investing in a new piece of equipment may be necessary for growth, but it may also require a considerable upfront cost and a high risk of failure if the venture doesn’t succeed.

It’s also important to consider the potential for fraud and theft when dealing with investments. As a small business owner, you should take extra precautions to ensure that any funds you’re investing are secure and that your assets are protected. This includes taking extra steps to verify the legitimacy of any investment opportunity and doing thorough research on any company you’re partnering with.

Finally, it’s important to establish a system of checks and balances to monitor your finances and ensure that your investments are performing as expected. This includes keeping track of your expenses and income on a regular basis and monitoring your investments for any potential risks. Doing so can help you identify any potential issues before they become too costly.

By understanding the potential risks of any investments you make and taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your business, you can make sure that your financial planning decisions will benefit you in the long run. With the right approach and the right attitude, you can ensure that your small business will be able to grow and thrive.

7. Saving for Retirement

Saving for retirement is a crucial part of financial planning for small business owners. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s important to start building a retirement fund now. There are many ways to do this, from setting aside a certain amount of income each month to investing in retirement accounts such as IRA’s and 401k’s.

When determining how much to save for retirement, it’s a good idea to consult a financial advisor to get a full understanding of your financial picture. This should include an analysis of your current income, expenses, debts, and other factors. A financial advisor can also help you decide which investments are best suited for your retirement fund.

For those who are self-employed, there are additional options to consider, such as SEP IRA’s or Solo 401k’s. These are retirement plans specifically designed for sole proprietors. Again, a financial advisor can help you determine which plan is right for you.

It’s also important to remember that saving for retirement should be treated as an ongoing process. You should be regularly reviewing your investments and adjusting your retirement strategy as needed. This will help ensure that you’re on track to reach your retirement goals.

Creating a retirement savings plan may seem daunting, but it’s an essential part of financial planning for small business growth. With the right strategy in place, you’ll be able to retire comfortably and enjoy the rewards of your hard work.

8. Working with a Professional

Working with a professional can be a great way to navigate the financial planning process for small business growth. A financial planner can provide you with the necessary expertise to help you make the best decisions for your business. Not only do they have the knowledge and experience to help guide you through the process, but they can also be a great sounding board for ideas and strategies.

When looking for a financial planner, it’s important to find one who has experience with small businesses. You want someone who understands the unique needs and challenges of running a small business. Ask for references and speak to other business owners to get a sense of how the planner has helped them.

When you find a financial planner that you’re comfortable with, be sure to ask about their fees and services. Make sure they understand your goals and the strategies they will use to reach them. It’s important to keep in mind that a financial planner is not a substitute for taking responsibility for your own financial decisions. They should be a resource to help you make informed decisions about your business growth.

Working with a professional financial planner can be a great way to ensure that you have the best advice available to guide you through the financial planning process for small business growth. With the right guidance, you can make the right decisions to help you reach your goals.

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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

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how to develop a financial plan for business

Business Financial Plan Example: Strategies and Best Practices

Any successful endeavor begins with a robust plan – and running a prosperous business is no exception. Careful strategic planning acts as the bedrock on which companies build their future. One of the most critical aspects of this strategic planning is the creation of a detailed business financial plan. This plan serves as a guide, helping businesses navigate their way through the complex world of finance, including revenue projection, cost estimation, and capital expenditure, to name just a few elements. However, understanding what a business financial plan entails and how to implement it effectively can often be challenging. With multiple components to consider and various economic factors at play, the financial planning process may appear daunting to both new and established business owners.

This is where we come in. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the specifics of a business financial plan. We discuss its importance, the essential elements that make it up, and the steps to craft one successfully. Furthermore, we provide a practical example of a business financial plan in action, drawing upon real-world-like scenarios and strategies. By presenting the best practices and demonstrating how to employ them, we aim to equip business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to create a robust, realistic, and efficient business financial plan. This in-depth guide will help you understand not only how to plan your business finances but also how to use this plan as a roadmap, leading your business towards growth, profitability, and overall financial success. Whether you're a seasoned business owner aiming to refine your financial strategies or an aspiring entrepreneur at the beginning of your journey, this article is designed to guide you through the intricacies of business financial planning and shed light on the strategies that can help your business thrive.

Understanding a Business Financial Plan

At its core, a business financial plan is a strategic blueprint that sets forth how a company will manage and navigate its financial operations, guiding the organization towards its defined fiscal objectives. It encompasses several critical aspects of a business's financial management, such as revenue projection, cost estimation, capital expenditure, cash flow management, and investment strategies.

Revenue projection is an estimate of the revenue a business expects to generate within a specific period. It's often based on market research, historical data, and educated assumptions about future market trends. Cost estimation, on the other hand, involves outlining the expenses a business anticipates incurring in its operations. Together, revenue projection and cost estimation can give a clear picture of a company's expected profitability. Capital expenditure refers to the funds a company allocates towards the purchase or maintenance of long-term assets like machinery, buildings, and equipment. Understanding capital expenditure is vital as it can significantly impact a business's operational capacity and future profitability. The cash flow management aspect of a business financial plan involves monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing the company's cash inflows and outflows. A healthy cash flow ensures that a business can meet its short-term obligations, invest in its growth, and provide a buffer for future uncertainties. Lastly, a company's investment strategies are crucial for its growth and sustainability. They might include strategies for raising capital, such as issuing shares or securing loans, or strategies for investing surplus cash, like purchasing assets or investing in market securities.

A well-developed business financial plan, therefore, doesn't just portray the company's current financial status; it also serves as a roadmap for the business's fiscal operations, enabling it to navigate towards its financial goals. The plan acts as a guide, providing insights that help business owners make informed decisions, whether they're about day-to-day operations or long-term strategic choices. In a nutshell, a business financial plan is a key tool in managing a company's financial resources effectively and strategically. It allows businesses to plan for growth, prepare for uncertainties, and strive for financial sustainability and success.

Essential Elements of a Business Financial Plan

A comprehensive financial plan contains several crucial elements, including:

  • Sales Forecast : The sales forecast represents the business's projected sales revenues. It is often broken down into segments such as products, services, or regions.
  • Expenses Budget : This portion of the plan outlines the anticipated costs of running the business. It includes fixed costs (rent, salaries) and variable costs (marketing, production).
  • Cash Flow Statement : This statement records the cash that comes in and goes out of a business, effectively portraying its liquidity.
  • Income Statements : Also known as profit and loss statements, income statements provide an overview of the business's profitability over a given period.
  • Balance Sheet : This snapshot of a company's financial health shows its assets, liabilities, and equity.

Crafting a Business Financial Plan: The Steps

Developing a business financial plan requires careful analysis and planning. Here are the steps involved:

Step 1: Set Clear Financial Goals

The initial stage in crafting a robust business financial plan involves the establishment of clear, measurable financial goals. These objectives serve as your business's financial targets and compass, guiding your company's financial strategy. These goals can be short-term, such as improving quarterly sales or reducing monthly overhead costs, or they can be long-term, such as expanding the business to a new location within five years or doubling the annual revenue within three years. The goals might include specific targets such as increasing revenue by a particular percentage, reducing costs by a specific amount, or achieving a certain profit margin. Setting clear goals provides a target to aim for and allows you to measure your progress over time.

Step 2: Create a Sales Forecast

The cornerstone of any business financial plan is a robust sales forecast. This element of the plan involves predicting the sales your business will make over a given period. This estimate should be based on comprehensive market research, historical sales data, an understanding of industry trends, and the impact of any marketing or promotional activities. Consider the business's growth rate, the overall market size, and seasonal fluctuations in demand. Remember, your sales forecast directly influences the rest of your financial plan, particularly your budgets for expenses and cash flow, so it's critical to make it as accurate and realistic as possible.

Step 3: Prepare an Expense Budget

The next step involves preparing a comprehensive expense budget that covers all the costs your business is likely to incur. This includes fixed costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, salaries, insurance, and other overheads that remain relatively constant regardless of your business's level of output. It also includes variable costs, such as raw materials, inventory, marketing and advertising expenses, and other costs that fluctuate in direct proportion to the level of goods or services you produce. By understanding your expense budget, you can determine how much revenue your business needs to generate to cover costs and become profitable.

Step 4: Develop a Cash Flow Statement

One of the most crucial elements of your financial plan is the cash flow statement. This document records all the cash that enters and leaves your business, presenting a clear picture of your company's liquidity. Regularly updating your cash flow statement allows you to monitor the cash in hand and foresee any potential shortfalls. It helps you understand when cash comes into your business from sales and when cash goes out of your business due to expenses, giving you insights into your financial peaks and troughs and enabling you to manage your cash resources more effectively.

Step 5: Prepare Income Statements and Balance Sheets

Another vital part of your business financial plan includes the preparation of income statements and balance sheets. An income statement, also known as a Profit & Loss (P&L) statement, provides an overview of your business's profitability over a certain period. It subtracts the total expenses from total revenue to calculate net income, providing valuable insights into the profitability of your operations.

On the other hand, the balance sheet provides a snapshot of your company's financial health at a specific point in time. It lists your company's assets (what the company owns), liabilities (what the company owes), and equity (the owner's or shareholders' investment in the business). These documents help you understand where your business stands financially, whether it's making a profit, and how your assets, liabilities, and equity balance out.

Step 6: Revise Your Plan Regularly

It's important to remember that a financial plan is not a static document, but rather a living, evolving roadmap that should adapt to your business's changing circumstances and market conditions. As such, regular reviews and updates are crucial. By continually revisiting and revising your plan, you can ensure it remains accurate, relevant, and effective. You can adjust your forecasts as needed, respond to changes in the business environment, and stay on track towards achieving your financial goals. By doing so, you're not only keeping your business financially healthy but also setting the stage for sustained growth and success.

Business Financial Plan Example: Joe’s Coffee Shop

Now, let's look at a practical example of a financial plan for a hypothetical business, Joe’s Coffee Shop.

Sales Forecast

When constructing his sales forecast, Joe takes into account several significant factors. He reviews his historical sales data, identifies and understands current market trends, and evaluates the impact of any upcoming promotional events. With his coffee shop located in a bustling area, Joe expects to sell approximately 200 cups of coffee daily. Each cup is priced at $5, which gives him a daily sales prediction of $1000. Multiplying this figure by 365 (days in a year), his forecast for Year 1 is an annual revenue of $365,000. This projection provides Joe with a financial target to aim for and serves as a foundation for his further financial planning. It is worth noting that Joe's sales forecast may need adjustments throughout the year based on actual performance and changes in the market or business environment.

Expenses Budget

To run his coffee shop smoothly, Joe has identified several fixed and variable costs he'll need to budget for. His fixed costs, which are costs that will not change regardless of his coffee shop's sales volume, include rent, which is $2000 per month, salaries for his employees, which total $8000 per month, and utilities like electricity and water, which add up to about $500 per month.

In addition to these fixed costs, Joe also has variable costs to consider. These are costs that fluctuate depending on his sales volume and include the price of coffee beans, milk, sugar, and pastries, which he sells alongside his coffee. After a careful review of all these expenses, Joe estimates that his total annual expenses will be around $145,000. This comprehensive expense budget provides a clearer picture of how much Joe needs to earn in sales to cover his costs and achieve profitability.

Cash Flow Statement

With a clear understanding of his expected sales revenue and expenses, Joe can now proceed to develop a cash flow statement. This statement provides a comprehensive overview of all the cash inflows and outflows within his business. When Joe opened his coffee shop, he invested an initial capital of $50,000. He expects that the monthly cash inflows from sales will be about $30,417 (which is his annual revenue of $365,000 divided by 12), and his monthly cash outflows for expenses will amount to approximately $12,083 (his total annual expenses of $145,000 divided by 12). The cash flow statement gives Joe insights into his business's liquidity. It helps him track when and where his cash is coming from and where it is going. This understanding can assist him in managing his cash resources effectively and ensure he has sufficient cash to meet his business's operational needs and financial obligations.

Income Statement and Balance Sheet

With the figures from his sales forecast, expense budget, and cash flow statement, Joe can prepare his income statement and balance sheet. The income statement, or Profit & Loss (P&L) statement, reveals the profitability of Joe's coffee shop. It calculates the net profit by subtracting the total expenses from total sales revenue. In Joe's case, this means his net profit for Year 1 is expected to be $220,000 ($365,000 in revenue minus $145,000 in expenses).

The balance sheet, on the other hand, provides a snapshot of the coffee shop's financial position at a specific point in time. It includes Joe's initial capital investment of $50,000, his assets like coffee machines, furniture, and inventory, and his liabilities, which might include any loans he took to start the business and accounts payable.

The income statement and balance sheet not only reflect the financial health of Joe's coffee shop but also serve as essential tools for making informed business decisions and strategies. By continually monitoring and updating these statements, Joe can keep his finger on the pulse of his business's financial performance and make necessary adjustments to ensure sustained profitability and growth.

Best Practices in Business Financial Planning

While crafting a business financial plan, consider the following best practices:

  • Realistic Projections : Ensure your forecasts are realistic, based on solid data and reasonable assumptions.
  • Scenario Planning : Plan for best-case, worst-case, and most likely scenarios. This will help you prepare for different eventualities.
  • Regular Reviews : Regularly review and update your plan to reflect changes in business conditions.
  • Seek Professional Help : If you are unfamiliar with financial planning, consider seeking assistance from a financial consultant.

The importance of a meticulously prepared business financial plan cannot be overstated. It forms the backbone of any successful business, steering it towards a secure financial future. Creating a solid financial plan requires a blend of careful analysis, precise forecasting, clear and measurable goal setting, prudent budgeting, and efficient cash flow management. The process may seem overwhelming at first, especially for budding entrepreneurs. However, it's crucial to understand that financial planning is not an event, but rather an ongoing process. This process involves constant monitoring, evaluation, and continuous updating of the financial plan as the business grows and market conditions change.

The strategies and best practices outlined in this article offer an invaluable framework for any entrepreneur or business owner embarking on the journey of creating a financial plan. It provides insights into essential elements such as setting clear financial goals, creating a sales forecast, preparing an expense budget, developing a cash flow statement, and preparing income statements and balance sheets. Moreover, the example of Joe and his coffee shop gives a practical, real-world illustration of how these elements come together to form a coherent and effective financial plan. This example demonstrates how a robust financial plan can help manage resources more efficiently, make better-informed decisions, and ultimately lead to financial success.

Remember, every grand journey begins with a single step. In the realm of business, this step is creating a well-crafted, comprehensive, and realistic business financial plan. By following the guidelines and practices suggested in this article, you are laying the foundation for financial stability, profitability, and long-term success for your business. Start your journey today, and let the road to financial success unfold.

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How to create a financial plan for a new business

Table of Contents

Creating a financial plan for a new business: the essential steps

Form a strategy, financial objectives, pricing and sales strategy, starting budget, create realistic projections, income projections, cash flow projections, sales forecast, outline your funding needs , plan for the unexpected, check in with your plan, financial planning for new business success , track your financial plan with a clever app.

When you start a new business, your success depends on how you handle your money. With a clear and realistic financial plan, you can prepare for the long run with strong spending decisions and earning predictions.

Your financial plan helps you develop your business’s money goals and expectations . It’s crucial in making your money work for you. 

But if you’ve never written a financial plan before, you might wonder where to start. We can help with that.   

This guide covers how to create a financial plan for a new business, including:

  • Forming a strategy 
  • Creating projections 
  • Outlining funding needs
  • Planning for the unexpected 
  • Checking in with your plan

See also : Why you need financial planning in business .

With a well-developed financial plan, you can approach your business with intention. Let’s go over what you should include and how to do so. 

Your financial strategy is the overarching force that drives your plan. It answers key questions about the why and how of your business.

Start your financial strategy by listing the main objectives for your new business finances . You might come up with short, medium, and long term objectives to guide you in the right direction. 

First, ask yourself which general goals you want to focus on, such as becoming profitable. Then, turn this goal into a specific and achievable objective. For example, you might plan to earn X sales in X months to reach profitability . 

As you write the strategy, try coming up with five to ten main objectives that are realistic for your new business. 

Your pricing strategy can impact how many sales you earn for your business. So, how might you price your products to achieve your financial objectives?

For example, you could use a:

  • Penetration pricing strategy – offering lower prices than average at the start to draw in customers 
  • Competitive pricing strategy – listing your products above, below, or level to average pricing to give them a competitive edge
  • Premium pricing strategy – setting your prices higher than normal to suggest value or exclusivity 

On top of this, consider your sales strategy or what methods you’ll use to draw in customers and earn revenue. For example, you might use a reward system to encourage return customers . 

Your starting budget is another essential part of your financial strategy. 

It outlines how much you hope to spend and earn from your business initially . To form a realistic budget, consider your business expenses and how you’ll cover them to remain operational.  

To learn more, check out our article on budgeting for starting a business . 

Projecting the outcomes of your business efforts help you plan more realistically . Plus, they can convince potential investors your business is viable, and you’re worth giving money to. 

As you start your business, you’ll want to know how much you might earn in the first month, quarter, and year . This knowledge lets you predict how much money you could take home at the end of the day. 

To learn more about this, check out our article on how to create a financial forecast for a new business . 

Your cash flow forecast can help you predict the cash entering and exiting your business over a given time . This estimate is essential to determining how you’ll cover regular expenses. 

You might also strategise how to bring in the necessary cash regularly, such as following up on late invoices or promoting cash revenue. 

A sales forecast uses market size and demand to estimate how many customers you could draw in at the start . 

Creating one for your business helps predict profitability, sales trends, and create realistic expectations.  

To learn more, read our article on how to write a sales forecast .

You’ll likely need cash to get your business going. In this section, cover how much you’ll need to start, including startup costs, operational expenses, and a cushion before profit . 

You may try self-funding your business to avoid debts or liabilities . If so, outline a savings or funding plan. For example, you might crowdfund your startup idea. 

If you need external funding, there’s a few routes you can take. You might choose to seek: 

  • A business loan – The UK government offers startup loans for businesses. You could also seek a small business loan from a bank like Barclays .
  • An investor – If you create a convincing proposal, people may invest in your company in exchange for a piece of the business. 
  • Grants – Some government grants are available for startups , which could help you avoid taking on debt.
  • Family and friends – You might want to approach people you know well with your business idea as they could invest or offer you a personal loan.

A financial plan for a new business helps you prepare for the future. Still, there are bound to be unpredictable situations. So, in this section, consider potential risks to your finances. 

Preparing for the unexpected will help you avoid irreversible consequences that can harm your business . 

For example, you might want to develop an emergency fund and business continuity plan , so you’re ready to react to potential disruptions.  

Once you complete your financial plan, be sure to monitor its success. This way, you’ll catch yourself if you start to veer off the path. Then, it’ll be easier to correct yourself or create more realistic expectations before it’s too late . 

The plan acts as a guide to your finances, so regularly referring to it and updating it will help you keep your finances in order . 

Writing a financial plan for your new business lets you get on top of your finances early on. As a result, it’ll be far easier to build a profitable business that’s prepared to grow . 

In fact, planning is essential for every part of your operations. So, next, you might want to check out our article on how to write a business plan . 

As you put your financial plan together, you’ll need tools that help you track your progress, like Countingup.

Countingup is the business account and accounting software in one app . It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today. 

Apply now .


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  • Building Your Business

How To Create Financial Projections for Your Business

Learn how to anticipate your business’s financial performance

how to develop a financial plan for business

  • Understanding Financial Projections & Forecasting

Why Forecasting Is Critical for Your Business

Key financial statements for forecasting, how to create your financial projections, frequently asked questions (faqs).

Maskot / Getty Images

Just like a weather forecast lets you know that wearing closed-toe shoes will be important for that afternoon downpour later, a good financial forecast allows you to better anticipate financial highs and lows for your business.

Neglecting to compile financial projections for your business may signal to investors that you’re unprepared for the future, which may cause you to lose out on funding opportunities.

Read on to learn more about financial projections, how to compile and use them in a business plan, and why they can be crucial for every business owner.

Key Takeaways

  • Financial forecasting is a projection of your business's future revenues and expenses based on comparative data analysis, industry research, and more.
  • Financial projections are a valuable tool for entrepreneurs as they offer insight into a business's ability to generate profit, increase cash flow, and repay debts, which can be attractive to investors.
  • Some of the key components to include in a financial projection include a sales projection, break-even analysis, and pro forma balance sheet and income statement.
  • A financial projection can not only attract investors, but helps business owners anticipate fixed costs, find a break-even point, and prepare for the unexpected.

Understanding Financial Projections and Forecasting

Financial forecasting is an educated estimate of future revenues and expenses that involves comparative analysis to get a snapshot of what could happen in your business’s future.

This process helps in making predictions about future business performance based on current financial information, industry trends, and economic conditions. Financial forecasting also helps businesses make decisions about investments, financing sources, inventory management, cost control strategies, and even whether to move into another market.

Developing both short- and mid-term projections is usually necessary to help you determine immediate production and personnel needs as well as future resource requirements for raw materials, equipment, and machinery.

Financial projections are a valuable tool for entrepreneurs as they offer insight into a business's ability to generate profit, increase cash flow, and repay debts. They can also be used to make informed decisions about the business’s plans. Creating an accurate, adaptive financial projection for your business offers many benefits, including:

  • Attracting investors and convincing them to fund your business
  • Anticipating problems before they arise
  • Visualizing your small-business objectives and budgets
  • Demonstrating how you will repay small-business loans
  • Planning for more significant business expenses
  • Showing business growth potential
  • Helping with proper pricing and production planning

Financial forecasting is essentially predicting the revenue and expenses for a business venture. Whether your business is new or established, forecasting can play a vital role in helping you plan for the future and budget your funds.

Creating financial projections may be a necessary exercise for many businesses, particularly those that do not have sufficient cash flow or need to rely on customer credit to maintain operations. Compiling financial information, knowing your market, and understanding what your potential investors are looking for can enable you to make intelligent decisions about your assets and resources.

The income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flow are three key financial reports needed for forecasting that can also provide analysts with crucial information about a business's financial health. Here is a closer look at each.

Income Statement

An income statement, also known as a profit and loss statement or P&L, is a financial document that provides an overview of an organization's revenues, expenses, and net income.

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a snapshot of the business's assets and liabilities at a certain point in time. Sometimes referred to as the “financial portrait” of a business, the balance sheet provides an overview of how much money the business has, what it owes, and its net worth.

The assets side of the balance sheet includes what the business owns as well as future ownership items. The other side of the sheet includes liabilities and equity, which represent what it owes or what others owe to the business.

A balance sheet that shows hypothetical calculations and future financial projections is also referred to as a “pro forma” balance sheet.

Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement monitors the business’s inflows and outflows—both cash and non-cash. Cash flow is the business’s projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization ( EBITDA ) minus capital investments.

Here's how to compile your financial projections and fit the results into the three above statements.

A financial projections spreadsheet for your business should include these metrics and figures:

  • Sales forecast
  • Balance sheet
  • Operating expenses
  • Payroll expenses (if applicable)
  • Amortization and depreciation
  • Cash flow statement
  • Income statement
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS)
  • Break-even analysis

Here are key steps to account for creating your financial projections.

Projecting Sales

The first step for a financial forecast starts with projecting your business’s sales, which are typically derived from past revenue as well as industry research. These projections allow businesses to understand what their risks are and how much they will need in terms of staffing, resources, and funding.

Sales forecasts also enable businesses to decide on important levels such as product variety, price points, and inventory capacity.

Income Statement Calculations

A projected income statement shows how much you expect in revenue and profit—as well as your estimated expenses and losses—over a specific time in the future. Like a standard income statement, elements on a projection include revenue, COGS, and expenses that you’ll calculate to determine figures such as the business’s gross profit margin and net income.

If you’re developing a hypothetical, or pro forma, income statement, you can use historical data from previous years’ income statements. You can also do a comparative analysis of two different income statement periods to come up with your figures.

Anticipate Fixed Costs

Fixed business costs are expenses that do not change based on the number of products sold. The best way to anticipate fixed business costs is to research your industry and prepare a budget using actual numbers from competitors in the industry. Anticipating fixed costs ensures your business doesn’t overpay for its needs and balances out its variable costs. A few examples of fixed business costs include:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Operating expenses (also called selling, general and administrative expenses or SG&A)
  • Utility bills
  • Insurance premiums

Unfortunately, it might not be possible to predict accurately how much your fixed costs will change in a year due to variables such as inflation, property, and interest rates. It’s best to slightly overestimate fixed costs just in case you need to account for these potential fluctuations.

Find Your Break-Even Point

The break-even point (BEP) is the number at which a business has the same expenses as its revenue. In other words, it occurs when your operations generate enough revenue to cover all of your business’s costs and expenses. The BEP will differ depending on the type of business, market conditions, and other factors.

To find this number, you need to determine two things: your fixed costs and variable costs. Once you have these figures, you can find your BEP using this formula:

Break-even point = fixed expenses ➗ 1 – (variable expenses ➗ sales)

The BEP is an essential consideration for any projection because it is the point at which total revenue from a project equals total cost. This makes it the point of either profit or loss.

Plan for the Unexpected

It is necessary to have the proper financial safeguards in place to prepare for any unanticipated costs. A sudden vehicle repair, a leaky roof, or broken equipment can quickly derail your budget if you aren't prepared. Cash management is a financial management plan that ensures a business has enough cash on hand to maintain operations and meet short-term obligations.

To maintain cash reserves, you can apply for overdraft protection or an overdraft line of credit. Overdraft protection can be set up by a bank or credit card business and provides short-term loans if the account balance falls below zero. On the other hand, a line of credit is an agreement with a lending institution in which they provide you with an unsecured loan at any time until your balance reaches zero again.

How do you make financial projections for startups?

Financial projections for startups can be hard to complete. Historical financial data may not be available. Find someone with financial projections experience to give insight on risks and outcomes.

Consider business forecasting, too, which incorporates assumptions about the exponential growth of your business.

Startups can also benefit from using EBITDA to get a better look at potential cash flow.

What are the benefits associated with forecasting business finances?

Forecasting can be beneficial for businesses in many ways, including:

  • Providing better understanding of your business cash flow
  • Easing the process of planning and budgeting for the future based on income
  • Improving decision-making
  • Providing valuable insight into what's in their future
  • Making decisions on how to best allocate resources for success

How many years should your financial forecast be?

Your financial forecast should either be projected over a specific time period or projected into perpetuity. There are various methods for determining how long a financial forecasting projection should go out, but many businesses use one to five years as a standard timeframe.

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Market Research and Competitive Analysis ."

Score. " Financial Projections Template ."

How to Make a Financial Plan In 7 Steps (Free Template)

R.J. Weiss, CFP®

  • Updated May 24, 2024

A joint study between the Consumer Federation of America and the CFP Board found that 48% of households with a financial plan described themselves as “living comfortably.” Those without a plan expressed that sentiment only 22% of the time.

This guide outlines seven simple steps to develop a financial plan, regardless of your income or financial situation.

Here’s an overview of the seven steps we’ll cover:

  • Set your values . 
  • Create a net worth statement . 
  • Analyze your current spending . 
  • Pick short-term financial goals . 
  • Design and automate your cash flow plan . 
  • Monitor your KPIs .
  • Make adjustments . 

We’ve also created a one-page PDF to walk you through each step, which you can download here . 

Big Ideas About Financial Planning

  • It’s easier to become a great planner and saver than it is to beat the market or make millions of dollars . Beating the market or scoring a windfall of cash is difficult and rare. Yet this is what a lot of people rely on in order to realize their goals. Financial planning, on the other hand, is far easier and completely within your control. 
  • Cash flow planning is the most important aspect of financial planning . Most people equate financial planning with managing an investment portfolio. But it’s far more important for most households to focus on cash flow planning (which is simply deciding what to do with your income). 
  • Financial planning is about maximizing opportunity costs . That means knowing which goals to prioritize, while understanding that you can’t accomplish all your goals at the same time.

What Is a Financial Plan?

A financial plan is a document that outlines your current financial situation, future goals, and the steps you need to take to achieve those goals.

At its core, a financial plan answers three key questions:

  • What is your current financial situation? This is assessed by creating a net worth statement and analyzing your spending habits.
  • Where do you want to be in the future? This involves setting inspiring yet realistic financial goals. 
  • How will you get there? A financial plan maps out a cash flow strategy to direct income towards priority goals, and tracks progress through key metrics.

The format of a financial plan can vary from a single page to a more detailed spreadsheet. Regardless of the format, the purpose is to provide clarity, direction, and strategies to improve your financial well-being. 

Step #1: Identify Your Financial Values

There’s more to having a financial plan than setting financial goals, such as paying off debt, building an emergency fund or saving for retirement .

A well-thought-out financial plan connects these goals to something deeper — to your “why.” 

This “why” is what I like to call your financial values.

Think of financial values as a set of two or three core ideas that guide your financial decision-making.

What’s important is that these values resonate with you personally. While they can vary widely between different people, I find that they typically fall into one of six categories:

  • Security . Valuing a stable and predictable financial future.
  • Accumulation . The focus is to grow a number, such as your total net worth, over time. 
  • Freedom . Prioritizing the ability to make life choices without financial constraints.
  • Generosity . The desire to give back and help others.
  • Enjoyment . Spending on experiences and items that bring joy.
  • Family . Ensuring the well-being and financial stability of loved ones.

The question I find most helpful here is this:

“When I look back on my life many years from now, which financial values will I most regret choosing not to prioritize?”

With that question in mind, take time now to choose the values most important to you and write them down in your financial plan. 

While the general categories above are a good starting point, feel free to put your own spin on this exercise. Your values are your own.

Step #2: Create a Net Worth Statement

A net worth statement, also known as a balance sheet or a personal finance statement, is a summary that shows you the value of what you own (assets) minus what you owe (liabilities).

Measuring progress is easier when a simple metric (such as net worth) tells you how you’re doing. If it’s increasing, great! If it’s not, you’ll need to consider changing financial strategies.

To get started, use our net worth template , available via Google Sheets (click the “Make a Copy” button when prompted), to help you calculate this number.

With the spreadsheet open, you’ll want to do the following: 

  • List and value your assets . For most people, this includes bank account balances, retirement accounts, taxable investments, real estate and vehicles.
  • List your liabilities . Include all debts, such as credit card balances, student loans, your mortgage, auto loans, and any other commitments for which you have borrowed funds. 

The spreadsheet will then subtract your total liabilities from your total assets. 

The figure you get from this calculation is your current net worth.

Don’t freak out if your net worth is a negative number! The point is simply to make yourself aware of your current financial reality, and then to create a plan for increasing the number over time. 

Step #3: Analyze Your Current Spending

With your net worth statement in hand, the next step is to analyze your current spending habits, checking for areas that are out of balance. 

The easiest way to do this is by using the framework of the 50/30/20 budget .

The 50/30/20 budget allocates your income into three categories:

  • 50% for needs , such as housing, food, transportation, education and healthcare. 
  • 30% for wants , such as gym memberships, eating out and travel.
  • 20% for savings , including debt repayments, 401(K) contributions, and saving up for an emergency fund .

Your task is to analyze your past three months of spending to see what your percentages were for needs, wants and savings. Then, fill in the “Current” pie chart in the financial planning template with these percentages.

Pro tip : I recommend using one of the many free personal finance budgeting apps to get this data. 

Step #4: Choose Your Financial Goals

At first glance, many financial goals sound boring. Who wakes up excited to save for retirement or build an emergency fund ? 

That’s why it’s important to tie financial goals to bigger life goals. 

For example, an emergency fund allowed me, as the sole income provider for a family of five, to leave the comfort of a job I held for 10 years and run this website full-time. 

Building my own business was a goal I’d had for years, and a proper emergency fund (as well as a very supportive wife) helped me make that happen.

When it comes to choosing financial goals, here are three helpful tips as outlined by the financial psychologist Brad Klontz :

  • Pick up to three goals that would rank at least a 9 out of 10 on the excitement scale. 
  • Give your goals an exciting name — think “financial freedom” rather than “retirement savings.”
  • Give each goal a deadline, such as, “I’m debt-free by January 1, 2027!”

Your current financial situation will play a large role in the timeframe of your goals. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, focusing on short-term goals is best.

While you want to have a long-term vision of where you want to go — e.g., saving up for a down payment on a home and retirement — focus (for now) on shorter-term goals that will allow you to get to that point.

Pro tip : If you have high-interest debt (like credit card debt) and no emergency fund, familiarize yourself with the Baby Steps process . This easy-to-understand framework will help you prioritize your financial goals. 

If you have a solid foundation, such as some cash in the bank and the ability to allocate money towards goals each month, you might have a combination of short-term and long-term goals. 

The aim is to have one to three goals you’re looking forward to and motivated to accomplish. 

If you want to take a deep dive into financial goal setting, enter your email address in the form below to get access to our free workbook:

Master Your Finances

Get financial control with our step-by-step goal-setting workbook. Opt-in below to receive the free PDF guide instantly.

We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Step #5: Design Your Cash Flow Plan

Cash flow planning — i.e., how you decide to allocate your income — is the most important aspect of financial planning. 

In Step #3, you analyzed your spending to determine where your money has gone, dividing it into needs, wants and savings. 

The idea here is to take your financial goals and design a spending plan around these goals. 

For example, imagine your take-home pay is $5,000 per month and your current spending is allocated as follows:

  • Needs : $2,500 (50% of your income) for essentials like housing, utilities, groceries and transportation.
  • Wants : $1,500 (30% of your income) for discretionary items such as eating out, entertainment and hobbies.
  • Savings : $1,000 (20% of your income).

Now, integrate the financial goals you choose in Step #4 into this plan. 

Let’s assume today is January 1st, 2024, and we have the following goals:

  • Dream Vacation Fund : Save $200 per month with the aim to accumulate enough for your vacation by January 1st, 2026.
  • Sleep Better Fund : Build a $12,000 emergency fund by July 1st, 2025, which requires savings of $667 per month.  
  • Financial Freedom Fund : Consistently contribute 6% of your income ($300 of your current salary) towards your 401(K), to get the full employer match.

All in all, your goals require you to :

  • Save $200 per month for a vacation fund.
  • Save $667 per month towards an emergency fund.
  • Save $300 per month towards retirement.

This requires $1,166 of savings per month, which is over your current 20% of savings.

So you have two choices :

  • Adjust your goals to fit within your $1,000 per month allocated savings.
  • Save more by cutting from other areas — e.g., your needs and wants — to make up for the shortfall.

The choice is yours. But the important thing is to understand what the opportunity cost is upfront, keeping in mind that financial planning is about making sure you prioritize what matters to you.

The final step here is to set up automatic transfers to align with your paycheck dates. If your direct deposit hits on the 1st and 15th, schedule transfers for shortly thereafter. 

For example :

  • Transfer #1: $333 to your emergency fund on the 3rd and 17th of each month.
  • Transfer #2: $100 to your Dream Vacation Fund on the 3rd and 17th.
  • The 401(k) contribution will be completed automatically by your employer. 

Transfers should go to separate savings accounts, so you understand this money is separate for your everyday living expenses. 

Lastly, in the financial planning template, fill in the “Target” spending plan to reflect the ideal distribution of your income across needs, wants, and goals, detailing the automatic transfers you’ll set up to ensure these goals are achieved.

Bank organizational tips : While some banks allow you to create sub-savings accounts, many do not. If you’re not willing to switch banks to one that does, alternatives are as follows: If your bank has a checking and a savings, utilize the savings for your goal. Have your income get funneled into your checking, which should be enough to cover your bills and make payments towards your goals. (This only works if you have one goal and don’t currently utilize the savings account.) Or, you can utilize your investment brokerage account’s money market fund or cash management account. Finally, you can open a new bank account just for that. Overall, I find it very helpful not to mix multiple goals into one savings account, as it’s easier to track the progress towards each when they’re separate. 

Step #6: Monitor Your KPIs

A KPI, or key performance indicator, is a business term for a variable that helps you analyze your current situation. In other words, KPIs are facts and figures that tell you whether you’re trending in the right or wrong direction. 

When it comes to financial planning, your KPIs should show you exactly how you’re progressing towards your financial goals. 

For example, if your goal is to build an emergency fund of three months of expenses, your KPI could be:

KPI = Current Emergency Fund Savings / (Monthly Expenses X 3)

One trick for setting powerful KPIs is to track the date you’re on-target to accomplish your goal. 

For example, instead of saving a certain amount for retirement, track the age at which you’ll achieve financial independence .

Or, instead of tracking the total amount of debt, track the date you’ll pay off your debt. (We’ve designed a free spreadsheet to help you do this, which you can read more about here .) 

Why choose dates over dollar amounts? In my experience, dates are far more motivating. In addition, they often tell a more realistic story about your progress. 

Of course, KPIs are going to depend on your goals (which depend on your values!) but here are some of the most common KPIs in personal finance:

  • Emergency fund size
  • Savings rate
  • Credit score
  • Projected retirement age number
  • Time until you reach a goal (e.g., paying off debt)

Step #7: Make Adjustments

KPIs are only useful when used over time as a way to measure your progress. If the date you’re expected to be debt-free is getting farther and farther away, it should be obvious that more changes are needed. 

The most important thing you need to understand about financial goal setting is that the speed at which you achieve your goals comes down to the gap between your income and expenses. 

Benjamin Franklin said:

“There are two ways to increase your wealth. Increase your means or decrease your wants. The best is to do both at the same time.”

Saving money, at first, is often a lot easier than earning more. However, saving money comes with diminishing returns. In other words, before long you’re driving across town to save three cents a gallon on gas. 

Making money, on the other hand, is far more scalable. There’s no limit to how much you can make. 

As such, once you make some smart moves to get your spending down , it’s best to shift your effort towards making money.

Final Thoughts On Financial Planning For Non-Millionaires

A 2015 study by Dr. Nathan Hudson and Dr. Chris Fraley found that personality can be changed through goal setting and continuous effort .

A lot of people avoid financial goal setting and planning because they think they’re not good with money — that personal finance, or money in general, is something they’ll just never be good at because of some inherent trait. 

The truth is the opposite. Research shows that through goal setting, and putting in the effort to achieve those goals, you can indeed change how you think about yourself. And that can fundamentally reshape your financial future.

For example, you can change yourself from someone who thinks they’re not good at managing money to a diligent and disciplined saver, a high income earner, or the type of person that retires early. 

You get to choose. It all starts with setting the right goals and putting the right plan in place to see those goals through to completion.

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How to Create a Financial Plan for Your Business

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Home » Blog » How to Create a Financial Plan for Your Business

A wise old Certified Public Accountant gave me some priceless advice when I began my entrepreneurial journey.

“If the math doesn’t work, neither will your business.” 

Upon seeing my blank expression, he explained it a little further.

“A successful business earns more than it spends, and you ensure that happens (within reason) by creating a financial plan that controls every dollar you make.”

How so? I asked.

“Because your financial plan empowers you to control your cash flow, prepare for uncertainties, and take advantage of future opportunities.”

That’s when I knew I needed one.

If so, my step-by-step guide explains how to create a business financial plan that reflects your goals and controls every dollar you make.

What is a financial plan?

At its most basic level, a business financial plan is a document that shows you what money flows in and out of your business, how you earn it, and where you spend it. 

Similar to businesses, no 2 financial plans are the same.

However, a solid financial plan contains several components, including an income statement, cash flow statement, personnel plan, balance sheet, financial projections, and break-even analysis. 

Together, these enable you to control your budget, highlight potential future risks, set goals, calculate your funding requirements, and implement strategies to achieve them. 

While there’s no such thing as a sure thing in life, your financial plan brings your future into your present so that you can control it now.

Why is a financial plan important for a small business?

As you know (or will when you start your business ), entrepreneurs work long hours and make many decisions to ensure their business is on track. A business financial plan helps remove uncertainty from those decisions, replacing it with figures you can rely on and preparing you to take full advantage of investment opportunities when they arise. 

Here’s what Warren Buffet says about opportunities:

“Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.”

Your financial plan ensures you’ve got a bucket!

We also use a financial plan to control our cash flow, forecast our future financial business performance (including our income, expenses, and profitability), and stay within budget. 

Together, these help us maximize our assets, confidently navigate any problems during our entrepreneurial journey, and convince investors to believe in our vision. 

What is the difference between a business financial plan and a personal financial plan?

While most financial plans include the same information, some essential differences exist between business and personal plans because your goals likely differ from those of your SMB.

For example, an individual’s financial plan might include retirement, investment strategies, a minimum annual income to reduce tax liabilities, and securing an estate for their children.

In contrast, a business’s financial plan might focus on hiring additional staff, increasing inventory, bringing new products online, expanding into other markets, and even a new brick-and-mortar location. 

As you can see, the goals differ from one to the other, as might yours. That’s why a financial plan is as unique as the business it serves; however, some elements are vital for every financial business plan! 

The key components of a business financial plan

We now know that a thorough financial plan is imperative to the success and stability of your small business. 

Here are the components that can help make that happen:

  • Income Statement: Contains information on your revenue, profits, and losses.
  • Cash flow statement: Documents how money flows in and out of your business. 
  • Balance sheet: Shows your business assets and expenses at a specific time.
  • Financial projections: This helps predict your future income and expenses.
  • Personnel plan: Identifies if and when you should hire employees.
  • Break-Even Analysis: Confirms when you’ll make a profit.

Okay, now let’s look at how you use them to create yours:

How to Create a Business Financial Plan

To create your business financial plan, you must first collect financial information relevant to the 6 critical components you’ll use for its structure. 

Budding entrepreneurs who have yet to start their businesses might be wondering, `How do I collect information I haven’t got?` 

Good point!

Here’s where your business plan comes into play because it contains a financial section that includes your startup and running costs , financial projections, and break-even analysis. 

And those are 3 of the critical components in your business financial plan!

1. Income statement

An income statement (also known as a pro forma income or profit-and-loss statement) contains information on revenue, profits, losses, and fixed and variable operating expenses over a specific period, such as monthly, quarterly, or yearly.

It includes 2 columns containing your income and expenses and, at the bottom, your net profit or loss total.

Here’s an example of how it should look:

  • Cost of goods sold (COGS) and operating expenses: These are the direct costs of producing your goods or services and the costs for running your business, such as rent, utilities, wages, insurance, licenses, etc.
  • Revenue streams: Usually direct sales or ongoing subscriptions/
  • Total net profit or loss: Subtract your costs (and taxes) from your total gross profit.
  • Net income: Your total income after you subtract your expenses and taxes.

Next comes your cash flow statement, which might initially look like your income statement, but there are distinct differences.

Your income statement calculates your business’s revenues, expenses, and profits and reflects its financial performance. Your cash flow statement shows where you earn and spend your money, which is essential for staying within budget and paying your bills. 

2. Cash flow statement

Most small businesses need regular cash injections to survive.

But did you know that a lack of cash is the number one reason 82% of small US businesses fail? Source: .

So, it’s crucial to control it using a cash flow statement. 

A cash flow statement for established businesses could include bank statements showing credits (profits) and debits (expenditures). Startups with little cash flow information could include their startup and running costs and any funding sources. 

You can create a cash flow statement using two columns, one for your income and the other for your expenditures. 

And add the name, date, and invoice/receipt number to each transaction to make it easy to follow and correlate with your invoices and receipts. Trust me, your bookkeeper will love you for it!

3. Balance sheet

Your balance sheet is a financial snapshot of your business at a specific moment that lets you view your liabilities, assets, equity, and any up-and-coming extra expenses.

You use a balance sheet to subtract your debts (liabilities) from what you own (assets) to show you your net worth, also known as equity.

Let’s break those down so you know what they involve:


Your liabilities are business debts, such as outstanding inventory fees, utility bills, employee wages or compensation, and unpaid taxes.

These fall into 2 categories: current and fixed. 

  • Your current assets can include your business bank balance, available cash, and outstanding invoices, known as accounts receivable.
  • Your fixed assets include tangible things like your business property, equipment, vehicles, or land.

Note: Some businesses also have intangible assets, such as patents and copyrights.

Your business equity is the value of your assets minus your liabilities, which could also include any stock and share options.

4. Financial projections

A financial projection (also called an income projection) forecasts how much money you think might flow in and out of your business over a set period based on past performances or for startups on their business plan’s market research .

Financial projections can help you in several ways, including:

  • Many small businesses need financial projections to identify and prepare for slow sales because of low seasonal demand or a shift in consumer buying trends.
  • Your financial projections help you understand the cash you need to reach your business goals by estimating their costs.
  • Most new businesses need solid (believable) financial projections to get funding, as they help show you can repay your debts.
  • And to help entrepreneurs running a side hustle know when they can take it full-time .

To create your income projection, estimate your future sales income minus your fixed and variable expenses.

5. Personnel plan

Most businesses need the right people to meet their goals and maintain a healthy cash flow.

You use a personnel plan to determine whether to hire employees and if they should be full-time, part-time, freelancers, or contractors on a need-only basis. 

Your personnel plan also calculates employee costs like wages, benefits, worker’s compensation insurance, and payroll taxes to ensure you only hire when you can afford to.

6. Break-even analysis

Your break-even analysis projects when you’ll recoup your investment and earn more than your spending to run your business.

You calculate your break-even date by dividing your variable and fixed costs by your gross profit margin to get a financial figure your business must make to break even.

Need help to determine what your fixed and variable costs are?

No worries:

  • Your fixed costs include expenses that remain the same regardless of how many products or services you sell. These include your rent, insurance policies, license and permit expenses , accounting fees, and wages.
  • Your variable costs fluctuate relative to your sales or production volume.

The takeaway:

Your break-even analysis tells you the number of products or services you must sell to cover your business and production costs. 

Tips on creating an effective financial plan for your business

Preparation is the key to creating a business financial plan, and you prepare by setting goals, assessing present and future credit needs, estimating every business expense, planning for contingencies, and seeking professional financial advice if required. 

And once your plan is in place, regular monitoring helps ensure your business is on its financial target.

Let’s look at how you do it:

Set your financial goals

Your goals are relative to your business. Some examples include forming an LLC , hiring employees, expanding your product range or services, entering a new marketplace, opening a new branch, or trading abroad.

You must define them (regardless of what they are) because your financial plan aims to help you achieve them.

Consider this proverb when choosing your financial business goals:

“The art is not in making money, but making your money work for you.”

And that’s pretty much the secret to how people get rich!

That’s why now is the time to define your goals and create a strategically driven financial business plan that guides every business decision and ensures you maximize your investments.

Speaking of which!

Know your credit needs 

Your business credit needs are any loans you require when starting, running, or expanding your business.

As most small business owners know, the golden rule in running a small business is to minimize your expenditures because the less money you borrow, the higher your profits and the more accurate your business financial plan will be.

But sometimes, we must borrow to exploit market opportunities , buy equipment, or expand, and knowing your credit needs (and score) can help you get the best deals.

Include those little expenses

No income or expense is too small to consider when running a business that relies on a consistent cash flow.

Benjamin Franklin put it this way:

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” 

The problem many new business owners experience is that it’s easy to account for significant expenses (especially fixed costs), but it’s the small, variable everyday ones that can catch us out and scupper our budget. 

To avoid a sinking feeling, evaluate your monthly fixed and variable expenditures and avoid unnecessary, unbudgeted expenses at all costs.

Monitor your goals

Creating your financial plan is your first step, implementing it the second, and monitoring it the third because that’s how you ensure your strategies are achieving your financial goals. 

To monitor your goals, use those key elements of your business financial plan, including your income and cash flow statement, balance sheet, and financial projections, as they provide an up-to-date assessment.

Regular monitoring also helps you identify potential problems and implement any changes before they harm your business’s financial health. 

Plan for contingencies

Planning for problems relative to your niche, like seasonal fluctuations and new competitors, is standard best business practice. But as recent history has taught us, we must also prepare for the unforeseeable!

You can spot worst-case scenarios (like a falling income) by evaluating your business financial plan’s balance sheet and cash flow statement.

Some ways to plan for contingencies are to have a credit line available and cash reserves that can help keep you afloat should the going get rough. 

Consider hiring help 

Many of the most successful business leaders have a shared secret to their success!

They surround themselves with people who know more than they do about every aspect of their business. 

Steve Jobs explains it perfectly:

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Fortunately, financial experts are available to help you create your business financial plan.

Consider hiring a financial advisor to inform you of prudent financial decisions and investments, and your bank manager can help assess your creditworthiness while considering any past problems that could affect present loan applications.

Financial planning FAQs

What is a business financial plan.

An effective business financial plan contains your business goals and outlines your strategies.

It’s a GPS that guides your SMB’s financial activities by ensuring you make informed decisions on how and where to invest your resources. 

How do you write a business financial plan?

Your financial plan begins with a strategic plan that contains your business goals and what you’ll need to achieve them.

Next, you must create your financial projections, plan for contingencies, and monitor to assess your actual results against your projections to adjust if required. 

What are the 6 components of a financial plan?

Financial plans are as unique as the business they serve. However, 6 components you must include are:

  • Cash flow statement: Documents how money flows in and out of your business.
  • Personnel plan: Identifies whether you should hire employees.
  • Break-Even Analysis: Confirms when you'll make a profit.

What is the best financial statement for a small business?

Your income statement best assesses your business’s financial performance, containing your profits, losses, and equity.

Your balance sheet and cash flow statement are also crucial for running a profitable business. 

Entrepreneurs need many skills, and one of the most important is financial intelligence because it ensures we keep our fingers on our businesses’ financial pulse.

Learning how to create a business financial plan is a great way to gain that skill.

And when you control your income and expenditures, you take control of your business’s financial destiny. Sweet.

One last thing to remember when creating a business financial plan.

The numbers never lie!

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.

Terry O'Toole

Terry OToole

Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.

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How to Write a Business Plan: Your Step-by-Step Guide

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So, you’ve got an idea and you want to start a business —great! Before you do anything else, like seek funding or build out a team, you'll need to know how to write a business plan. This plan will serve as the foundation of your company while also giving investors and future employees a clear idea of your purpose.

Below, Lauren Cobello, Founder and CEO of Leverage with Media PR , gives her best advice on how to make a business plan for your company.

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What is a business plan, and when do you need one?

According to Cobello, a business plan is a document that contains the mission of the business and a brief overview of it, as well as the objectives, strategies, and financial plans of the founder. A business plan comes into play very early on in the process of starting a company—more or less before you do anything else.

“You should start a company with a business plan in mind—especially if you plan to get funding for the company,” Cobello says. “You’re going to need it.”

Whether that funding comes from a loan, an investor, or crowdsourcing, a business plan is imperative to secure the capital, says the U.S. Small Business Administration . Anyone who’s considering giving you money is going to want to review your business plan before doing so. That means before you head into any meeting, make sure you have physical copies of your business plan to share.

Different types of business plans

The four main types of business plans are:

Startup Business Plans

Internal business plans, strategic business plans, one-page business plans.

Let's break down each one:

If you're wondering how to write a business plan for a startup, Cobello has advice for you. Startup business plans are the most common type, she says, and they are a critical tool for new business ventures that want funding. A startup is defined as a company that’s in its first stages of operations, founded by an entrepreneur who has a product or service idea.

Most startups begin with very little money, so they need a strong business plan to convince family, friends, banks, and/or venture capitalists to invest in the new company.

Internal business plans “are for internal use only,” says Cobello. This kind of document is not public-facing, only company-facing, and it contains an outline of the company’s business strategy, financial goals and budgets, and performance data.

Internal business plans aren’t used to secure funding, but rather to set goals and get everyone working there tracking towards them.

As the name implies, strategic business plans are geared more towards strategy and they include an assessment of the current business landscape, notes Jérôme Côté, a Business Advisor at BDC Advisory Services .

Unlike a traditional business plan, Cobello adds, strategic plans include a SWOT analysis (which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and an in-depth action plan for the next six to 12 months. Strategic plans are action-based and take into account the state of the company and the industry in which it exists.

Although a typical business plan falls between 15 to 30 pages, some companies opt for the much shorter One-Page Business Plan. A one-page business plan is a simplified version of the larger business plan, and it focuses on the problem your product or service is solving, the solution (your product), and your business model (how you’ll make money).

A one-page plan is hyper-direct and easy to read, making it an effective tool for businesses of all sizes, at any stage.

How to create a business plan in 7 steps

Every business plan is different, and the steps you take to complete yours will depend on what type and format you choose. That said, if you need a place to start and appreciate a roadmap, here’s what Cobello recommends:

1. Conduct your research

Before writing your business plan, you’ll want to do a thorough investigation of what’s out there. Who will be the competitors for your product or service? Who is included in the target market? What industry trends are you capitalizing on, or rebuking? You want to figure out where you sit in the market and what your company’s value propositions are. What makes you different—and better?

2. Define your purpose for the business plan

The purpose of your business plan will determine which kind of plan you choose to create. Are you trying to drum up funding, or get the company employees focused on specific goals? (For the former, you’d want a startup business plan, while an internal plan would satisfy the latter.) Also, consider your audience. An investment firm that sees hundreds of potential business plans a day may prefer to see a one-pager upfront and, if they’re interested, a longer plan later.

3. Write your company description

Every business plan needs a company description—aka a summary of the company’s purpose, what they do/offer, and what makes it unique. Company descriptions should be clear and concise, avoiding the use of jargon, Cobello says. Ideally, descriptions should be a few paragraphs at most.

4. Explain and show how the company will make money

A business plan should be centered around the company’s goals, and it should clearly explain how the company will generate revenue. To do this, Cobello recommends using actual numbers and details, as opposed to just projections.

For instance, if the company is already making money, show how much and at what cost (e.g. what was the net profit). If it hasn’t generated revenue yet, outline the plan for how it will—including what the product/service will cost to produce and how much it will cost the consumer.

5. Outline your marketing strategy

How will you promote the business? Through what channels will you be promoting it? How are you going to reach and appeal to your target market? The more specific and thorough you can be with your plans here, the better, Cobello says.

6. Explain how you’ll spend your funding

What will you do with the money you raise? What are the first steps you plan to take? As a founder, you want to instill confidence in your investors and show them that the instant you receive their money, you’ll be taking smart actions that grow the company.

7. Include supporting documents

Creating a business plan is in some ways akin to building a legal case, but for your business. “You want to tell a story, and to be as thorough as possible, while keeping your plan succinct, clear, interesting, and visually appealing,” Cobello says. “Supporting documents could include financial projects, a competitive analysis of the market you’re entering into, and even any licenses, patents, or permits you’ve secured.”

A business plan is an individualized document—it’s ultimately up to you what information to include and what story you tell. But above all, Cobello says, your business plan should have a clear focus and goal in mind, because everything else will build off this cornerstone.

“Many people don’t realize how important business plans are for the health of their company,” she says. “Set aside time to make this a priority for your business, and make sure to keep it updated as you grow.”

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How to Format a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

  • July 5, 2024

how to format a business plan

So you have every information you need to write a business plan. But uh-oh! You don’t know how to present it. Is there a specific format? Do you need visuals? Is there a font that appeals to readers?

Stop. Don’t hit the panic button yet.

We have all the answers to your formatting needs so your business plan isn’t just a boring text for your readers.

And honestly, an investor goes through a hundred business plans in his life. So, you need to stand out from the crowd and present your business idea well to win their attention.

That’s why we’ve come up with these 10 easy steps on how to format a business plan that will grab readers’ attention. So, let’s start with it and make your business plan clutter-free and crisp as it should be with these tips.

What is business plan formatting?

Business plan formatting refers to the arrangement and presentation of the content within a business plan document to ensure it’s professional, clear, and easy to read. This includes the layout, style, structure of the text, visual elements, and consistent design choices that enhance readability and effectiveness.

How to format a business plan in 10 easy steps

how to format a business plan in 10 easy steps

So, now that we know formatting a business plan is necessary to present your business idea clearly and professionally, let’s see how to do it:

1. Create an engaging executive summary layout

The executive summary is the overview of the whole plan. So, ensure that you’re including everything necessary such as:

  • Vision and mission statement
  • The problem
  • The solution your business is providing
  • Target market
  • Business model
  • Competitive advantage
  • Management team
  • Financial forecasts
  • Funding requirements (if necessary)
  • Call to action

Keep all the executive summary paragraphs small and use bullet points to highlight the important things. Include visuals where necessary.

Most importantly, keep in mind, that the average length of the summary is around 1-2 pages only. Therefore, be wise when using up the space.

It should also be capable of standing alone and independent of the rest of your plan. So, if your audience reads it alone, then they should get the crux of the whole plan.

Also, readers of your executive summary might not have any knowledge about your business. Therefore, it’s crucial to explain everything clearly and simply, ensuring that anyone can understand your executive summary.

2. Keep all the sections to the point

It’s great that after reading the executive summary, your readers are moving ahead to the whole plan.

Though there’s no defined length of a business plan —remember to keep all the sections focused. On average the plan should be 15-30 pages long.

While formatting the plan, do not simply put the information but highlight the necessary points. Use simple language, small paragraphs, and bullet points to enhance readability. Also, try not to repeat things in the different sections.

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how to develop a financial plan for business

3. Use visuals

Including images and charts in your business plan is a wise move. It ensures that a reader stays engaged and all the key information is highlighted.

Text-heavy documents make it harder for readers to remember the content. Research also shows that people tend to remember images and charts better than text alone. Thus, to portray complex information clearly and concisely use visuals.

That said, don’t overdo it. As images take up too much physical space, so plan your document accordingly.

4. Keep the writing style uniform

To create a uniform writing style you need to decide on a tone. It should be professional with a balance of formal and personalized tone.

A consistent tone enhances credibility, making your business appear reliable to potential investors and partners.

Conduct multiple rounds of proofreading and editing before you submit the plan. This way you will be able to correct if there are any inconsistencies or grammatical errors.

5. Customize the plan according to your audience

Not all investors or readers know about the technical terms of your industry. This way you need to customize the plan with the information that’s relevant to the particular reader.

This involves understanding who will be reading the business plan and adjusting the tone, depth of information, and focus areas accordingly. In short, you should portray your business idea efficiently.

For example: If you’re starting a new joint replacement center and your reader is from a commerce background, then he would be interested in knowing the number of surgeons, patients, return on investment, etc, not how exactly you will perform joint replacement surgery.

6. Ensure the logical flow of your plan

A well-structured business plan guides the reader from start to finish in one flow. Your plan should maintain a logical flow that gives the reader information about your business step-by-step.

The plan should start with the executive summary and then move forward with a detailed company description which includes mission, vision, history, and business structure, giving clear information about the business.

Next, include other components like market analysis, marketing and sales strategies, operational plan, and then financial plan. Smartly introduce your target market, expected revenues, funding requirements, and more in the plan.

7. Complete your plan with all the supporting documents

You should back your plan with evidence and supporting documents to build trust amongst your readers.

These documents can be financial forecasts (income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement), budgets, portfolios of key members of the company, and necessary other contracts, permits, or regulations.

Make sure to include only important documents and not make it unnecessarily lengthy which is hard to read.

8. Keep the formatting simple and consistent

Having consistent formatting throughout the whole plan is necessary for readability and professionalism.

Use a clean font such as Arial, Times New Roman, Montserrat, or any other professional font. Set rules for headings and subheadings with bold text or a slightly larger font.

Also, the use of bullet points or numbered lists can make key information stand out and improve the overall readability.

Margins should be uniform on all sides, typically set to one inch, and line spacing should be single or 1.15 lines to keep the text from appearing cramped.

For a professional print format, use high-quality paper, high-resolution printing, consistent margins, and spacing. Opt for durable covers and binding if possible.

Finally, avoid “widows” and “orphans” in the printed document. A “widow” occurs when the last line of a paragraph appears alone at the top of a page, while an “orphan” is a single word left at the bottom of a paragraph.

9. An attractive cover page is a must

The cover page of business plan is going to be the first thing your readers will see. So, it should be simple and elegant. It also sets the tone for the whole business plan.

A cover page should include the company’s name in large font size so that it can be highlighted. Then it should also have the tagline of the business, its logo, date, and contact details.

Use high-quality graphics or subtle design elements to enhance the visual appeal. Stick to a clean layout with balanced spacing, making sure it looks polished and professional.

10. Take feedback and reviews

Trust me, grammatical errors or spelling mistakes can hamper the image of your professional plan. Thus, to overcome it, get your business plan reviewed by other people to get a fresh perspective on your plan.

Sometimes, the writer overlooks basic mistakes that others can detect. So, either go to a friend, relative, or a professional editor and give it the last polishing it needs.

Also, they will figure out if something needs to be added to the plan or if there are any factual errors.

You may have a billion-dollar business idea, but the presentation and formatting of your plan helps you move past the screening stage. You sure you’ll get past?

Don’t worry. Upmetrics can help turn your cluttered and unorganized plan into a compelling and organized one. It’s pretty simple. Get into the Upmetrics editor, import your existing business plan, and start formatting.

Upmetrics’ guided and AI-powered builder helps you easily format and structure your plan with 400+ sample templates to refer to, follow, and use. AI writing assistant is there to help you refine sentences, fix tone, and correct grammar.

Whether it’s about writing a plan from scratch or updating or formatting it, Upmetrics is just the tool. It’s time to let Upmetrics take control and say bye to your formatting troubles. Try Upmetrics today!

Build your Business Plan Faster

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Frequently Asked Questions

What font and size should be used.

For a business plan, use a professional, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. The font size should typically be 11 or 12 points for the main text, with larger sizes (14 to 16 points) for headings and subheadings to ensure clear differentiation and readability.

How should I structure the headings and subheadings in a business plan?

Make headings in business plans with bold and larger fonts (16 points) and use slightly smaller fonts (14 points) for subheadings. Maintain consistent fonts and styles, add whitespace, and align headings for a professional look.

Should I include page numbers in my business plan?

Yes, you should include page numbers in your plan. Page numbers help readers navigate the document easily when they want to jump to some section directly. Typically, page numbers are placed in the footer, aligned to the right, or centered.

Is it necessary to include a table of contents?

Yes, a table of contents helps people see all the sections of the plan at one glance. It also helps people directly jump to a particular section with the help of the page numbers.

About the Author

how to develop a financial plan for business

Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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How to Start a Business in Texas: The Ultimate Guide

By Christine Umayam

how to develop a financial plan for business

They say location is everything, and that rings true when it comes to small business incorporation. Texas is a prime location for starting a small business , with over 3.1 million small businesses making up a whopping 99.8 percent of all Texas businesses. Talk about a booming small business landscape—and one your small business could soon join!

Texas is the second largest economy in the U.S., and remains one of the strongest and most diverse to boot. During the fourth quarter of 2023, the Texas economy grew faster than the nation as a whole for the sixth quarter in a row, and it is valued at more than $2.4 trillion.

Texas is an ideal state for starting a business, due to the small business-friendly tax policies that allow you to keep more of the money you make. 

The already low business tax rate can even drop to zero depending on your revenue, eliminating tax burden in your early years as a business owner. To start a business in Texas, you’ll have to consider relevant regulations, licensing and permits, business structure, and tax responsibilities. You’ll also need to choose a suitable business location, consider zoning regulations, and the needs of customers. 

But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Our guide will lay out all the requirements for starting a small business in Texas and help you prepare for small business ownership.

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Starting a business in Texas: a step by step guide.

Legal details are important, but before you can tackle the paperwork, you should make sure your small business idea is prepared for everything. This includes solidifying your business idea, conducting market research, developing a business plan, and creating a financial roadmap. Then you can consider different business entities and their implications on taxes, control, and legal status in Texas. 

Follow these steps to make sure your small business is ready to get rolling:

Step 1: Solidify your business idea.

Before you can dive head first into business ownership, your business idea should be rock solid. That means understanding the purpose of your business, the types of customers or clients your business will serve, the market needs you will address and provide solutions for, and your profit potential.

A strong business idea should be born from the things you’re passionate about, your skills, and your strengths. But in order for it to bloom into a successful business, it should also be functional, profitable, and stable. Consider these questions when solidifying your business idea:

  • Is there a true demand for this type of business in the market?
  • How will my business idea stand out above competitors in the same space?
  • Will there be room for growth in my business?
  • Will my business idea be flexible and adaptable to changing market trends?
  • Will I be able to turn a profit from this type of business?
  • Will my business be costly or require a lot of overhead?

You’ll also want to register a unique business name with the state and conduct thorough searches to ensure your chosen name is not being used by another business.

Reflect on these questions and your business idea will be all the stronger for it, so when you leap, you’ve got a plan. You’ll also want to consider the type of business you start—if you don’t have a lot of startup capital to work with, you might want to look into starting an online business with fewer opening expenses.

Step 2: Conduct market research.

Market research is how you’ll learn everything you need to know about the industry you’re stepping into. You need these insights to understand the viability, profitability, and growth potential of your business. It will also show you where your potential customers are most active and how you can reach them most effectively.

Staying on trend isn’t just for consumers. Knowing market trends, the digital landscape, and your local community preferences will help your business appeal to your target audience. Consult secondary data like economic reports, census data, and industry studies. Take advantage of reports from the Bureau of Labour Statistics or think tanks like the Pew Research Centre to better understand the landscape in your industry and region.

Primary data comes in the form of surveys, focus groups, and interviews. This gives you feedback from real people in real time, which provides you with a closer perspective on your clientele’s needs and problems. That way, you can easily show them why your business is the solution. Using Surveymonkey or other free feedback tools are a great way to seek more specific information.

When you’re researching your target audience and trying to determine where your customers are, free tools like Google Analytics and Google Trends can reveal useful information about potential customers and clients.

Step 3: Develop a business plan.

Once your idea is locked in, you’ll need to draft up a business plan . A business plan is a detailed document that provides a comprehensive roadmap for your business, including what your business does, how it serves the market, and your overall operational and financial strategy. 

A business plan helps you stay on track as a small business owner, both in the short and long term. Business plans are not one-size-fits-all, but they typically include these sections:

  • mission statement
  • business description
  • list of products and services
  • market analysis
  • financial plan
  • areas of opportunity

Not only does your business plan provide you with a clear foundation, you can present it to investors and partners as evidence of your potential.

Step 4: Create a financial roadmap.

A financial plan is critical to starting your small business. Open a business bank account to separate personal and business finances for tax filing, expense tracking, and protection from liability claims. 

Without one, you might end up biting off more than you can chew, which can lead to unnecessary debt, inability to pay vendors or partners, and other financial frenzies. Here are a few steps to take to hash out your financial plan.

  • Establish a detailed, well-thought-out budget that is realistic and maintainable.
  • Lay out your financial goals and objectives both short term and long term.
  • Create a step-by-step timeline with milestones for achieving those objectives.
  • Determine how you will finance your business —whether through personal funds, small business loans, lines of credit, crowdfunding, or other creative solutions.
  • Project your financial statements for the next five years, including profits and losses, income and expenses, tax responsibilities, and other important financial info.

A well-laid-out financial plan is the key to ensuring your business moves beyond staying afloat and sails smoothly into a bright future.

6 tips to onboard seasonal employees for your small business

Choosing a business structure in Texas.

After taking those first four steps towards small business ownership, the next course of action would be to choose a business structure for your organization. Keep in mind that in Texas, most businesses are subject to a franchise tax , but businesses that make under $2,470,000—known as the no-tax-due threshold—in 2024 and 2025 pay no franchise tax at all.

Your choice of business structure should take into account different taxation laws, liability, and other regulations. Here are the primary options:

  • Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietor is an individual who owns an unincorporated business on their own. In Texas, sole proprietors are not charged franchise tax.
  • Limited liability company (LLC): This business structure has different regulations on a state-by-state basis, but members could include individuals, corporations, and other LLCs. Learning how to start a LLC business in Texas can be useful, because like all personal income in Texas, any gained through the LLC is not taxed.
  • Partnerships: A partnership includes two or more people that contribute property, labor, or money to a business and share in the profits and losses. Most partnerships in Texas are subject to the franchise tax.
  • Corporations: A corporation is considered a separate tax paying entity apart from you as an owner and can take special deductions on tax returns.
  • S Corporations: An S Corp functions like a corporation, but the flow-through of income and losses is sent through to shareholders to help you avoid double taxation on corporate income. This is especially attractive in Texas, where businesses under the no-tax-due threshold are effectively not taxed at all.

It’s always a good idea to consult a business attorney or accountant when deciding how to incorporate in Texas. Your consultant will help you abide by regulations surrounding tax, liability, management, and transferability of ownership. A registered agent is also crucial for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business.

You’ll also want to conduct a Texas business entity search to determine if another business with the same legal entity name already exists. If not, you can then register your business entity and name with the Texas Secretary of State to ensure legal protection and public transparency.

Business registration and licensing requirements.

Knowing how to get a business license in Texas involves understanding all the licensing and permit requirements for the state of Texas. That way, your business can remain compliant and legal. Different types of business licenses and permits are necessary depending on the industry, location, and business structure. 

There is an extensive list of state agencies in Texas that require licenses, permits, certifications, registrations, and other authorizations to operate a business, which can vary based on your specific business and industry. The legal requirements for running an agriculture business are far different than those of advertising businesses, so make sure you find your business category in the state agencies list. 

How Homebase can help you start a small business in Texas.

Learning how to start a business in Texas can be a whirlwind of excitement, but you don’t want to be swept off your feet. Having access to the right tools is critical to being successful both in the startup phase and as your business flourishes.

That’s why Homebase created an all-in-one work management app to support your business as you begin hiring and onboarding your employees. Scheduling and time tracking your team will be a breeze and when it’s time to run payroll , let us take the paperwork off your mind with automated connections to your timesheets. You can even stay connected to your team easily with built-in messaging and communication tools.

Let Homebase take some of the stress off your shoulders and allow you to focus on building your business. Give Homebase a try for free today !

Remember:  This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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Seven steps to consider when thinking about chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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Stephen Nalley is the Founder & CEO of Black Briar Advisors .

Leaders should always be prepared to navigate the potential complexities of financial distress. As a final recourse, Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be a lifeline for companies facing insurmountable debts, allowing them to reorganize and emerge stronger .

However, filing for Chapter 11 is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and planning. Here are the seven essential steps to consider when contemplating Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

1. Assess your financial health.

It is important to conduct a thorough assessment of your company's financial health. This involves a detailed review of your assets, liabilities, cash flow and profitability.

For example, consider a luxury resort chain facing declining revenues due to a downturn in tourism. Before considering Chapter 11, the leadership team should conduct a comprehensive financial analysis to understand the extent of their financial difficulties. This assessment might then reveal significant short-term liabilities and a need for restructuring.

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I recommend that you use tools like financial statement analysis, cash flow analysis and profitability ratios to assess your financial health. Key indicators include current and quick ratios for liquidity, debt-to-equity for leverage and EBITDA for profitability. Focus on assets versus liabilities to gauge solvency and cash flow statements to ensure ongoing operational viability.

2. Consult with legal and financial advisors.

You should seek advice from experienced legal and financial advisors who specialize in bankruptcy and corporate restructuring. Their expertise is crucial in navigating the complexities of Chapter 11 and ensuring that you understand the legal requirements, potential risks, and benefits of Chapter 11.

When selecting legal and financial advisors, consider their experience in handling Chapter 11 cases, track record of successful restructurings and industry knowledge. Key questions to ask potential advisors include:

• What is your experience with Chapter 11 bankruptcy and corporate restructuring?

• Can you provide case studies or references from similar companies you've assisted?

• How do you approach developing a reorganization plan?

Consulting with the right advisors helps ensure a well-informed and strategic approach to navigating Chapter 11, ultimately increasing the chances of a successful restructuring.

3. Develop a reorganization plan.

Leaders should always develop a detailed reorganization plan that outlines how the company will address its financial challenges and return to profitability. Make sure your plan includes reducing operational costs, renegotiating supplier contracts, and selling non-core assets. The plan can also focus on enhancing marketing efforts.

Overall, a well-crafted reorganization plan demonstrates to creditors and the court that the company has a viable path to recovery, increasing the chances of a successful restructuring.

To avoid common pitfalls, ensure your reorganization plan is based on accurate and realistic financial projections. Watch out for overly optimistic revenue forecasts and ensure that your cost-cutting measures are practical and sustainable. You can engage stakeholders early in the process to gain their support and input. Lastly, regularly review and adjust the plan based on actual performance and changing circumstances.

4. Communicate with your stakeholders.

It is important to maintain open and transparent communication with all stakeholders, including employees, creditors, investors and customers. Keeping stakeholders informed helps build trust and support for the reorganization efforts.

I recommend that you hold regular meetings with stakeholders to explain the reasons for considering Chapter 11 and how your reorganization plan would benefit all parties. This transparency can help mitigate concerns and foster a collaborative environment. When stakeholders are aware of the company’s situation, they are more likely to support the reorganization process.

5. File for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Once the decision to file for Chapter 11 is made, you should prepare and submit the necessary paperwork to the bankruptcy court. This includes filing a petition, schedules of assets and liabilities and a statement of financial affairs.

The filing will initiate an automatic stay, which halts all collection activities and provides your company with breathing room to implement its reorganization plan. This immediate relief from creditor actions allows you to focus on restructuring and recovery.

6. Negotiate with creditors.

Leaders should always engage in negotiations with creditors, including banks and bondholders, to gain their support for the reorganization plan. Successful negotiations can lead to favorable terms that facilitate the company's recovery.

Effective negotiation tactics include:

• Transparency : Provide clear, honest and comprehensive information about your company's financial situation and the necessity of the reorganization plan.

• Common ground : Identify mutual interests and emphasize how the reorganization plan benefits both the company and the creditors in the long run.

• Concessions : Be prepared to offer concessions, such as equity stakes or improved terms to gain creditor support.

Overall, I've found that creditor support is essential for the approval of a reorganization plan by the bankruptcy court. On top of this, successful negotiations can significantly improve your company’s financial position.

7. Implement and monitor the reorganization plan.

You should diligently implement the reorganization plan and continuously monitor progress to ensure its success. This involves executing cost-cutting measures, improving operational efficiency, and achieving revenue targets. Continue to look into cutting unnecessary expenses, optimizing your workforce, and launching new marketing campaigns. Regularly monitor key performance indicators to track progress and make adjustments as needed.

The most important metrics to monitor include:

• Cash flow : Ensuring sufficient liquidity to meet operational needs and debt obligations.

• Revenue growth : Tracking sales and revenue increases to measure the effectiveness of marketing and sales strategies.

• Profit margins : Monitoring gross and net profit margins to ensure cost-cutting measures are improving profitability.

• Operating expenses : Keeping an eye on fixed and variable costs to ensure expenses are being managed effectively.

By focusing on these metrics, leaders can gauge the success of their reorganization plan and make necessary adjustments to stay on track toward recovery and profitability.

Considering Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a complex and challenging process, but it can offer a path to recovery for companies facing financial distress. By following steps like assessing your financial health, consulting with advisors and negotiating with creditors, I believe you can be better prepared and navigate the bankruptcy process successfully.

The information provided here is not investment, tax, or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

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Developing a finance plan

Webinar for nsw businesses.

This webinar provides small business owners with the skills and knowledge required to complete a basic financial plan to be included within a business plan. It is targeted at business owners who would like to better understand key financial plans and how to use the information in their business plans. In this webinar, we will be focusing on:

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  • Date: Wed 21 Aug 2024
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  • Best Online Advisor for Low Fees 
  • Best Online Advisor for Diversified Investing
  • Best Online Advisor for 529 Plans
  • Best Online Advisor for Financial Planning and Personal Development
  • Best Online Advisor for Retirement Saving
  • Why You Should Trust Us

Best Online Financial Advisors 2024: Find the Right Fit for Your Needs

Paid non-client promotion: Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate investing products to write unbiased product reviews.

What Are Online Financial Advisors?

A financial advisor is a catch-all term that includes financial planners and investment advisors. Most online advisors offer investment management — whether it's carried out by a human or a sophisticated computer algorithm — and financial planning services or tools.

Types of Online Advisors

The main types of online financial advisors are: 

  • Robo-Advisors: Automated investment platforms (aka robo-advisors) use algorithms to generate a custom investment portfolio based on an individual's risk tolerance, goals, and time horizon. Robo-advisors typically offer low-cost ETFs as a cost-effective way to instantly diversify an investor's asset allocation and mitigate risk. 
  • Human Advisors (Virtual): Financial advisors that offer personalized financial planning and investment advice online through virtual meetings, email, and other virtual communication channels. 
  • Hybrid Models: Some online brokerages offer hybrid financial advice, combining automated investment advice and management through a robo-advisor and one-on-one consultation from a human advisor. 

Benefits of Using Online Financial Advisors

Online financial advisors allow you to ditch the in-person hassle and access expert financial guidance from your phone or home computer. Online financial advisors leverage investment technology and generally low-cost compared to traditional in-person consultants.  

Not only does it make investing more affordable for many individuals, but clients can more easily adjust and monitor their investments on their own time. Robo-advisor and hybrid online advisors typically offer online dashboards and tools for convenient managing and monitoring. 

Compare the Top Online Financial Advisors 2024

For this list, we didn't consider online advisors that match clients and advisors for comprehensive financial  planning services, such as Zoe Financial or Facet Wealth . Instead, we focused on tech-driven firms where you can access an automated and personalized portfolio and consult a professional for advice when needed.

Here are our top picks for the best online financial advisors as picked by Business Insider editors in 2024.

SoFi Automated: Best Online Advisor for Low Fees 

SoFi SoFi Automated Investing

SoFi Automated Investing supports individual investment accounts, joint accounts, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and 401(k) rollovers.

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. No account minimum or management fees to invest
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Goal planning and automatic portfolio rebalancing
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Range of other account options across SoFi website
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. SoFi offers complimentary CFP access across all accounts
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No tax-loss harvesting
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No socially responsible portfolio options

SoFi Invest is one of the best investment apps and the best investment apps for beginners. It's a great platform for US investors who are looking for an intuitive online trading experience, an open active or automated investing account, and assets like cryptocurrencies.

  • Promotion: None at this time.
  • Consider it if: You're new to investing and want to leave the trading decisions to professionals.

SoFi Automated Investing offers individual and joint taxable brokerage accounts , traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and SEP IRA.

SoFi stands out for its lack of advisory fees, free one-on-one consultations with CFPs, portfolio diversity, and goal-planning features. SoFi builds a personalized investment portfolio based on your risk tolerance, goals, and time horizon. Additional SoFi membership perks include loan discounts and career counseling. 

What to look out for: SoFi doesn't have tax-loss harvesting features and limited portfolio diversity. 

SoFi Invest review

Betterment: Best Online Advisor for Diversified Investing

Betterment Betterment Investing

Betterment offers individual or joint accounts, IRAs, trust accounts, and cash reserve or checking accounts.

$0 to open, $10 to start investing ($100,000 for premium plan)

$4 per month (or 0.25%/year) for digital plan; 0.40%/ year for premium plan; 1%/year for crypto portfolios

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. No minimum for standard investing account
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Goal-based planning, tax-loss harvesting, charitable giving, and socially responsible investing available
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Access to certified financial planners
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Mobile app with external account syncing options
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. You'll have to pay to consult a human advisor, unless you have the premium plan
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. $4 monthly fee (or 0.25% annual fee)

Betterment is best for hands-off investors who want to take advantage of professionally built, personalized ETF and cryptocurrency portfolios. The platform offers CFP access, so it could suit those in search of additional guidance from human advisors.

  • App store rating: 4.7 iOS/4.5 Android
  • Consider it if: You want access to robo-advice with multiple service levels.

Betterment Investing offers individual and joint taxable brokerage, traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, inherited IRA, and trust.

What stands out:  Betterment is a robust trading platform offering premium plans with unlimited access to CFPs through phone or email. Investors can use the platform's goal-setting feature, ESG investing, automatic rebalancing, and easy-to-use financial dashboard. 

What to look out for:  Accounts with a $100,000 balance can upgrade to get advisor access, but the annual fee increases from 0.25% (an industry low) to 0.40%

Betterment review

Wealthfront: Best Online Advisor for 529 Plans

Wealthfront Wealthfront Investing

Fund your first taxable investment account with at least $500 in the first 30 days of account opening and earn a $50 bonus.

$1 ($500 for automated investing)

$0 for stock trades. 0.25% for automated investing (0.06% to 0.13% for fund fees)

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Low annual fee for investment accounts; crypto trust investments available
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Tax-loss harvesting, portfolio lines of credit, 529 college savings plans available
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Cash account
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Mobile app and investing and retirement tools
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. You need at least $100,000 to utilize additional investment strategies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No human advisor access

Wealthfront is one of the best robo-advisor options if you're in search of low-cost automated portfolio management, and one of the best socially responsible investing apps for features like tax-loss harvesting, US direct indexing, and crypto trusts.

  • Consider it if: You're balancing several goals and want to streamline your finances.
  • Promotion: Fund your first taxable investment account with at least $500 in the first 30 days of account opening and earn a $50 bonus.

Wealthfront Investing offers individual and joint taxable brokerage, traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, trust, and 529 savings plan .

Wealthfront is one of the best online financial advisors for college education savings and cryptocurrency trusts. You can borrow up to 30% of your investment balance at a low interest rate with a portfolio line of credit. Wealthfront also offers personalized recommendations with smart financial planning software. 

What to look out for:  On-staff financial advisors don't offer personalized advice

Wealthfront review

Ellevest: Best Online Advisor for Financial Planning and Personal Development

Ellevest Ellevest

Ellevest offers two investing portfolios to fit your needs.

$1 - $240 (varies by portfolio)

$54 - $97 annually; $5 or $9/month

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Personalized, automated investment advice with a $0 minimum requirement
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Monthly plans include discounted access to certified financial planners
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Automated IRA accounts and 401(k)/403(b) rollovers available
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Private wealth management for individuals, families, and institutions who have at least $1 million to invest
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No active trading opportunities available; money is mainly invested in stock ETFs and bond ETFs
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. You can only open individual investment accounts and retirement accounts; joint accounts or custodial accounts not available

Ellevest is one of the best robo-advisors for goal-focused investing. It could be a good fit if you want automated investing and retirement accounts.

  • Consider it if: You're looking for a one-stop shop for financial planning.

Ellevest offers individual taxable brokerage, traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and SEP IRA (all held at Folio Investments).

Ellevest is a comprehensive financial advisor and trading platform built around women's unique needs and challenges. Investors get access to an extensive library of content and advisor-led workshops. Additionally, Ellevest offers a socially responsible investment portfolio and monthly progress reports. 

What to look out for:  Financial coaching costs extra (but members get 30%- 50% off). Access to retirement account management requires an upgrade.

Ellevest review

Ameriprise Financial Investments: Best Online Advisor for Retirement Saving

Ameriprise Financial Services Ameriprise Financial Investments

Ameriprise Financial Services has been operating for 130 years Ameriprise Financial Services is licensed in all 50 states but only has 10 physical locations throughout the US; it's currently headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Varies by account

$500 annual advisory fee, 2% AUM

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Access to personal finance research and investment tools
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Fiduciary financial advisor access
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Various account and investment options
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. High account minimums
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Difficult to navigate website
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Complex fee structure

Ameriprise Financial Services is a brokerage and financial advisory firm best for experienced, passive investors interested in using the site's financial planning services, wealth management tools, and fiduciary advisor access.

Ameriprise Financial Investments offers three managed account options that can be opened as an individual brokerage account, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Simple IRAs, SEP IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 529 plans, and Coverdell education savings accounts (CESA). 

Ameriprise Financial Investments is one of the largest registered investment advisors in the US and is best for experienced investors looking for advanced charting and investing features. You'll get access to fiduciary financial advisors for consultations or account management. 

What to look out for: Ameriprise 's managed account fees are high, and it has a complex fee structure. 

Ameriprise Financial Services review

How Much Do Online Financial Advisors Cost?

Financial advisors providing financial advice often charge by the hour, typically between $100 to $300. Advisors creating a comprehensive financial plan tend to charge a flat rate between $1,000 and $3,000. 

If you hire an advisor to manage your investment portfolio, you'll be charged a percentage of your account balance, typically between 1% and 3% annually. In comparison, that's much higher than the fees that the best robo-advisors charge; you get the added benefit of building a relationship with a trusted source who can adjust your strategy as needed, provide personal recommendations, and answer questions when they arise.

How to Choose the Best Online Financial Advisors

The best online financial advisor for you depends on your goals, risk tolerance, investments, and time horizon. If you're a new investor interested in passive investing, an online robo-advisor is likely a good place to start. On the other hand, if you're looking for professional insight and a customized financial plan, you're better off with access to a human advisor through phone or video calls. 

You can also meet with an expert in person for financial guidance. So if you prefer to meet face-to-face, here are some tools to find some in your area:

  • This is a database of all CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals who are authorized to use their CFP® marks by the CFP® Board and are accepting new clients.
  • Using the advanced search function, you can choose from over 40 focus areas you're looking to get help with and include your current amount of investable assets.
  • Click here to visit the CFP Board website .
  • This database helps connect young professionals — those in generations X and Y (millennials) — with individual advisors.
  • Every advisor holds the CFP® certification, is a fiduciary , does not require a minimum net worth to take on new clients, and does not earn commissions.
  • Click here to visit XY Planning Network .
  • This platform maintains a database of fee-only financial advisors, not specifically CFP® certificates, who commit to a fiduciary oath once a year. 
  • You can filter by location to see a list of advisory firms in your area.
  • Click here to visit the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors website .

Online financial advisors are generally trustworthy. The best advisors follow the fiduciary rule, meaning they operate in their clients' best interest and are fee-only. This means client fees are their only compensation, and they don't earn a commission when they invest in certain funds or buy financial products.

Not everyone needs a robo-advisor, but beginners or passive investors looking for a hands-off approach to stock trading may prefer how cost-effective and convenient robo-advisors are. Affordable financial advisors can be hard to come by, so robo-advisors are a great alternative for many people. However, a financial advisor may be better if you need specific advice on your finances or investment strategy or if you're too overwhelmed or confused by your money to plan for retirement or invest in the stock market. 

The cost of an online financial advisor varies from platform to platform and advisor to advisor. The cost largely depends on the services, licensing, account balance, and complexity. Robo-advisors typically charge lower fees than human advisors. 

Why You Should Trust Us: Our Methodology

We Reviewed the best online financial advisors using Business Insider's methodology for rating investment platforms . We compared a long list of Registered Investment advisors (RIAs), considering fees, investment selection, access, ethics, and customer service. The best online advisors have top marks in all five categories. Investment platforms are given a rating between 0 and 5.

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Development co-operation

The OECD designs international standards and guidelines for development co-operation, based on best practices, and monitors their implementation by its members. It works closely with member and partner countries, and other stakeholders (such as the United Nations and other multilateral entities) to help them implement their development commitments. It also invites developing country governments to take an active part in policy dialogue.

  • Development Co-operation Report
  • Official development assistance (ODA)

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Key messages, charting development co-operation trends and challenges.

The OECD keeps track of key trends and challenges for development co-operation providers and offers practical guidance. It draws from the knowledge and experience of Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members and partners, as well as from independent expertise, with the ultimate goal of advancing reforms in the sector, and achieving impact. Using data, evidence, and peer learning, this work is captured in publications and online tools that are made publicly available.

Making development co-operation more effective and impactful

The OECD works with governments, civil society organisations, multilateral organisations, and others to improve the quality of development co-operation. Through peer reviews and evaluations, it periodically assesses aid programmes and co-operation policies, and offers recommendations to improve their efficiency. The OECD also brings together multiple stakeholders to share good and innovative practices and discuss progress.

Strengthening development co-operation evaluation practices and systems

The OECD helps development co-operation providers evaluate their actions both to better learn from experience and to improve transparency and accountability. Innovative approaches, such as using smart and big data, digital technology and remote sensing, help gather evidence and inform policy decisions. With in-depth analysis and guidance, the Organisation helps providers manage for results by building multi-stakeholder partnerships and adapting to changing contexts and crisis situations. 

Civil society engagement in development co-operation

National and international civil society organisations (CSOs) are key partners in monitoring development co-operation policies and programmes. Development co-operation can also be channelled to or through CSOs: 

Aid is characterized as going to CSOs when it is in the form of core contributions and contributions to programmes, with the funds programmed by the CSOs. 

Aid is characterized as going through CSOs when funds are channeled through these organisations to implement donor-initiated projects. This is also known as earmarked funding.

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  1. How to Create a Financial Plan in 5 Simple Steps

    how to develop a financial plan for business

  2. Financial Planning for Business Owners

    how to develop a financial plan for business

  3. How to Write a Financial Plan for Your Business Plan in 2024

    how to develop a financial plan for business

  4. Financial Planning

    how to develop a financial plan for business

  5. 8 Steps To Create A Successful Business Plan Visually

    how to develop a financial plan for business

  6. How to Create a Financial Plan?

    how to develop a financial plan for business


  1. Entrepreneurial Immersion: Vision, Growth, Success! #entrepreneurship #business

  2. Business Plan-The Importance of the Financial Statement of Cash Flows

  3. How to Write Financial plan and Projection in Your Business Plan

  4. Business Plans

  5. What is financial planning and why should I create a plan?

  6. Business Plan How to Create a Comprehensive Financial Plan #shorts


  1. How to Prepare a Financial Plan for Startup Business (w/ example)

    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.

  2. 4 Steps to Creating a Financial Plan for Your Small Business

    Writing a small business financial plan is a four-step process. It begins with creating a strategic plan, which covers the company's goals and what it needs to achieve them. The next step is to create financial projections, which are dependent on anticipating sales and expenses.

  3. Guide to Writing a Financial Plan for a Business

    The financial plan section of a business plan is a look into the future of the business and its ability to generate profits, pay its bills and create wealth. Its main documents are income statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets. There may be several versions of these, each demonstrating the likely effects of various scenarios. ...

  4. How to Write a Financial Plan: Budget and Forecasts

    Here is everything you need to include in your financial plan, along with optional performance metrics, funding specifics, mistakes to avoid, 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:

  5. Creating a Small Business Financial Plan

    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 ...

  6. Small Business Financial Plans

    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. Financial plans can aid in business goal setting and metrics tracking, as well as provide proof of profitable ...

  7. How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan

    Use the numbers that you put in your sales forecast, expense projections, and cash flow statement. "Sales, lest cost of sales, is gross margin," Berry says. "Gross margin, less expenses, interest ...

  8. How to Financially Plan for Your Business

    Financial planning & cash flow projection for your company. Start your quote. Or call 1-888-490-1549. "Businesses that don't plan thoroughly are more likely to struggle." This axiom is particularly true when it comes to financial planning. Financial planning analyzes current and future costs and income to help determine the best plan of action.

  9. How to Create a Small Business Financial Plan (w/ Example)

    Create a list of your existing business assets, liabilities, and equity. Make sure to include any cash you have on hand, including money from investors, as well as a list of any debts you have incurred. Think about your strategic goals and what you hope to achieve.

  10. Creating a Financial Plan for Your Small Business: A How-to Guide

    4. Calculate financial ratios. You can calculate ratios (such as net profit margin, quick ratio, and inventory turnover) to help you analyse the forecasted performance. Select a few of the most relevant ones for your industry. 5. Create a summary. Build a few charts and tables to summarise the key outputs of your model.

  11. 6 Elements of a Successful Financial Plan for a Small Business

    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.

  12. The Essential Guide To Navigating Financial Planning For Small Business

    1. Developing a Budget. An accurate budget is the cornerstone of successful small business financial planning. By keeping a close eye on your profits and spending, you can create a reliable roadmap for your business. Start by gathering all your financial statements, including bank statements, income and expenses.

  13. 6 steps to create your company's financial plan

    Here are six steps to create your financial plan. 1. Review your strategic plan. Financial planning should start with your company's strategic plan. You should think about what you want to accomplish at the start of a new year and ask yourself a series of questions:

  14. How to Complete the Financial Plan Section of Your Business Plan

    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 ...

  15. Business Financial Plan Example: Strategies and Best Practices

    Developing a business financial plan requires careful analysis and planning. Here are the steps involved: Step 1: Set Clear Financial Goals. The initial stage in crafting a robust business financial plan involves the establishment of clear, measurable financial goals. These objectives serve as your business's financial targets and compass ...

  16. How To Create A Financial Plan for a New Business

    When you start a new business, your success depends on how you handle your money. With a clear and realistic financial plan, you can prepare for the long run with strong spending decisions and earning predictions. Your financial plan helps you develop your business's money goals and expectations. It's crucial in making your money work for you.

  17. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  18. How To Create Financial Projections for Your Business

    Read on to learn more about financial projections, how to compile and use them in a business plan, and why they can be crucial for every business owner. Key Takeaways Financial forecasting is a projection of your business's future revenues and expenses based on comparative data analysis, industry research, and more.

  19. How to create a financial plan for your business

    Planning is an essential part of operating a business, but a business plan isn't the only roadmap you need. Cortlon Cofield, CPA and owner of Cofield Advisors, a small business financial planning service, said, "Having a well thought out financial plan for your business is the blueprint to success.". Bradford Daniel Creger, chief economist and lead wealth strategist at TFR Group, a ...

  20. How to Make a Financial Plan In 7 Steps (Free Template)

    Step #2: Create a Net Worth Statement. A net worth statement, also known as a balance sheet or a personal finance statement, is a summary that shows you the value of what you own (assets) minus what you owe (liabilities). Measuring progress is easier when a simple metric (such as net worth) tells you how you're doing.

  21. How to Create a Financial Plan for Your Business

    The key components of a business financial plan. We now know that a thorough financial plan is imperative to the success and stability of your small business. Here are the components that can help make that happen: Income Statement: Contains information on your revenue, profits, and losses. Cash flow statement: Documents how money flows in and ...

  22. 16 Tips For Creating A Personal Or Business Financial Plan For The

    1. Build A Budget Based On Essentials. The first thing I recommend is to calculate your base income per month and immediately deduct 25% to establish a net income. Then, build a budget based on ...

  23. 12 Steps To Creating A Solid Financial Plan For Yourself

    1. Establish a routine. Allocate some time each week or, at minimum, once a month, unfailingly, to do a financial checkup. Make it a coffee date with yourself, or put on some nice music, grab a warm cup of tea at home, and spend some time checking in on things.

  24. How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide

    2. Define your purpose for the business plan. The purpose of your business plan will determine which kind of plan you choose to create. Are you trying to drum up funding, or get the company employees focused on specific goals? (For the former, you'd want a startup business plan, while an internal plan would satisfy the latter.)

  25. How to Perfectly Format a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

    2. Keep all the sections to the point. It's great that after reading the executive summary, your readers are moving ahead to the whole plan. Though there's no defined length of a business plan—remember to keep all the sections focused. On average the plan should be 15-30 pages long.

  26. How to Start a Business in Texas: The Ultimate Guide

    Step 3: Develop a business plan. Once your idea is locked in, you'll need to draft up a business plan. A business plan is a detailed document that provides a comprehensive roadmap for your business, including what your business does, how it serves the market, and your overall operational and financial strategy.

  27. Seven Steps To Consider When Thinking About Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

    Develop a reorganization plan. Leaders should always develop a detailed reorganization plan that outlines how the company will address its financial challenges and return to profitability.

  28. Developing a finance plan

    This webinar provides small business owners with the skills and knowledge required to complete a basic financial plan to be included within a business plan. It is targeted at business owners who would like to better understand key financial plans and how to use the information in their business plans. In this webinar, we will be focusing on ...

  29. Top Online Financial Advisors 2024: Reviews & Comparisons

    Here are our top picks for the best online financial advisors as picked by Business Insider editors in 2024. ... Ellevest: Best Online Advisor for Financial Planning and Personal Development.

  30. Development co-operation

    The OECD designs international standards and guidelines for development co-operation, based on best practices, and monitors their implementation by its members. It works closely with member and partner countries, and other stakeholders (such as the United Nations and other multilateral entities) to help them implement their development commitments. It also invites developing country ...