Business plans have several sections and way at the end is the financial plan with the income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet. Don’t let that lull you into a sense of complacency though because the placement of the financial statements is not reflective of the importance. The statements can be thought of as a mirror reflecting the written descriptions that came earlier in the business plan. That means the investor should not find too many surprises in the way of numbers that don’t support or match the marketing strategies, operational plan or competitive analysis.
In other words, the business plan financial statements shouldn’t remind anyone of Alice in Wonderland. She steps through a mirror and finds an alternate world that doesn’t make any sense. The alternate world is upside down, confusing and leaves Alice in a constant state of puzzlement. A funder reading your business plan financial statements shouldn’t wonder how you got from your marketing plan to the cash flow projections or how you made the leap from expansion plans to the liabilities on the balance sheet.
The financial statements need to present an accurate picture of the proposal. If it’s a startup, the projections should be reasonable. If it’s an ongoing business ready for expansion, the financial statements must be historically accurate and prepared according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and projections should once again support the business plan proposal.
You won’t find GAAP in the looking glass alternate world. In the alternate world, business plan preparers make up numbers not supported by the facts, overstate revenues and profits, understate liabilities and make cash flow projections that are clearly pie-in-the-sky. Potential funders recognize financial statements that are overstated, optimistic and unreasonable.
As you prepare the financial statements, just remember this: Don’t be Alice!
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