# Financial Model - definition & overview

Contents
A Financial Model is a mathematical model projecting future financial performance based on assumptions, forecasts and business logic to quantify potential outcomes and support decision-making.

A financial model is a critical tool for any small business owner. It is a representation, often mathematical, of the financial performance of a business, project, or investment. It is a compass that guides businesses through the complex world of finance, helping them make informed decisions and plan for the future. A well-constructed financial model can be the difference between success and failure, between growth and stagnation.

Financial models are used for a variety of purposes. They can be used to forecast future revenues and expenses, to evaluate potential investments, to assess the financial feasibility of a new project, or to determine the value of a business. They can also be used to analyse the impact of different scenarios on the financial performance of a business, helping business owners to prepare for different eventualities.

## Components of a Financial Model

A financial model typically consists of several components, each representing a different aspect of the business's financial performance. These components are interconnected, with changes in one component often affecting others. Understanding these components and how they interact is crucial to building and interpreting financial models.

The key components of a financial model are the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. Each of these provides a different perspective on the financial health of the business, and together they provide a comprehensive picture of the business's financial performance.

### Income Statement

The income statement, also known as the profit and loss statement, shows the revenues, costs, and expenses of a business over a specific period. It provides information about the profitability of the business, showing whether it is making a profit or a loss. The income statement is a critical component of a financial model, as it provides the basis for many of the other calculations in the model.

Revenues are the income that a business earns from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. Costs and expenses are the money that the business spends in order to generate those revenues. The difference between revenues and costs and expenses is the net income or net loss of the business.

### Balance Sheet

The balance sheet shows the assets, liabilities, and equity of a business at a specific point in time. It provides information about the financial position of the business, showing what it owns (assets), what it owes (liabilities), and the residual interest of the owners (equity).

Assets are resources that a business owns and can use to generate revenues. Liabilities are obligations that a business has to pay in the future. Equity is the difference between assets and liabilities, representing the residual interest of the owners in the business.

### Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement shows the inflows and outflows of cash in a business over a specific period. It provides information about the liquidity of the business, showing whether it has enough cash to meet its short-term obligations. The cash flow statement is a critical component of a financial model, as it provides information about the cash generating ability of the business.

Cash inflows are the money that a business receives, either from its normal business activities (operating activities), from investing activities (such as the sale of assets), or from financing activities (such as borrowing money or issuing shares). Cash outflows are the money that a business spends, either on its normal business activities (operating activities), on investing activities (such as the purchase of assets), or on financing activities (such as repaying loans or distributing dividends).

## Building a Financial Model

Building a financial model requires a deep understanding of the business and its financial performance. It involves making assumptions about the future, based on historical data and market trends, and then using those assumptions to project future revenues, costs, and cash flows.

The first step in building a financial model is to gather historical financial data for the business. This data is used to understand the historical performance of the business and to identify trends that may continue into the future. The historical data is also used to validate the model, by comparing the model's projections with the actual results.

### Assumptions

The next step in building a financial model is to make assumptions about the future. These assumptions are based on the historical data, market trends, and the business owner's knowledge and expectations of the business. The assumptions are used to project future revenues, costs, and cash flows.

The assumptions should be realistic and conservative, to avoid overestimating the future performance of the business. They should also be clearly documented, so that they can be reviewed and updated as necessary.

### Projections

Once the assumptions have been made, they are used to project future revenues, costs, and cash flows. These projections are the heart of the financial model, providing a forecast of the future financial performance of the business.

The projections should be detailed and comprehensive, covering all aspects of the business's financial performance. They should also be flexible, allowing for changes in the assumptions and for the analysis of different scenarios.

## Using a Financial Model

A financial model is a powerful tool for decision making. It provides a forecast of the future financial performance of the business, helping business owners to make informed decisions and plan for the future.

Financial models can be used for a variety of purposes. They can be used to evaluate potential investments, to assess the financial feasibility of a new project, to determine the value of a business, or to analyse the impact of different scenarios on the financial performance of the business.

### Evaluating Investments

Financial models can be used to evaluate potential investments, by comparing the expected return on the investment with the cost of the investment. This can help business owners to decide whether to proceed with the investment or to look for other opportunities.

The expected return on the investment is calculated by projecting the future cash flows from the investment and then discounting them back to their present value. The cost of the investment is the money that the business has to spend in order to make the investment.

### Assessing Projects

Financial models can be used to assess the financial feasibility of a new project, by comparing the expected return on the project with the cost of the project. This can help business owners to decide whether to proceed with the project or to look for other opportunities.

The expected return on the project is calculated by projecting the future cash flows from the project and then discounting them back to their present value. The cost of the project is the money that the business has to spend in order to undertake the project.

## Limitations of a Financial Model

While a financial model is a powerful tool, it is not without its limitations. It is only as good as the assumptions that underpin it, and it cannot predict the future with certainty. It is also a simplification of reality, and it may not capture all of the complexities of the business and its environment.

Despite these limitations, a financial model is a valuable tool for any small business owner. It provides a framework for thinking about the financial performance of the business, and it helps to inform decision making and planning. It is a compass that guides businesses through the complex world of finance, helping them to navigate towards success.

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