The Numbers You Need for an Investment Pitch

Thomas Taylor - Sunday, August 21, 2016

I’ve seen hundreds of business plans, pitches and IMs in my time and there is no doubt that it’s a bit of an art.

One of the things I’ve found from spending time with start-ups is that often, when they're putting plans together, they try to get the assumptions about all the details of the business and the financial minutiae on the one huge, multi-colour, multi-tab, spreadsheet. Then attach it to the business plan as pages and pages of rainbow coloured detail thinking that they need to "show their workings" for all things.

The chances are high that this will simply frustrate anyone who is trying to understand the logic. If someone is serious they will ask for the detail as a next step. In fact, it's a way to tell if they are interested.

I think that the best way to present your numbers is to put together one page of the main business drivers and KPIs that clearly show the most important assumptions.

Then, separately, show highly summarised financials that follow established formats for financial reports. Ideally, each financial report should contain no more than ten lines of data, they should certainly be no more than one page each.

The best I've seen have a graph across the top of the page and the numbers underneath.
The reports should normally be:

1) P&L forecast, by year, for 4 or 5 years

2) Cash flow forecast, by year, for 4 or 5 years

3) Balance sheet forecast, by year, for 4 or 5 years

4) Cash flow forecast, by month, for the first year

It goes with saying that the reports should all reconcile.

Of course, it's difficult to predict the future but the very process of putting your numbers into this type of simplified format will help you to see what your idea might look like from someone else's point of view.


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