Understanding Financial Models and How to Create Them


A financial model is a model that is used to project a company's financial performance, including revenue, cash flows, profits, and other financial items. Financial models come in various forms, ranging from simple spreadsheets to sophisticated simulation models.

Financial models can be beneficial for business owners for many reasons. For instance, a financial model can help a business to determine its financial future and make strategic decisions to reach their desired objectives. It can also be used to evaluate investments, assess the impact of various scenarios, and gain insight into the company's current financial state.

Creating a financial model for your business can help you to manage and control your finances in a more efficient manner. In this blog post, we will discuss different types of financial models and how to create one for your business.

Steps for Creating a Financial Model

Creating a financial model for your business can be an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these steps, you can create an effective financial model that is tailored to your business’s goals and objectives.

Prepare a Framework to Support the Model

Before you set out to build the model, it is important to prepare a framework that will support it. This framework should include an overview of the scope of the model, the purpose of the model, and any assumptions made in the creation of the model. Additionally, the framework will be a good reference to come back to if you get stuck in the process.

Identify the Parameters of the Model

Once you have a framework in place, you can begin to identify the parameters of the model. Parameters will vary depending on the scope of your model, but some common ones include assumptions about competitor behavior, customer preferences, and regulatory requirements. Be sure to make notes of the parameters used, as this will be important when analyzing the results.

Gather the Necessary Data

The accuracy of your model is contingent upon the quality and quantity of data used to create it. As such, it is important to gather data that is both reliable and relevant to the assumptions you made in the parameters of the model. If possible, you should strive to collect qualitative as well as quantitative data. This will help paint a complete picture of your financials.

Utilize a Software to Build the Model

Once you have gathered the necessary data, you can begin to build the model using a software of your choice. Spreadsheet programs like Excel are commonly used, but there are also software programs available that are tailored specifically for financial modeling. Whichever program you choose, make sure that it has the features you need to adequately create a model for your business.

Run a Sensitivity Analysis

Once the model is complete, it is important to run a sensitivity analysis to identify how a change in one variable will affect other variables. This can be done by varying individual inputs and then assessing how the outputs of the model are affected. This process will help you understand any limitations or assumptions that are inherent in your model and help you make better-informed decisions.

Disclosing the Model to Other Parties

Once you have created a financial model for your business, you may find yourself wanting to share it with other parties. Before doing so, it is important to consider a few important points.

Understand Potential Uses of the Model

The first step in disclosing the model is to understand the different potential uses for others. Any insights or conclusions drawn from the model can be used for a variety of purposes that could influence strategic business decisions. It is important to remember that the model will not always provide accurate or reliable outcomes, so it is essential to understand the potential implications of the model’s use ahead of time.

Determine Who the Model Should be Disclosed to

Second, it is important to decide who should have access to the model. Financial models may be seen as highly confidential documents, so it’s important to decide who should have access and how it should be shared. It may be beneficial to discuss this with other members of the leadership team before making a final decision.

Formulate Restrictions on the Use of the Model

The last step is to come up with restrictions on the use of the model. This could include specifying the purpose for which the model can be used, who can access it, and any rules for sharing the model with external parties. You may also consider establishing rules for revising the model or tracking any changes that are made to it.

By taking the time to consider these three points, you can ensure that the model can be safely and securely shared with other parties and that it can be used for the most beneficial outcomes for your business.

Reviewing the Model

Your financial model is a living document that needs to be regularly updated. To ensure the model is accurate and effective, it is important to periodically review the assumptions, figures, and objectives used in the model.

Re-analyze the Data Used in the Model

Take the time to examine the assumptions and data used in the model. Re-analyze the information to ensure it is still accurate and up to date. This can include verifying figures and assumptions that have changed, such as market and industry conditions, inflation, and interest rates. Make sure to double-check any important information, such as revenue growth rates, costs, and expenses.

Check the Accuracy of the Figures Used in the Model

Verify all assumptions and figures used in the model. This includes input data, key ratios, and forecasts. Check to make sure the data is accurate and up to date. You may need to revise figures if assumptions have changed. Additionally, make sure there are no errors in the calculations.

Ensure the Model Meets All the Objectives

Before updating the model, examine it to make sure that it still meets all the objectives. Evaluate the projections and forecasts, particularly if assumptions have changed. Finally, consider if any new objectives should be added to the model.

  • Re-analyze the data used in the model
  • Check the accuracy of the figures used in the model
  • Ensure the model meets all the objectives

Maintenance of the Model

A financial model is an immensely important business tool and should be updated regularly to ensure its efficacy. Financial models can be used as a field guide for unexpected changes in the business’s economic environment. In order to get the best results from your model and to keep it running effectively, there are a few best practices that should be followed.

Monitor Changes in Tax Laws, Regulations, and Policies

As with most corporate activities, a financial model will be affected by any changes to tax laws, regulations, and policies. When planning your budget, it is essential to stay up to date on any changes that may affect the direction and focus of your business. You should also keep in mind any new government assistance schemes or other changes that may have a positive or negative impact on your bottom line.

Re-Review the Model Regularly

A financial model should be reviewed at least once a year, ideally more frequently. This is important as it allows you to see how the model is performing and adjust accordingly. As you review the model, also look for areas where efficiency or accuracy can be improved. Small changes to assumptions, variables, and data sources may have a major impact on the model's output.

Update the Model with New Data

It is important to update the data within your financial model whenever new information is available. This could include updated industry averages, the company’s financial results, changes in demand for a product or service, or any other aspect that could affect the outcome of your financial model. By constantly updating the data, you can ensure your model is relevant and up to date.

A financial model is a powerful tool and can save time, effort, and cost when used properly. However, if not maintained and monitored regularly, the model can quickly become outdated and inaccurate. By following the above best practices, you can ensure that your model is up to date and effective.

Commonly Used Financial Models

Creating a financial model for your business will help you understand and manage the relationships between profits, losses, expenses, and income—allowing you to make better-informed decisions. Here is a look at four of the most commonly used financial models:

Cash Flow Model

A cash flow model is used to simulate the impacts of changes in how large sums of money move around a business. By understanding how this works, businesses can gain better insight into their financial situation and make adjustments to better manage cash flows. This model allows for the visualization of the relationship of expenses to income and provides a useful overview of a business's financial picture.

Operating Model

An operating model is an essential tool for understanding a company's cost structure. This model evaluates the costs associated with producing a product or providing a service and estimates the profitability of the business. It provides a comprehensive view of a company's investments and expenditures and understanding the relationship between the two.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a financial statement that shows a business's assets, liabilities, and equity. It provides an overview of a business's financial position and allows for the calculation of key ratios such as asset turnover, debt-to-equity ratio, and return on assets. By tracking these and other elements of their balance sheet, businesses can gain a better understanding of their financial viability.

Break Even Analysis

Break even analysis is a useful tool for understanding when a business is likely to make a profit. This model takes into account fixed costs and variable expenses, allowing businesses to calculate how a change in revenues would affect profits. By understanding the break-even point, businesses can make more informed decisions about pricing and other strategic decisions.


Creating a financial model for your business is an important step in understanding your past expenses and predicting future ones. It is a fundamental tool for any business and can provide invaluable insights into the health of your business, allowing you to make informed decisions quickly and more accurately.

In this post, we've covered the basics of financial modeling, including the components and tools required to build your own financial model. We've discussed topics such as the different types of financial models, the uses of financial modeling, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of financial modeling. We've also gone into detail on how to develop a financial model and the best practices to use when building it.

Summarizing the Key Points

To summarize, a financial model is an essential tool for any business to understand its current financials and plan for future growth. When creating a financial model, it is important to choose the right components and tools for the job, consider the type of model you need, and ensure that it is tailored to meet the specific needs of your business. Additionally, it is important to use best practices when creating your model, such as taking a methodical approach, properly testing your model, and ensuring that it is accurate and reliable.

Suggestions for Further Reading

If you'd like to take the next step and create a financial model for your business, here are some suggestions for further reading:

Expert-built startup financial model templates

1000+ Excel financial model templates for your business plan

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