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Learning to use SCORE’s Financial Projection Model

with 14 comments

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to attend a workshop just for SCORE counselors where we went over the Financial Projection model that we use as part of our Simple Steps workshops. It’s not that I or any of the other counselors can’t “run the numbers,” but I, hadn’t used this particular tool and wanted to be sure I could use it if asked.

My first impression of the projection model was that it was probably overwhelming for most would-be small business owners.  Running the financials are scary enough without seeing 21 sheets of calculations.  Though now that I know more about it, I see that 21 pages isn’t 21 pages.  A lot of the sheets are the final numbers and you just need to fill in the blanks, where required, to have a Financials section for your business plan that will knock your bankers socks off.

It couldn’t be easier to get started with.  In fact, if you start on the first sheet, the basic directions are given then, there’s only one box to fill out.

The template also has a convenient color code for you to follow.  Color within a cell means you should add or modify information.  The white areas are where the auto-magic calculations occur and those area’s are protected so you can’t accidentally foul things up.

Yellow cells are the areas where you should put something in the box.  It’s loose requirement since you might not always have a number to enter.  For instance, you might not need any money for business travel, so it’s alright to leave it at zero.

Green boxes are areas where you can add modifiers that will ultimately give you a more accurate projection.  If you know the interest rate on your loan or the life expectancy of your equipment, or have other insights, feel free to add them.

The trick of creating an accurate Financial Projection is knowing that you don’t just sit down and fill it out.  It’s a work in progress and could take more than an afternoon to complete. Expect to find items that you don’t fully understand.

There will be some things you know and can easily add them in the right spots, but you’ll probably stop after each addition to research the number for the next cell.  You should also be prepared to ask questions when you’re stumped or don’t understand the relevance of a particular portion of the financials.

This Financial Projection model can also help you determine your profitability and avoid too many losses by easily modifying your numbers.  As the counselors ran through the projections for a faux bakery yesterday, we initially budgeted $15,000 for a delivery van.  Later on though, we began questioning the need for a van when our profitability looked slim.  Then again, all of our numbers were made up, so we had a little laugh about showing positive cash flow at all.

For your projection, using real numbers, it should be much easier to spot the weak points and determine if they can be overcome.  If they can’t, be glad that you know that before you sink your life savings into a business that will never earn it’s keep.

If you have any questions or comments about using the spreadsheet, feel free to leave me a note, below that way we’ll all learn more about the process.  Otherwise a tweet, Thumbs up or sharing on your favorite service would be greatly appreciated. ~Karlie


If you’d like to run some numbers of your own you can download SCORE’s “Simple Steps Financial Projection Model.” And don’t worry, you don’t need Microsoft Office for the template to work.  I used OpenOffice.org which is a free download for Windows, Mac and Linux users, or if downloading isn’t your thing, you can order Open Office on a disc.

Written by Karlie

March 29th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Posted in planning,Start-up

14 Responses to 'Learning to use SCORE’s Financial Projection Model'

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  1. Hi Karlie,

    From whom and how can I possibly get a copy of the subject model documentation?


    Mon Enriquez

    1 May 12 at 10:33 AM

  2. The spreadsheet can be downloaded directly from the SCORE Association’s website at http://www.score.org/resources/simple-steps-financial-projections-model


    1 May 12 at 10:40 AM

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for the information. I am completing it for a small bakery. I put in my numbers an come up with a line of credit being needed. What does that mean? What effect does having an investor amount have on the calculations?




    25 Oct 12 at 2:23 PM

  4. An investor, line of credit, or good old fashion loan all mean that the business will be carrying debt for a while and that might effect how much you get to keep for yourself.

    Depending on how the numbers came out, it could also mean you need to look at what you’re planning to spend money on – especially at the very beginning. Ask yourself how important each item is. Can something wait for a phase 2 or 3?

    It might also mean that you need to run the numbers a few times. In one scenario, you should add in a loaned amount on the #1 tab (Cell G38) to see how that effects your numbers on the report tabs at the end of the spread sheet. Are you still earning a living for yourself after adding in the loan payments?

    As far as making up the short-fall you wouldn’t be the first business to need a hand to get going, but if you do decide you need a loan you’ll also need a business plan so that you can communicate your idea. While a business plan is a good document for yourself so you can think through the process of opening and the first years of operation, to an investor/banker it should say “I’ve thought this through and you’ll get your money back.”


    25 Oct 12 at 3:12 PM

  5. Hello,

    Preparing a rough 3-Year Forecast for subsidiary launch here in the U.S. within the next 2-3 months.

    I’ve added additional services/products within
    (4.Projected Sales Forecast) and now uncertain how to correctly allocate overhead expense percentages across multiple products.

    I have already distributed the additional products as required throughout the report.
    For example, Income Statements (8),(12)&(15), 11.Year End Summary, etc.

    Can this be forwarded for review?

    Thank You

    Windale Tate

    20 Feb 13 at 7:30 PM

  6. I can certainly look at it, but I should say that I am a jack of all trades when it comes to small business and you may feel more comfortable having a Finance specialist look it over for you. I’m sending you an email to the one you provided with your comment. ~Karlie


    21 Feb 13 at 8:06 AM

  7. Hi Karlie.
    My daughter is named Karli. great name!
    I’ve worked my numbers into the Score sheets with general success. But i am confounded that I can’t access worksheet 7. do you know how to get into that? I have an existing business with an existing credit line that the tool won’t accommodate.
    Very frustrated as i put a lot of time to get my numbers in and now can balance.
    I posed my questions to SCORE by two ways weeks ago but no one is responding. Do you know who the worksheet guru might be?

    Robert Schott

    20 Jun 13 at 7:38 PM

  8. Good morning, Robert.

    Thanks, I’m pretty fond of being a Karlie. Though now that the name has a bit of popularity, I’m having a hard time getting use to not responding to every parent calling for their own Karlie.

    As you might have guessed, I’m not in the same age group as the newest members of the Karlie Club and I spent a significant number of years with the name all to myself.

    As far as your questions, unfortunately, all I know about the development of the worksheet is that it was made at SCORE national and because the data is linked across the many sheets in the document, cells have been locked to keep people from accidentally erasing a formula.

    In fact, when it first came to our chapter I recall the other, more financially inclined, members commenting on some of the limitations and it being a one-size-fits-most solution.

    That doesn’t mean you’re sunk. In the business world and probably at a local community college or university there is someone who can help you reprogram certain aspects of the spreadsheet for you.

    Another option would be to accept that this tool only gets you close and build upon the data given in another spreadsheet where you can do additional calculations. Although, I have a habit of saving a copy of whatever I’m working on and using it as a sandbox to play around in so that I don’t foul up the original copy when I start unlocking cells, changing formulas, and making a general mess of things.

    Finally, I edited out your phone number for privacy reasons, and if you’d like me to be your SCORE counselor, distance isn’t a problem. I’ll just need you to fill out my home chapter’s request for counseling form and I can give you that information via email.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that I’m not an accounting or spreadsheet specialist. Instead I’m a business of technology and the technologies of business specialist. I’m capable of answering lots of questions about “the numbers,” but maybe not at the level of detail you need for this particular situation. ~Karlie


    21 Jun 13 at 6:46 AM

  9. Can you tell me if additional pages of projected sales forecast can be added to the SCORE financial projection spreadsheet? I am using two pages would like to add two more. Thanks,


    31 Jul 13 at 3:51 PM

  10. It’s an excel spreadsheet, so you can do anything you want to it as long as you understand how the changes will be reflected across the various tabs in the book.

    There are numerous calculations that build upon numbers and previous calculations, so unless you’re really comfortable with making changes, you may have to accept the limitations of this tool.

    With that said, if you have a business school, community college, etc near you, you might be able to find someone with the skill set to modify the sheet as needed. ~Karlie


    1 Aug 13 at 6:44 AM

  11. Dear Karlie,

    Thank you very very much. Your model is exquisite and quite useful. My only question is that it comments certain parts which I agree with in total.

    We are a non profit making organisation, hence its comments e.g. “profit low on sales and margins” because we do not run a profitable institution other than money being derived from “Membership”.

    Could you therefore advice or send me a model suitable for non profit making organisations for use?


    Emmanuel HANGULAH


    11 Sep 15 at 6:57 AM

  12. If you’re good with spread sheets, you can modify it your self. The other option is to simply adjust your numbers until profit reads zero.

    Truthfully, most non-profits need a little more money than simply breaking even. This allows them to expand as their membership or service needs grow.

    Ask yourself… If we made more money than expected, would we be able to find a way to spend it as part of our mission? I’m guessing your answer is yes.


    13 Nov 15 at 6:27 AM

  13. Please, I’m Nigerian, and my currency is Naira How can i change the currency to reflect Naira instead of Dollars

    Noah Ibrahim

    30 Jan 17 at 5:06 PM

  14. The currency isn’t as important as the numbers. Although the symbol is $ throughout, it’s just a symbol that you can change by editing the spreadsheet (unlocking) and manually changing the currency symbol to reflect any currency.


    1 Feb 17 at 8:30 AM

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