Financial Modeling for Startups & Small Businesses
4.4 (2,360 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
56,151 students enrolled

Financial Modeling for Startups & Small Businesses

Learn the best practices for building practical financial models and forecasts for your startup business.
4.4 (2,360 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
56,150 students enrolled
Last updated 7/2020
English [Auto], Indonesian [Auto], 5 more
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This course includes
  • 11.5 hours on-demand video
  • 12 articles
  • 92 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Build financial models for your startup business
  • Forecast cash needs for your startup business
  • Model user growth
  • Model revenue
  • Model expenses
  • Model attrition
  • Model various different business models, from tech to brick & mortar
  • Use best practices for financial modeling
  • Have access to Microsoft Excel 2011 or Newer
  • Working knowledge of Excel/spreadsheet core functionality
  • Working knowledge of Excel/spreadsheet formulas and cell references
  • Working knowledge of basic algebra

Reasons why you should create a financial model for your startup or small business.  A good financial model can help you:

  1. Test your assumptions and verify key drivers of your business

  2. Compare and contrast different business choices, like pricing models

  3. Calculate the ACTUAL amount of capital you need to startup

  4. Calculate your burn rate

  5. Model out your user growth 

  6. Model out your expenses

  7. Be more prepared talking to potential investors

  8. And loads more.

Building a financial model isn't just a vanity exercise. When done right, it could help you better understand your business, whether it's a startup or an existing business you're growing.

But it's not easy and there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

Even if you have little to no finance background, if you're going to be starting or running a business, this is a skill you need to have.

A good financial model is an indicator of how deeply you understand your business model and market. But building a good one requires the right tools and the right approach.

We're going to show you how to do that with a wide variety of examples and exercises.  But we'll also be teaching general best practices that will help you, no matter what you'll be building your financial models for in the future.

Why learn from us?

By signing up with us, you will be learning from two highly rated instructors that have a combined student count of over 350,000 students and 25,000 reviews! 

Check out our profiles and see that we take care of your students and deliver the goods.

Evan has extensive startup experience and previously worked as a venture capitalist, where he evaluated 100's of startups that trying to convince him to invest in them.

Symon also has startup experience in both tech and brick & mortar businesses. Previously he built tons of models while working in mergers and acquisitions as well as in private equity.  And he's helped dozens of startups build financial models across a dozen different business models and industries.  

Together, we pull directly from our experience and put it in this course--in fact, two of the case studies use the ACTUAL financial models used to raise funding.  The other case studies are inspired by well known startups you're sure to recognize.

How is this different from Symon's Intro to Financial Modeling Course?

The Intro to Financial Modeling course taught by Symon He and Brandon Young is an introductory course on financial modeling that presents a general overview covering the topic and is more relevant to those who wish to explore finance as a career option or those who want to understand financial modeling in a corporate context.

This course is all about financial modeling for startup businesses so it's more geared towards entrepreneurs or business owners who want to better understand the key drivers of a new business.

There is almost zero overlap.  Even though both courses introduce a lemonade stand as an example, those examples and models are quite different as they serve very different purposes.  

What if I don't have any finance or Excel background?

No worries! This course isn't an Excel or Finance course, although you will learn a bit of both.  We focus more on the rationale and the logic of modeling specifically for startups or growing businesses, so you can take what you learn to other spreadsheet tools.  

But it will take practice.  You won't get better just watching the videos.  That's why have lots of practice exercises and sample models for you to learn from.

What will I be able to do after I take your course?

After taking our course, you will be:

  • Able to confidently build financial models for your startup or new business from scratch

  • Able to apply the best financial modeling practices and techniques

  • Able to read and understand other financial models by looking at lots of practice models and case studies

  • Able to leverage financial modeling to help you make smarter choices about your business.

  • Able to learn a new skill set that you can take with you for any and every business venture you take up in the future.

Why lemonade stand example?

Because learning how to model on its own is tough enough but learning it while also having to learn a new business model makes it even harder. 

But, even with a simple business model such as a lemonade stand, you'll be surprised by how complex and sophisticated the analysis could become. 

And since this is all about modeling for startups and new businesses, this example is different from the one in the Intro to Financial Modeling course.  

After the simple lemonade example, we cover 7 distinct case studies involving different business models in different industries.

Tell me again why I should take your course?

You have absolutely ZERO risk.

Udemy gives you a solid as an oak tree 30-day money back guarantee.  

So if you've read this far, we welcome you to join us inside.

Who this course is for:
  • Someone who wants to understand how to create a financial model for a startup business
  • Someone who wants to start a new business
  • Someone who wants to leverage financial modeling to make better business decisions
  • Someone who wants to better analyze business opportunities
  • Someone interested in doing a startup and plan on raising VC funding
  • Someone interested in starting a brick & mortar business
Course content
Expand all 91 lectures 11:31:30
+ Jumpstart
14 lectures 01:49:45
Udemy Technical Issues
Udemy Technical Error: Filenames Download as "Original"

Clarification for students about WHY we chose the lemonade stand example to start with.

Why Lemonade Stand?

Before we dive into the example, we want to just briefly explain why we chose to do a lemonade stand and what you'll be able to learn from it.

Preview 05:21

Every cup of lemonade you make costs you money to make. We'll break it down into it's separate components here before we look at the larger business. Part 1 of 2

Preview 08:24

Every cup of lemonade you make costs you money to make. We'll break it down into it's separate components here before we look at the larger business. Part 2 of 2

Jumpstart Part 1: Unit economics (2)

When we model, we don't just start modeling aimlessly.  We model to solve a question.  In this example, we'll look at how we could easily determine a proper selling price as well as our labor costs.

Jumpstart Part 2: Calculating the labor cost & selling price
Jumpstart Part 3: Single product, single location

You did well and now your customers are asking you for a strawberry lemonade.  You think you could make even more money by adding that option so let's see how we could adjust our model to account for a premium add-on.

Jumpstart Part 4: Strawberry premium
Jumpstart Part 5: Multiple Locations

Whew! Bet you didn't think you could learn so much just from a lemonade stand business did you?  

Jumpstart: Summary
Q&A: Section 2
Review & Recap: Section 2
CHALLENGE: Pop Up Business Model
+ Before you build your model
4 lectures 22:57

Among the most important things to do BEFORE you start building your model is to first decide what question(s) you're trying to answer.  

What questions are you trying to answer?

A few more thoughts before we get into the best practices for building financial models.  Always create a road map for yourself. 

Map it out & Caveat on modeling
Q&A: Section 3
Review & Recap: Section 3
+ Modeling best practices
8 lectures 48:19

Always have a goal in mind of what you'd like your financial model to be able to do for you BEFORE you start building it.  Have an end in mind.

Always start with the end in mind

Why taking more steps in building out your model to make things clear is better than being clever with your financial models. 

Clear over clever

As they say, "garbage in garbage out".  It's the same when it comes to building financial models.  To make sure you don't look silly in front of investors or business partners, make sure to do sanity checks on your models.

Always do sanity checks

Building financial models is a lot like building with legos--you do it one piece at a time.  Trying to do too much too early or at the same time will not only make it much harder to build your financial model, but it'll introduce more errors.

Start small & simple
Define constraints
Utilize Google!

Quiz to review the best practices we covered.

Modeling best practices quiz
3 questions
Q&A: Section 4
Review & Recap: Section 4
+ Case study: YouWorks Co-Working Space (part 1)
2 lectures 26:09

Enough with all the talk, let's get back to building financial models.  In this lecture, we'll do a sanity check for a co-working business called "YouWorks".

Introduction to YouWorks, our first case study - Sanity check

Alright, now that we have a good idea of what we want to build out, let's see how we can build out the revenue model for our YouWorks business.

YouWorks - Modeling revenue
+ Modeling growth
8 lectures 01:01:47
User segmentation and the difference between users & customers

But there are many ways to segment users or customers.  We revisit our YouWorks example and explore several possibilities for segmenting our users. 

User segmentation: YouWorks example

For some business models that either has pricing that depends on their customer's usage or has costs associated to their customer's usage, it is important to be able to segment the customers based on their usage profiles.  We look at an example and a demonstration of how to do that here.

Usage segmentation

If you're having trouble conceptualizing how your revenue model would work in your financial model, one way that helps is to visualize a funnel that users of customers have to go through through in order go from initial contact all the way to sales.  

Think in terms of funnels

Some more thoughts on funnels. 

Follow up on funnels

There's a common way and a better way to model growth.  We'll explore both in this lecture. 

Modeling growth rate

As much as you fantasize about it, your business won't retain 100% of its customers.  It will lose some customers due to attrition (or churn in the SaaS world).  In this lecture, we look at various ways to model this out. 

Modeling attrition

Quiz to review the main take ways when it comes to modeling user growth

Modeling growth quiz
4 questions
Review & Recap: Section 6
+ Modeling revenue
9 lectures 01:30:53
Free, but ad-based

In this lecture, we'll explore the Affiliate Business Model and build out a model that you can use to build on top off if you're exploring a similar business model. 

Affiliate model

In this lecture, we'll explore the Freemium Business Model and build out a model that you can use to build on top off if you're exploring a similar business model. 

Freemium model
Subscription model
Pay per use
Free product, pay for service
Tiered pricing
Base plus features pricing
Review & Recap: Section 7
+ Modeling startup costs & expenses
7 lectures 49:26

We've looked at enough revenue examples, now let's dive into the other side.  Not being able to accurately access your startup costs and expenses is a lot more costly than if you're off on the revenue side.  Running out of cash is the number 1 way for a business to fail.  So let's dive in on how we can better understand startup costs and expenses. 

Startup costs & operating expenses

Regardless of what your business does, you probably need people to do things.  In this lecture, we'll go over an example and show you some techniques for modeling out both headcount and labor related expenses. 

Headcount & labor

Chances are you'll have other overhead expenses for your business like rent and other office related expenses.  Some might depend on your headcount and others might just have it's own schedule for growth.  We look at how to handle both in your financial model here.

Modeling rent & office needs

In this lecture, we'll look at expenses that tend to vary depending on the number of customers or users you have and how you can factor that into your financial model. 

Modeling hosting expenses

No matter how much you plan, there will always be some unexpected bumps along the way.  That is why you should always build in some contingency (or margin for error) in your financial models.  Let's see how we can easily do that.

Adding contingency
Modeling startup costs & expenses quiz
3 questions
Putting it all together
Review & Recap: Section 8
+ Case study #1: Standard Assembly programming bootcamp
5 lectures 28:57
Standard Assembly - Overview
Standard Assembly - Model overview & Startup costs
Standard Assembly - Modeling Revenue
Standard Assembly - Modeling expenses
Standard Assembly - Summary
+ Case Study #2: YouWorks Co-Working Space (part 2)
5 lectures 18:25
Getting re-acquainted with YouWorks
YouWorks - Startup Costs
You Works - Modeling Revenue
YouWorks - Modeling Expenses
YouWorks - Summary