How to Create a Financial Plan for Your Business

create financial plan

A wise old Certified Public Accountant gave me some priceless advice when I began my entrepreneurial journey.

“If the math doesn’t work, neither will your business.” 

Upon seeing my blank expression, he explained it a little further.

“A successful business earns more than it spends, and you ensure that happens (within reason) by creating a financial plan that controls every dollar you make.”

How so? I asked.

“Because your financial plan empowers you to control your cash flow, prepare for uncertainties, and take advantage of future opportunities.”

That’s when I knew I needed one.

Do you?

If so, my step-by-step guide explains how to create a business financial plan that reflects your goals and controls every dollar you make.

What is a financial plan?

At its most basic level, a business financial plan is a document that shows you what money flows in and out of your business, how you earn it, and where you spend it. 

Similar to businesses, no 2 financial plans are the same.

However, a solid financial plan contains several components, including an income statement, cash flow statement, personnel plan, balance sheet, financial projections, and break-even analysis. 

Together, these enable you to control your budget, highlight potential future risks, set goals, calculate your funding requirements, and implement strategies to achieve them. 

While there’s no such thing as a sure thing in life, your financial plan brings your future into your present so that you can control it now.

Why is a financial plan important for a small business?

As you know (or will when you start your business), entrepreneurs work long hours and make many decisions to ensure their business is on track. A business financial plan helps remove uncertainty from those decisions, replacing it with figures you can rely on and preparing you to take full advantage of investment opportunities when they arise. 

Here’s what Warren Buffet says about opportunities:

“Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.”

Your financial plan ensures you’ve got a bucket!

We also use a financial plan to control our cash flow, forecast our future financial business performance (including our income, expenses, and profitability), and stay within budget. 

Together, these help us maximize our assets, confidently navigate any problems during our entrepreneurial journey, and convince investors to believe in our vision. 

What is the difference between a business financial plan and a personal financial plan?

While most financial plans include the same information, some essential differences exist between business and personal plans because your goals likely differ from those of your SMB.

For example, an individual’s financial plan might include retirement, investment strategies, a minimum annual income to reduce tax liabilities, and securing an estate for their children.

In contrast, a business’s financial plan might focus on hiring additional staff, increasing inventory, bringing new products online, expanding into other markets, and even a new brick-and-mortar location. 

As you can see, the goals differ from one to the other, as might yours. That’s why a financial plan is as unique as the business it serves; however, some elements are vital for every financial business plan! 

The key components of a business financial plan

We now know that a thorough financial plan is imperative to the success and stability of your small business. 

Here are the components that can help make that happen:

  1. Income Statement: Contains information on your revenue, profits, and losses.
  2. Cash flow statement: Documents how money flows in and out of your business. 
  3. Balance sheet: Shows your business assets and expenses at a specific time.
  4. Financial projections: This helps predict your future income and expenses.
  5. Personnel plan: Identifies if and when you should hire employees.
  6. Break-Even Analysis: Confirms when you’ll make a profit.

Okay, now let’s look at how you use them to create yours:

How to Create a Business Financial Plan

To create your business financial plan, you must first collect financial information relevant to the 6 critical components you’ll use for its structure. 

Budding entrepreneurs who have yet to start their businesses might be wondering, `How do I collect information I haven’t got?` 

Good point!

Here’s where your business plan comes into play because it contains a financial section that includes your startup and running costs, financial projections, and break-even analysis. 

And those are 3 of the critical components in your business financial plan!

1. Income statement

An income statement (also known as a pro forma income or profit-and-loss statement) contains information on revenue, profits, losses, and fixed and variable operating expenses over a specific period, such as monthly, quarterly, or yearly.

It includes 2 columns containing your income and expenses and, at the bottom, your net profit or loss total.

Here’s an example of how it should look:

Next comes your cash flow statement, which might initially look like your income statement, but there are distinct differences.

Your income statement calculates your business’s revenues, expenses, and profits and reflects its financial performance. Your cash flow statement shows where you earn and spend your money, which is essential for staying within budget and paying your bills. 

2. Cash flow statement

Most small businesses need regular cash injections to survive.

But did you know that a lack of cash is the number one reason 82% of small US businesses fail? Source:

So, it’s crucial to control it using a cash flow statement. 

A cash flow statement for established businesses could include bank statements showing credits (profits) and debits (expenditures). Startups with little cash flow information could include their startup and running costs and any funding sources. 

You can create a cash flow statement using two columns, one for your income and the other for your expenditures. 

And add the name, date, and invoice/receipt number to each transaction to make it easy to follow and correlate with your invoices and receipts. Trust me, your bookkeeper will love you for it!

3. Balance sheet

Your balance sheet is a financial snapshot of your business at a specific moment that lets you view your liabilities, assets, equity, and any up-and-coming extra expenses.

You use a balance sheet to subtract your debts (liabilities) from what you own (assets) to show you your net worth, also known as equity.

Let’s break those down so you know what they involve:


Your liabilities are business debts, such as outstanding inventory fees, utility bills, employee wages or compensation, and unpaid taxes.


These fall into 2 categories: current and fixed. 

Note: Some businesses also have intangible assets, such as patents and copyrights.


Your business equity is the value of your assets minus your liabilities, which could also include any stock and share options.

4. Financial projections

A financial projection (also called an income projection) forecasts how much money you think might flow in and out of your business over a set period based on past performances or for startups on their business plan’s market research.

Financial projections can help you in several ways, including:

To create your income projection, estimate your future sales income minus your fixed and variable expenses.

5. Personnel plan

Most businesses need the right people to meet their goals and maintain a healthy cash flow.

You use a personnel plan to determine whether to hire employees and if they should be full-time, part-time, freelancers, or contractors on a need-only basis. 

Your personnel plan also calculates employee costs like wages, benefits, worker’s compensation insurance, and payroll taxes to ensure you only hire when you can afford to.

6. Break-even analysis

Your break-even analysis projects when you’ll recoup your investment and earn more than your spending to run your business.

You calculate your break-even date by dividing your variable and fixed costs by your gross profit margin to get a financial figure your business must make to break even.

Need help to determine what your fixed and variable costs are?

No worries:

The takeaway:

Your break-even analysis tells you the number of products or services you must sell to cover your business and production costs. 

Tips on creating an effective financial plan for your business

Preparation is the key to creating a business financial plan, and you prepare by setting goals, assessing present and future credit needs, estimating every business expense, planning for contingencies, and seeking professional financial advice if required. 

And once your plan is in place, regular monitoring helps ensure your business is on its financial target.

Let’s look at how you do it:

Set your financial goals

Your goals are relative to your business. Some examples include forming an LLC, hiring employees, expanding your product range or services, entering a new marketplace, opening a new branch, or trading abroad.

You must define them (regardless of what they are) because your financial plan aims to help you achieve them.

Consider this proverb when choosing your financial business goals:

“The art is not in making money, but making your money work for you.”

And that’s pretty much the secret to how people get rich!

That’s why now is the time to define your goals and create a strategically driven financial business plan that guides every business decision and ensures you maximize your investments.

Speaking of which!

Know your credit needs 

Your business credit needs are any loans you require when starting, running, or expanding your business.

As most small business owners know, the golden rule in running a small business is to minimize your expenditures because the less money you borrow, the higher your profits and the more accurate your business financial plan will be.

But sometimes, we must borrow to exploit market opportunities, buy equipment, or expand, and knowing your credit needs (and score) can help you get the best deals.

Include those little expenses

No income or expense is too small to consider when running a business that relies on a consistent cash flow.

Benjamin Franklin put it this way:

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” 

The problem many new business owners experience is that it’s easy to account for significant expenses (especially fixed costs), but it’s the small, variable everyday ones that can catch us out and scupper our budget. 

To avoid a sinking feeling, evaluate your monthly fixed and variable expenditures and avoid unnecessary, unbudgeted expenses at all costs.

Monitor your goals

Creating your financial plan is your first step, implementing it the second, and monitoring it the third because that’s how you ensure your strategies are achieving your financial goals. 

To monitor your goals, use those key elements of your business financial plan, including your income and cash flow statement, balance sheet, and financial projections, as they provide an up-to-date assessment.

Regular monitoring also helps you identify potential problems and implement any changes before they harm your business’s financial health. 

Plan for contingencies

Planning for problems relative to your niche, like seasonal fluctuations and new competitors, is standard best business practice. But as recent history has taught us, we must also prepare for the unforeseeable!

You can spot worst-case scenarios (like a falling income) by evaluating your business financial plan’s balance sheet and cash flow statement.

Some ways to plan for contingencies are to have a credit line available and cash reserves that can help keep you afloat should the going get rough. 

Consider hiring help 

Many of the most successful business leaders have a shared secret to their success!

They surround themselves with people who know more than they do about every aspect of their business. 

Steve Jobs explains it perfectly:

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Fortunately, financial experts are available to help you create your business financial plan.

Consider hiring a financial advisor to inform you of prudent financial decisions and investments, and your bank manager can help assess your creditworthiness while considering any past problems that could affect present loan applications.

Financial planning FAQs

What is a business financial plan?

An effective business financial plan contains your business goals and outlines your strategies.

It’s a GPS that guides your SMB’s financial activities by ensuring you make informed decisions on how and where to invest your resources. 

How do you write a business financial plan?

Your financial plan begins with a strategic plan that contains your business goals and what you’ll need to achieve them.

Next, you must create your financial projections, plan for contingencies, and monitor to assess your actual results against your projections to adjust if required. 

What are the 6 components of a financial plan?

Financial plans are as unique as the business they serve. However, 6 components you must include are:

What is the best financial statement for a small business?

Your income statement best assesses your business’s financial performance, containing your profits, losses, and equity.

Your balance sheet and cash flow statement are also crucial for running a profitable business. 


Entrepreneurs need many skills, and one of the most important is financial intelligence because it ensures we keep our fingers on our businesses’ financial pulse.

Learning how to create a business financial plan is a great way to gain that skill.

And when you control your income and expenditures, you take control of your business’s financial destiny. Sweet.

One last thing to remember when creating a business financial plan.

The numbers never lie!

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.

Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.