When you’re trying to raise capital for a startup, no tool is more valuable than a solid financial model. With a good model in your corner, you have data to support your story and visuals to show the investor how the business will grow.
Perhaps more importantly, a great model gives you confidence when you’re pitching. You feel ready for any question, you know your data inside and out, and you’ve taken the time to scrutinize your assumptions about your business. You come across as a capable leader with a clear vision.
But it is possible to squander the advantage of your financial model if you don’t know how to present it effectively.
This post lays out some pitfalls and best practices that you should know before you start raising capital. Follow these guidelines to get the most out of your financial model and lock in your round.
How to Successfully Present Your Financial Model
1: Before the Pitch
If possible, you should avoid sending your financial model to potential investors before the meeting.
A good rule of thumb is to never let your financial model stand alone. You need to be there to defend the data and explain your assumptions.
Even if you have a great model, it’s still a lot of information for someone to digest without any context. When you let your model stand alone, it’s easy for investors to get the wrong idea about aspects of your business.
It’s better to be there in person. When you walk an investor through your model, you get a chance to showcase your understanding of the business. You show that you’ve put a lot of thought and research into your assumptions.
This builds trust, which is critical when you’re trying to raise capital. It helps the investor see you as a subject matter expert and it demonstrates that you have a good handle on your operation.
Presenting in person also allows you to control the narrative. When an investor sees your pitch deck and your financial model, they’ll start to form an opinion about the opportunity. You want to be there while this is happening so that you can guide the discussion and provide supporting information as necessary.
2: During the Pitch
Depending on how much time you have, it’s sometimes better not to show your financial model at all.
If you only have a few minutes, you can tease your financial model, but keep the presentation focused on your narrative and your pitch deck. If they like your pitch, they’ll want to see your model, and you can use it as leverage to get the next meeting on the calendar.
When you do present your model to the investor, your success depends largely on your knowledge and mastery of the model. Never go in unprepared. You should know your model like the back of your hand.
Be careful to never take a defensive stance. If the investor starts to question your assumptions, treat this as a working session and try to collaborate with them.
You should explain the reasoning behind your initial assumptions, but you shouldn’t get stuck on them. Take the investor’s feedback into account and be willing to accept some changes.
When you handle criticism well, you build trust and demonstrate that you’ll be a good partner to work with.
Finally, if you do get stumped, admit it. Be transparent and say, “I don’t know. I need to dig into that before I answer.” Don’t share bad information or make promises you can’t keep.
3: After the Pitch
The actions you take after the meeting will shape the outcome of your whole relationship with an investor. This is your chance to shine!
Send an email thanking the investor for their time and making the effort to walk through your model together. Summarize what you talked about and deliver any supporting material that you promised.
If you discussed different scenarios or different assumptions during the meeting, run those scenarios through your model and share the outcome in an email. If you use financial modeling software like Forecastr, you can send them a link to view the alternate scenarios online.
If any questions were left unanswered, provide your answers and your reasoning. If you’re still not sure, talk to a mentor or trusted advisor who can help you decide how to respond.
You can earn brownie points by demonstrating that you have followed up on any thought-provoking input the investor shared during the meeting. This shows that you value their input and you follow through on opportunities.
Be grateful. A seasoned investor’s opinions are valuable. If you feel like the meeting was productive or meaningful, be sure to let them know that you appreciate their time and input.
Presenting your financial model should facilitate a healthy discussion with potential investors, as you guide them through the inner workings of your business and your plans for the future. You’ve done your work well when your meeting is more like an exchange, and less like a monologue.
If you’re ready to build a financial model, or you’re in need of an upgrade, we’re here to help. We give you a convenient interface that simplifies your work, and we support you with a team of experienced financial analysts. Reach out today to learn more.