Do you need a financial plan to raise seed capital?

October 16, 2013

In addition to working in growth companies, I also mentor a number of entrepreneurs. One question I am asked often is “Do I need a detailed financial plan to raise seed capital?”

It’s an interesting question and one I will answer, but it’s actually not the right question. The right question is “Do I need to understand the financial levers in my business, and my current planned business model (or a few variants) when I talk to investors?”

The answer to that question is unequivocally “yes.” Investors, even seed investors who are investing in you and your crazy idea, want to know how you are thinking about turning your idea into a business. 

So to answer the first question, the answer is no you don’t need one. It’s probably a waste of time to have a complex financial model by month with multiple tabs. (I had a detailed model, but that’s because I’m an analytical person and I wanted to be sure I knew how we might be successful.)

Many entrepreneurs I speak with don’t have a detailed five year projection. They do, however, have a good sense of where the seed money is going to go (something almost every investor wants to know).

I think most early-stage investors know that projections are BS. But they do want to see:

-how you think about the business

-if you understand various levers for generating revenue, AND eventually generating profit

-your level of financial acumen

So you probably can skip the 5 year projection, but don’t skip the spreadsheet altogether. It’s the thinking behind the model that may help convince your prospective investors.