Use the worst-case financial model

Developing a financial model for your business is tough stuff.  Even tougher if you don’t have a MBA, like me.

I’m pretty good at math being that I am a software engineer.  However, the math of financial modeling relies so heavily on assumptions, that it barely looks like real math when you’re done.

As a result, its best to draw from the experience of the experts.

With that said, I found an wonderful case study done back in 2007 by Glenn Kelman, the CEO of Seattle-based Redfin, an online real estate brokerage.

The post is titled Financial Models for Underachievers: Two Years of the Real Numbers of a Startup. In it Kelman shares the early financial models he did for Redfin.  Kelman states:

Startups face one primary challenge: To never run out of cash. So when projecting costs, we heeded Guy’s advice that “the three most powerful words you can utter at a board meeting are, ‘We beat projections.’” This convinced us to develop the worst possible financial model that could still be used to raise money.

Kelman is very open with how he created his entire financial model.  If you are in need of a framework for your financial model, I suggest you start here.

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