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on December 3, 2011
Let's dispense with the obvious first. For we, the startup practitioners, biz models are mostly a waste of time. Early-stage models that predict success are almost universally wrong, due to their happy-happy-joy-joy ("h2j2") inputs. The ones that predict failure are probably correct. But, we already knew that we were going out of business as soon as we got in, right? The best you can really hope for is some sort of "How bad is it, Doctor?" analysis. Much better for us to focus on product, customers, and execution. Let us recall again the words of St. Edison who informs us that our "genius" (including the planning/modeling part) is worth no more than 1%, the other 99% being sweat. In my experience, blood, tears, and various other pinkish bodily fluids also come into play. And don't forget that we require a certain amount of good luck, which models very poorly (see h2j2 above).

But enough with the pep talk. If biz models are mere peripheral artifacts, why bother with them at all? You could say that although it might be quite foggy, it's still a really dumb idea to drive with your eyes closed. Even if biz models are not of much use as roadmaps, they do work fairly well as caution signs. Viewed in that light, I found this guide and model to be a helpful, practical, and mercifully brief distillation of a very tedious subject. Given the limited value of doing a model in the first place, this has to be one of the most thankless topics possible and I commend the author for taking a shot. Although reducing biz modeling to a spreadsheet and a guide may seem audaciously simplistic, sometimes all that is really needed is a reasonable frame of reference and a tangible starting point. Anything that gets we the practitioners from "Start" to "Good Enough" in short order will be a welcome addition to our toolboxes. I believe that this guide will accomplish that end for many.

I'm giving the guide 5 stars because I found it to be generally complete and usable as-is. It did what it said it would and covered most of the use cases I was personally interested in. I especially liked the extra focus on lightweight SaaS startups and hope that will continue in future versions. I'm reviewing the Kindle version which I read on a Fire. A few of the denser spreadsheet diagrams towards the end of the guide were a little fuzzy when zoomed, but were still readable and I hd the spreadsheet itself to consult. I did not encounter any other usability issues. A possible negative is that extensive tweaking of the model spreadsheet is not going to be easy for Excel n00bcakes, but I'm guessing the intended audience will be able to sort it out.

So, 1-click the guide and build your model. If it says you're toast, take action, whether it's changing products, schedules, or even markets. Predicting trouble is its biggest practical benefit, so make use of it. If the model says you're in great shape and you can't locate and expunge the h2j2, just ignore it till the next monthly review and go back to doing great things for your customers. Good things come to those who panic early, often, and avoid the rush! :)
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on November 22, 2014
A very useful and time saving utility for financial modeling. Single entry functions that create summary reports.The Excel spreadsheet is free with the book. Read the book first it will save you a lot of time in setting up your spreadsheet. Again, it will save you a lot of time. BTW, the author will answer your questions by email if you're having problems.
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on June 19, 2017
Great book and Great Excel model. This was a very simplified read for new entrepreneurs like myself. Great Work!!! 😁😁😁
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on January 6, 2014
The G&A Expenses section was most helpful to me. For a first time start-up entrepreneur, you need all the info and help you can get. "It's Not a Plan Until the numbers Add Up" was a terrific guide to ensure I had the essentials in my financial modeling.

Terrific Resource/Tool for your financial section in your business plan!
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on May 10, 2014
This is a very thorough financial plan, which is made easy for the user. I am a first time start-up founder and never created a financial plan in the past. I have high expectations of this template!
Definitely worth the $5 to buy the guide with it. I suggest it strongly.
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on October 24, 2014
The title says it all. Mike did an amazing job with this workbook and the companion financial model excel sheet. I highly recommend this. It made my life so much easier.
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on August 22, 2011
The single worst part of being an entrepreneur is dealing with financials. This guide along with the spreadsheet makes it 1000x times easier. Mike's done all the hard work coming up with the formulas. All you need to do is spend a couple hours with the guide to have a nice financial picture of your business. It's a great tool to validate a business in the lightbulb phase when you are validating an idea. If you can't make it work on paper (in this case a spreadsheet) - it's going to be real hard to make it work for real.

I just started a business selling a physical product that needs manufactured, shipped, packaged, etc. As a primarily internet entrepreneur I was overwhelmed by all the numbers I needed to crunch to come up with pricing and projections.

We've been able to calculate initial demand through prelaunch signups and social interest. Using this data we can plug in projected numbers and play around with the price of the product to see how it affects the bottom line.

And with a little data sprinkled on top of this model you can see if putting money in one end makes more money come out the other.

Ex: This data can also help you plan online advertising campaigns. Lets say you have a 60% click thru rate on an ad and that ad has a 6% conversion rate. The CPC for the ad is $.50. If you send 1,000 people to your ad next month it will cost you $500. At a 6% conversion rate you will have 60 sales.

You can plug these numbers into Mike's spreadsheet to see how it affects your cash flow. Plug $500 into the "Marketing" section of the "G&A Expenses" sheet for October. Then go plug in 60 sales for October in the "Product Revenue" sheet. Finally go to the "Cash Flow Statement" sheet and see how you are looking.

You can then play with these numbers by extrapolating them out over a year or modifying the conversion rate and click thru rates. You could make it a goal to increase your conversion rates from 6-8% and using Mike's model you can see - in real numbers and data - how it will affect your cash flow.
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on September 1, 2011
This book presents an "easy to understand", Excel-supported financial planning model for a startup business. Colwell accepts that many entrepreneurs are "idea based" and may not have a grasp of financial planning. He provides easy access to a customized spread sheet through a simple licensing agreement accessed through a web address in the text.
The major appeal to me was having formatted Excel spread sheets where I could input my data by following his instructions. Once entered, the data automatically generates several statements that are useful in planning, especially a cash flow statement for the first three years. The author provides prompts constantly as you input data to help you consider the accuracy and reasonableness of the dollar amounts.
What makes this superior to most models I've reviewed is that it is easy to understand how to generate data. The sample scenarios make the reader aware of alternatives, one of which should apply to your business. The resulting financial statements can become the basis for a comprehensive business plan and likely would be impressive to potential investors or financial institutions that would provide capital.
The model was developed by the author over a period of years and perfected by his current role as a consultant to entrepreneurs who are starting new businesses. The low cost of using this model should also appeal to anyone who needs to acquire a planning model economically.
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VINE VOICEon August 21, 2011
First -- go download the free spreadsheet/tool at [...] It is designed for the entrepreneur or small business owner. It will help you get your financial house in order for both yourself and for any business partners, bankers, funders etc.

It will allow you to easily and accurately track both the projections and then the actual performance of your start up or small business. The #1 mistake most new business owners make is that they don't understand the money side of things as well.

But, unless you're a CPA -- those numbers become a bit of a blur. (At least they do for me). So rather than pull your hair out, hoping you're doing it right -- why not buy the cheat sheet?

This book is the companion to the spreadsheet tool. It walks you through, step by step, how to fill out the entire thing correctly and how to maintain it, so it continues to serve your business. It takes all of the guesswork and worry away and holds your hand, explaining what different numbers mean and why they're important, along with the tactical instructions of how to do it correctly.

I've owned my own business for almost 20 years and I promise you -- you will be so glad you have this information and can accurately track your progress. It will help you identify both opportunities and potential danger spots so you can deal with both.

I highly recommend both the free tool and its companion cheat sheet/guide!
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on August 11, 2011
This book and the accompanying spreadsheet tools should be required reading for anyone even thinking about starting a new business. Honestly, a lot of people in bigger companies could use it as a tool to brush up on what should go into the financial planning for any business endeavor.

Descriptions and tools are in plain English and easy to understand so you don't need to complete your MBA or degree in finance to get started. Basic Excel skills will be needed, but anyone starting a business most likely has that under their belt already anyway. The book and spreadsheet together will help you "think of everything" when doing the important analysis about whether the pet business you have been dreaming about could ever become a reality.

The author has a good background in planning and an eye for the financial details that a novice might miss. Those are the kind of mistakes that cause new dream business to fail to clear the hurdles during their early stages. At under $6, this could easily be the best business advice someone with ideas about setting up their own shop could get, regardless if they are building a new product or providing a service.

Buy the book before you start, and you stand a better chance of being able to write the cost off after a great first year of success!!
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