The Real Cost of That Free Financial Modeling Excel Template

December 19, 2019

When you’re busy trying to get your SaaS business off the ground, the lure of any sort of “free template” is strong. A quick Google search, and you have unpaid access to business plan templates, financial projection Excel spreadsheet templates, pitch deck templates, website templates–all of which could save you precious time that you could then invest toward more pressing things (like, for example, finishing your product. Or funding said product.) But let’s hold on for a moment before we take that free bait. While a template can certainly help a busy SaaS entrepreneur save some precious time up front, in the case of financial modeling Excel spreadsheet templates, that time actually multiplies as your business scales and grows, costing your business some serious time, money, and effort in its most critical time. Here’s how:

Financial Modeling Excel Template Maintenance 

Sure, that initial template download and a few hours of numerical plug-and-chug seem like a small price to pay for the document that will literally get your dream funded. But that price? It continues to grow right alongside your business. Think about it: as your business grows and scales, so does the data within that spreadsheet. You’ll likely need to add new rows and columns, update formulas, shift graphs, add tabs–all things that have high risk for breaking more complex formulas and equations. 

Hard-coded Key Metrics

Many templates do come with a cover sheet with pre-made graphs and tables that will populate what the creator has deemed as “key metrics”, but there’s a good chance that some of their key metrics won’t match with yours, and attempting to change those formulas or add new ones will very likely break something along the way–adding more time to your financials management, and taking away from the things that really matter to you. 

Errors in Projections

When a formula or link breaks in your financials spreadsheet, you’re obviously going to spend time fixing it. But how can you ensure that you’re not missing something? You’ll likely want somebody to check your work at some point to ensure that your projections are correct before you use them to hang your hat on in an investor pitch meeting. But with a convoluted spreadsheet, it’s much harder to audit formulas and links that are hidden behind thousands and thousands of cells of data. Errors in your financials can prove to be not only catastrophic for your chances at getting funded, but to your overall business. SaaS businesses are high churn for this very reason; It’s a race against the clock at every stage, which is exactly why you can’t afford to present inaccurate numbers to investors and stakeholders.  

Management and Auditing

As your business and spreadsheet grow in tandem, you’ll eventually need to bring in some outside help for management. It’s not uncommon for SaaS companies to hand over their financial spreadsheets to their accounting firms for management in order to free up precious time and resources as the business scales. A SaaS startup may pay an accounting firm upwards of $10,000 annually for financial spreadsheet management alone.

Ok, so let’s review: accurate and accessible financials are what will get your business funded. Period. So, it’s safe to say that your financials are too important for a free Excel template. It’s time to treat them that way. (And, we happen to have the software for that! Click Here to learn more about our SaaS financial projection software that will help you treat your financials how they deserve to be treated.)

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