Startup companies have a lot to consider when it comes to creating a financial model. This is an important step to take, as it sets the foundation for the future success of the company. Having a reliable, well-crafted financial model is necessary for making key decisions, analyzing various scenarios, and accurately predicting long-term viability. As such, it’s important to benchmark your startup’s financial model in order to make sure it’s capable of meeting the goals you have set.

The importance of a good financial model cannot be overstated. It must be sound and set realistic targets and budgets in order to ensure sufficient profitability. It is essential to ensure that projections are achievable and match the goals and financial resources of the company. Furthermore, it must provide an accurate reflection of future performance, cost and revenue potential.

Setting goals for the financial model is one of the key steps in this process. These goals should be able to provide the basis for developing forecasts, making reliable predictions and allowing for comparison with the competition and the industry at large. It is important to evaluate the assumptions and expectations you have for the model and make sure that they are feasible and in line with the company’s resources. Furthermore, the goals should be specific and quantifiable, as well as easily tracked and measured.

Key Takeaways

  • Set realistic goals for your financial model
  • Benchmark your financial model for future success
  • Model should be sound and reflect future performance
  • Evaluate the assumptions and expectations for the model
  • Goals should be quantifiable and easily tracked

What is Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a process of continually measuring and comparing a product, service or process with others or with a pre-agreed standard or target. It provides companies with valuable information about industry trends and best practices, allowing them to identify strengths, weaknesses and potential areas of improvement. By comparing performance of their products and services against those of their competitors, firms can maximize their competitive edge, increase productivity and maintain a competitive cost advantage.

Definition of Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a systematic, continual process of comparing a company's performance against other firms, usually the most successful in their industry. It is a way to evaluate current performance and identify what needs to be improved in order to stay competitive. Benchmarking compares various processes and output metrics, such as sales, marketing and quality, with those of industry leaders in order to improve an organization’s performance.

Benefits of Benchmarking

Benchmarking can help management identify strengths, weaknesses and potential areas of improvement, aiding the organization in understanding where it stands and helping prioritize resources for improvement. By providing a neutral comparison, benchmarking can challenge firms to strive for excellence. Benchmarking can be used to identify potential efficiencies, cost savings opportunities, penetrate new markets and create innovative products and services.

  • Benchmarking allows companies to identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential areas for improvement.
  • The process of benchmarking can challenge companies to strive for excellence.
  • Benchmarking can be used to identify potential efficiencies, cost savings opportunities, and create innovative products and services.

Benchmarking Approaches

Monitoring Industry Standards

Benchmarking your startup’s financial model is a critical step to understanding the performance of your business. Monitoring industry standards gives insights into average and target performance rates, product pricing, methodologies, and more. In some sectors, there may be official standards or models published for comparison, giving direct insights for comparison.

However, even if there are no official standards, there will be industry norms. You can still draw comparison data and look for common industry trends. Having a comprehensive understanding of the industry is key for benchmarking your startup’s financial model and is beneficial for both short term and long term planning. Resources such as expert surveys, reports and economic trend databases can be used to monitor industry standards.

Internal Comparison Metrics

Keeping track of key internal financial metrics critical for your business is essential in understanding how it is performing. Examples of internal comparison metrics to identify trends and performance include, but are not limited to, gross margin, cost per unit, customer lifetime value, return on investment (ROI), market share growth and market penetration rate.

The data you gather can be used to identify areas that need to be improved in order to reach financial objectives. This can be especially beneficial for startups that are continuously pivoting and developing new services. By regularly monitoring internal metrics, startups can quickly evaluate their performance and generate insights for improvement.

Financial Model Assumptions

In a perfect financial model, every detail would be perfect and nothing would be overlooked. However, this isn’t feasible for startups that are just starting out. For every financial model, there will be some assumptions that should be made when projecting future income and cash flows. Taking the time to thoroughly assess and benchmark your assumptions can save your business from costly mistakes.

Estimating Cash Flows

Cash flow is essential for any business. Whether your business is just starting up or expanding, accurate cash flow projections are essential for success. Startup founders should take into account the major expenses that their business may incur and plan for any potential change in the cash flow. This includes items such as salaries and bonuses, taxes, rent, loan payments, marketing, utilities, and insurance. Additionally, they need to plan for any other miscellaneous expenses that could pop up.

Estimating Revenue Streams

Revenue is the lifeblood of almost any business and startups should carefully plan for their revenue streams. Your company should be well aware of their pricing structure and how it stands up against competitors. This can easily be done through competitor analysis and benchmarking. Additionally, forecasting should be done to best weigh the risk/reward of any potential revenue streams.

It is important to remember that financial model assumptions are never perfect and are prone to be inaccurate. This is why it is important to thoroughly assess and benchmark all your assumptions and calibrate your models to reality as much as possible. Doing this can save time and money in the long run.

Calculating Benchmarks

Benchmarking is an essential component of understanding how well your startup financial model is performing relative to the market norm. Being able to accurately measure and execute benchmarks is necessary for measuring whether your model is successful or not. Benchmarking entails several key steps, from understanding the calculations assumptions to measuring the data points that are specific to your company.

Benchmarking Assumptions

Before you can measure how your startup financial model is performing, you must first understand the assumptions that you are making. Benchmarks assume certain values, angles, and perspectives. These assumptions must be made clear so that you have a clear understanding of how accurately you are measuring success.

Additionally, it’s important to identify other areas of benchmarking focus. This could include understanding the competitive landscape, developing a strategy to solve challenges, and more. By understanding key assumptions, you can create an accurate benchmark of your startups financial model.

Measuring Data Points

Once the assumptions are clear, you can move onto measuring the necessary data points for your benchmark. Data points are a collection of information and metrics in which you can measure how your financial model stands relative to the rest of the market. This can include revenue growth, market share, customer satisfaction, and more. By measuring these data points, you can begin to understand the success of your model.

  • Revenue growth - measure how your revenue is growing year-over-year.
  • Market share - understand how much of the market you own and what you need to do to increase it.
  • Customer satisfaction - measure customer feedback to understand customer sentiment.
  • Cost structure - analyze your cost structure, in order to increase profit.
  • Product development - track your product development, in order to diversify your portfolio.

By analyzing the data points and measuring them against your benchmarks, you can understand the success of your financial model. By using the right data points, you can accurately measure the performance of your model and compare against peers.

Applying Benchmarks

Benchmarking can be used to track progress and guide course adjusting. When applying benchmarks to evaluate the effectiveness of a startup’s financial model, it’s important to identify potential areas of improvement as well as effective strategies that need to be maintained. Here are some key considerations:

Course Adjusting the Financial Model

Most startups have financial models that evolve over time as their businesses change and grow. This means that their strategies for managing and investing funds may need to be adjusted as the company changes. When benchmarking the success of the financial model, it’s important to track the changes in the model to make sure it is adapting with the company’s growth.

Balancing Goals

When benchmarking, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the goals for the financial model. The benchmarks should be used to track and measure progress towards these goals. It’s essential to find a balance between short- and long-term goals, so the financial model takes into account both immediate needs and long-term financial stability.

By using benchmarks to evaluate and adjust the startup’s financial model, entrepreneurs can gain insight into their company’s financial health and ensure that the financial model is meeting their needs. This process can help them make more informed decisions about their finances, allowing the business to become more successful in the long run.


Benchmarking your startup's financial model is a valuable exercise that can provide unique and useful insights into the potential success of your company. Creating a successful financial model is an iterative process that requires constant evaluation and careful analysis. By benchmarking short and long-term projections, entrepreneurs can observe their business more accurately and create more achievable models based on industry standards.

Short-term benchmarking helps startups to understand how immediate actions affect expenses and calculate meaningful performance indicators. On the other hand, long-term benchmarking can provide entrepreneurs with a broad overview of financial performance and help to detect potential issues with the model.

Benchmarking is a valuable tool for entrepreneurs to understand the realistic trajectory of their business in both the short and long-term. Investing in benchmarking can give startups a competitive edge and help them to build more reliable financial models.

Expert-built startup financial model templates

500+ Excel financial model templates for your business plan