Business Plan in the ICT industry: Excel template!

Finding a good business plan template in Excel format can be really hard, for the following reasons:

You need the right level of detail. More often than not, the templates provided by others (your corporate HQs, your boss, you name it) are much too detailed – if you work for a large company, you know what I mean. In those horrible templates, you really wonder who might ever read the hundreds and thousands of rows that try to forecast what could happen 10 years down the road….

If you are looking at an existing business, the financial projections should also take the recent past into account. Too often, the templates don’t seem to care about what happened in the last couple of years. If you haven’t analysed the recent performance of the company, how can you pretend that your 7-10 year forecast is realistic?

Forecasting ‘costs’ is hard, but forecasting ‘markets’ and ‘revenues’ is really a lot harder. One way to address this challenge is to forecast the market in two different manners: by regions / countries on one hand, and by product lines / products on the other hand. And then reconcile them so that the two projections are aligned.

Bus_Plan_Chart

Finally, the financial plan must look good. Not only it must support the story that you are trying to sell (to your management, or to investors), but it must also be visually appealing.

In the ICT industry, there are quite a lot of software and service businesses (as well as hardware, for sure), with the added charm that gross margins can be (very) high, and working capital requirements low (who doesn’t love prepayments or annual software / service fees paid upfront?). So we have reflected these salient features of the ICT industry in the template below. Business Planning Template PDF (4529 downloads)

Enjoy the template in PDF format! If you want a copy of the business plan in Excel, provided by Investaura Management Consultants, you need to register for the ‘Business Plan templates‘ package on the web side. Beside this template, the package also provide a Business Plan in Excel specifically for Telecoms operators (service providers). Check our various packages here.

Financial ratio analysis: Free Excel template!

There are 4 main categories of financial ratios and KPIs used by financial practitioners, each addressing a specific question:

Question 1: “Is the business profitable?” -> Profitability ratios, calculated from the P&L (e.g. Gross margin, EBITDA margin, EBIT margin)

Question 2: “Is the business liquid in the short term?” -> Liquitidity ratios, calculated from the Balance Sheet (e.g. current ratio, liquid ratio, cash ratio)

Question 3: “Is the business financially stable in the long term?” –> Stability ratios, calculated from the Balance Sheet (e.g. debt-to-equity ratio, gearing, debt cover ratio)

Question 4: “Is profitability high enough compared to what we have invested?” –> Capital Efficiency ratios (e.g. ROE taking an ‘equity’ perspective; ROIC taking an ‘entity’ point of view).

In additional, practitioners often undertake a Cost Structure Analysis, as well as a Working Capital Analysis (e.g. receivables days, inventory days, payable days).

This analysis is not hard when you understand the meaning of these ratios, and how to calculate them. To help you get started, Investaura Management Consultants is pleased to provide you with this Financial Ratio Analysis template.

FinancialRatios

You need to register for free as a ‘Discovery’ member on this web site to download the Financial Ratio analysis template (more than 7500 downloads). Go to the registration page.

Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements

For those of you who are either new to financial statements, or want to learn how to read financial statements like Waren Buffett does, and better understand “what he saw”, there is this fantastic easy-to-read little book:

Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements: The search for the Company with a Durable Competitive Advantage

from Simon & Schuster. Check it on Amazon.

Forget P/E ratios when buying stocks! This book invites you to put your focus on what really matters: Gross Margin; SG&A; EBIT Margin; Earnings / Price ratio; Fixed assets; R&D expenses; Retained earnings and growth in Retained earnings; Debt; Return on Equity; Return on Assets.

Interestingly you will also learn why Warren does like high-tech firms – they have to spend huge amounts of money on R&D to keep their competitive advantage; and even then, their durable advantage might wear out. Think of Nokia and how its market capitalisation went down from USD 78bn in early 2006 to USD 7bn in July 2012 (-90%). Warren does not like that, and the book explains why these stocks are not the right ones to become mega-rich over the long term. And why buy stocks if you don’t want to become rich?

Even more important, you will learn how Warren looks at a share as an ‘equity bond’ i.e. its pre-tax earnings (equivalent to the bond coupon / interest payment), the historical growth of earnings and their relation to the current share price. When Warren bought Coca-Cola in the late 80s at USD 6.5 a share, he bought shares in a company that was essentially generating a pre-tax earning of 11% on his USD 6.5 investment, and had been growing its earnings at an annual rate of 15% historically. 20 years later, Coca-Cola generates an EBIT per share of more than USD 4, so the company is paying Warren a pre-tax yield of 60% (post-tax 40%) on his initial investment. Do you know a bond that increases its coupon from 11% to 60% over 20 years?

Whatever the current stock market price of Coca-Cola is, the Coca-Cola ‘equity bond’ was a fantastic investment for Warren. And whatever the ups and downs on the stock market, the market eventually recognises this kind of performance and increases the price of the shares to a level that reflects their true value. And the value of a Coca-Cola share is around USD 76 in mid-July 2012…