Impact

The Impact sheet helps you think about the broader impact of your business and create a basic analysis and reporting structure for using your financial and operational metrics to calculate your impact metrics. Created in partnership with Venture Better.

The Impact sheet is designed to help create a structure for you to use your financial and operational metrics to forecast your impact metrics. The word impact is used to describe a broad range of outputs, outcomes, and impact that explores the relationship between your business activities and the rest of the world.

The Impact sheet is currently a feature in the Standard Financial Model and the Runway and Cash Budget Tool.

Thinking about how to organize for impact? Here’s a brief guide to “Should I incorporate as a benefit corporation?”

Why is this in a financial model?

From Venture Better, How Impact Matters in Venture:

Impact, and how we measure impact, is concerned with outcomes from a venture’s activities and outputs. In other words, it’s about understanding how a venture influences the world as a result of what and how it creates and operates.

Conventionally, most non-financial outcomes are treated as externalities to a venture. As such, non-financial outcomes are not considered to have material consequences. However, in recent years, many externalities are proving, in fact, to be material, particularly where negative social or environmental consequences are evident.

Additionally, negative externalities from ventures are having knock-on effects in the form of social and regulatory pressure, as well as employee and market demand. At a minimum, these externalities pose increased risk to every venture.

At the same time, these challenges also create opportunities for existing ventures to outmaneuver competitors and for new ventures to introduce solutions that actively contribute to a better future. From both perspectives, impact awareness and action is increasingly important in the venture ecosystem and society at large.

If impact is a core driver of your business, then being able to forecast your impact metrics adds a significant vector to your financial and operational metrics that can help tell the story about your business to yourselves, your employees, users, customers, investors, suppliers, and everyone in your value chain.

I build financial models that include operational metrics (e.g. users, customers, leads, conversion rates, churn rates) in addition to purely financial metrics (e.g. revenues, expenses, net income) because:

  • the operational metrics provide valuable context and grounding to the financial forecast
  • operational metrics tell a deeper story about the performance of the business
  • operational metrics are tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) that are important for performance analysis, improvement, and benchmarking

I added impact metrics to the model in 2019 because I believe that - for users where impact is a core value driver for their organizations - forecasting these metrics and surfacing them to the visibility of financial and operational metrics is a valuable addition to a financial forecast. 1 This sheet was created in partnership with Venture Better, a platform for impact that offers training, resources, and services to help anyone understand and activate impact in venture. 2

Impact may not be important for you. If so, safely hide or delete the sheet.

To learn more about the topic of impact, start with Venture Better’s Community Resources →

Related: Should I incorporate as a benefit corporation?

How to use

The goal of this sheet is to create some structure for you to report on the impact metrics of your business along with its financial and operational metrics. Your impact metrics will be specific to your business and the impact you have on society, your customers, your supply chain, your partners, your employees, your users. In each section on the sheet, you are invited to think through the impact your business has and identify what drives it by creating an impact metric and calculating it based on a financial or operational metric (a source metric) reported in the model.

Not every user will find this analysis valuable, and this sheet is optional and can be safely deleted or hidden if desired.

How to create an impact metric

Crafting the appropriate metric can be difficult. The one for one model is a commonly referenced model used to create impact metrics, but it’s just one of many methods that can be used by businesses to report on the impact of their business. You could create a metric that is tied to the water used in your production processes, or the carbon footprint of your operations, or the income of your suppliers, as just a few examples.

Here’s just a small sample of mission statements or impact reports created by companies that can help you think about impact metrics:

Need ideas for metrics?

  • Check out IRIS for lists and definitions of potentially appropriate metrics
  • Read about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for lists of metrics that tie to impact
  • Explore the organizations screened by Venture Better to see how the community has identified alignment with the SDGs

Questions about creating impact metrics, I’m happy to help.

How it works

The source metric section draws from the financial and operational metrics reported on the Hooks and Forecast sheets, and also includes an open input section for you to create your own source metric, drawing from the core financial model, any additional sheet you may have added, or simply manually input.

Next, you create your impact metrics. There are prebuilt blocks for up to five impact metrics - hide or delete blocks that you do not need - and in each block, you input the name of the metric you want to report, use the dropdown on the next line to select the appropriate source metric used to calculate the impact metric, and then in the annual results below, it will display the source metric and calculate the annual impact. The key here is the input line labeled conversion factor, this is how you use the source metric to create a value conversion into your chosen impact metric.

The conversion factor could be a measure of:

  • the value of donations or products given to people based on the number of value of purchases made
  • the carbon emitted, or offset, based on the the number of customers or purchases
  • the number of people that are employed by your business
  • the inclusiveness of your workforce

The conversion factor can vary by year simply by adjusting the input per year.

Under the annual impact line is an open input for a description of the metric; this is optional, but helps provide documentation and clarity to what the metric means and how the conversion factor is used in your specific case.

Underneath the impact metric section are two charts to compare the impact metrics and show their trends over time. The first chart plots the metrics on a logarithmic scale; the log scale helps normalize the bases to make it easier to show how they change, relatively, over time (i.e. it does not use an absolute y-axis scale).

You may get an alert that says “Negative or zero values cannot be plotted correctly on log charts. Only positive values can be interpreted on a logarithmic scale.” You can safely ignore this alert.

The second chart uses a similar normalization to create a 1 to 5 comparative scale (5 being the most, 1 being the least) that compares the metrics at a single point in time; simply use the dropdown in column I to select which year is displayed in the chart.

You may delete, edit, or make any chart you want using your source metrics or impact metrics to help tell the story of your impact.

Inputs

The key inputs on the sheet are your input of impact metric name, selection of source metric used to calculate the impact metric, and conversion factor per metric, and these are done for each impact metric desired.

Common Modifications

Any information can be added or edited on this sheet. There are a few common modifications to this sheet:

  • Adding source metrics. Simply link to the appropriate metric in the forecast model, whether it is from Hooks, Forecast, or any other existing or custom sheet.
  • Deleting unnecessary impact metric sections. Simply delete the unneeded sections and remove them from the two charts.

  1. Here’s an example of how Etsy integrated their financial and impact reporting in their SEC filings 

  2. Venture Better is a Possibilian intervention, co-produced with the Venture Better Community; Taylor Davidson is a General Partner at Possibilian. 

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