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Welcome to Foresight

Hi! I’m Taylor Davidson. I created the financial models behind Foresight as a resource for entrepreneurs and early-stage startups to spend less time on finance and more time on their products. I’ve shared a bit about my purpose and why I build Foresight, but in short, I’ve built hundreds of financial models since 1998 for a wide variety of business analysis goals, and I first started building the templates that became Foresight in 2008. Since then, over [people] people from [countries] countries have downloaded the financial models I have online or taken a class on financial modeling from me.

I care about financial modeling because I believe that financial models are one key way for us to make “strategy” actionable. Financial models can help even the earliest entrepreneurs with business decisions. We can build “minimum viable models” the same way we build “minimum viable products”. Financial model literacy can and should be a part of startup culture but first we have to rethink how financial models are built. Financial models can help entrepreneurs make critical business decisions. But they have to be done right.

Since products are more important than spreadsheets, being able to create and understand a financial model in the most efficient manner frees us up to focus on building better products. Developers use best practices, frameworks, and public code examples to help them use standards and best practices in their own projects and to help them do their jobs faster. Entrepreneurs should have the same resources for financial models so that they can focus on the insights generated from a financial model, not spend their time building all the details.

I care a lot about building models to the right level of detail - enough detail to make the right decisions, but not too much that it overwhelms us. Enough that we can powerfully model complicated business operations, but not too much to make it impossible for us to understand the flow and integrity of a model. I’ve built a lot of incredibly detailed and complex models in my life, but I spend almost all of my time working to make them less complex: easier to understand, easier to edit, easier to use. You should understand how a model works, especially a template, and it’s my job to help you.

What these materials cover

These materials cover two topics:

  • General financial modeling for startups
  • Foresight product documentation

The first group of posts covers general topics around building a financial model, and focuses on financial modeling for startups. To be clear, these are not about Excel, but about how to build and use financial models to make business decisions.

For investment bankers or financial analysts, learning how to use Excel efficiently is a necessary part of being able to do your job, and thus Excel shortcuts, add-ins, VBA and more advanced tools are critical things you need to learn.

But for most of us - people using Excel to help us figure out our own businesses - Excel isn’t the important thing. This isn’t something we do everyday, and most of what we’re using Excel to do doesn’t really require us to know all the keyboard shortcuts or use complicated add-ins.

I’ve always focused on using Excel as a way to outline how to think about a business. To me, Excel is merely a tool, a means to an end, and it’s the tool that’s likely the most available to us. I don’t like teaching Excel tips: to be honest, I don’t know all the formulas in Excel and I don’t know all the shortcuts. But what I do know - and by this point, I know very well - is how to take an idea for a business and use Excel to forecast, analyze, and understand how the business works. That’s not as easy to teach as Excel tricks, but for entrepreneurs and people like me, “how to think using Excel” is more valuable than Excel tricks.

The overview goes into many of the building blocks of thinking about financial modeling that I’ve learned and developed over the year.

Foresight product documentation

The second group of these materials covers the Foresight financial models, and is intended to be product-specific documentation for how each model works.

They are grouped into a section of posts for features that are shared between models, and then into posts that cover the components of each template model.

Many of the posts even in these sections are applicable for people that are not using a Foresight model, but they are intended to cover how each model template works.

Questions, contact me anytime.

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