Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

Read ‘Painting with Numbers.’ Please.

Posted by on June 13th, 2012

If you’re doing investment pitches, you should read this book. If you’re doing a pitch I’m going to see, I want you to have read this book. And if you’re a startup CFO, finance lead, bean counter, or presentation slide deck preparer, then you should read this book. Painting with Numbers, by Randall Bolten. And it has a subtitle that exactly explains why I recommend it:

Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You.

The bad news: it’s produced like a textbook, and laid out like a textbook, and priced like a textbook, $28.00 for the hard copy and $19.99 for the Kindle edition.

The good news: 

  • It includes a good practical treatment of how to do it with spreadsheets and slide decks. It has lots of tips and lots of examples.
  • It also includes some really important discussion of why terms and details matter.

I’ve deal with people who think GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) and terminology are nits that only nit pickers care about. Numbers are numbers, after all. But in the real world, when you get to business numbers, sales are not accounts receivable and revenue isn’t income and people who read financial projections need to know that an apple is an apple, and not an orange.

Bolten does a really good job on why, what, and how to present numbers, just as in his subtitle, so people will understand you. And I think this topic matters.

Written by Tim Berry

user Tim Berry

Tim is the founder of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, the co-founder of Borland International, and the official business planning coach at Entrepreneur.com. He has been called the "Obi-wan Kenobe of business planning" and "The Father of Business Planning." He is a serial author of books and software on business planning.

prev next

You might also be interested in

What Belongs in a Startup’s Pitch Deck?

So you’ve developed a game-changing product, formed a business with a killer team, quit your job, and are rolling the product out to market. Your business is the next unicorn, and all is good in the world. Fantastic. Now only one thing is inhibiting your company’s growth: you have no money.

For many founders of high-growth startups, bootstrapping has limits.

Read more >

From Accelerators to Venture Capital: What is best for your startup?

With startup growth up 61% since 2014 and more investment programs emerging, it can be overwhelming for founders to know just where to jump in. As the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, MassChallenge has helped 835 startup companies around the world, who have raised over $1.1 billion in funding and created over 6,500 jobs. We have seen startups at

Read more >

Ask A Founder: Startup Lessons Learned from Work Truck Solutions’ Kathryn Schifferle

Kathryn Schifferle, Founder and CEO of Work Truck Solutions, turned being a woman in work trucks into an oversubscribed $2.1 million round.

We sat down with Kathryn as she shared what her fundraising journey was like, the startup lessons she learned, and her advice to fellow founders, especially women. Here is what she had to say:

HK: Tell

Read more >

Valuation Part I: Peeling the Onion, or How Top Investors Value the Startups They Invest In

Update 2017: To help you understand how your startup will look to investors according to this methodology, we’ve created a fundraising feedback tool that will give you investor-level insight into your startup’s performance. In just about 15 minutes, it will tell you how much money your startup is likely to raise, where you can find that capital, and what to

Read more >

Trying to Raise Money? Thinking About Gust for Startup Fundraising?

How to Make Your Gust Account Stand Out to Investors

Before you read any further, I want you to know that I’ve personally used Gust to raise money for my first tech startup. I know a lot of other entrepreneurs who use or have used Gust to seek funds, but their profiles don’t always get attention from investors. Below are

Read more >

Comments

2 thoughts on “Read ‘Painting with Numbers.’ Please.”