Tip #72: Spurious accuracy

Tip 72: Spurious accuracy. A typical projection table (like some of those back in tip 65) shows new customers each year projected precisely (31, 423, 1578, 31,245, 108,205), year 5 revenue projected to the dollar, and margins and growth rates shown to 1-2 decimal places.

We already agree we don’t believe these fantasy projections. We definitely don’t believe such a specific fantasy.

There are multiple reasons not to be so spuriously precise. Most obviously, $19,258,356.38 is hard to read and takes up space, while not adding anything valuable to the pitch than $19M would.

More subtly (as with the general complaint about mismatching tables in tip 21) they show you just don’t think about projections and financials. All you have done is proved that excel is a good tool for multiplication, and given strong signals that you haven’t actually thought about, calibrated, or digested the result.

So, tip #72, round customers to the nearest milestone (500), round big financials to the nearest million ($19M), keep margins at whole numbers (50%), and keep your credibility high.