How To Talk About Revenue...When You Don't Have Any

How To Talk About Revenue...When You Don't Have Any

Looking to raise money?

First, talk about The Money. Alllllll the money to be made in your market.

This includes having a believable TAM/SAM/SOM analysis.

Then you wow with your amazing revenue dolla—WHAT? Not much revenue yet???

Never fear.

You can still project confidence and financial savvy to win investors over.

Showcase a precise and specific understanding of your business numbers to show investors that you can:

  • Build a company with a sound business model
  • Be responsible with cash
  • Make data-driven decisions

It’s simple but it will set you apart!

Here are 4 strategies to showcase your business savvy regardless of your revenue!

1. Know Your Numbers

Maybe you don’t have much revenue. Every business, no matter how small or early, has tons of business data.

  • How many deals and dollars are in your pipeline?
  • How many cold calls are you making per day?
  • The click thru rate on your most recent email?
  • Exact monthly burn?
  • How much you spent on <engineering, ads, events> last month?
  • # of customers you’ve spoken to?

IMPORTANT NOTE — this doesn’t work if you’re wishy-washy.

Saying, “uh, about, 100 or so calls per day” does not have the same effect as, “I averaged 82 calls per day in May.”

Also, you can’t just have these numbers on a slide. You have to KNOW THESE NUMBERS in your heart and mind.

Add them in when answering a question or describing a revenue projection.  

It shows you understand that numbers, not just ideas or cool tech, drive a business.

2. Refer To Industry Data

Don’t have much of your own data? Wondering how to justify revenue projections or financial models?

POWER MOVE: Study publicly available financial data from companies like you.


Then reference it frequently:

We assumed an x% conversion rate because that’s what LargeUnicorn saw in their first year.


The average spend in this area from F500s is $1,512,000 per year, and that’s up from $1,279,000 in 2020.


PublicCompany gets 42% of their customers from Instagram ads and another 17% from influencers so we’re planning to start with those two strategies.

3. Talk About Tests

Explain what tests you’ve run and the (numeric!) results.

Tests? What kind of tests?  

Test results can be a helpful proxy for revenue or validate a strategy.

It gives investors confidence in your plan because it’s based on real world findings, not founder musings.

Make sure you talk about the specific numbers, dollars, conversion rates.

We did a waitlist sign up test. We spent $515 on ads, got 3,000 impressions, with 5% conversion rate. We called each person that signed up and connected with 17 of them. 9 of those committed to a paid beta test for $99/mo. So we spent $515 for $900 committed.

Don’t have amazing metrics like my made up test data? 😉 Even something like this can be great:

We’ve had 95 conversations with VPs of Engineering at mid-size tech companies. Of those, 37 agreed to a follow up meeting. In those follow ups, 9 said they would have budget to solve this problem.

4. Explain Your Assumptions

This is where you combine #1-3 to show that you’re thinking deeply and (somewhat) realistically about the future of your business.

Similar to our TAM/SAM/SOM tip of “Show Your Work”, use your data, industry data, and test data to explain why you think you can do $1M in revenue by year 2 or why you can get your profit margin to 40% when you’re selling 10,000 units.

Based on our test campaign with a 10% response rate & 5 demos scheduled, competitors charging $1000/mo, and the growth of this market by 200% last year, we think 10 new customers in our first quarter and 50 customers at $50,000 MRR by end of year with one sales hire is realistic.

It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many folks don’t know the details behind their financial projections or business model.

Do this from a position of strength by citing your supporting data and highlighting what’s fact vs. educated guess.

Explaining it with confidence while acknowledging hypotheses or unknowns can be a powerful way to build trust.


Even when you don’t have much revenue, you can still impress investors and show you’re going to build a strong, financially-sound business.

Talk about numbers, drop juicy data points, and walk through your strategy and thought process with specific dollars, conversion rates, and metrics!  

What other strategies can early stage founders use to show off their business savvy??