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Create a Net Present Value Spreadsheet

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Jason Chan
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Creating a Net Present Value Spreadsheet to Value Your Company (template here)

One of the most widely used techniques in financial analysis is the Net Present Value (NPV) method. NPV can help you figure out what an investment or company is worth by considering the time value of money. By creating a robust NPV spreadsheet, you can streamline the financial analysis process and make informed decisions. In this article, we will guide you through the process of creating an NPV spreadsheet, from understanding the basics to advanced techniques and decision-making strategies.

Understanding Net Present Value (NPV)

Before diving into the nuts and bolts of creating an NPV spreadsheet, it's essential to grasp the concept of Net Present Value. NPV is a financial metric that discounts future cash flows of an investment or a company to present value. It takes into account the time value of money, which means that a dollar received in the future is worth less than a dollar received today (this concept is best understood by the fact that you'd rather have 1 dollar today than 1 dollar in the future because if you receive that dollar today, you could invest it and have more than a dollar in the future).

When considering the concept of NPV, it is important to understand the underlying principle of discounting. The discount rate used in NPV calculations represents the opportunity cost of investing in a particular project. It reflects the return an investor could earn by investing in an alternative opportunity with similar risk. The discount rate takes into account factors such as inflation, interest rates, and the perceived riskiness of the investment. By discounting future cash flows, NPV brings them back to their present value, allowing for a fair comparison of different investment opportunities. In our template, we just use the current risk free rate (government t bills) plus some risk factor.

Basics of Spreadsheet Creation

Now that we have a solid understanding of NPV, let's explore the basics of creating a robust spreadsheet for financial analysis.

Essential Spreadsheet Skills

Before diving into the specifics, it's essential to have a solid foundation in spreadsheet skills. Familiarize yourself with functions such as SUM, PV, and NPV, as well as basic formatting and data manipulation techniques. These skills will form the backbone of your NPV spreadsheet creation process.

Choosing the Right Spreadsheet Software

When it comes to creating an NPV spreadsheet, choosing the right spreadsheet software is crucial. Popular options include Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Subset. Consider factors such as compatibility, functionality, and ease of use when selecting the software that fits your needs. We've included a free Subset Spreadsheet Template that you can clone and use here.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an NPV Spreadsheet

Now that we've covered the essentials, let's dive into the step-by-step process of creating an NPV spreadsheet.

Setting Up Your Spreadsheet

The first step in creating an NPV spreadsheet is setting up the necessary headers and labels. This includes labeling each column with the appropriate cash flow periods, such as Year 1, Year 2, and so on. Additionally, create rows for cash flows, cash flow growth rate, present and present value. This organized structure will make data input and analysis more manageable.

You will also want a place to input your discount rate and a place to calculate your Net Present Value.

Inputting Cash Flow Data

Once the structure is in place, it's time to input the cash flow data. First input your starting cash flow. Then in the cash flow growth rate, input the yearly growth rate you want for each of your years. To calculate future cash flows using the growth rate, just do previous year's cash flow and multiply it by 1+the year's growth rate.

Calculating The Present Value and the Net Present Value

With the cash flow data in place, you can calculate the present value using the PV formula. PV can be calculated in Excel with the formula =PV(rate, nper, pmt, [fv], [type]). For Rate just reference your discount rate, for nper, reference the year, and pmt input 0 and for FV reference the cash flow number.

Now it's time to calculate the NPV for each period. Utilize the built-in NPV function in your spreadsheet software which should look like this =NPV(rate, value1, [value2],...) For rate, reference the discount rate and for the values, reference the entire column of the cash flows.


In conclusion, creating a robust NPV spreadsheet is a valuable skill in financial analysis. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article and incorporating advanced techniques, you can enhance your decision-making capabilities and evaluate investment opportunities with confidence. Remember, a well-designed NPV spreadsheet is a powerful tool that empowers businesses to optimize resource allocation and maximize profitability.