Return on Investment

Return on Investment Analysis for an Investor

If you are seeking funding for your business by way of investment, it is likely that you will need to include an estimate of the return on investment an investor can expect to make from their investment in your business plan. Investors use the return on investment calculation to compare several different investments in deciding whether to invest or not.

How to Calculate Return on Investment

Different investors will use different methods to calculate return on investment, various techniques exist, the main ones of which are described below.

When presenting your plan and financial projections for funding, you should decide which method suits the particular application and include the calculated amount in your documents.

Return on Investment – ROI

The return on the investment measures the overall profit on an investment expressed as a percentage of the amount invested. It takes no account of the time value of money, and represents the return over the lifetime of the investment.

The return on investment formula is

ROI = Profit / Investment

As an example, if an investor invests 100,000 in your business and after 5 years receives 400,000, then the return on investment is given by.

ROI = Profit / Investment
ROI = 400,000-100,000 / 100,000 = 300%

Annual Return on Investment – AROI

The annual return on investment seeks to give an average annual return based on the total return on investment.

AROI = Return on investment / Term

Using the figures form the previous example, the annual return on investment calculation is then given as follows:

AROI = Return on Investment / Term
AROI = 300% / 5 = 60%

Implicit in the calculation of this annual return on investment is the assumption that the business goes on forever with annual returns of 60,000.


The multiple, tells and investor how many times their original investment has been returned. The multiple is given by the formula:

Multiple = Total amount returned by the investment / Investment

In the example above, the amount returned was 400,000 and the amount invested was 100,000, the multiple is calculated as follows:

Multiple = Total amount returned by the investment / Investment
Multiple = 400,000 / 100,000 = 4

Again, the multiple takes no account of the time value of money.

Compound Annual Growth Rate – CAGR

The compound annual growth rate seeks to take account of the time value of money. The calculation uses discounted cash flow techniques, and seeks to find the steady annual growth rate which the investment cash flows are equivalent to.

Mathematically, the compound annual growth rate is the same as the internal rate of return (IRR) of the cash flows from the investment.

In the above example, the investment was 100,000 and the investor received 400,000 after 5 years. In this simple example the internal rate of return or compound annual growth rate is given as follows:

Compound annual growth rate = (Amount returned / Amount invested)(1 / Term) - 1
Compound annual growth rate = (400,000 / 100,000)(1 / 5) - 1 = 31.95%

This can be seen in the table below

Compound Annual Growth Rate
Year Opening Interest (31.95%) Closing
1 100,000 31,951 131,951
2 131,951 42,159 174,110
3 174,110 55,630 229,740
4 229,740 73,404 303,144
5 303,144 96,857 400,000

So when an investor receives 400,000 after 5 years from an initial investment of 100,000, it is equivalent to them receiving a compound annual growth rate of 31.95%.

Our compound annual growth rate calculator can be used to work out the discounted cash flow calculation for you.

Typical Rates of Return on Investment

Depending on the stage your business is at, the return required by investors will vary. Generally the earlier stage the business, the more risky it will be perceived and the greater the return required.

Typically investors will look for the best return on investment with a minimum of 30 – 40% compound annual growth rate. The table below sets out example compound annual growth rates with corresponding return on investment, annual return on investment and multiples for a 5 year term.

Typical investor requirements based on a 5 year term
CAGR Multiple ROI Annual ROI
60% 10.5x 949% 190%
50% 7.6x 659% 132%
40% 5.4x 438% 88%
30% 3.7x 271% 54%
25% 3.1x 205% 41%

Whichever method is chosen, the return the investor is expected to make by investing in your business, should be clearly identified in you business plan summary or financial projections.

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