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5 top tips for managing cashflow for start-ups

Cashflow is a valuable metric for business success. You need to keep track of 'inflows' and 'outflows' and be prepared for ebbs and flows

Keeping track of cashflow can be a challenge even for the most established of organisations, never mind a young start-up.

But don’t panic; the team at The Accountancy Cloud have provided us with 5 top tips for cashflow management.

No matter why you’ve decided to launch your own start-up — to dedicate yourself to your passion, to show off your skills and talents, or even to revolutionise the world — there will always be one goal that you’ll share with every other business owner: to generate income!

The problem, however, is that income alone doesn’t really do much to demonstrate success. Instead, it can sometimes be more beneficial to look at cashflow — the ins and outs — as a whole. But just what are the best ways to manage cashflow?

1. Understand where money’s coming from… and where it’s going

The first step towards successful cashflow management for start-ups is simply to understand where your cash is coming in, and where it’s going out.

Cashflow statements, which are regularly overlooked by small businesses, can be hugely beneficial in highlighting ‘inflows’ and ‘outflows’, but there are also a number of specific areas that are important to analyse.

In terms of inflows, consider average revenue per account and customer lifetime value; for outflows, look at customer acquisition cost and your churn rate.

2. Take a look at the bigger picture

Financial analysis — looking at cashflow statements, for example — is vital for start-ups, but it’s not the ‘be all and end all’ of successful cashflow management.

That’s because these statements can be heavily influenced by many external factors; a few late payments to your suppliers can suggest a better financial status, while one-off costs, such as purchasing new equipment for your start-up, can make it look like you’re in the red.

Take a look at the bigger picture and consider wider aspects such as profitability.

3. Be prepared for ebbs and flows

Managing cashflow should always be a mid- to long-term concept; not a short-term strategy. That’s because there will always be cashflow ebbs and flows, and this is especially true for start-ups.

Why? Because there are definite financial transitions that a start-up will go through as it begins to become a more established business. Consider the ‘flows’ of increased turnover as a result of rapid growth for example, or taking on equity, coupled with the ‘ebbs’ of greater debt as a result of taking out further development loans.

4. Stay on top of things; don’t fall behind

There are many common business issues that, while not specific to start-ups, can impact a start-up to a much greater extent than a larger, more established company.

One of these issues relates directly to accounts receivable. While a late payment from a customer can be frustrating, for start-ups that rely heavily upon timely remuneration for day-to-day operations, cashflow figures can become heavily distorted.

Staying on top of things is vital, perhaps even automating payment chasing using software.

5. Develop a cashflow management plan

One of the most effective tips for managing cashflow is simply to develop a realistic cashflow management plan.

While each plan will differ depending on individual business needs, standard features of such a plan include identification of cashflow obstacles, acknowledgement of day-to-day operational expenses, and preparation for building a positive overall cashflow.

Start-ups will also benefit from the solid documentation created by a cashflow management plan; a beneficial tool for attracting investors.

Measuring financial metrics

As a start-up, it’s tempting to get caught up in income alone. After all, income is a good indicator of your reach, and your value to your target audience.

However, income isn’t always a good metric to analyse when it comes to looking at financial success and outlook. Cashflow can be much more valuable.

Check out The Accountancy Cloud’s guide to Managing Cashflow for Tech Startups which provides more useful information on the best ways to monitor and track your business’ early financial health.