Whether you’ve just raised your seed round or are a more established start-up, it’s vital to effectively manage your cash and to make sure you have sufficient fuel in the tank. What you don’t want to do is make decisions that are not in the long-term interests of the business because you’re in a cash constrained position.
Here are some of things I’ve learnt along the way to help manage cash:
Weekly forecasting – it sounds basic but you would be amazed how many companies don’t do this.
Working capital management – the cheapest source of money for your business is your debtor book. Be rigorous with your collections and don’t take no for an answer! If you can, try and make your customers use direct debit to ensure that you receive the money when it’s due and consider making this a standard clause in your customer contract
Employees – this will be one of your biggest expenses and, if you get it wrong, one of your most expensive mistakes. Make sure that each and every employee you hire is really needed. Ask yourself whether you could outsource the role or hire a temp as opposed to a full time hire.
Taxes – Most early stage companies won’t be making a profit so won’t have any corporate tax to pay. However, there will be indirect tax to pay. In the UK this will be payroll tax (PAYE / NIC) but also VAT. Make sure that you understand all of the payment options for VAT (or equivalent tax) and chose the most effective one for your company.
In the UK you can claim R&D tax credits which enable you to receive some cash back for qualifying expenses. Most early stage technology companies will qualify for this relief. You can claim once for each financial year and have the option of receiving cash or enhanced tax losses.
Contracts – where possible avoid signing contracts that commit you for more than a few months as things can change so fats in a start-up and you want to have flexibility.
Licences – try and avoid making expensive upfront licence payments. Where possible choose a pay as you go product or service.
One of the worst times to raise money is when you are about to run out of money so hopefully these tips will enable you to get the most out of your cash.