Smart financial management is essential for any business, no matter how big or small. However, it can be difficult to get things right, especially during the startup stage. Poor financial planning is one of the most common reasons that startups fail, so the sooner you take ownership of your business’ financial health, the better.
Dealing with your finances head-on from the get-go is the best way to set yourself up for lasting success. Careful planning can help you to avoid common money mistakes and shows potential investors that you are serious. Here are the most common financial mistakes that startups make and how to avoid them.
1. Prioritizing Instinct Over Information
While following your gut is generally a good principle, it is a dangerous game to make assumptions about your finances. It is vital that you meticulously track your revenue and expenses and closely monitor your cash flow. If a small mistake goes unnoticed for too long, it could prove very damaging for your small business. During the startup stage, using an Excel spreadsheet will suffice but be prepared to upgrade to bookkeeping software later.
2. DIY Accounting
Managing your accounts by yourself will suffice for the initial setup of your small business, but it is wise to hire a professional accountant as early as possible. Juggling self-taught accounting with running a small business will eventually result in a backlog of errors, which can prove costly. Professional accounting services save time, money, and stress, allowing you to focus on growth. You do not need to hire a whole team. Start by outsourcing your taxes or setting up quarterly meetings with a financial consultant for help and advice.
3. Failing to Assign Project Budgets
Assigning a budget to a project prevents it from draining your finances should something go wrong. A clear budget will allow you to reassess your finances should the project require more money and make smart decisions that will not damage your small business.
4. Disorganized Files
The importance of balancing bank statements and keeping receipts in order cannot be overstated. Patchy bookkeeping can cause chaos for your small business and result in a lot of trouble, not to mention wasted hours trying to resolve the problem. Keeping all your receipts and cross-referencing your accounts with your bank statements is vital for transparency and future success.
5. Misunderstanding Your Target Market
For your business to be successful, you need to understand what your customers need. Knowing your target market helps you to reach them, as well as how to appropriately price your products and services. Here are some questions to consider:
- What is your market position?
- What need do you fulfil for your customers?
- How much value do your products or services provide?
- Who is your competition - and what makes you stand out?
Miscalculating prices can prove to be a grave error for a small business but knowing your market well will help you to figure things out.
6. Hiring Quantity Over Quality
Over-hiring is an expensive mistake to make. Hiring employees is one of the costliest parts of running a small business, so going overboard is a huge waste of money. It can also damage staff morale and productivity and lay-offs further down the line will only amplify the problem.
Bad hires are another threat to a small business. Hiring the wrong employee can create an imbalance within the company culture. In turn, this can negatively impact other staff and even damage your business’ reputation. Do not rush the hiring process. Taking extra care to avoid mistakes can save a lot of trouble in the long run.
7. Miscalculating Expenses
To keep your business afloat, you need to know exactly how much cash your small business burns each month. Keeping a meticulous record of your expenses allows you to understand where your money is going, and how much you will need to survive. Underestimating your cash burn can land your small business in hot water, so create a projection of your monthly expenses and be sure to monitor it closely, adjusting whenever necessary.
A successful business needs a strong financial foundation, so keep these mistakes in mind. No small business is invincible, and it really does pay to be cautious and always stay one step ahead.