Finance tips for early stage startups

By Chris Browne, Founder and Managing Director of Rising Tide 

If you’ve taken the leap and started your own business, chances are that you’re struggling to find enough hours in the day.  When you’re doing everything from stationary orders to business development, financial management can often be pushed to one side.  Unfortunately, financial management is the one thing you can’t afford to neglect.  If you are to be successful long-term in business then getting your finances right early on is vital.  Here are my top five key things you should be doing from day one:

  1. Do the doable deal

No matter what you’re selling, make sure you’re selling it to as many people as possible.  Don’t be picky when it comes to clients and make sure you cast your net far and wide.  When I first set up Rising Tide, an industry colleague of mine was also setting up his own financial services company.  He had a clear idea of what sort of client he wanted to target – people in their 30’s, from Melbourne and working in the PR industry.  I, on the other hand was just desperate to get anyone as a client and made sure my doors were wide open to everyone.  A few years down the track when you’ve got some decent and steady profits you can maybe start to get a bit more picky if you want to.  In case you’re wondering, my mate’s business went belly up because he didn’t have enough clients.

  1. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s

Before you register your company, it’s a good idea to speak to a lawyer or an accountant about how best to structure your business.  For many businesses, a trust structure can make a lot of sense as it keeps any major funds out your of your holding company, therefore minimising your risk of losing money if any legal action is every brought upon you.   That being said, the best type of structure varies depending on what sort of business you are running – there really is no one size fits all.  Remember, the two key things to take in to account when considering company structures are minimising your tax liability and protecting your assets.

  1. Begin with the end in mind

Have a clear idea of where you want to go from day one.  When I was starting out I wrote down my own ‘vision’ for Rising Tide and the same words are plastered on the wall in our office to this day.  Our ‘Vision Board’ includes our purpose, our team values, our strategy and key indicators of success.  If you stay true to your vision financial success will inevitably follow.

  1. Track your success

Track, evaluate, act – this must be your mantra in business.  Keep doing what’s working and stop doing what isn’t.  In this day and age there really is no excuse for not tracking your progress as a business because there are so many helpful tools available to help you do so.  Xero for tracking your financials, Survey Monkey for tracking staff and customer satisfaction, Expensify for tracking your expenses, Google Analytics to track your website traffic and Hootsuite to track your multiple social media channels – the list really is endless.  Educate yourself on the tools available, work out what works best for you and USE THEM.

  1. Prove your concept

Aim to prove your concept within 6 months of launch.  Have a plan for how you are going to achieve growth and execute it.  If you are looking to bring investors on board in the future, this is the number 1 thing that will get them over the line.





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