The decision to found a startup sets you on an unpredictable path. That's the difference between starting a small business and launching a startup: the former has a known business model with certain steps that must be taken (all with no guarantee of success, of course), while the latter is a temporary organization in search of a profitable, repeatable, and scalable business model.
In short, startups are chaos.
That doesn't mean, however, that there isn't information with which you can arm yourself to gradually master that chaos. In fact, there's so much information out there that it can be difficult to filter through it all and find what really matters at your particular stage.
That's why Spendesk and The Family came together to put together this guide to one topic in your entrepreneurial life: Startup Finance. Below you'll find a series of stages that startups pass through early in their existence, matched with resources to help you improve your financial operations as you move through each particular stage.
Note: We've built this resource using Notion because we want it to be a living document that can easily change over time. If you have suggestions of additional resources that could be of value to your fellow founders, don't hesitate to leave them as a comment!
Table of contents
You and your cofounders are excited! There aren't many feelings out there like identifying a real problem and throwing all your efforts into solving it.
At the same time, it can find pretty lonely. There are just a handful of you at the moment, and there's probably not a ton of money flowing in. (If there is, congratulations! Feel free to skip to a section more adapted to your stage ;)
But there are still essential things you can do now to make sure your finance operations are working properly. It's already important, and will be invaluable as you keep growing and iterating on your product.
A good business model is key to any startup. You likely won't be profitable for some time, but you still need to show that the company you're building has a marketable future. You may even be able to build early pricing and packaging for your first products, even if these will certainly evolve in time.
Remember that while it's true that great startups lose plenty of money, it's because they're plowing resources into growth - not because the underlying transaction loop isn't profitable. So even if you're experimenting like crazy today and don't really know the final (or even early) numbers, you can't forget about the importance of unit economics.
Money today is more expensive than money tomorrow. You won't only be dealing with customers, you have to deal with suppliers and service providers, too. Understand the terms and payment periods, negotiate discounts or longer delays, and find free versions of software that give you 90% of what you need.
NB: Solid cash management can all give you more of the most precious resource in any startup: time.