Managing cash flow during uncertainty

Entrée Capital
December 24, 2023
5 min read

Contributors: Mesh Payments, Graphiti and Entrée Capital

As any startup founder knows, resilience is not just a virtue —it’s the foundation for survival. Equally important is cash flow efficiency, especially during times of uncertainty.

In crisis times the impact on a business’s cash flow can be profound. Market uncertainty can create a domino effect, leading to delayed payments, reduced revenue streams, and increased costs. Based on our experience as founders, here are some suggestions for managing your cash flow more effectively:

🛠️ Build resilience into the plan

The current economic and political environment means longer funding cycles and higher dilution. The stronger performance metrics required mean the days of relying solely on annual plans and fundraising to compensate for any deviations are in the past.
This shift demands a more proactive and adaptive approach to strategic planning, one where companies adopt a more detailed and dynamic approach; revisiting assumptions and projections on at least a quarterly basis. An iterative planning approach allows you to be responsive to market dynamics.
To navigate these complexities, make sure your startup is more agile, responsive, and performance-driven, with a heightened focus on frequent milestones, quarterly reviews, and contingency planning.

🔢 Inform your decisions with real-time data

Startups operate in real-time, and so should their financial monitoring. Regularly tracking cash flow allows startups to make informed decisions and adjust as needed. The current finance tech stack was built to analyze revenue and performance while in challenging times, the ability to influence growth (on the sales side) is lower and slower, and most of the adjustments you can make on your P&L are all about cost.
That is why it’s important to bring in finance tools to help you analyze cost and expense at a granular level, not just revenue and performance levels.

💪 Get a strong hold on your unit economics

It’s crucial to evaluate your cost structure meticulously; identify non-essential costs that can be reduced or eliminated without compromising the core functions of the business. These may involve renegotiating contracts, exploring more cost-effective suppliers, or streamlining internal processes.

While growth is a key performance indicator, balancing it with financial stability is essential. Most companies invest a lot of effort in calculating revenue but they don’t understand the link to their cost structure. Understanding the economics of your business will enable you to better manage your P&L and make adjustments.

💵 Keep track of your cash position across all accounts

In crisis times, cash visibility becomes increasingly important and companies should focus on increasing the frequency of cash flow analysis and short-term budgeting.

Adopting tools that offer a centralized cash view with ongoing cash flow prediction and planning can assist in accurately predicting outcomes. It is also important to improve cash/liquidity position forecasts by considering factors such as cash in different currencies and interest rates.

👀 Ensure that budget and costs are under control

Every cent counts. As founders, you should place paramount importance on cost control and precise budget management, especially during periods of uncertainty. Adjust your budget and manage your cash flow more efficiently by:

  1. Implement cost control measures to ensure financial stability
  2. Keep track of business metrics (i.e. NDR, Collection, ACV) and track them closely to detect variances quickly.
  3. Review financial performance weekly or bi-weekly to optimize expenditures.
  4. Ensure that your investments are aligned with the core objectives of the business.
  5. Maintain team motivation by fostering a culture of data transparency, which includes sharing revenue forecasts, team leaders’ insights, and more.

🪴 Manage your accounts receivable (AR) to improve collections

To ensure timely cash flow, track and manage outstanding invoices, collect payments, and reconcile accounts. Build into pricing the ability to provide ‘early settlement discounts’ as well as paying annually in advance – especially now where interest rates are high. Use a solution that can manage the majority of the collection process automatically, for example by using AI/auto notifications. It reduces the risk of cash crunches and improves operational efficiency, leaving finance teams more time to focus on strategic initiatives.

In closing, building a resilient company can provide a competitive advantage during uncertain times, when funding cycles surely will take longer and the IPO windows are essentially closed. Take this time to invest in brand-building activities, customer relationships, and reputation management to enhance your business’s long-term viability.

Entrée Capital
December 24, 2023
5 min read