One of the reasons that there's never been a better time to start up is that there are now so many great - and accessible - tools around to help startups begin on their journey. We chatted to the founder of EdTech business Titus Learning, Seb Francis, about how he uses tools to help manage his startup's finances and accounts.
When we first set up Titus Learning we were using Google Apps (now G Suite) as our main admin tool - this covered our emails, calendar, document management, etc, and as such we looked for finance tools that integrated well with Google. For our accounting we first started with Wave. It was easy to use, which was important as we were managing our own accounting and bookkeeping, integrated well with Google, provided simple reports so we could keep on top of our numbers, and as a startup favourite... it was FREE!
As we’ve grown and started working with external staff to manage our accounting and bookkeeping, we’ve moved to Xero to manage our accounting. I would say this is more ‘industry standard’ and as well as other benefits it allows more detailed reporting and better management of multiple currencies and overseas clients.
We also use Receipt Bank to track all expenses and receipts - this has saved us a lot of time and money and helps to track expenses of staff as well. For cashflow forecasting we’ve always used Google Sheets (can’t beat a good spreadsheet… or so we thought), but we’re now looking at Float and other systems to automate this and give us better long-term vision of our finances dependent on the decisions we make today.
Whilst there are certain tools like Float that can be used, we still regularly use spreadsheets to work out other numbers. This is used to manage certain accounts between partners where we offer reciprocal services to one another, budgeting for particular spends such as events or marketing budgets, and tracking time and expenses for contractors. The classic spreadsheet may be loved or loathed but it is an extremely powerful tool when used correctly.
In the early days we were looking for ‘easy and cheap’ to get us going, whereas we’re now much more focused on the automation that these systems can provide, enabling us to be more productive. As everything has scaled up, we now also require much more detailed feedback and data for when we’re making strategic decisions.
As a last point, I’d recommend that startups ensure they work to their size and carefully assess what is needed to get the job done. At the beginning of your journey you want to be focused on your product/service, sales and marketing. Don’t worry too much about getting the leading software until it’s really required. That being said, if you leave the move to more sophisticated software too long, you may find the migration is slightly tougher. The timing is different for everybody but taking on staff members, seeing stability and continued growth in your sales, and working with outside contractors (or internal) to manage your finances are all signs that you may be ready for the jump.
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