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Can You Save Money In The Early Stages Of Your Startup?

Posted by Arya Chatterjee

March 20, 2024

When it comes to building your empire, every dollar saved is a dollar earned.

Welcome to the thrilling world of startups — where dreams are big, risks are high, and bank accounts could use extra padding. Being an entrepreneur is like embarking on an expedition into the unknown, armed with nothing but a big idea and a whole lot of determination. And with it comes financial uncertainty, especially in the early stages.

If you’re new to business ownership, you must be thinking, “Can I save money while trying to launch my startup?” You’ll be happy to know that the answer is a resounding yes. How? That’s what we’re here to unpack.

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First, let’s talk numbers. According to Forbes, 90% of startups fail within their first year of operation. CB Insights reports that 29% of startups need more cash when underfunded, receive too much, and spend recklessly. One doesn’t have to be a mathematician to calculate the odds. But there’s a way to defy them and turn your startup dreams into reality.

So, strap in, fellow entrepreneurs, because we’re about to explore bootstrapping and frugal finance in depth.

1. Profit & loss statements for each customer

First on our money-saving quest is each customer’s profit and loss statements. Treat these as your financial compass, guiding you through the choppy waters of revenue and expenses. But why bother creating one for each customer? Well, because knowledge is power.

By analyzing each customer’s profitability, you can identify high-value clients and tailor your offerings to maximize your returns. The trick is to work smarter, not harder. Plus, meticulous P&L statements will allow you to spot any red flags before things spiral out of control.

Moreover, P&L statements also enable you to track customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV), essential metrics for assessing the long-term viability of your business. You can optimize your marketing and sales efforts to attract customers with a higher CLV relative to CAC, which improves overall profitability and maximizes return on investment.

2. Monthly financial reports

Ah, monthly financial reports—the bane of even the most mathematically savvy entrepreneur’s existence. But these reports are not the enemy. They’re your best friend when it comes to effortlessly managing your business’s finances.

Sure, compiling monthly reports can be a drag, but the insights they provide are worth their weight in gold. From tracking your cash flow to monitoring expenses, these reports clearly show your startup’s financial health and help you make strategically powered decisions.

By analyzing key metrics such as revenue growth, gross margin, and burn rate, you can identify trends, spot anomalies, and make data-driven decisions to steer your startup in the right direction. Moreover, regular financial reporting helps you proactively detect and address economic challenges, mitigating risks and optimizing resource allocation.

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3. Raise money as late as possible

You might ask, “But isn’t raising money essential for scaling my startup?” While funding certainly has its place, the advantages of a no-debt business are tenfold.

By focusing on generating revenue and keeping expenses on a tight leash, you can delay external funding requirements and retain more equity in your company. External funding can provide the necessary resources to propel growth and expansion, but it also comes with strings attached. Hence, raising money as late as possible is prudent, ideally after experiencing significant traction and validation of your business model.

Bootstrapping forces you to be resourceful and disciplined, encouraging creativity and frugality in your approach to building and scaling. This reduces reliance on outside funds and instills a sense of accountability and resilience within your team, fostering a culture of self-reliance and creativity.

4. What salaries should you pay?

Now comes the age-old question: What salaries should you pay your team? While you may want to strive for the best, paying top dollar to attract top salaries, sometimes less is more, especially at a stage where every penny counts. Overextending yourself regarding salaries can strain your company’s cash flow and hinder its ability to invest in growth initiatives or weather unforeseen challenges.

Conducting salary benchmarking studies or consulting with industry peers can provide valuable insights into competitive salary packages. Consider offering equity or performance-based incentives depending on your startup’s financial position. Stock options or equity grants can incentivize employees to invest in the long-term growth of your business and align their efforts with your startup goals.

5. Low fixed overhead

This mantra could be the difference between your startup’s success or failure. By keeping fixed overhead costs at a minimum — think office space, equipment, and utilities — you free up more cash to invest in growth opportunities.

One significant way to reduce fixed overhead is by embracing remote work and flexible office arrangements. With technological advancements and communication tools, many startups can operate effectively with dispersed teams, eliminating the need for luxurious office space and infrastructure. Another way is to outsource non-core functions, such as accounting, marketing, or customer support, to reduce fixed overhead and leverage external expertise.

Additionally, consider adopting a lean approach to resource allocation, focusing on essential expenses that directly contribute to your startup’s growth and profitability. By adopting a mindset of frugality and resourcefulness, you can maximize bootstrapping advantages and position your startup for long-term success.

6. Focus on profits

It all comes down to one thing: profits. While revenue is excellent, the bottom line truly matters when building a profitable business.

Sustainable success hinges on generating steady profits and maintaining a healthy margin. You must prioritize revenue streams that offer high margins and recurring revenue potential while ruthlessly cutting costs and optimizing operational efficiencies. By focusing on the bottom line from the get-go, you lay a solid financial stability and resilience foundation, which will serve your startup well in the long run.

7. Have your customers finance your business

Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about having your customers finance your business. This concept is more plausible than you might think.

Offer pre-sales, subscriptions, or crowdfunding campaigns to generate upfront revenue and validate market demand before investing significant resources. Engage with your customers early and often, soliciting feedback and building a loyal community that supports your product or service and becomes loud advocates for your brand.

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Navigating the startup scenery

From mastering profit and loss statements to harnessing the power of customer financing, this is your ultimate guide to saving money in the early stages of your startup journey. So, go forth, armed with this newfound financial savvy, and conquer the world of entrepreneurship like the money-saving maverick you are. Remember, every dollar saved is a dollar earned when it comes to building your empire.

Want more? Since 2006, Escalon has helped thousands of startups get off the ground with our back-office solutions for accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, HR, payroll, insurance, and recruiting — and we can help yours, too. Talk to an expert today.


Arya Chatterjee
Arya Chatterjee

Arya Chatterjee is a freelance writer and consultant from Mumbai. With a background in journalism and over five years of creative writing experience working with legacy media like Architectural Digest and Femina India and brands like The Label Life, and Macy's, she crafts unique and compelling stories that engage the readers. She enjoys writing about health, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle and exploring the symbiotic relationship between thriving businesses and happy employees through her writing. She is always looking to explore new avenues to expand her creative energy.

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