7 Financial habits of healthy businesses

Good financial habits are the hallmark of a healthy business and can mean the difference between life and death. Here are our top seven good financial habits for healthy startups and fast growing SMEs.

1. Spend less than you earn

Yes, financial advisors and wealth gurus have been giving this advice almost since the beginning of time. They’ve been saying it because of the simple truth that if you’re spending more than you earn, you’ll run out of money really quickly.

But what if you’re not earning anything yet?

Most startups begin their lives with founders living on a runway they have accumulated, and they don’t have sales yet. If that’s you, keep this lesson in the back of your mind and move on to lesson two.

2. Live on whatever is just enough

If you saw our last article here, you’ll know that living on whatever is just enough means exactly that. One of the best financial habits to create for yourself and your co-founders is to realise what exactly you need in life and how much you can live on when you cut it back to the bare bones.

Fun fact: Check out Paul Graham’s blog on how startups should first aim to become ‘Ramen profitable’.

3. Keep your runway under construction

It might not seem like you have the bandwidth to do it but you need to keep saving money. Your runway is what will keep you alive. This means that you need to keep it alive. Reinvest as much as you possibly can into your business and its savings. By doing that consistently, you will keep your runway healthy over time. A long runway means a healthy business! It’s one of the best financial habits to build.

4. Keep dates with your bank accounts and financial reports

You know what they say: If it’s scheduled, it happens. Book time with your bank accounts every week. Make sure you know exactly what your financial position is from week to week.

Read your balance sheet and profit & loss (P&L) statements on the same day, every week (‘Money Mondays’ or ‘Finance Fridays’ anyone?). If you don’t know how to read them, ask for help.

Doing these two things weekly helps you to build a watertight understanding of your financial position. When it’s consistent, you will be better able to spot unusual spending patterns and red flags. And you will also be in a better position from which to make decisions that impact your bottom line.

5. Nurture a relationship with the right bookkeeper

So often, businesses go and find an accountant because they need one. The truth is, finance for startups and fast growing SMEs is very different from typical small business finance. What you need is a bookkeeper who knows the difference, and can guide and coach you if they spot problems.

The difference that this can make to your business – especially if you don’t have a Chief Financial Officer – can be startling. A great bookkeeper will help you to understand your finances, and make sure that you’re on the right track. It’s one of the most important relationships you’ll create in your early days, so make sure you nurture it. You can’t just set-and-forget when it comes to your cash.

6. Keep bank accounts separate, and your personal finance in good order

Your personal accounts must be separate from your business accounts. It’s the beginning of good habits, to account for your spending from the right place. It’s cleaner, it makes reporting easier, it makes it simpler to see how your business is performing.

When you have your bank accounts separate, you’ll also be better able to see what state your personal finances are in. As they say, good habits start at home! If your personal finances are a mess, fix those problems. Bad personal financial habits will carry over into your business!

7. Take action when something isn’t right

One of the best habits you can build is the habit of taking action. Founders and business owners are great at just getting things done. Apply that mentality to your finances, too. If you see a red flag, follow it up immediately: Don’t let it wait.

That might mean having difficult conversations with your co-founders, doing some difficult self-reflection, or just cutting something out. Whatever it is, just do it.

Finance doesn’t have to be scary, and keeping your business financially healthy isn’t difficult. But all the report reading in the world won’t help you if you don’t take immediate action to ensure you stay on the right track.

Need help creating good financial habits?

Or do you just not know where to start? We get startups and fast growing SMEs, so you can always book a free call with us for guidance around your financial habits and to make sure your business stays strong.

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