Choosing the Right Financial Management Software for Your Startup

People sitting at desks in a large office

There are no two better sayings that sum up the Startup world: “survival of the fittest” and “smooth seas never make for good sailors.” Bringing an innovative business from 0 to 1 is one of the hardest undertakings. At every step of the journey, you are faced with a different challenge.

Making the right decisions early on can have a tremendous impact on the eventual success of the business from staffing, product R&D, Sales and Marketing, taking in investment, etc. However, startups can fall into the trap of over-focusing on building products and revenue, neglecting the systems to track the success of the company’s cash flow, metrics, and forecast.

The best-run startups show stakeholders and talent that they are serious about long-term growth, and from the outset, invest in a proper Financial Management Solution rather than relying on spreadsheets for tracking sales, expenses, and margins.

The best-run startups show stakeholders and talent that they are serious about long-term growth.

These need not be large complex installations of SAP either. Today’s cloud-based, SaaS-enabled accounting software systems allow businesses to begin with basic financials and accounting and quickly and easily add users and functionality like different billing scenarios, multi-currency, and Salesforce integration, as the business grows. This allows startups to react quickly to new and shifting markets to capitalize on new opportunities.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when exploring a financial management solution.

What To Remember When Choosing a Financial Management Solution

Point Solutions Lead to A Tangled Mess

As startups scramble to adapt to their sudden growth, many fall into a game of whack-a-mole to tackle the problem of the day. This leads to bringing in pointed solutions focused on a specific department’s needs. This is only pushing these issues down the road until the tech stack is held together with integrations and manual processes. More integrations mean more time spent being manual. Additionally, this creates multiple systems of record means delayed and inaccurate reporting.

Replacing that tangled mess became significantly more expensive and time-consuming, ultimately stealing resources from other initiatives. At Sage, we have seen this all too often; some companies implement a pointed solution and by the time that “solution” is deployed it no longer fits the scaling needs.

The Move to the Cloud

Startups from Seed to IPO have turned to cloud-based Financial Management Software like Sage Intacct to achieve those milestones. By making the investment into a comprehensive cloud-based ERP platform early, they eliminate many of the challenges that come with entry-level accounting packages or spreadsheets.

Being in the cloud eliminates the high upfront costs of hardware, servers, data centers, and IT staff to support it. Financial Management platforms like Sage Intacct are purpose-built to scale with an organization as it grows from a small startup to a large global corporation.

A business can add more complex automation as its staff grows, and as new offices are added, all that is required is to add a new business entity for consolidation. In seconds. More importantly, Sage Intacct has built-in functionality like multi-currency, fixed assets, and bank reconciliations to adapt to the scaling company.

Don’t Kill Growth By Waiting Till It’s Too Late

When businesses reach their inflection point need to be able to strike while the iron is hot. Businesses will quickly realize the limitations of spreadsheets or entry-level accounting software like QuickBooks. Things like different billing scenarios, monthly closes, or insights into business operations, can become a nightmare when using spreadsheets.

During this time of growth, your startup should be heavily investing back into the product or into marketing in order to capitalize on the market window. Unfortunately, they will find their accounting software unable to keep up. The finance team is scrambling to consolidate financials, manually entering data into spreadsheets, and struggling without a single source of truth, instead of finding patterns in the data for decision making.

Given the pace of modern business, being able to adapt quickly is critical, especially for startups that make not have the resources to fall back on should the business stall or need to pivot.

IPO Pressure Tests Your Accounting Software Choice

For startups looking to take one of the most critical steps in their growth, the initial public offering will expose the gaps in the accounting software of choice by the startup. In the lead-up to an IPO, a startup undergoes extensive audits by investors and banks. These audits dive into cash flow, operations, access to financial documents, controls, and more.

While possible, providing this necessary documentation via spreadsheets makes the process lengthier and far more error-prone. In fact, many investors prefer working with startups with a full ERP system in place before the audits begin. Additionally, when investors and auditors have familiarity with systems like Sage Intacct, this can help to speed up the process of IPO preparation.

Final thoughts on investing in your startup wisely

In conclusion, a full-cloud finance management like Sage Intacct means that your startup can turn to one provider and add functionality as needs arise, thereby avoiding the tech stack mess.

When it comes to choosing the right financial management software, making the right investments early on will have a major impact on the long-term growth of your startup.