Key Financial Metrics Every Founder Should Know About

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Innovation is everywhere, but making it big isn’t guaranteed. Understanding financial metrics and how they drive a business is crucial to running a successful business. Poor cash flow management can tank even the most exciting startups when expenses rise and there’s no liquidity.

For startup founders, understanding and managing the financial side of things might seem intimidating, especially if you’re more tech or industry-niche-savvy than finance-minded. However, focusing on finances and where your business is doing well and where it isn’t is the key to taking it to the next level. Financial metrics help you fine-tune your strategies and attract investors who want to be a part of your success.

Related: 4 Cash Flow Trends To Know About in 2024

Revenue metrics

Without revenue, any business is impossible, so understanding its various components is crucial for its existence and the assessment of financial health. Gross revenue represents the total income generated from sales before any deductions. It includes all revenue streams derived from the sale of goods or services.

Now, net revenue gives you a clearer view. It’s what’s left after subtracting discounts, returns, and allowances from your gross revenue. This is the real income your company earns, showing its true financial health. For instance, if a retail store has a gross revenue of $100,000 but grants $10,000 in discounts and experiences $5,000 in returns, its net revenue would be $85,000.

And then there’s recurring revenue – the dependable income you can count on from ongoing subscriptions, contracts or other sources. It stabilizes your business’s cash flow and signals your potential for long-term growth. For example, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company may rely on monthly subscription fees from its customers, ensuring a steady flow of revenue month after month.

Profitability metrics

For startup founders, understanding profitability metrics is important for gauging the health and potential success of your venture. First off, there’s the gross profit margin. This metric shows the percentage of revenue you’re retaining after covering the cost of goods sold (COGS). It’s a vital indicator of how efficiently you’re delivering your product or service.

Then, there’s the net profit margin. This metric gives you a broader view, revealing the percentage of revenue that remains after you’ve deducted all expenses – from operating costs to taxes and beyond. It’s essential for understanding your startup’s overall financial health and potential profitability.

Lastly, there’s EBITDA – Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. This metric is particularly useful for startup founders because it focuses on your core operations’ profitability, excluding non-operating expenses. It’s a valuable tool for assessing your startup’s true financial performance and potential for growth.

Growth metrics

Growth metrics serve as the compass for evaluating a company’s trajectory and long-term success. Let’s start with Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). This metric reveals the average expense incurred in bringing in a new customer, encompassing marketing and sales efforts. When it comes to Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), lower is preferable. Understanding CAC helps businesses fine-tune their customer acquisition strategies for optimal efficiency.

Next up is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). This metric paints a picture of the total revenue expected from a customer throughout their relationship with the company. CLV guides resource allocation by showcasing the long-term value of acquiring and retaining customers, steering businesses toward sustainable growth.

Finally, for your Churn Rate, lower is preferred. A lower churn rate means that fewer customers are discontinuing the use of your product or service within a specific period, indicating higher satisfaction and loyalty levels, which are essential for maintaining and expanding your customer base.

Related: How to Combat Payment Fraud and Negative Cash Flow

Cash flow metrics

Cash flow metrics are essential for startup founders to grasp, as they provide insights into a company’s liquidity and financial health. Let’s start with Operating Cash Flow, which reflects the cash generated from a startup’s core operations, excluding financing and investing activities. This metric is crucial because it shows how well the startup can generate cash from its day-to-day activities to meet accounts payable.

Free Cash Flow is what remains after subtracting capital expenditures from operating cash flow. It’s the cash available for various purposes like rewarding shareholders, paying off debts, or investing in growth opportunities.

Related: 7 Easy Ways To Manage Cash Flow Surprises In Your Business

Then there’s your Burn Rate, which measures how quickly a company spends its available cash to cover operating expenses. This metric is crucial for assessing the company’s financial health and sustainability, helping guide decisions on resource allocation and strategic planning.

Every metric you track gives you valuable insights into the health of your startup and where you’re headed. These metrics tell the story of your startup’s financial well-being, from revenue and profit margins to burn rates and cash flow. And as a founder, it’s up to you to use this information to make smart decisions that drive your startup forward. But it’s not enough to track these metrics once in a while. Regular monitoring is essential for your startup’s survival and success. It’s what keeps you agile, adaptable, and ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way. Make it a priority to keep a close eye on these metrics because they’re not just numbers — they’re the lifeblood of your startup.

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