A financial guide for the first-time founder

Scott Cormier

Raising capital for your startup is one of the greatest milestones for a founder. 

It’s also one of the most complex. 

When you transition from founder to CEO, you take on an official fiduciary responsibility to your company’s long-term financial health, employees, and shareholders

Yet, delivering on those expectations typically requires a deep finance or accounting background — something most founders do not have. 

Why are startup finances so complex? 

Let’s make one thing clear: It’s not just you. 

Countless founders of high-growth startups struggle post-raise because, once investors enter the picture, there is a whole new terrain of nuanced metrics and reporting — a steep level up from standard bookkeeping. 

Here are just a few examples of how deep those nuances can go. 

  • How can you accurately define your true cash? — There are numerous moving pieces, starting with your runway and basic cash in the bank. However, you need to factor in overdue bills, payroll obligations, and any other edge cases. 
  • Your ARR is a heavily layered metric — You have first-time vs. existing customers. You have customers who have churned or perhaps paid you then charged back. You have one-time transactions vs. recurring or subscription revenue. The list goes on. 
  • Burn does not exist on most financial statements — So, you need to calculate it yourself. Your “burn” can mean your gross burn, net burn, operating income vs. losses, etc. Each option tells a slightly different story about your startup and may or may not accurately depict how you operate on a day-to-day basis. 

Overall, the bigger your business grows, the more complicated all of this becomes. 

So, you do your best to run your accounting with the bandwidth you have. 

Unfortunately, when you DIY your financials like you do other aspects of your startup, you’re bound to get something wrong. When Puzzle spoke to hundreds of startup CEOs about accounting, we found almost every one had messed up their process in some way

Even more, getting your financials wrong can have some heavy implications. 

Incorrect calculations lead to incorrect data, which lead to incorrect decision-making about usage of your runway and the future of your business. 

And a wrong decision can be the difference between a round of funding and a round of layoffs

How can busy founders put financials on autopilot? 

Realistically, you could do this right if you had all the time and runway at your disposal.

But you don’t. You’re the busy founder of a high-growth startup. 

Pulling platform data, reading articles on financial formulas, validating calculations, and assembling statements — none of that is the smartest use of your time when every minute you spend on your company is precious

So, let Puzzle handle it for you. 

We bring deep expertise across data, accounting, and finances, so that our software can account for nuances and execute your financials accurately and automatically

And if you don’t trust our system at first? 

We emphasize transparent data and your ability to test drive the tech. 

Unlike Excel, which is a fairly static and opaque bookkeeping tool, Puzzle is powered by a traceable system of verifiable data. 

  1. Click any metric on Puzzle’s interface to drill down to the raw numbers and transactions. 
  2. View customers who’ve paid you, vendors who’ve charged you, payment statuses, etc. 
  3. You can verify its validity and, if it’s incorrect for any reason, fix it in real-time. 

Ultimately, Puzzle saves time and runway for the busy founder.

Puzzle handles the data. You handle the decision-making. 

The value of startup accounting is not in the preparation of data. 

The value is in what you do with that information. In the end, the raw numbers are nowhere near as critical as what you do with them. 

Here at Puzzle, we view finances as both a science and an art. 

We’re category-leading experts at the science here: the math, the nuanced calculations, and the ultimate business data. 

Let us handle the science so you can focus on what actually matters: 

The art of well-informed, growth-driving decision-making for your company. 

Figure out how to budget, when to fundraise, the best way to execute your core business vision, and much more. 

Ready to test drive Puzzle and reclaim your time? Get started at puzzle.io. 

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Scott Cormier
Product @ Puzzle

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