How to Calculate Burn Rate and Runway like a Pro and Avoid Running Out of Cash!

Learn the secrets of calculating burn rate and runway like a pro in this informative blog!

How to Calculate Burn Rate and Runway like a Pro and Avoid Running Out of Cash!
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An essential component of managing a successful startup is sound financial planning. Startups sometimes have a limited budget and must overcome special financial difficulties like erratic revenue sources and expensive client acquisition or product development costs. Startups can better manage their cash flow, allocate resources sensibly, and spot possible financial risks and opportunities by putting smart financial planning tactics into practice.

Being an startup founder, it is vital to keep track of your company's financial health. Understanding your burn rate and runway can help you make informed decisions and ensure that you have enough fuel to keep your business running. In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about calculating burn rate and runway.

What is Burn Rate?

The rate at which a business uses its available capital during a given time frame, often a month or a quarter, is known as the burn rate. It is calculated by subtracting your total monthly expenses from your total monthly revenue.

Knowing your burn rate is crucial, as it indicates how long your company can continue to operate before running out of money. Burn rate is a crucial indicator for startups since it can show them how rapidly their available funds are being depleted and how long they have before they run out of money.

With a high burn rate, a business risks running out of cash earlier than anticipated since it spends a large portion of its monthly cash flow. A low burn rate indicates that a business is spending less than it is earning and has more time before running out of money.

Examples of high and low burn rates for startups

High burn rate

  • A startup that has successfully raised money and is rapidly growing its staff, marketing initiatives, and product development.For instance, a tech business with $10 million in seed investment would have a burn rate of $500,000 per month if it spent that amount on salaries, marketing, and product development.
  • A startup that must spend heavily on marketing and client acquisition in order to be relevant in a highly competitive market.A firm in the e-commerce space that is vying with Amazon and spending a lot of money on advertising and promotions would have a high burn rate, for instance. 

Low burn rate

  • A business that focuses on creating a minimally viable product and testing it with a select audience of clients before scaling.A software startup, for instance, would have a low burn rate if it was solely funding server expenditures and a small team of developers while creating a new project management solution.
  • A firm that, rather than investing extensively in expansion, is reaping revenues from its product or service and reinvested themback into the company. A firm with subscription-based software might have a low burn rate if it makes $50,000 per month in revenue while only spending $25,000on staff pay and server expenses.

Importance of Calculating Burn Rate

  • Burn Rate metric is essential for startups and businesses to track their spending and financial health.
  • Aids in determining how quickly a company's cash reserves are depleted.
  • Allows for effective financial planning and budgeting for long-term sustainability.
  • Insights for investor trust and strategic decision-making

The Risks and Consequences of a High Burn Rate

  • Cash drain: A high burn rate quickly depletes cash reserves.
  • Financial insecurity: Financial inability to meet obligations, pay salaries, or cover expenses
  • Risk of insolvency: Running out of funds to continue operations, putting the company at risk of closure
  • Increased reliance on funding: A high burn rate may necessitate frequent fundraising, equity dilution, or debt incursion.
  • Investor dissatisfaction: Investors may be concerned about the company's financial health and long-term viability if the burn rate is unsustainable.
  • The runway is limited: Operating time is reduced, reducing the margin for error or unexpected challenges.

Step-by-step instructions on how to calculate burn rate

When you have a cash flow statement on hand, the burn rate calculation is simple. The equation is as follows:

Burn Rate = (Starting Balance – Ending Balance) / No. Of Months

As you begin to spend that money, you will start to see your cash balances deplete. As a startup, you’ll want to be strategic about what you spend money on and when you might seek more fundraising. So keeping an eye on burn rate will be very crucial to make sure your cash reserve isn’t shrinking too quickly.

Burn Rate

There are also variations on the burn rate calculation that can give additional insight into your spending.

What is Gross Burn Rate ?

Gross burn displays the total amount spent by your company on operating costs like Payroll, rent, and taxes. This ratio is predicated on the idea that your company isn't producing a positive cash flow. The gross burn rate would be 40,000 per month for the business if monthly expenses for salaries, rent, and utilities were 40,000.

What is Net Burn Rate ?

If your company has made any revenue, it is taken into account by net burn rate. Simply deduct your monthly income from all of your outgoing costs to calculate. You'll be left with the amount of money that was lost throughout that month.

Tips on how to lower your burn rate

  • Startups might take measures to reduce their burn rate in order to increase their runway. Renegotiating office leases or moving to more affordable software options are two ways to save excessive spending. Another choice is to scale back on staff or modify wages to better match cash flow.
  • Startups might also concentrate on activities that generate income to improve their cash flow and lower their burn rate. To cut employee expenses, this may entail directing workers into sales and marketing initiatives or outsourcing non-core tasks like accounting or legal.
  • Delaying expansion plans such as opening new offices or launching new products can also help conserve cash and extend the startup's runway. Additionally, startups can consider raising additional funding through investors or loans to increase their available cash and extend their runway.
  • Finally, increasing efficiency can also helplower the burn rate. Startups can optimize their operations by automatingrepetitive tasks, improving their supply chain, or leveraging technology toreduce costs.
  • By taking these steps to lower their burn rate, startups can extend their runway and increase their chances of long-term success. By keeping a close eye on their finances and making informed decisions about resource allocation, startups can navigate the challenges of the early stage and grow their business over time. 

What is Runway?

Runway is an important metric for startups because it determines their financial stability and their ability to continue operating, grow, and achieve their goals. It allows startups to plan and prioritize their activities and make informed decisions about funding and resource allocation.

In order to calculate runway, a startup must know its burn rate, or the amount of money it spends each month, as well as its available cash, which includes cash on hand as well as any lines of credit or loans that the company may use. A startup can calculate its runway, or the number of months it has before running out of capital, by dividing its available cash by its burn rate.

Entrepreneurs could update their runway calculations to account for potential future capital inflows such as sales, investments, or loans. Startups may make informed decisions regarding finance and resource allocation to ensure the long-term success of their firm by routinely evaluating and revising their runway projections.

How to Calculate Runway

  • Determine your burn rate: Your startup's runway can be calculated, but first you must ascertain your burn rate, or the amount of money your business spends each month. Add together all of your monthly expenses, including rent, software subscriptions, marketing charges, and any other costs associated with operating your firm to determine your burn rate.
  • Do a cash availability calculation: Next, figure out how much money your startup has on hand. This includes whatever cash you have on hand as well as any credit cards or loans you have access to.
  • Divide available cash by burn rate: After figuring out your burn rate and how much cash is available, do the division. This will tell you how many months you have left to run your business before you run out of money. This is the runway for your startup.
  • You may not have taken into account future cash streams like revenue, investments, or loans when calculating your runway. Subtract any anticipated cash inflows from your overall burn rate before dividing by your available cash to account for these inflows.
  • Once you have determined the runway for your firm, it is crucial to regularly check and update it. Your burn rate and runway will fluctuate as your business expands and your expenses alter. You may allocate funding and resources wisely to ensure the long-term survival of your company by routinely checking your runway.

Relationship between Burn Rate and Runway

  • The burn rate is the rate at which a company's cash reserves are depleted.
  • The relationship between burn rate and runway is straightforward: burn rate influences runway length.
  • A high burn rate indicates that a company is spending cash quickly, which reduces its runway.
  • A low burn rate, on the other hand, indicates that a company is spending cash at a slower rate, thereby extending its runway.
  • Monitoring and managing burn rate is critical to ensuring that a company's runway is long enough to sustain operations until sufficient revenue is generated or additional funding is secured.

Factors that can impact burn rate and runway

Internal factors

  1. Expenses: Increases in operational expenses, such as rent, utilities, salaries, or production costs, can have a significant impact on burn rate and shorten the runway.
  2. Revenue fluctuations, such as sales declines or client payment delays, can have an impact on cash flow, burn rate, and runway.
  3. Cost management: Inadequate cost management, such as inefficient spending or overspending, can increase burn rate and reduce runway.
  4. Hiring and workforce: Adding to the team or hiring new employees can have an impact on the burn rate because salaries and benefits add to the operational expenses.

External factors

  1. Funding changes, such as delays in funding rounds or the inability to secure additional funding, can have an impact on burn rate and runway.
  2. Market volatility, changes in demand, or shifts in industry trends can all have an impact on revenue generation, as well as burn rate and runway.
  3. Intense market competition can affect pricing, sales, and revenue, which in turn affects burn rate and runway.
  4. Economic factors: Changes in the overall economy, such as inflation, interest rates, or currency fluctuations, can have an impact on operational expenses and revenue, affecting burn rate and runway.

Best Practices for Managing Burn Rate and Runway

Budgeting and Financial Planning: Develop a comprehensive budget and financial plan to track expenses, revenue, and cash flow. Review and update the budget on a regular basis to ensure that spending is in line with business objectives and financial resources.

Cost management:  It entails closely monitoring and controlling expenses. Avoid unnecessary spending and concentrate on necessary expenses. Look for cost-cutting opportunities without sacrificing operational quality or efficiency.

Revenue Diversification: Look into different revenue streams to reduce reliance on a single source of revenue. Revenue diversification can act as a buffer during market fluctuations and increase financial stability.

Cash Flow Management: Maintain a healthy cash flow by managing accounts receivable and payable effectively. Monitor cash flow on a regular basis, forecast future cash requirements, and take proactive measures to avoid cash crunches.

Efficient Resource Allocation: Optimise resource allocation, including human capital, time, and money. Projects and initiatives that are aligned with the overall business strategy and have the potential to generate positive returns should be prioritised.

Monitoring and Adjusting the Burn Rate: Constantly monitor and assess the burn rate (rate of spending) to ensure that it is sustainable and aligned with the runway. Spending should be adjusted as needed to avoid depleting cash reserves too quickly.

Fundraising: Develop a well-thought-out funding strategy, including a timeline for fundraising efforts. Investigate various funding options, such as equity financing, debt financing, and so on.

Remember, managing burn rate and runway requires proactive financial planning, cost control, and efficient resource allocation. Regular monitoring, scenario planning, and seeking expert advice can help ensure the financial health and sustainability of your startup 

In conclusion, understanding and managing burn rate and runway are essential for startups to maintain their financial health and sustainability. By calculating burn rate and runway, startups can gain valuable insights into their spending patterns, projected cash flow, and runway length. This information enables startups to make informed decisions, plan strategically, and take corrective actions if needed.

About Jordensky

Jordensky is here to help you to monitor your cash and plan for the future. At Jordensky, we specialize in Accounting, Taxes, MIS, and CFO services for Startups and Growing business and are focused on delivering an experience of unparalleled quality. When you work with Jordensky, you get a team of finance experts who take the finance work off your plate – ”so you can focus on your business.”

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Akash Bagrecha

Co-Founder of Jordensky