Managing cash flow as a small business

Tech and AI is a big industry but it’s filled with small businesses. Take Sauce AI, a platform for software product managers run by three former big-tech employees. Here, they share what they’ve learnt about managing cash flow while scaling up.

Matt Hinds, James Gabb and James Szklarz are all former product and engineering leaders from well-known tech companies, which means they have first-hand experience in how frustrating it can be for software product managers to align their “wish-list features” with feedback from users across multiple platforms and, of course, stakeholders.

With so many competing interests to keep track of, they decided to try to make product managers’ lives easier by creating a one-stop platform that collects, stores and displays all of that feedback. Enter, Sauce AI. Matt describes it as “a customer insights platform for software teams that helps boost product adoption and retention”. For everyone else, that means it gathers feedback from sales teams, support teams and customers, compiles it all and then uses AI to analyse the data and pull out key trends.

Matt says they got plenty of things wrong in the early years, which was tough. And the three founders - like many small business owners - learnt through trial and error how to manage their cash flow. Here are the strategies that kept them moving from those early start-up days to today, running a robust small business with employees and in-demand products.

You can’t think long-term if you’re stressed about the short-term

James Gabb understands that while you’re getting a business off the ground, it can feel more important to “keep the lights on” right now than think about what you want in a few years’ time. “If you’re stressing about today, it’s really hard to make informed decisions about the longer-term future of your business,” he says. Try to give yourself some breathing room. “Delegate your cash flow to the things that have the most immediate impact,” says James Szklarz. Matt agrees: “Once you have some space, you can start to think about your vision, the problems you want to solve and the team you want to build.”

Get strategic

Depending on what your goal is, Matt says that good planning can work wonders for cash flow.  “If your goal is to get off the ground and survive, then prioritising cash flow is important,” he says. “For example, you could get commitment from customers before you have the product to really understand if it’s valuable enough for you to go ahead with it.”

Be prepared to muck in

In the early days, Matt says, it can feel like a scrappy start-up while you focus on growth, until you reach the point when you’re hiring employees and leading as a CEO. “There’s a lot of trial and error, and always some cash flow mistakes as you see what works for your business and learn where to direct resources based on pressing demands,” he says. Stick with it, be patient, experiment and work hard: the flow state will come.

Business Cash Flow Solutions

For cash flow solutions to manage your money and grow your business, explore our cash flow page.

Things you should know

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