Month-end reporting is one of those often overlooked, yet mission-critical pieces of the puzzle that VCs look for when deciding whether to invest in a startup.
You’ve likely spent hours refining your pitch deck to ensure you make a good first impression. But when investors look under the hood, it’s likely they’ll want to see your day-to-day operations are on track – and this includes your month-end reports.
The tough part is, it’s hard to know what good looks like unless you’ve been in the trenches. A long and lengthy report received three weeks after month-end may feel normal…but the reality is that it doesn’t need to be painful or time-consuming.
Does your month-end report stack up?
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With more VCs conducting due diligence, your month-end reports need to be tight, coherent, and timely. So how do you sense check whether your month-end reporting is up to scratch for you and your current and potential investors?
Here are five questions to ask.
1. Is the important information available up front?
A good month end reporting pack shouldn’t be chapter and verse. People shouldn’t dread getting it and sit up for hours at night trying to digest the information, particularly in startup land where everyone is time poor.
It’s okay if there is a lot of information, but the first few pages should be more than enough to get an understanding of the performance of the business, where it’s heading and indicators on the key business drivers. It should be short, sharp, and easy to digest. And then, if additional information is required, you can sift through detail in the subsequent inclusions.
2. Am I confident showing this to future investors?
Well-formatted reports aren’t just for your current investors or board members. They demonstrate to potential investors that you have your finger on the pulse and that you’re serious about your business.
In an environment where VCs are scrutinising the numbers, consistent month-end reports show a level of commitment and commercial acumen that can set you apart from the rest. If you have any VC firms that you’re targeting for a future cap raise, sending them your month-end reporting in advance can also demonstrate a proactive approach that puts you in their good books.
It’s not just for local investors either.
If you’re looking to expand to the US or other jurisdictions, your month end reports are a low-touch opportunity to start building a relationship with potential investors. Treat them as though they’re already on board and loop them in on your progress on a monthly basis. If they see how you operate, this builds trust in you as a founder and the business.
3. When am I getting my reports (and how long is my team spending on them)?
Startups move at lightning speed. What is true this month won’t be true the next, which is why you need a month-end pack that responds as fast as you do.
If your month-end pack is chapter and verse, it takes forever to produce. You shouldn’t be getting – or sending – reports in the third week of the following month, because by then you have very little time to respond (or the information is downright obsolete).
This pack is for management decision-making purposes and generally should be finalised by day 3-7 after month end.
It also shouldn’t be a big job. If the financials of the business are maintained appropriately throughout the month, month-end should only take a couple of extra days to ensure cut-off and inclusion of all transactions.
4. What are the goals of my month-end reporting pack?
Much like your pitch deck’s North Star, you should have a clear objective with your month-end reporting packs. If you’re just producing a pack for the sake of ticking a box, you’re missing out on a prime opportunity to capture intel about your business vitals.
The overarching purpose of preparing a month-end reporting pack should be to:
- Monitor financial aspects of the business on behalf of stakeholders
- Make solvency judgements
- Identify opportunities for improvement
- Assist with decision making
- Appease regulatory requirements
If you’re not clear on the role that your month-end pack is serving, or report isn’t helping you with these five points, it’s time to start asking your finance manager (or accountant) why.
5. Do we have all the information that we need to understand the business?
Month end is about providing information for making management and operational decisions.
It is not about strategic business decisions or satisfying statutory or compliance obligations, as different information or reports are required for this purpose. More importantly, while it should include financial information, this doesn’t tell the whole story – which is why you should include non-financial information as well.
At a high level, your month-end reporting pack should include:
- A cover page including commentary. This is the TL;DR of your report – the opportunity for you to provide a pulse check on how the business is performing and where the business is heading.
- Profit and Loss (P&L) and Balance sheet. Include notes where necessary to explain any spending in more detail.
- Actuals to budget. This should include MTD and YTD.
- Actuals to forecast.
- Cashflow. This should include MTD and YTD.
- Cashflow forecast.
- Score card, which would include KPIs for financial and non-financial ratios such as:
- Financial ratios (often lag indicators)
- Profitability: am I making enough profit?
- Liquidity: how quickly does my profit convert to cash? Can I stay in business in the short term
- Financing: Can I stay in business in the long term?
- Non-financial ratios (often lead indicators)
How does your month-end reporting pack stack up? Reach out to us and we’d be happy to take a look at your current setup and where there’s room to improve.