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How to Calculate and Optimize Startup Burn Rate

agosto 19, 2020by admin0

how to calculate burn rate

For example, I provided consulting services to a company who was using intermediaries to gain access to clients. These intermediaries were large banks and consulting firms, whose acceptance processes were sophisticated and lasted typically over a year. Burn rate is one of the simplest, yet most fundamental metrics that investors and startup companies alike follow and communicate on. Many important conversations occur around what a typical startup burn rate should be, what affects it, and how it can be kept under control.

  • This is a good position to be in because it means the original estimations were accurate and the project is progressing as intended.
  • They’ll be the primary factors in guiding your ability to accurately and effectively calculate your net burn rate.
  • When a company needs faster access to this type of capital, SR&ED financing can help.
  • Here, the burn rate is equal to 1 which means the project budget is being expended in accordance with what was originally planned.
  • To that end, practically any burn rate is acceptable so long as it’s justified by market economics and growth trajectories.
  • Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us.
  • The easiest way to increase revenue without increasing expenses is to improve your gross profit margin.

However, most business owners trying to understand the state of their finances will opt to calculate their overall burn rate instead. Number-crunching types have referred to burn rate for years, but the term didn’t really catch fire (sorry!) and become part of the normal business vocabulary until the dot-com frenzy of last decade.

You can’t afford to ignore your burn rate

A low burn rate is an indicator of a strong cash position and a strong cash position is a vital indicator of a business’s health. A company can be profitable on paper and still fail due to a lack of cash. A low burn rate helps to ensure this doesn’t happen to your business.

As such, “growth hacking” is a term often used in start-ups to refer to a growth strategy that does not rely on costly advertising. One example is Airbnb engineers reconfiguring Craigslist in order to redirect traffic from Craigslist onto its own site. Young companies should avoid incurring unnecessary capital expenditures, if any at all.

metrics to track alongside burn rate

So if you have $600,000 in available cash, a burn rate close to $50,000 would be good. Investors give you money because they expect you to spend it.

Obviously, the higher your revenue the longer you’ll be able to stretch your burn rate. Ideally, you want to get your monthly operating expenses as low as possible and keep them consistent from month to month . That changes the number from a variable expense to a constant expense and gives you more control over your burn rate. If you’re burning through $100,000 a month, it’s going to take a significant amount of revenue just to break even. It’s also going to take substantial capital to keep your business afloat until it can turn a profit. Most businesses measure burn rate (or just “burn” for short) in months. But in extreme cases, you could also measure it in weeks or even days.


Venture capital firms typically want to see their investments turn into profitable companies within five years, so they tend to invest in businesses with low or moderate burn rates. As a startup founder, you should review all expenses to see where you can make cuts and determine what is necessary vs. unnecessary to reduce costs and improve your burn rate. If you are a pre-revenue startup, you need to consider how much money you are spending to improve your burn rate. This is more than just closing your wallet and not spending money.

How many times EBITDA is a business worth?

Using EBITDA to Strike a Deal

Generally, the multiple used is about four to six times EBITDA. However, prospective buyers and investors will push for a lower valuation — for instance, by using an average of the company's EBITDA over the past few years as a base number.

In the context of cash flow negative start-ups, the burn rate measures the pace at which a start-up’s equity funding is being spent. Burn rate is also important to startups looking for funding that don’t have investors yet. When fundraising, they present financial projections explaining how much venture capital they need to develop their product, when they expect https://www.bookstime.com/ to start earning a profit , and what their burn rate will be. Burn rate is a measurement of how fast your business is spending its cash reserves. You measure burn rate when your company has negative cash flows—when it’s spending more than it earns. For any business that is not generating a profit, calculating burn rate and cash runway is a valuable exercise.

Gross burn calculation

The net burn rate is calculated by first subtracting all revenue from the total amount of money spent over some time. This figure represents how much money was spent on operational expenses like payroll and marketing during that period. For a revenue-generating company, it may not be as easy to determine how to reduce expenses and improve burn rate. This requires a more in-depth understanding of metrics and KPIs across the company, from high-performing marketing campaigns to incurred research and development expenses. If your company is burning cash, then you are spending more money than you are taking in. Similarly, your company’s burn rate is how much money your business is spending per month (revenue-expenses). Gross burn rate requires two inputs, cash and operating expense.

They know that it’s an outward sign of the health of your company and that it can indicate a good investment or a bad one. Your startup’s burn rate is a key indicator of the strength of how to calculate burn rate both your business plans and business practices. It’s no wonder, then, that the sharks on the television show Shark Tank make it a point to ask each entrepreneur about their burn rate.

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