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At what point should you create a company bank account and start with quickbooks/accountant for your startup?

Vanessa Kruze Kruze Consulting

Vanessa Kruze

CEO and Founder of Kruze Consulting

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Using personal savings and CCs to pay for services now. Will Inc. (c corp) soon but don’t plan to monetize right away,or only get a little $ in early on. At what point should I create a company account and put some of my savings in, start using QuickBooks, talk to an accountant? Right after I inc.?

Incorporate as soon as you start spending a material amount of money on the idea, begin signing legal agreements and before you start hiring contractors or employees. Get yourself protected legally.

If you are going to raise real Angel and VC capital, then incorporate as a Delaware C Corp. VCs can’t invest in LLCs and S Corps, so if you go that direction you will need to reincorporate later. Btw - LLC and S corp structures are great if it’s a family owned business and you will not be raising VC capital. In fact we are an S Corp. :)

Once incorporated, you can get a separate bank account. Do that immediately. You want to clearly document all spend on the new business. Go back and document the spend before you were incorporated so you can get reimbursed later or roll it into equity. And make sure you get a bank that knows startups, not some random regional bank or mega-bank. Very few banks understand VC backed businesses. This matters for a few reasons. 1, most small business focused banks don’t “get” the fact that startups burn cash; they are used to small design firms or coffee shops where the cash balance goes up every month. You don’t want them putting you on some internal ‘watch list’ because they think you are going out of business. 2, the right bankers are very connected into venture capitalists, and can make introductions to potential investors. These are often high quality intros.

When you have the bank account, use only that account for the business. Do not mix personal and business anymore. Founder to Business payments are something the IRS focuses on in an audit. So do it right.

When you’ve raised some money, you then have the ability to get a real startup corporate card. Look for a card that does not put personal liability onto the founders - you don’t want to get stuck with a $250,000 bill from Amex if your startup goes under. Also look for cards that “get” startups - ones that know how to extend a line of credit to a startup based on the amount of money you’ve raised or have in the bank. We are currently recommending Brex as the best credit card for startups. It also makes it very, very easy to manage your spend by category and classification - something that starts to matter as you bring on sophisticated investors.

Once all the spend is segregated, you can wait a bit before doing Quickbooks. Most people can gauge their spending pretty well by looking at their bank account. However, if you want more granularity and/or you have investors, then use Quickbooks. This is probably the time to hire a startup accountant like us.

We encourage companies to raise about a quarter of a million in pre-seed, seed or venture funding before working with us because anything less in capital means you are on a really tight budget and that capital could be better used for achieving product market fit. This is a judgement call for the founder. Some people like professional books earlier, which is fine. Just make sure you don’t waste money on accounting when you could be building traction. We can always go back and clean up compliance and accounting, but you don’t always get a second chance at traction. :)

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