Bookkeeping for startups - All you need to know
As a startup founder, your priority is running your business, and managing your own financial data takes time and energy away from that. That’s why more and more startup and early-stage companies are outsourcing their bookkeeping. A remote bookkeeper is:
Cost-effective. As a small business, you probably don’t need a full-time bookkeeper. Remote bookkeepers normally offer part-time services that will meet your business needs.
Professional. Established remote bookkeeping firms have an extensive client base, which means you’ll have an experienced team helping you.
Flexible. An outsourced bookkeeper can adjust to your needs and response to your requests quickly and effectively.
Efficient. Bookkeeping can be time-consuming, and outsourcing your financial activities allows you to focus on developing your startup.
Objective. An outside bookkeeper provides a fresh and unbiased perspective on your financial situation, providing you with alternatives and options you may not have considered.
Accurate. You can’t effectively manage your business without accurate information, and a remote bookkeeper can provide you with financial data to help you reduce inefficient spending, increase your productivity, and prepare for growth.
Organized. An outsourced bookkeeper can help monitor your invoices, payments, billing and other transactions to make sure you’re collecting funds that are due to you, as well as paying your vendors and contractors on time.
Outsourcing your bookkeeping needs can be essential to growing your business, and accurate bookkeeping gives you a basis to improve your cash management, monitor your financial position, and provide accurate reports to your board and investors.
Kruze’s startup bookkeepers will help your company have accurate, up-to-date financial statements that you can use to manage your business’ growth and cash flow. The basic tasks we will handle are the same as what any other quality bookkeeping provider would do - except that we have developed highly automated systems, and our team is experienced handling the nuances of early-stage, venture funded companies.
Our account managers have an average of 11 years of experience, and are experts on helping young, funded businesses with their bookkeeping. But that experience helps our team go beyond simple, outsourced bookkeeping, and offer financial advice and due diligence help that other accounting firms can not match.
We think bookkeepers for startups should provide the following services to early-stage, VC backed companies:
When revenue or expenses happen, it’s your startup bookkeeper’s job to record these into your company’s accounting system. This probably involves categorizing the “transaction” in a way that makes sense, say a payment to your payroll provider as a payroll expense.
Traditionally this work was all done manually, but Kruze is a pioneer is using automated systems to make this process faster (and cheaper for our clients!) By using a combination of off-the-shelf accounting solutions like Brex, Ramp and Bill.com, plus custom built software, Kruze can quickly and accurately record the vast majority of your company’s transactions without you or your Kruze bookkeeper having to do anything. However, automation is not enough.
Early-stage companies move quickly, and you need an experienced bookkeeper or accountant to review your books and financial records to make sure that the automated systems haven’t made any errors. There are particular moments when automated systems are likely to introduce mistakes, such as when employee benefits are changed.
Our team is trained to look for specific errors based on your company’s stage.
Many companies raise their next round of venture capital based on their revenue growth. Many early-stage CEOs use a variety of dashboards to visualize their revenue.
Smart VCs will check to see what the difference is between the CEO’s revenue number and the actual financial statements recognized revenue.
Making the financial statements correctly mirror these dashboards is not as simple as it sounds! Kruze uses automated systems to record the revenue. But, correct accounting relies on more than just data feeds, and our team knows the questions to ask our CEOs for the information needed to produce GAAP revenue.
Incorrect revenue recognition is one of the biggest reasons startups switch to Kruze as their bookkeeper, especially the online bookkeepers with questionable accounting experience that claim to do everything with “automation” - which is really a code word for the founder having to code everything correctly.
Companies that raise venture capital need to have accurate books - in fact, a company’s executives typically promise recurring delivery of accurate financial records to venture investors in the funding documents.
Reconciliation is an important step in bookkeeping. This is when your bookkeeper makes sure that the different records balance, and that the money leaving an account (like your company’s bank account) matches the actual money spent.
Reconciliation is an especially important part of bookkeeping for funded companies, since investors (and potential acquirer) expect accrual accounting and financials that are close to GAAP. Kruze helps set up connected, automated systems that help do much of this work automatically. But, we go the next step and have our experienced team do several levels of reviews to help catch anything that the automated systems might miss.
Early-stage companies need to carefully manage their burn, and best in class bill pay helps give founders the controls they need to preserve cash.
Kruze clients used to almost exclusively use bill.com, which is a provider of accounts payable for companies of all sizes. However, other vendors such as Ramp and Brex have emerged that provide similar services at a fraction of the cost (typically bundled with credit cards for free!) Regardless of the system, if you want to automate your startup bookkeeping, you need a solution for bill pay. That’s because an automated bill pay system integrates directly into accounting software, minimizing the amount of data entry and saving your startup bookkeeper time.
Investors, board members and experienced founders want to see three important financial statements, usually every month: the income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet.
Bookkeepers have been preparing these financial packets for ages, but modern bookkeepers like Kruze use automated systems. We’ve built our own, specialized software that interfaces directly with QuickBooks API, and combine it with best-in-class off the shelf solutions to give early-stage startups low cost, highly accurate financial statements and financial reports.
However, not all founders are trained finance professionals - software and financial packets are only half the story. Kruze’s accounting team knows how to explain what financial statements mean and how important metrics impact a startup’s strategy.
Kruze Consulting is 100% focused on helping seed and venture funded businesses, and one of our key services is accurate and affordable bookkeeping for startups.
Companies that have raised capital from professional investors require a specialized level of bookkeeping and accounting. It goes well beyond getting the books right - our integrated tax preparation team, FP&A team and CFOs can help your company be ready for the strategic situations that make running a startup special.
Investor updates, board meetings, being prepared for that next venture round or the unexpected M&A interest - we know what the top venture capitalists and public company M&A teams what to see, and make sure our clients’ books are solid.
Kruze Consulting is a leader in Finance as a Service (FaaS), offering outsourced, integrated services that include a full range of financial services through a single provider. Our accounting, controllership, financial planning, business strategy, and tax filing and compliance services cost significantly less than hiring and managing your own departments. You get multiple highly skilled and experienced team of financial professionals that can scale as your startup grows.
It’s not just about knowing how do book debits and credits, or knowing how to recored a journal entry. It’s having specific experience with the industry that YOUR startup is in, and knowing what finance challenges you will face as you scale. From Biotech to SaaS to Crypto to eComm and beyond, our team likely has relevant experience. Don’t waste your time trying to manage a bookkeeper who is trying to reinvent the wheel - the only team doing any inventing should be your startup!
PROFESSIONALS IN BOOKKEEPING
Kruze bookkeepers will help your startup have accurate, up-to-date financial statements that you can use to manage your business’ growth and cash flow
QUALITY BOOKKEEPING PROVIDER
Our account managers have an average of 11 years of experience, and are experts on helping young, funded businesses with their bookkeeping
HIGHLY AUTOMATED SYSTEMS
We have developed highly automated systems, and our team is experienced handling the nuances of early-stage, venture funded companies.
Your books will be ready!
Most very-early stage startups do not need a third party, nor a full-time, bookkeeper. Assuming that the startup has a bookkeeping software like QuickBooks Online set up, we recommend one of the founders DIY the books until the company has raised a reasonable amount of funding. The typical point where it starts to make sense to hire a startup bookkeeper is when a company has raised over $250,000 in funding and has 6+ months of runway. At that point, it makes more sense for the founders to be 100% focused on growing the business, and let an experienced startup bookkeeper handle the books.
If you haven’t been keeping track of your books by the time you raise your first outside money, you need to get your books in order.
We generally recommend that businesses move away from spreadsheets and into an accounting software as soon as possible.
When a business takes outside money, they need to have a firm understanding of their books, since investors usually demand transparency.
And since nobody wants to accidentally run out of money… or fail to raise a Series A round due to messy books!
So, here are the basics of bookkeeping for startups - in particular, early-stage companies that have or are going to raise outside venture capital or seed funding.
Startups need more than a robot to reconcile the accounts, they need a trusted advisor who is in tune with their unique growth path.
Kruze’s finance and bookkeeping team combines experienced startup accountants with the best off the shelf, and custom built, accounting software. We automate everything but have our experts keep an eye on your financials to catch the mistakes the systems make. Founders shouldn’t be burdened with making sure they carefully and correctly code financial transactions so automated bookkeeping services don’t mess up.
We believe that it’s our team’s job to help save our CEOs time and take care of the basic bookkeeping tasks that other services dump onto their clients. Unlike other startup bookkeeping services, our team deals with the complexities of early stage books and sets you up with good bookkeeping so you are ready for VC and M&A due diligence - plus you’ll have the financial data you’ll need to grow your company. As pioneers in cloud accounting, Kruze has been an Intuit Firm of the Future Finalist, an Expensify Emerging Partner of the Year, and is a Gusto Gold Partner.
Venture capitalists don’t like it when their portfolio companies’ numbers change, and you don’t want your numbers to be squirrely during an acquisition. Because we are totally focused on startup business models, we understand the nuances required to get the numbers right. And because we are one of the leaders in accounting automation, we’ve seen the mistakes the automated systems make. If you are aiming for your early-stage company to become a unicorn, you need accurate books!
At early-stage companies, decisions are made on tight timeframes. We know that your company is burning cash, and understand how important it is to get the financial data you need to make critical decisions. Kruze’s bookkeepers will work with you to find the financial delivery date that works for your needs.
Startup CEO’s don’t have time to proof their books. Our team conducts multiple reviews on every client’s financials - every month. And because we are familiar with early-stage companies’ business models, we understand the complexities (and importance) of issues like revenue recognition, ARR, capitalized vs. non-capitalized development costs and more.
Our team loves working with early-stage companies, and we’ve got the experience to help you make critical financial decisions. And our advice can grow with your company, from simple bookkeeping to part-time CFOs. We have former VC’s on staff to help prepare you for your next funding round, and former IRS agents on hand to assist you as you think through the tax ramifications of selling your company. And we have one more critical advantages - we care more!
LOW TIME COMMITMENT COMMITMENT
CEOs of early-stage companies have a tremendous number of things to accomplish. Managing the books shouldn’t be one of them! Kruze’s bookkeeping team strives to handle all the minutia so you can focus on growing your business, achieving product-market fit, advancing your R&D, hiring, etc. We understand the pressure of running a hyper-growth business, and want to make your financials as easy as possible.
Early-stage companies are rightfully price sensitive. Kruze offers a variety of pricing plans to help startups afford accurate bookkeeping services. Check out our pricing page to learn more.
If you are doing to DIY your books, here are they systems and records your new company needs to
Create clean books
Keep your investors happy
Get the numbers you need to make smart financial decisions
If you are going to raise real Angel and VC capital, then incorporate as a Delaware C Corp. Venture Capitalists do not typically want to invest in LLCs and S Corps. So if you are raising money, especially from professional or experienced investors, you’ll need to choose a Delaware C Corp as your entity type. Btw - LLC and S corp structures are great if it’s a family owned business and you will not be raising VC capital.
Get a standalone bank account for the business. Don’t intermingle investor funds or your business expenses with your personal money!
Set up a system to help with expense tracking. In particular, go for automation that can: document the paper trail of expenses for IRS audit purposes, help keep founder and businesses expenses cleanly separate, and easily integrate with your accounting system. We recommend Expensify, because it’s got a great mobile app, solid online interface, and works well with QuickBooks Online. Learn more about setting up expense tracking.
Fire up a payroll system. If you are hiring a team, or getting ready to pay yourself, one of the most important steps in bookkeeping for a startup is getting an automated payroll system that smoothly interfaces with your accounting software.
We typically recommend Gusto or Rippling
We suggest Bill.com. Their system has a solid audit trail, works easily online, and interfaces with your accounting system automatically, saving you time. You can also use it to pay contractors - which is a pretty common expense for most startups.
We recommend QuickBooks Online (“QBO”) as the right bookkeeping software for early-stage companies and high growth small businesses. It’s the leading small business accounting software in the US for small businesses, and interfaces nicely with other automated systems like payroll.
The chart of accounts will list every “account” where you’ll organize all the records of expenses, revenue, etc. on your general ledger. Basically, it’s a list of all of the places where you might want financial transactions to be recorded.
Now that you’ve got your basic bookkeeping systems setup and connected, it’s time to actually do your books!
For early-stage businesses without a ton of complexity, and who are using the systems above that automate a lot of the work, it’s not so hard to generate the financial records that you will need to run your business.
Let’s dig into the basic steps required to DIY your startup’s books.
Not every startup will be ready to hire an outsourced bookkeeping service on day one. We understand that money can be very tight day one. But that’s no excuse for not keeping track of your financials.
So here are some tips, and the steps, for a small company that wants to manage the financial statements in house. If you are a company that expects to raise venture funding, you may also want to check out our free due diligence checklist, so you know what sort of materials you’ll need to keep track of prior to raising outside capital.
Your bank account never lies. The bank account is where all the transactions actually happen. And you have a record of that, basically “verified” by your financial institution. Now with Quickbooks, you first must have connected Quickbooks into your bank account. To do this, you actually type in your company’s bank username and password to get all the financial transactions flowing into Quickbooks. This is important, because then you can match transactions that are in Quickbooks against the bank transactions. It’s this nice little clearinghouse in what accountants call “reconciling.” If you reconcile your transitions and actually match them against bank transactions, then Quickbooks becomes reliable. So a good example of why this is important is that sometimes people might put fake revenue transactions or fake expenses or make journal entries to cover up expenses so that no one could see them. And you only know those transactions are false after you’ve actually compared every transaction coming from the bank and against the statement versus what’s in Quickbooks. So reconciling cash (which is shown in your bank account) is your way to detect fraud. It’s your way to make sure your finances are actually legit and a way to make sure there’s no funny business going on. So you really want to have those bank transactions flowing into Quickbooks so that you can reconcile. So one of the first things when you are doing bookkeeping for startups is to reconcile the bank account against Quickbooks.
Next, you’ll need to get all of your other transactions into QBO, and also reconcile other important parts of your financial statements.
We recommend you do what are called “intra-month reconciliations.” This means you should look at your books and transactions in the middle of the month, not just after it’s over. By reconciling some of your transactions in the middle of the month and getting all that information into your bookkeeping software, you’l reduce your workload at the end of the month. Plus, you’ll give yourself more visibility into your performance.
And - we can’t stress this enough - your bank account should be the source of truth, so you have to reconcile your figures back to the bank!
Bookings are the culmination of all the contractual payments you’re gonna get, usually over the next 12 months. So, if you close a $1.2 million contract, over the next 12 months you recognize that as bookings.
Revenue is a backward-looking metric and revenue you recognize over the length of the service period. So, if you close that same $1.2 million contract over 12 months, each month going forward you’re gonna recognize $100,000.
If you are billing clients, send invoices and review your receivables; and review AP Aging.
Founders need to understand a few key items to understand how their cash burn may differ from their income statement’s operating loss.
If you use one of the automated payroll systems we recommend, like Gusto or Rippling, running payroll is easy - in fact, it just happens.
You’ll want to check that your payroll has synced into QuickBooks Online, and then you should be good. However, if you are paying contractors, there are some tips you should think about
Most early-stage companies are going to raise a SAFE, convertible note or preferred equity to get going. When doing bookkeeping for startups, you need to make sure that you account for these fund raises correctly.
We have a few pieces that will help you understand how to record these investments into your company.
Time and time again, we see not very good bookkeepers not labeling the vendor names in their clients’ accounting software.
Putting the vendor name in for each expense is a simple thing. But, low quality bookkeepers are trying to get the transactions into QuickBooks as quickly as possible to save time, and they don’t really care if they’re labeled or if they’re in the right categories.
At Kruze, we have a different methodology. Kruze uses a proprietary software that plugs into QuickBooks and it categorizes about 70% of the transactions, and automatically. And we complement that automated bookkeeping with high-quality staff accountants. When you have your vendors labeled, you can actually run reports by vendor and see exactly what you’re spending.
This became very important in the early days of COVID because a lot of companies were trying to cut burn. If companies didn’t have their vendors labeled in their accounting software, then they couldn’t see how they were spending their money. So make sure your vendors are labeled and it will make your financials actually actionable.
Companies that are planning on raising venture capital need good bookkeeping services - VCs, strategic acquirers and IPO underwriters want financials that are done right - the 1st time.
Founders who try to skimp on bookkeeping services can find that poorly kept books can end up being super-costly for a number of reasons. Here are some of the reasons why good bookkeeping matters to early-stage companies:
Ready to work with the best Bookkeeper?
We strongly encourage lightly funded startups to do their bookkeeping themselves - it’s not that hard, at least when you are small and have very few transactions. However, there are several common bookkeeping mistakes you should be aware of if you are doing your own books.
How do you find the best bookkeeper near you? First, understand what your bookkeeping needs are - VC-backed Delaware C-Corps financials are different from traditional SMB books, and the skill set needed in a local bookkeeper may not be what your funded startup needs. Secondly, with the advent of cloud financial and accounting systems, you probably don’t need the standard “bookkeeper near me” that you needed 10 years ago.
With locations in the major startup hubs, Kruze has controllers, bookkeepers and staff accountants near you who can serve your financial needs. We currently serve close to 500 startups in dozens of states. With offices in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Austin and New York, we’ve likely got skilled startup bookkeepers in your time zone!
Affordable Startup Bookkeeping and Accounting
Check out Kruze's affordable monthly bookkeeping options.
Monthly Company Expenses
Monthly costs vary based on your needs and company expenses.
Ideal for angel funded companies
Starting at $325 per month
Great for busy founders
Starting at $425 per month
Ideal for high-growth, well-funded businesses
Read some of our recent blog posts on startup bookkeeping and how early-stage companies should manage their books.
Why do startups need to break down their revenue by state?
Posted on Sun, 3 April 2022
The short answer here is that your startup accountant needs to know your revenue by state to properly handle your taxes. So let’s look at why that’s the case.
A CPA Firm Specialized in Startup Accounting & Finance
Startups are our niche, and our passion. Our clients have raised over $10 billion in venture capital financing. We are one of only a few outsourced accounting firms that specialize in funded early-stage companies - we only offer financial and tax services to fast growing startups in the Seed, Series A, Series B and Series C stages.
The Right Accounting Partner for Your Startup’s Next Round
We know how to de-risk your startup’s next venture capital round. Our team makes sure you are ready to fly through your next VC’s accounting, HR and tax due diligence. And when you use us as your bookkeeper, we set up and keep up-to-date a due diligence folder so you can get that next round of fundraising.
A Leader in Cloud Accounting Software
Our practice is built on best of breed cloud accounting software like QuickBooks, Xero, Netsuite, Gusto, Zenefits, Expensify, Avalara, Brex iand Bill.com. Technology makes us more efficient, saving our clients money and letting us offer higher value services like FP&A modeling, 409A valuation and venture debt consulting. Startups deserve to work with CPAs using modern software.
Trusted by Top Venture Investors
Top angel investors and VCs refer Kruze because they trust us to give the right advice. Our clients are portfolio companies of top technology and Silicon Valley investors, including Y-Combinator, Kleiner, Sequoia, Khsola, Launch, Techstars and more. With us, your books and taxes are in order when it’s time to raise another round of venture financing.
What types of startups does Kruze Consulting usually work with?
Kruze Consulting works with a variety of funded Delaware C-Corps, but the majority of our companies have secured Seed, Series A, Series B and Series C. We look to partner with our clients, going beyond the typical outsourced accounting relationship and seeking to provide a higher level advisory role. We feel honored to be a part of making the world a better place, even if it’s one debit and credit at a time.
Accounting, Finance, Taxes, & Payroll all in one solution
Startup CFO services, startup accounting and bookkeeping services, startup annual taxes, expense reports, payroll, benefits: we've got you covered. Our software provides custom tailored dashboards that can be provided weekly or monthly, depending on your preference and plan. Founders are often so busy building their company that they don’t have time to take care of their finances. Traditionally, these companies have had to work with a basket of people to get their work done, including bookkeepers, accountants, AP clerks, CFOs, consultants, and tax accountants. At Kruze Consulting, our founders have one point person, saving time and money.
We're huge fans of Vanessa and the folks at Kruze Consulting. They set up our books, finances, and other operations, and are constantly organized and on top of things. As a startup, you have to focus on your product and customers, and Kruze takes care of everything else (which is a massive sigh of relief). I highly highly highly recommend working with Vanessa and her team.
Co-Founder @ Superhuman
As a startup, moving quickly is a top priority for us and we just needed to get our tax return done. After we uploaded our docs, we got our tax return in 3 days! E-filing was confirmed by Day 4. Super responsive and helpful!
VP, Operations of Calm.com
Avochato has been growing rapidly in the past year – in fact, too quickly for us to keep up with books, taxes, and budgeting for growth. Partnering with Kruze Consulting has been fantastic to manage, track, and analyze our finances while we continue focusing on building our customer base. Kruze’s team knows what startups need.
Alex De Simone
CEO @ Avochato
Everybody, go to Kruze Consulting. They do a great job. I personally can tell you, they've done a great job for our companies, including Calm.com. I'm sure they’ll do a great job for you.
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