How to Manage Spend at Your Startup

June 14, 2023

Authors: Jenny Lee, Gloria Qiao, ChatGPT

Efficient spend management is vital for startups. Leveraging cutting-edge procurement solutions can make all the difference in an early-stage business’s success. Startups often struggle with disorganized software purchases and end up wasting money on similar tools. However, implementing the right procurement strategies and solutions can streamline startups’ procurement processes and maximize their resources.

In today's competitive market, effective spend management has become integral for startups, especially considering fluctuations in funding. By minimizing waste and maximizing savings, startups can navigate financial uncertainties with greater resilience. Investors are more likely to invest in early-stage companies with a stronger financial foundation. Here are some tips for optimizing spend management and boosting savings:

1. Streamline with Trusli

Get better spend visibility and control by adopting an end-to-end solution like Trusli. Our cutting-edge procurement platform empowers procurement managers to handle deal intake, management, contract oversight, and performance reporting, all within a centralized system. With Trusli, startups can eliminate the need for multiple tools and gain valuable insights into their spending patterns.

2. Establish a Strategic Budget

Creating a well-defined budget is fundamental. A strategic budget allows startups to prevent overspending by tracking progress against goals and objectives to identify areas where adjustments need to be made. Make sure your financial management is effective and aligns with your overall business goals. Your CFO should oversee budget allocations to maintain this balance.

3. Utilize Metrics for Insights

Track expenses with better metrics to gain valuable insights into spending patterns. Utilizing a dedicated dashboard enhances visibility and analysis capabilities. Monitor the percentage of each tool's budget allocation within your department to identify areas where cost reductions are possible. Also be sure to measure savings achieved from specific commodities, suppliers, or procurement managers to pinpoint opportunities for optimization and operational efficiency. At Trusli, we’ve created a dashboard that tracks your month-to-date and year-to-date spend by department, savings by employee, and average deal cycle time in a visual, intuitive display.

4. Optimize Supplier Relationships

Negotiating better deals with your suppliers or exploring alternative options can yield significant cost savings. The procurement technology market offers a wide array of solutions that can potentially meet your requirements at a lower cost. Here are few factors to keep in mind when for maintaining supplier relationships:

  • Do your research. Before you start negotiating, it's important to do your research and understand the market for the goods or services you're buying. Otherwise, you’ll have no clue what a standard deal looks like, let alone a good one.
  • Describe the RFP. An RFP should include information about the project or service, the budget, and the evaluation criteria that will be used to select the winning vendor. They allow organizations to compare proposals from multiple vendors, select the best option for their needs, and ensure that all vendors are bidding on the same thing to avoid unfair bidding practices. RFPs can help increase competition among vendors (which can lead to lower prices and better services) and allow startups to make better decisions about which vendors to select.
  • Be persistent. Continue negotiating until you reach an agreement that is favorable to both parties. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the deal you want the first time.
  • Be prepared to walk away. If you are unhappy with the supplier’s terms of the deal being offered, be prepared to walk away. You have to be serious about getting a good deal, while pursuing a win-win for both parties. 
  • Preserve the relationship. Optimizing supplier relationships involves maintaining the relationship and keeping your suppliers equally happy. Don’t burn bridges over pennies. As is the case in personal relationships, sometimes it’s better to lose a little on the deal to keep a supplier that offers high-quality products and services. This is a necessary tension to be managed. If your startup lacks the negotiation expertise required to secure favorable deals, consider engaging professional procurement teams equipped with tools like Trusli. These experts can drive effective supplier negotiations and implement robust procurement processes to optimize your company's spend. 

Here at Trusli, we’re developing a feature that integrates ChatGPT to automatically generate an email negotiating key contract terms with suppliers to reduce tail spend, increase savings, and manage spend more effectively. This is an advantageous tool for startups who are still developing their procurement department and may not have a skilled negotiator on the team yet.

5. Get Everyone on Board

As with most objectives at a startup, everyone should be on the same page, working toward the same goal. Not only will having a shared goal build camraderie, but employee morale improves when employees know that spend is being managed effectively, increasing productivity and retention. Overall, this shared goal can transform spend management from an obstacle into an opportunity to positively impact the culture at your startup.

Effective Spend Management boosts profitability, enhances cash flow, leads to more well-informed decisions, and minimizes financial risk for your startup. By securing better deals and reducing expenses, startups can significantly increase profitability, and additional profits can be reinvested into the business. Efficient spend management directly impacts cash flow, enabling startups to meet financial obligations more easily and avoid unnecessary debt. Accurate spending data equips startups with valuable insights for making informed business decisions. By allocating resources effectively, startups can optimize operations and achieve their strategic objectives efficiently. Lastly, effective spend management reduces the risk of  financial challenges, safeguarding the business and its employees.

Implementing a proactive spend management approach from the early stages of your startup is crucial. Establishing a dedicated procurement team and leveraging a reliable procurement tool like Trusli can provide the foundation for success. Trusli's comprehensive insights into both direct and indirect spend, coupled with its seamless collaboration between finance and procurement teams, enable startups to maximize the impact of their spending while driving operational efficiency. Prioritize spend optimization today to secure a prosperous future for your startup.