Not the reason why you started the business, but it could seriously jeopardize it
You don’t know what you don’t know.
It’s a proverb that’s often bandied about, but for scale-ups, it’s also an essential truth that can spell the difference between success and failure. That’s why the fourth Econnections Growth Accelerator day took a deep dive into the finance, tax and legal components of our scale-ups. Are these the most glamorous topics? Perhaps not. But all are indispensable building blocks at the foundation of every successful company, from corner stores to major multinationals. Scale-ups often struggle with knowing where to begin, much less master.
From local start-up to fintech superstar
Dutch payment provider Mollie opened the doors of their sunny space on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam for the fourth Econnections Growth Accelerator Day, guiding us through the sometimes confusing world of finance, tax, and legal. Mollie was born as a start-up and scaled into a leading fintech. Their latest €665m Series C funding round proves it’s possible.
Healthy finances mean visibility and control
Mollie Head of Treasury Bart Verweij and Head of Business Control Etienne Dutilh took the floor with a hands-on keynote full of practical tips for scale-ups where the main focus may not always be finance. “The key is visibility and control,” said Verweij, who shared helpful advice for building a solid financial foundation. “Make sure you know how much cash you have and that you can look at your cash balances whenever you want.” Another helpful hint: always negotiate. Interest and fees grow right along with turnover. No matter your size, it’s always worth having a discussion with your bank or financial institution about terms and conditions.
Reporting as an evolving way to understand your business
Etienne Dutilh honed in on how reporting and forecasting can sharpen the focus on key needs and drivers unique to your business. He recommended structuring reports and forecasts around the core business elements as a reminder of what’s really important to your business. His second piece of advice? Don’t get bogged down in the details. “When you focus on details, you’re losing the bigger picture,” Dutilh explained. “For most entrepreneurs, it’s where your business is going that truly matters. So have a couple of drivers that tell the story of ‘what really drives my business’. Those may change over time but reporting on them regularly helps keep your eye on the prize and your forecasts on the right trajectory.
Professionalising finance integral to growth
Marcel Koopman, Accountant and Advisor for medium-sized companies at Deloitte, closed out the keynotes with a crash course in the financial growth curve for budding scale-ups. An audit can be one of the biggest hurdles on that road, and it often comes much sooner than scale-ups anticipate. His key takeaways:
- Start early. Being audit ready isn’t a single-year process. It will take several years to be fully ready, but it’s worth the effort to guarantee that your first audit opinion isn’t a qualified opinion.
- Find a professional. There’s no shame in not knowing what you don’t know. Start-ups and scale-ups often bloom from passion for a disruptive idea, not accounting expertise. So, consider bringing in a professional to help you get audit
- Don’t be afraid of an audit. Embrace it, start the process. Ultimately, it will only make your business stronger.
Finance, tax and legal: foundations for sustainable growth
The keynotes were followed by a peer-to-peer exercise, where scale-ups could put their learnings into practice and individual expert sessions that dug deeper into topics like legal, risk management, and funding. It was a packed agenda that underlined how these foundational topics can help guide a company through a smooth transition from start-up to scale-up and beyond. A solid grasp of each can protect you as you grow, give you better control over where your business is going, and set you up for sustainable long-term success.