Minimally Viable Podcast: Managing Finances at the Early Stages & More

Ally Gsell
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“Our goal is to get you from 0 to 1 million in revenue and to position you for massive long term growth.” — Kevin Burton and Jonathan Grauepner, startup gurus and hosts of Minimally Viable.

Minimally Viable is a podcast dedicated to founders who want to change the world. Topics range from product market fit to growth, fundraising, hiring, and all things related to early-stage startups.

With Kevin’s experience having started and sold three companies and Jonathan’s passion for growth and building world-class startups, the two launched Minimally Viable to learn from other founders on a similar journey.

We had the opportunity to talk with Kevin and Jonathan about fundraising, managing finances during the early stages, and iterating on your product. If you’re scaling an early-stage startup and working to set ambitious, yet lean goals, then this episode’s for you. Read our recap of the conversation below.

Building a Machine (4:29)

Not planning for failure is one of the leading causes for a startup to fail. It would be great if you could pick up the phone and say, “Hey Siri, why were sales down?” But the reality is, you’ll spend weeks digging through spreadsheets to find an answer.

A lot of sales operations are around troubleshooting, but at a certain point in your business revenue should be a machine. The best businesses know how to operate that machine properly, no matter what you’re selling.

As a sales leader you have to understand how to control your two funnels— the sales funnel AND the hiring funnel. Because as your machine is running, if you don’t have an actual person to manage leads as they come in, you’re not going to get deals done.

Cash Flow is About Timing (8:27)

Spreadsheets can’t handle people very well... At the early stage, it’s all about the timing of your cash flow and when it needs to come out. For example, the time it takes to post a job to ramp up to full quota is a chunk of time with cash coming out before a sales rep is even putting money on the board. You have to understand how that schedule works and layer the cash on top of that.

Most VC’s don’t actually know how scaling works inside a startup. Unless you’ve had direct experience, it's hard to understand how challenging it is.

How long it takes to get from posting the job, to interviews, to making an offer, to your first day, to being off the training wheels— that is the funnel you have to manage for onboarding employees.

Learning to marry that concept along with your quota ramp up is only something you learn from feeling the pain on the inside of scaling a business.

Scaling and Staying Lean Early (14:10)

Money papers over cracks, so the deeper the money pile, the longer it takes for you to find those cracks. It’s easy to burn money when it’s so available, which is why it’s important to set ambitious but realistic goals. Find a niche audience that loves your product before you spend millions on trying to find product market fit.

As a founder your sole purpose is to build a revenue generation machine that prints money. You want to put a dollar into that machine and have 10 come out. You need to build that system and stay focused on that first and foremost.

Iterating Product Market Fit and Finding Your First Customers (20:30)

Everyone’s structure is unique and startup models vary, but always start conversations early. You don't want to build something in a vacuum. Even if you aren't trying to sell it yet, show it to people during that process and source their feedback.

Finding product channel fit is another level— Content is KING. Before you even launch your product, create a blog on your website to start growing organic traffic.

Know where your audience is. If you’re a B2B SaaS company and you have a high priced product, if you get one or two leads to convert that could be a lot. Post thoughtful content on LinkedIn about your space and people will gravitate into your network.

Having good content and a clear website design is critically important. If you can’t clearly define what you do on your website, no one will sign up once you get them there.

Growth Hack— Be Helpful (30:23)

If you’re in a conversation with a potential customer, your first job is to see if you can solve a problem. Because if you’re more concerned about closing the deal than you are about the customer, it doesn’t matter how many leads you fill the top of the funnel with, it’s just not going to work.

Worry less about your top of funnel. Instead, have a specific sales process and test it early. Make sure it works before you add outbound and paid ads to the process. That way, when you’re testing outbound messaging, you’re testing only outbound messaging, not your sales process too.

Be Comfortable with Failure (34:25)

As a founder you will fail, you’ll fail often, especially if you’re iterating quickly. You should know what you want to test, test it quickly, and learn from it fast.

Wrapping Up

Kudos to Kevin and Jonathan for initiating valuable conversations with early-stage founders and to all the founders who have shared their stories and lessons-learned with them. As they start off all their podcasts, History is watching. 👊🎙️

If you’re considering starting your own business or an early-stage founder yourself, subscribe to Minimally Viable and listen to this episode here.

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