For many people, the topic of finance is a red rag. Decision-makers in start-ups often get sweaty palms when investors ask for figures alone. Jana Ludwig-Martyushev, founder of Start Finance Now, knows this problem and wants to eliminate it with her toolbox. We spoke with the financial expert, who describes herself as a bean counter by heart, stock market enthusiast and world changer.
Jana, please introduce your company briefly! What exactly is it that you do?
Of course. I am a finance coach for startups. My mission is to assist young companies to avoid failing because of finances. It’s a pressuring issue. Just now again I read a study according to which in the USA 50 percent of all start-ups have to give up because of a lack of knowledge about their situation. This is not different in Germany. It is easy to prevent such knowledge gaps. The financial sector can make a major contribution to this. It’s just important to get to grips with it and set everything up properly. I want decision-makers to recognize that.
Tell me exactly what your toolbox is all about.
My toolbox for startups, freelancers and small businesses is an all-in-one package to set up finances very simply in ten steps. It starts with accounting hygiene and how to easily set up a chart of accounts. Users also learn how to find a good accountant, why cost centers are useful, and how to create a financial plan. Also, the toolbox includes guides as well as ready-to-use Excel templates. Finally, I recommend two tools from day one that I am personally 100 percent convinced of: GetMyInvoices for invoice management and the travel expense tool Circula.
How did you come up with the idea of the toolbox?
After my business studies, I spent more than ten years in various companies setting up accounting and controlling structures and implementing financial processes. In the process, I noticed that the same problems kept coming up, and I asked myself why there was no sustainable solution to them. After all, it doesn’t make sense to keep reinventing the wheel. I wanted to change this. That’s why I started my own business and developed the Toolbox.
Your statement is “Finance is no Rocket Science”. Tell us more about it!
Most people, whether in their personal lives or business, are afraid of finances. The reason is that they don’t understand how to tackle the subject. So they swim along in the flow of numbers without control. When I realized that this fear fades once a few simple tricks and process steps are known, I started telling everyone about it: It’s No Rocket Science – you just need to sit down once and understand a few connections. Then you won’t be afraid anymore.
Can you list other pain points that startups face in the first few years in the financial area in particular?
Start-ups fail especially in the first three years. One of the main reasons is that they lack an overview. They control everything somehow. Since they often don’t have good accounting, they don’t know how long the money will last. In addition, they don’t know the adjusting screws and levers. That’s why I start precisely at this point. When the financial processes are set up accurately and everything is running, the start-ups have taken the biggest step.
How important is the topic of digital invoice management in this regard?
Digital invoice management is the basis for functioning bookkeeping and good accounting. If these areas are not in order, nothing works – neither the preparation of a budget, financial planning, nor the determination of prices. Companies then cannot manage well and cannot be systematically successful. Any success is just a fluke.
How did you discover GetMyInvoices and where do you see the main benefit?
When I was in my first startup, I faced a typical problem: How do I get the invoices? How do I get the employees to send the receipts to accounting? This is the most annoying and also unnecessary task for a financier. When someone in my circle recommended GetMyInvoices to me, I used the software in that company and subsequently recommended it to others. It’s just cool to have the receipts compiled from portals and other sources completely automatically, as well as having interfaces to the tax accountant. This makes simple invoice management possible. Because often in startups there’s no one specifically dealing with finances, and I don’t think anyone with the business idea of the century should waste their time looking for receipts.
What advice can you give startups in terms of accounting and invoice management?
My main tip is to start with finance on day one with employee one! Don’t wait until you have five employees or the first funding! It is important to have a good structure, a good filing system, a functional approval process, and workflows right from the start – not to forget procedural documentation. Auditors ask for this again and again. With GetMyInvoices and my toolbox, all this can be easily mapped. You are in control and always know where you are going.
See the benefits of automated invoice management:
Better overview. Less accounting work. More time for your ideas.