DFK Gooding Partners

August 15, 2023

In the business world, the thrill of launching a start-up is incomparable. The journey from an idea on paper to a fully-fledged business is a rollercoaster of emotions, determination, and endless possibilities. This means the early days of a startup are marked by excitement and adrenaline, however they also come with a huge number of challenges.

As a founding partner with Spacecubed’s Plus Eight accelerator program since 2016, we’ve been intimately involved in the startup ecosystem in Perth. Managed by Partner Ben Clarkson, this partnership has offered financial mentoring for program participants, including assisting with forecasts, projections, cashflows and financial modelling.

Throughout the mentoring within the program, we have witnessed the highs and lows, and gained insights into the challenges, mistakes, recoveries, and failures faced by startups and their founders.

In a two-part series, Ben shares his observations regarding common areas where startups and founders frequently encounter challenges. Additionally, he provides practical tips for founders to navigate these challenges effectively.

1. Setting Up with an Incorrect Business Structure

Like any kind of venture, planning with a solid foundation is imperative. For startups, this foundation is rooted in selecting the most suitable business structure. This decision holds sway not only over the operational aspects but also over ownership and governance. Whether it’s a sole proprietorship, partnership, company, or trust, each structure bears its distinct legal, financial, and tax implications.

In cases of multiple owners, establishing clear shareholder agreements becomes paramount. These agreements outline ownership percentages, decision-making processes, profit distribution, and mechanisms for dispute resolution.

Founder Tip:

While our mentoring often involves established startups already operating within a structure, it’s common for these structures to be suboptimal. Founders and teams should collaboratively consider questions such as:

  • What degree of control do I desire?
  • How comfortable am I with personal liability?
  • How will taxation impact my business?
  • Have I accounted for succession or exit strategies?
  • How much flexibility is needed for future modifications?
  • What level of complexity is acceptable for setup and administration?

2. Unrealistic Assumptions within Financial Modelling

Creating a financial model is akin to charting a course. Startups require a detailed financial plan that outlines their path to growth—a document pivotal for informing potential investors.

This model hinges on grounded assumptions, growth rates, and projected costs. Realism reigns supreme here; it’s important to recognise that a product-based startup may not attain the same growth rates as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) startup with significantly lower scaling barriers.

Founder Tip:

We often encounter overly ambitious growth rates that don’t align with industry benchmarks, and while rules are meant to broken and optimism is definitely important, it’s prudent to err on the side of caution for your modelling.

The approach of under promising and overdelivering can lay the groundwork for well-informed decision-making, robust strategy formulation, and adaptability to market shifts when opportunities arise.


3. Poorly Anticipating or Navigating Cash Flow Challenges

Cash is king, and it is cash that ultimately turns ideas into reality. Effective cashflow management ensures that a business can meet its financial obligations and seize opportunities for growth. Cashflow modeling goes beyond revenue projections; it delves into the capital needed during different phases of growth.

It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.


We consistently observe four recurring challenges with Perth startups regarding cashflow:

  1. Underestimating capital required during the growth phase
  2. Underestimating the length of time a startup’s existing capital can sustain its operations (the runway)
  3. Underestimating the time taken to raise capital
  4. Miscalculating how capital will be deployed

Founder Tip:

To mitigate these cashflow challenges, founders can consider a range of accounting and financial strategies, including:

  • Buffering for unexpected costs
  • Conducting more regular financial reviews
  • Employ Conservative Cash Flow Planning
  • Seek to diversify revenue streams
  • Employ parallel funding efforts

Address challenges early, and head on

In the world of a startup, the excitement of embarking on a new venture is matched only by the challenges that lie ahead. From choosing the right business structure to managing cash flow effectively, challenges need to be addressed quickly and effectively. By addressing these challenges head-on, founders can pave the way for sustainable growth, informed choices, and a solid foundation for their startup’s success.

Engaging a trusted, experienced advisor will provide a valuable resource to assist with efficiently navigating through these areas, allowing you to get back to core business and growth objectives.

For more details on the services we provide for startups, visit our startup accounting and advisory services page, or contact us below.

Contact Us

(08) 9327 1777