Best Reads for Startup Finance

As the late Charlie Munger says, "In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time—none." Finance leaders at start-ups have to read on a wide range of topics to stay relevant. From actual finance topics, to new tax changes, and scaling a start-up, the learnings from reading are endless. But where to start?
Written by
Kim Le
Published on
May 8, 2024

Running the finance function in an early stage start-up is a one-person job that spans multiple hats from accounting, legal, tax, to strategy. Finance leaders do much more than finance in a startup. To keep up with the ever evolving and expanding responsibilities of the finance role in startups, finance leaders should consistently invest time and bandwidth to further our understanding and knowledge in the field.

Here are our go-to reads for continuous development:

  • David Skok’s For Entrepreneurs
  • Stripe’s More Resources
  • Carta’s Learn Classroom
  • Wall Street Prep’s Venture Capital
  • Ben Murray’s The SaaS CFO
  • Kruze Consulting’s Resources

David Skok’s For Entrepreneurs

David Skok’s blog For Entrepreneurs has been around for most of the SaaS boom from the last decade and a half. It is still my go to for blog for SaaS metric references.

David is a five time serial entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. As of late he retains his emeritus title as partner at the Boston-based venture firm Matrix Partners. His blog has been a recognized resource for entrepreneurs being featured previously by Forbes and Inc. Magazine.

Our Take

Given Skok’s background, his expertise lies more in founder strategy. His overview of metrics and how to run a business has a heavy leaning towards more strategy and lightweight metrics. We use here “lightweight” meaning he doesn’t employe complicated financial mathematics. Readers will notice that the mathematics he does employ is akin to 3rd or 4th grade level math, which is the appropriate level needed. Anything beyond that is impractical from an operator’s standpoint to help make quick, informed decisions that can easily be checked and understood by a wider audience.

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Stripe’s More Resources

Not linked anywhere on their main page, Stripe’s “How-tos and overviews of payments and financial services basics” is written and presented like a lightweight textbook, which you should bookmark for ongoing reference.

It would be an understatement to stay that Stripe is part of the underlying infrastructure that made the SaaS boom possible. As developer friendly and designed for subscription businesses, Stripe has powered the growth of innumerable start-ups to unicorn status. Not surprisingly, Stripe’s glossary on payments is a trove of resources for SaaS Finance leaders.

Our Take

Because Stripe sits at the intersection of banking, legal, and payment processing, Stripe’s expertise lies in more mundane and complex topics that relates to the intricacies of the day to day running of financial operations. Stripe’s content has a knack of taking legal and accounting jargon and turning them into easy to understand explanations for people coming from any background.

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Carta’s Learn Classroom

Carta’s online “Learn” academy might be an odd (and boring) place to do regular reading, but start-up equity is not a particularly exciting topic to read about in the first place. Any quality content on equity is going to read like a legal textbook. Carta’s articles are split by user (ie founders and investors) and use case (ie taxes and fundraising). Though they cover complex legal topics, they read like a regular blog but slightly more boring.

Like Stripe, Carta has been an instrumental aspect of enabling the creation of thousands of start-ups. Enabling the issuance of equity to founders, investors, and employees, Carta’s software has played an invaluable role managing cap tables accurately in the past decade. Whereas Stripe has seen a new generation of challengers to its payment processing dominance, the same can not be said of Carta, which still stands as the singular name being used across the board.

Our Take

Carta does an excellent job of taking complex legal topics related to equity management and turning them into consumable chunks of knowledge. With Carta's academy, individuals from any background willing to put in the work can navigate the intricate web of legal, finance, and regulatory rules that entangles startup equity.

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Wall Street Prep’s Venture Capital

The Wall Street Prep (like the Wall Street Oasis) is for individuals aspiring to break into the illustrious wall street jobs like investment banking, trading, and of course now venture capital. Because the content is written for and likely by financial analysts, the quality is by far superior in its rigor, explanation, and attention to detail that would be expected for Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A).

Our Take

Whereas other writings listed here are by those with founder or accounting backgrounds, Wall Street prep reads like it's produced by people who work in finance. Therefore, the style is different, and the content is suitable for those whose primary job is running the FP&A function.

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Ben Murray's The SaaS CFO

And of course any list on good reads wouldn’t be complete without listing an influencer. Our pick for the influencer in the finance for SaaS startups: the SaaS CFO. Ben Murray may not have a list of impressive software companies to his name like Google or Meta. However, Ben can probably be considered an OG influencer with over 40,000 subscribers to his blog which started in 2016.

Our Take

Because the blog monetizes off of the followers of its content, the SaaS CFO’s content has to be (and is actually) pretty good. SaaS companies that write on these topics typically have a lot of fluff and tend to come and go, but Murray’s site remains updated and goes into extensive detail. A CPA by training, Murray blends well together simple financial modeling with accounting concepts. His best articles dive into some sort of modeling or calculation in a similar vein as David Skok’s style.

Our Favorite Posts

Kruze Consulting’s Resources

Kruze Consulting is an outsourced accounting firm that targets early stage, venture-backed start-ups. Kruze has been featured on big tech publishers like Techcrunch, Pitchbook, Crunchbase, The Information, Wired, etc. Boasting over 800 start-ups in its client portfolio and a competitive starting price point, Kruze is the go to firm for any startup’s accounting solution. Naturally, Kruze’s content builds on the breadth and depth of its expertise working with early stage startups.

Our Take

Lacking the fluffy writing style of most online blogs, Kruze’s articles read more like an internal accounting document meant to answer internal stakeholders’ questions, outline a team’s project plan and deadlines, or breakdown an accounting task to be done. When drafting internal timelines and project deliverables for your startup's accounting work, Kruze’s is a great resource to cross reference.

Our Favorite Posts

The Learning Never Ends

The pace at which technology changes never slows; and the startups that develop continue to evolve. The finance teams that run these companies have to continuously adapt, dealing with changes in macroeconomic conditions to new tax curveballs. Continuously learning and adapting is the best path forth.

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