Category: KPIs Library.


Setting goals and achieving them are integral to an organization’s day-to-day operations. Success in attaining those goals needs to be measured and evaluated to ensure that your goal achievement leads to the right impact at every level.

For this purpose, businesses use various statistical data which will be further compared to other important metrics to see the impact of your actions to indicate the measure of your success. Startups especially are vulnerable and need some important metrics to assess their progress.

One of the metrics used very often to measure the progress of an organization is Burn Rate. Burn rate is how rapidly a business uses its cash reserves before creating income. A start-up may be unable to make positive net income in its early stages. As a result, investors will base their funding decisions on the company’s burn rate. It is crucial to have a solid understanding of the concept of burn rate. The burn rate will guide your strategic business decisions, such as spending and forecasting.


High expectations are the key to everything.

Sam Walton, founder of Walmart

What is Net Burn Rate Definition

Net burn rate is the amount a company loses every month when it uses its cash reserves. The net burn rate should be low to sustain you longer before seeking additional capital. A business’s net burn rate also determines its implied runway meaning how long they are still able to remain in business. A business’s net burn rate determines its implied runway.

The implied runway is the amount of time you have before running out of venture funding. Implied runway = (Cash balance/Burn rate). The business should become profitable before the end of the runway. Otherwise, you may need more equity financing to continue operating.


Definition and How to Calculate

a) What is the gross burn rate?

The gross burn rate reflects the company’s monthly operating costs. Add up all of the business’s operational costs, including rent, employee wages, and other overhead. Gross burn rate gives insight into your cost elements and efficiency.

Gross burn rate formula

Gross burn rate
Total operating costsTime period

b)What is the net burn rate?

Also calculated monthly, the net burn rate measures a business’s loss. Calculate and deduct operational costs from revenue.

Net burn rate formula

Net burn rate
Revenue – Operational costs

Alternatively, use your starting and ending cash balances to calculate the burn rate;

Net burn rate
Starting cash balance – Ending cash balanceNumber of months

Gross Burn Vs. Net Burn

The gross burn is the total sum of money spent monthly. Net burn rate, however, is the difference between the monthly inflows and outflows of cash. Net burn also takes into account your income, while gross burn only accounts for expenses. Gross burn gives your insight into the overheads and how much cash you’ll need to keep your business going.

What Are the Effects of The Net Burn Rate?

High burn rates signify that a business is using up its cash supply quickly. It will likely experience financial trouble. You may need to establish more aggressive targets for revenue realization. Alternatively, you may need to put more money into the business to extend its runway.

How Can You Bring Down Net Burn Rate?

a) Reduce the number of employees

Reduce the number of your staff to bring down your burn rate. Reduce the benefits, put off adding more staff, and let go of non-essential employees.

b) Focus on growth objectives

Prioritization is crucial for the success of any start-up. With limited financial resources, it’s impossible to accomplish much at once. Instead, you need to channel your resources to the most important milestones. Prioritizing objectives helps manage your budget, as you need to only spend on what is essential to move on to the subsequent financing round.

c) Marketing

Companies invest in marketing to expand their customer base or increase product usage. Because of financial challenges, start-ups usually lack enough resources for commercial advertising. Start-ups thus often use the phrase “growth hacking.” The phrase describes a growth strategy that doesn’t rely on expensive advertising. For instance, engineers at Airbnb modified Craigslist to redirect traffic to its website.

Using an agile OKR framework to manage and achieve healthy revenue for your organization is an essential step toward success. Try Profit.co OKR platform for free.

Net Burn in SaaS

Burn rate example 1

Let’s use the following assumptions to calculate net burn;

Cash: $100,000 in your company’s bank account

Cash Expenses: A total of $10,000 each month


a) The gross burn rate is $10,000 for the month

b) The implied runway is ten months.

Implied Runway
Cash balanceBurn rate
10 months

There were no monetary inflows in the example. Thus, the net burn for this pre-revenue start-up is equal to the gross burn.

Burn rate example 2

Let’s assume the above start-up has a monthly cash inflow of $5,000.


  • Gross burn is $10,000
  • Net burn is $5,000, i.e., the $5,000 in cash sales added to the $10,000 in total cash expenses.
  • The implied runway is, therefore, 20 months ($100,000 ÷ $5,000)
    Due to the $5,000 in monthly cash inflows, the company has twice as many months of cash runway.


1. What is a good net burn rate?

Most business owners and professionals advise keeping a minimum of a 12-month runway available. Therefore, a good net burn rate is roughly one-twelfth of your cash on hand.

2. What does a negative burn rate mean?

Net burn occurs when your running expenses are more than your revenue. A company with a “negative Net Burn” is profitable with a positive cash flow.


Companies can work on many measures to reduce their burn rate and avoid running out of cash. Some of them include increasing revenue, improving customer base, increasing sales or reducing the monthly expenses, and salary reduction, etc.,. Understanding cash flow, burn rate, and cost of growth can help organizations make informed decisions about money and achieve goals. One of the essential validations for a startup is when they achieve the funding milestones. Burn rate is an important metric used by many funding firms and venture capitalists to understand the health of a startup.

Successful organizations are strategic about how they spend their money to ensure sustainable growth. Profit.co OKR platform helps startups spend wisely, tracking every dollar through their aligned workflow .Book a free demo with our team to learn more about how we can help your startup become an unicorn!

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