Understanding Cash Burn Rate

Cash Burn Rate: The rate at which a company spends its cash reserves to fund operations and cover expenses before generating positive cash flow. It’s a crucial metric for startups, as it indicates

how long a company can sustain its operations with its current cash reserves before needing additional funding or becoming profitable.

Calculating Cash Burn Rate

There are two main types of burn rates:

Gross Burn Rate: The total amount of cash spent per month.

Net Burn Rate: The difference between cash outflows and cash inflows per month.

Gross Burn Rate Formula:


Gross Burn Rate=Cash Balance at Start of Period−Cash Balance at End of PeriodNumber of Months in Period

Gross Burn Rate=

Number of Months in Period

Cash Balance at Start of Period−Cash Balance at End of Period

Net Burn Rate Formula:


Net Burn Rate=Monthly Cash Outflows−Monthly Cash Inflows

Net Burn Rate=Monthly Cash Outflows−Monthly Cash Inflows

Example Calculation

Suppose your company had $500,000 at the beginning of January and $350,000 at the end of March. The cash spent over three months is $150,000.

Gross Burn Rate:


Gross Burn Rate=500,000−350,0003=$50,000 per month

Gross Burn Rate=



=$50,000 per month

If your company has monthly cash inflows of $20,000:

Net Burn Rate:


Net Burn Rate=50,000−20,000=$30,000 per month

Net Burn Rate=50,000−20,000=$30,000 per month

Assessing Your Cash Runway

Cash Runway: The amount of time your business can continue to operate at its current burn rate before running out of cash.

Cash Runway Formula:


Cash Runway=Current Cash BalanceNet Burn Rate

Cash Runway=

Net Burn Rate

Current Cash Balance

Using the previous example, if your company has $350,000 left:

Cash Runway=350,00030,000≈11.67 months

Cash Runway=



≈11.67 months

Managing Your Cash Burn Rate

Monitor Regularly:

Track your burn rate monthly to identify trends and adjust your spending accordingly.

Reduce Unnecessary Expenses:

Identify and cut non-essential costs. This might include renegotiating contracts, finding cheaper suppliers, or reducing marketing expenses.

Optimize Operations:

Streamline processes to reduce overhead. Consider automating repetitive tasks or outsourcing non-core activities.

Increase Revenue:

Focus on strategies to boost sales, such as improving product offerings, entering new markets, or enhancing customer retention.

Extend Cash Runway:

Seek additional funding if necessary, through equity financing, loans, or grants. Diversify income streams to reduce dependency on a single source.

Scenario Planning:

Prepare for different scenarios (best, average, worst) to understand how changes in revenue or expenses could impact your burn rate and runway.


Effectively managing your cash burn rate is essential for the survival and growth of your business. By regularly monitoring and adjusting your spending, optimizing operations, and exploring revenue enhancement strategies, you can ensure your company remains financially healthy and capable of weathering unexpected challenges. 

Understanding and controlling your burn rate can make the difference between running out of cash and achieving long-term success.