10 documents every start-up needs

The process of building our tools & templates to sell via our online shop was a fascinating one. It involved talking to hundreds of early-stage food & drink brands to understand which processes and systems they had (and critically, didn’t have) in place.

Now, we are big believers in not overdoing things – you can implement a process that totally chokes your growth or that needlessly pins you into a structure. That said, we get asked by a lot of founders what basic systems they should have in their business to set themselves up in the right way.

So here we distill our list of must-have excel spreadsheets and templates that every FMCG start-up should have. Some of these we have made available on the shop already; others, we are still working out the best practices. The end-game here is that everyone has the minimum necessary systems to run their business according to good practices – systems that will, in the long run, save the business either hours or pounds.

The commercial template

Calculating a margin isn’t rocket science, but calculating the true value of a deal is a little harder. Far too often, we see brands agree commercials with retailers without truly considering all their costs, all the credits, and without a true understanding of the value of this deal to both sides. The purpose of a commercial template is to lay all of this out for you, so you create a deal that works for everyone and you know the real value to your company before presenting it to anyone. It saves time but, more importantly, can save you tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of pounds in better deals from the start of your life. See our toolkit to check if we have the commercial template to fit your needs.

The marketing budget

Marketing will be your biggest non-team spend. That’s why it’s important to have a plan and track your spend. The budget doesn’t need to be overly detailed, but it does need to be clear – in January you are looking to spend £100 on sampling and £20 on POS; in February you are looking to spend £200 on Facebook adverts and £30 on POS. Then, as you continue through the year, keep a log so you know where you’re overspending or underspending. This is one of the biggest areas of cashflow risk, so spend time getting a template that works well!

Role sheets for your team

If you’re going to spend £20,000 per year on a graduate to join your team, spend that little bit of time to properly plan and lay out their ‘objectives and key results’ or ‘roles and responsibilities’. These kinds of role sheets are critical and are a prerequisite to good performance management and people planning.

Order tracker

When you get orders through in so many different formats, it’s good to have one spreadsheet listing them all out – a spreadsheet that you can integrate with Xero, which allows you to analyse your sales. This should have all the information about your orders, including the customer, the details, the SKUs requested, the delivery dates. This is good practice from day 1.

Manufacturing agreement, or termsheet

In a dream world, you would have a proper manufacturing agreement with your third-party manufacturer outlining all the terms under which you are working together. However, we know how difficult it is to get them to agree to one (and how expensive they can be!) Unlike a full agreement, a termsheet does not need to be written by a lawyer; it simply lists out all the terms agreed commercially in human language so that you can both sign up to something.

A termsheet is a short-term bridge until the proper manufacturing contract can be agreed, and would become the basis for the contract itself. In an effort to ensure that Young Foodies brands have access to fit-for-purpose and cost-effective legal support we’ve done two things… 1) We’ve added some legal contract templates to our toolkit, including a manufacturing agreement template with advisory. 2) We’ve partnered with LegalEdge to create YF Legal, which gives you a great option for legal support. Get in touch to find out more.

It should house things like what MOQs have you agreed? What lead times have you agreed? What specifications have you agreed? Who is sourcing of raw materials? What capital investments have you agreed?What price have you agreed?
Agree it all with the manufacturer, write it down, and make sure directors from both sides sign it.

Employment contract

Employment contracts are important for both governance of your employees and compliance with the requirements of you as an employer. We can’t sell these on the shop but can help you if you need something drawn up.

Shareholders agreement

A shareholders’ agreement governs the relationship between shareholders of your business. It’s not a hard thing to put in place and is a lot easier to do at the beginning of your business’ life than further down the line. Like the manufacturing agreement, if you can’t get a formal contract drafted, just create a termsheet (ideally with a lawyer) and ensure everyone is signed up to it. They can really save you if things break down and are for the benefit of everyone.

CRM spreadsheet for leads

When you are pitching to potentially thousands of retailers, it’s important to stay on top of the status of each of them. A CRM spreadsheet (or system) should document all the activity on your sales side and should be in front of you everytime you make a call. It will have information about the buyer/owner, contact details, notes about any brands they’re already stocking, location information, and then the status of your sale with them. For example, it could say “samples sent”, or “now stocking us”. Make sure you have a general comments section and notes from every time you speak with them so you can always stay on top of what has happened. We can also help you to build more structured database.

Product specifications

Product specifications outline what good looks like in your product and are signed up to by you and your manufacturer (usually as an appendix to the manufacturing agreement). If you haven’t got this kind of thing in writing, then when something invariably goes wrong, you haven’t got a leg to stand on and the manufacturer will always push liability onto you (which can be super frustrating). Product specs should include information on barcodes, packaging, case configurations, pallet configurations, recipe information, microbiological information, metal detection requirements, allergen information, labelling information, and loads more. We will be going live with a template on the shop in the coming month.

Budget P&L and forecast cash flow model

Cash flow is the most important thing when you’re getting started, and if you don’t monitor it very closely, it can bite you. It’s so, so critical as a business to have a spreadsheet that gives you forecasts to work towards, as well as an overview of your cash flow position week by week or month by month. This should be checked in on regularly and form part of your decision-making as a business.
Similarly, the budget sheets should show your targeted income and expenditure over the course of the year and should be checked in on regularly to see how you’re tracking.

If any of this resonates with you and you would like to explore working with us, have a read of our services page or get in touch.

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