Burn rate

Page written by AI. Reviewed internally on April 12, 2024.


Burn rate in business finance refers to the rate at which a company is spending its available cash reserves or funds over a specific period.

What is the burn rate?

A burn rate indicates how quickly a company is using its financial resources and provides valuable insight into its financial sustainability. The formula for calculating the burn rate is:

Burn rate = Total expenses / Time period

Burn rate reflects the amount of cash a company is “burning through” to cover its expenses. This includes salaries, rent, utilities, marketing costs, research and development expenses, and any other operational costs. It serves as a key metric for assessing a company’s financial health. A high burn rate relative to available funds indicates that the company may run out of cash quickly if it does not generate additional revenue or secure additional financing.

Startups and high-growth companies may have high burn rates as they invest heavily in product development, marketing, and customer acquisition to capture market share and scale their operations.

Investors closely monitor a company’s burn rate as part of their due diligence process, especially in the startup and early-stage investment landscape. A high burn rate may raise concerns about the company’s ability to achieve profitability or secure additional funding to sustain its growth path.

Example of burn rate

Company XYZ has $500,000 in cash reserves. Over the past month, it spent $50,000 on salaries, $20,000 on rent, $15,000 on utilities, and $10,000 on marketing, totalling $95,000 in expenses.

Using the formula above, the burn rate is  calculated as:

Burn rate = $95,000 / 1 month

Burn rate = $95,000 per month

So, Company XYZ’s burn rate is $95,000 per month, meaning it is spending $95,000 of its cash reserves each month to cover its expenses.

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