A CFO brings high-level expertise and strategy to an organization. A CFO’s primary role is to elevate financial strategy, streamline operations, trim fat, and maximize sustainable growth. But how do you know if your company is ready for a CFO?
How do you know if your company is ready for a CFO?
The easiest way to know if your company is ready for a CFO is your company’s growth. If your company is generating revenues of over $6M or have over 60 employees, it’s probably time to hire a part-time CFO. Mid-sized companies will almost always have a full-time CFO on staff, but a full-time in-house CFO is usually not needed until the mid- to upper stages of small business growth.
However, regardless of company size, if your company is experiencing any of the following symptoms then it is time to consider hiring a part-time CFO.
1 – You don’t have easy answers to your questions
How easy is it for you to make financial or strategic decisions? Most major business decisions require detailed financial knowledge. If your current accountant or financial team is unable to give you the detailed information you need to make important or strategic decisions, it may be time to hire a part-time CFO. A CFO’s primary goal is to make sure your company can engage in a higher level of strategy for sustainable growth. Strategy first and foremost requires access to the answers you need to make educated decisions.
2 – It feels like your company is hemorrhaging money – but you’re not sure from where
If it feels like your company spending is out of control and you’re not sure which costs to cut or how to make those cuts, then it may be time to hire a part-time CFO. While the age-old adage of “you have to spend money to make money” is somewhat true, the key to success is strategic spending. Strategic spending often takes financial analysis, projections, and checks and balances that most executives simply don’t have time for.
Having your cash flow analyzed by a CFO can often be one of the most beneficial moves your company can in immediate financial impact. Not only will a part-time CFO help to eliminate unnecessary spending, they will also have extensive knowledge in benchmarks and will have vendor relationships or knowledge that can optimize your existing spends and help keep you competitive in your market.
3 – You’re raising capital – especially if it’s a series C or later
If you’re raising capital, you may want to have the help of a part-time CFO. This is especially true if you:
- Aren’t sure how much you need to raise
- Don’t have a strategy for the right debt-to-equity ratio
- Are raising a series C or later
A part-time CFO will have extensive experience raising money for companies in similar lifecycle stages and industries. In addition, they will already have the relationships and credibility that can help you achieve your goals. Part-time CFOs not only help determine the right type of financing to acquire (and how much), but they also help answer tough questions during due-diligence, analyze and negotiate contract terms, and can attend meetings to help provide financial expertise and insight.
4 – You have gaps in your AP or AR
If you have significant gaps in your accounts payable or accounts receivable, it may be a sign that something within your systems is out of whack. Are there cash flow issues that need to be addressed? Are there ineffective billing, collections, or payment processes? A part-time CO can help you pinpoint the problem and develop solutions to resolve it.
5 – You feel like your departments lack checks and balances
If it sometimes feels like your other departments are operating on a different planet—or acting autonomously—then it may be time to call in some reinforcement. A successful company requires all pieces of the machine working together smoothly and effectively. If your systems don’t work well together (or at all), then a CFO can help. Far from simple number-crunchers, CFOs are experienced in the operations and systems that go into an effective organization. From sales and marketing to purchasing or manufacturing, your CFO can help you optimize each department and bring the systems together for a more functional, cohesive whole.
6 – Your Board of Directors is asking tough questions
If your board is asking questions that you don’t have the information to answer—whether that’s identifying a problem, addressing a problem, analyzing an opportunity, or validating a decision—then you may want a CFO to help give you the information you need. A CFO can help answer tough questions and can help empower you with the high-level financial knowledge you need to discern your own answers.
7 – You don’t have a long-term financial strategy
When your company first started or raised funds for the first time, you probably put together a financial forecast. However, it’s also highly likely that this forecast has rarely (if ever) been looked at since, let alone revised and kept up-to-date. A part-time CFO is pro at making educated financial projections based on your historical data, industry trends, and data from companies in a similar lifecycle stage. If you don’t have a long-term financial strategy—or not one you feel you can have confidence in—then a part-time CFO can help you create a realistic financial blueprint to help you achieve your goals.
About the author
Michael Flint, CFO
Michael Flint is an experienced CFO with over 20 years in financial management. His expertise includes budgeting and forecasting, business process and systems improvement/automation, and technical accounting compliance. Michael is a VentureCapital.org Mentor and holds a Master’s in Accounting from Brigham Young Utah.
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