One of the big questions is how early on do you need a CFO?
During the initial stages of a start-up, filling out the basic building blocks is the first step towards growth. A CFO helps with that. When we engage with a new client, one of the first things I like to do is an analysis to evaluate the gaps. Some of the most common questions I ask when engaging with a new client are:
1. Is there an accounting and bookkeeping team
2. Are the books right? Is there tight reporting?
2. How are the taxes?
3. Is the team set up for growth?
4. Do they need to hire or restructure?
5. What about internal controls?
6. Have they focused on preventing fraud?
7. Are they prepared for audits?
8. Is the annual budget set up?
9. If a non-profit how is the board set up?
The CFO acts as a quarterback for the internal functions and structure of the finance team. All of this is to keep the company on a growth track, eliminate risks, and attract and keep investors and donors happy and excited about your business.
A CFO should have a good ecosystem where they can plug and play the right vendors for the company they are working with –and fill the gaps. If a company needs an accounting team, it should be easy for a CFO to set up. The faster things get set up, and those gaps get filled, the sooner we can focus on the company growth model. That’s the end goal!
Vanreusel Ventures has a start-up stack, which is a list of preferred resources regularly engaged in helping support our clients and once again “fill the gaps.” Many times we are involved before a company doing any fundraising–we get things ready to grow. We focus on building the company model to project out. Investors will not be interested in the books out of sorts or not producing the correct numbers. If data is missing, we will engage with an accountant to tighten that up and ensure accurate financials. If the internal structure and functionality are not perfect, we help restructure and create a plan there. Down to something as simple as policies, procedures, and handbooks. Whatever is needed to keep things moving.
Getting past the start-up phase can take 12-18 months and is really about building the right team, keeping the books in order, having forward-looking FP and A, an accurate working budget, and air-tight internal controls. Investors will require all of that.
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