What Does a Good Startup CFO Do?

Video: What are the main responsibilities of a good Startup CFO?

The first thing a CFO does for startups is to manage the financial reporting. That means making sure the books are closed and closed correctly every month. 

Typically, that’s QuickBooks management. So, when a startup CFO at Kruze is working with a client, of course, they are managing the internal Kruze team. The staff accountants, the controllers, making sure that the financials are delivered quickly, making sure delivered accurately, and also making sure all the questions get answered. So a good finance leaders doesn’t have to be a master of debits and credits in QBO, but they have to at least be able to pull reports and investigate individual transactions. And, of course, eventually your startup will grow to the point where it upgrades to an ERP solution, so they’ll have to know the signs of when you are ready to upgrade to Netsuite or a competitive accounting software.

What a CFO at a Startup Does - Answers CEO Questions 

A lot of times there’s questions for the CEO. How do you spend money on this? What vendors that? What time period does this cover? Those are all questions that a good startup CFO can solve or answer very, very quickly.

The second thing is the financial projections. Managing the actual financial model, building the financial model, in most cases. Also doing the budget actuals. It’s great to have a financial model with the beauty of that is you can actually track see how you’re doing. That way you can give reports to the board, to the CEOs, so the CEO knows how they’re tracking against all of the other metrics.

Also, helping manage a financial or capital raise. So, a lot of times we’re doing this in the context of venture debt for our clients, but also our clients are always raising Series A, Series B, Series C. So, managing that process, making sure the PowerPoint’s updated, making sure the most recent financial model is ready to go. Those are all super important things and also just getting back to investors diligence requests. Investors and lenders ask for tons of information and so having a finance leader who can actually get that back to the investor is very, very helpful.

And finally, there’s a bunch of legal things that happen in startups: there’s insurance, there are leases, there are loan documents; there’s tons of stuff that the CFO can actually manage for the CEO. And again, when you’re hiring a startup head of finance, which are really trying to do as a CEO of a startup, is extend your time and make sure you have someone who’s really strong, solving problems that you could probably solve, but don’t really want to because you want to build product and get more customers and build your company.

And so, the things that a good startup CFO does is own financial reporting, own financial model projections, and eventually the financial operations and systems, and also own legal and all the documentation that goes along with it. A lot of this work can be done by fractional or outsourced CFOs, so don’t worry if you can’t afford a full time position but need this kind of help - search for someone who knows your industry, has experience and will work on an outsourced basis.