Q&A icon

Startup Q&A

Back to questions

What are the top 3 skills a CFO of a startup needs?

Vanessa Kruze, CPA, is a leading expert in startup taxes and tax compliance. Her team at Kruze Consulting has filed thousands of tax returns for companies that have raised billions in VC funding, and her work has been diligenced by leading VCs, attorneys, and M&A teams at the largest technology companies.
Vanessa Kruze, a highly-experienced CPA, brings valuable tax expertise to startups, drawing from her rich background at Deloitte Tax and as a financial controller for a $20 million startup. As the leader of Kruze Consulting, recognized multiple times in the Inc 5000 list, she specializes in navigating the complex tax landscape for startups. Her firm is known for delivering precise and strategic tax solutions, delivering tax credits utilizing advanced tools to ensure compliance and optimize tax benefits for startups throughout the United States.

Table of contents

A good startup CFO has mastered the skills of financial reporting/financial management, financial projections/budgeting, and startup fundraising.

Financial reporting/management

Tactically, this usually means working in QuickBooks to correctly close the books each month, pay and collect revenue and bills, and report out to the other executives and board on financial progress. There is a ton that goes on behind actually getting the books done right - making sure you know which expenses go to which department, how the expenses are recognized, etc. Paying invoices on time, and collecting revenue are also important for managing the company’s financials - in particular for enterprise, manufacturing and medical/biotech startups, who might have major contracts with vendors or clients.

Strategically, it includes understanding the company’s unit economics and how key decisions impact cash flow. Is the company actually making money on the sales? Is the marketing spend ROI positive? Don’t forget about how important it is to be able to review the contracts associated with major clients and purchases - there is a lot of skill negotiating contracts, figuring out how to get paid on time by clients without pestering them, etc.

Financial projections/budgeting

Tactically, this means being able to manipulate a spreadsheet and produce reports that help the rest of the company understand the financial implications of the startup’s strategy. It also means comparing the company’s actual performance against the budget.

Strategically, your reporting should inform where investments need to be increased or reduced. You are helping the CEO spot areas that need attention, or areas that are doing well and need more resources. Importantly, you need to be the leader in the business who guides the other executives to the hard financial decisions, such as moving budget or headcount expenses from one department to the other or managing to a particular level of spending every month. You are also measuring progress on achieving the company’s strategic milestones/goals vs. the cash burn and the cash out date.

Fund raising

Startups, at least in the classic Silicon Valley sense, run on investor’s capital. The CFO plays a lynchpin role quarterbacking fund raises, in particular helping explain why a company is a good investment and how much capital is needed to reach the next stage. Organizing diligence requests, collecting data, comparing term sheets - fundraising is a critical skill that startup CFOs need to have.

Finally, there’s a bunch of legal things that happen in startups: there’s insurance, there are leases, there are sales contracts to review, there are loan documents; there’s tons of stuff that the CFO can actually manage for the CEO.

My firm, Kruze Consulting, is an outsourced CFO to over 170 startups, and our COO has a video that goes over some of things that a startup CFO has to do here you might want to watch. We also have published a few template accounting and finance job descriptions that might be helpful.

READY TO CONNECT FOR A FREE CONSULTATION?

We are the experts at helping seed/VC-backed Delaware C-Corps with their accounting and finances!

Talk to an experienced accountant, not a generic sales person

 Kruze Consulting
Alex Janeck
 Kruze Consulting
Edith Silva
 Kruze Consulting
Ian Williams
Viz AI

$250M+ VC Funding Raised


"I had a great experience working with Kruze Consulting when we raised Series A. They know what VCs need to see, and how to present a startup’s books and finances. If you are going to raise venture capital, you need experts like Kruze."
Chris Mansi

Chris Mansi

CEO

Startup Venture Capital Assistance

With former venture capitalists on staff, our team is here to help you navigate the fundraising process and manage your board of directors

 Kruze Consulting
Scott Orn
COO | Former VC
 Kruze Consulting
Healy Jones
VP FP&A | Former VC
Pequity

Scale Remote Operations & Team


"Kruze has supported us above and beyond basic accounting needs by ensuring we have everything we need to expand and support our team wherever they may be located"
Zack Fisch

Zack Fisch

Head of Operations & Legal

Clients who have worked with Kruze have collectively raised over $15 billion in VC funding.

We set startups up for fundrising success, and know how to work with the top VCs.

 Kruze Consulting
Vanessa Kruze, CPA
Founder & CEO
Kruze Logo

Experienced team helping you

Our account management team is staffed by CPAs and accountants who have, on average, 11 years of experience.

 Kruze Consulting
Bill Hollowsky, CPA
VP of Accounting Services
 Kruze Consulting
Claudine Vantomme, CPA
Controller
 Kruze Consulting
Morgan Avery
SUT/R&D Sr. Tax Accountant
 Kruze Consulting
Beth Bassler
Controller, CPA
Protara Therapeutics

Grew from a 2-person startup to a NASDAQ listed public company.


"The Kruze team helped us grow from a 2-person startup to a NASDAQ listed public company in 2 years. We wouldn’t have gotten public without Kruze’s support. Anyone thinking of launching a startup should make Vanessa their first call!"
Jesse Shefferman

Jesse Shefferman

CEO

Kruze Logo

Get in Touch

Please help us connect with you

How can we reach you?

Our first response is typically via email, so please check your inbox.

Help us have a productive first consultation by providing some additional information.

What year was your startup incorporated?

What is your stage of funding?

(pick up from the list)

Approximately how much funding have you raised?

(please enter a dollar value such as 5000000)

Help us understand what you are looking for:

(Optional, click the ones you need)

Anything additional that you’d like to share?

Optional - if you’d like to share anything else to help us prepare for our consultation, please let us know. We are also happy to sign an NDA, just let us know.

READY TO CONNECT FOR A FREE CONSULTATION?

We are the experts at helping seed/VC-backed Delaware C-Corps with their accounting and finances!


Talk with a real accountant, not a generic salesperson!

 Kruze Consulting
Scott Orn
 Kruze Consulting
Alex Janeck
 Kruze Consulting
Edith Silva

Help us get in touch

Enter your name
Enter Company name
Enter Phone number
Enter Email
Enter Message
   

Important Tax Dates for Startups

  Talk to a leading startup CPA