What to do if You Don’t Have a CFO

When you’re an entrepreneur, you often need to be a Jack of all trades when it comes to your business. The brilliant idea that your company was born of was just the beginning—now, you need marketing, sales, and financial skills to get it off the ground. Understanding all of these complex ideas might have some shaking in their boots, but not you. You’re a go-getter, a CEO, and you’re up to the challenge.

Until you’re not. The idea that an entrepreneur needs to be a master of every business element can be detrimental, both to your organization and to your own professional development. As you likely already know, as businesses grow, they tend to hire specialized people to complete select tasks so that the CEO can keep their eyes on the prize. One of these pivotal roles is known as the CFO.

A CFO (or chief financial officer) is the highest-ranking shot caller when it comes to their company’s fiscal standing, and as such, they are tremendously valuable to corporate life. For the small business owner, however, that’s a position that is often left unfilled. From budgetary restrictions to the trial-and-error that follows founding a company, CFOs are generally found at larger businesses who can easily fund their salaries. So, what is an overwhelmed entrepreneur at a smaller stage of growth to do? We’ve got some suggestions to help you navigate this sometimes-stressful territory.

What does a CFO do?

In order to understand the shoes you’re trying to fill (so to speak), it’s important to have a grasp on a CFO’s job description:

  • Getting necessary money – When the time comes to broaden your business reach, a CFO can aid in securing the funds you need to get the job done. From picking the right payment structure to keeping interest rates down on your loans, these folks are often saddled with that task.
  • Keeping an accurate record – A lot of a CFO’s day-to-day involves bookkeeping. Unless you’re a financial whiz with a penchant for numbers, you’d likely find that plotting the course of your business finances is tedious and time-consuming. This is one area where a CFO would come in handy.
  • Being transparent – Not only does a CFO keep the books, but they also routinely communicate their findings with those who need to be in the know. It’s important for the CEO to understand how profitable their business is or isn’t, but anyone who has invested in the company will need those details too, so it’s pivotal to stand and deliver.
  • Maintaining a future-focus – Odds are, where your company is today does not represent where you want it to be for the long haul. Strong businesses grow and evolve, and the CFO is responsible for gauging how close they are to achieving their goals, making sure they’re fully prepared for the next phase.
  • Keeping an eye on expenses – If staying within a healthy budget is at the top of your priority list, you’re going to want to know if you’re overpaying for any of your expenses before it becomes a more serious problem. Unsurprisingly, this is data that a CFO would keep track of, curbing unnecessary spending and plugging up any areas that might be leaking money.

No CFO in the cards for you? Here’s what to do instead

If the cost of hiring an in-house exec has you trying to think of another way to get your money matters under control, you have a few different options at your disposal. The first? Try to beef up your fiscal education and handle it yourself.

While this may work for tiny businesses or one-person operations, the odds of you being able to manage every financial decision long-term aren’t very good. Truth is, most companies find themselves in need of expert advice before too long, and there’s always the possibility of hiring an accountant or controller to help you out.

If there’s one standout option for entrepreneurs, however, it’s seeking the counsel of a financial professional. Not only do they bring a level of experience that can be difficult to find in a new hire, they’re able to apply that knowledge to your individual business plan. Customizing your decision-making to your vision for the future is the basis of everything they do, so if you’re focused on building your organization the right way, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. It could make all the difference.

This article is for informational purposes and it is not to be considered investment advice. Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC.  Annuity and insurance products offered through AXA Network, LLC. AXA Advisors and AXA Network are affiliated companies and do not provide tax or legal advice.  AGE-143019 (3/19)(Exp.3/21)

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