The Right Time to Hire a CFO

25 February 2024

The Right Time To Hire A CFO: The Fractional Approach For Startups And Scaleups

The success of a startup business often depends on the quality of financial decisions made at crucial points in a company’s development. As a founder or CEO, you might find yourself in the challenging position of determining when to bring on a head of finance or chief financial officer (CFO) to help manage those decisions. The right time will vary depending on your company’s growth stage, financial needs and budget; but if you’re reading this article, chances are that the time is near.

Finance & Accounting For Startups

Early-stage businesses don’t generally launch with a finance and accounting team in place, but whether bootstrapping or seeking external funding, these functions are crucial to business survival. In the early days, finance and accounting duties may be a collateral duty of another founder, but as the business grows, it becomes increasingly important to bring on a dedicated person or team to manage the function, which includes:


Raising capital is essential for most startups, and a head of finance or CFO would play a crucial role in this process. They prepare financial documents, assist with investor pitches and work with founders to determine the best funding options for the company.

Financial Planning And Analysis

Finance teams are responsible for producing regular financial reports, including income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements. They develop and implement financial strategies that align with the startup’s objectives. They work closely with the leadership team to create budgets, forecast revenue and expenses, and evaluate investment opportunities. They also analyze financial data to identify trends, areas for improvement and potential opportunities for growth.

Cash Flow Management

Startups often face cash flow challenges that require active monitoring and management of cash flow to ensure the company’s solvency.

Compliance And Risk Management

A dedicated finance and accounting professional (or team) can help ensure the business complies with relevant financial regulations, tax laws and reporting requirements. They could also identify potential financial risks and implement strategies to mitigate them.

Cost Control And Efficiency

A dedicated finance team could help identify inefficiencies and cost-saving opportunities. They establish processes and controls to optimize resource allocation.

Decision-Making Support

Finance professionals provide data-driven insights and recommendations to help the leadership team make informed decisions about the company’s strategic growth and direction.

The Importance Of A CFO In Early-Stage Businesses

A CFO is a key player in a company’s financial viability, responsible for managing cash flow and treasury, overseeing financial planning, and ensuring regulatory compliance. As your business scales, the complexity of financial management increases, eventually requiring expertise beyond the capabilities of most nonfinance executives. At this point, hiring a CFO becomes critical for strategic financial planning and growth.

Benefits Of A Full-Time CFO

Dedicated Attention

A full-time CFO can devote his or her full attention to your company’s financial matters, ensuring timely decision-making and efficient execution of financial strategies.

Industry Knowledge

An experienced CFO brings industry-specific knowledge that can help guide your business through the competitive landscape.

Financial Leadership

A full-time CFO can build and lead a finance team that can scale with your business as it grows.

Strategic Partnerships

A CFO’s network and connections can lead to valuable partnerships, investment opportunities and potential acquisitions.

The Fractional CFO Alternative

While hiring a full-time CFO has its merits, it may not be the most feasible option for startups or scaleups with limited financial resources. A fractional CFO supported by a part-time controller and accounting staff may be an ideal solution for businesses that need financial expertise but cannot afford a full-time team.

Here’s why:


Fractional CFO services provide access to seasoned financial experts at a substantial discount to the cost of a full-time CFO. Companies can tailor the service level to their specific needs, allowing them to allocate resources more efficiently.


A fractional CFO can adapt to your company’s changing needs, providing financial expertise during critical growth periods or stepping back when the company is in a stable financial position.


As your business grows, fractional finance and accounting teams can seamlessly expand their services to match your needs without the hassle of hiring additional full-time staff.

Diverse Experience

Fractional CFOs often have experience working with multiple companies and industries, which means they bring a broader perspective and fresh ideas to your business.

Shared Knowledge

Fractional CFOs are typically supported by a team of controllers and accounting staff who can provide diverse expertise, ensuring all financial aspects of your business are covered

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