You’ve decided you need to bring on a part-time CFO to help you out a bit. Since hiring a part-time CEO is a bit different than bringing on someone full time, how do you know what key traits to look out for in a candidate and how can this person help your company?
To find out, we asked entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
Q. What is a key trait to look for when seeking a part-time CFO?
1. Industry knowledge
Hiring anyone part time means that they won’t know the ins and outs of your business. That brings extra risk when you’re considering finance and accounting. If you’re going to have someone be part time, make sure they’re well-versed in your industry. You need a finance partner who understands the nuances of your space and will protect you from any unforeseen risks. —Aaron Schwartz, Passport
2. Problem solving skills
In addition to being able to organize your company’s finances, a part-time CFO should be a problem solver. This trait is important because even if your business is experiencing positive growth, your business will eventually have a problem that needs to be handled. A CFO who is organized, thoughtful, insightful, and has the ability to be a partner is the best choice. —Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
3. Flexibility in methods
Every industry is different and each business in an industry is at least slightly different. As a result, the methods and practices used to track and report the fiscal and operational health of a business are different. Part-time CFOs that attempt to force preferred methods into businesses will harm them; part-time CFOs that change their methods to fit the business perform better. —Eric Mathews, Start Co.
Some might rank trust and loyalty as crucial, but those traits should be standard requirements and also easily covered by legal documents. Their ability to work fast and effectively will make a huge difference to your bottom line, which is the reason you’ve hired part time. Either there isn’t enough work or there isn’t enough budget. Either way, you can focus on value/time. —Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
When hiring a part-time CFO, you’ll probably have the opportunity to hire someone who is more qualified than the person you could hire as a full-time salaried employee. We hired a part-time CFO through our bookkeeping service on a project basis when we found our bookkeepers needed more assistance. Luckily, we were able to hire someone who’s much more qualified than we could have afforded full time. —Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences
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6. Similar experience in your space
Unless you are doing complex financials, most small companies do not need a full-time CFO. Instead, find someone (or a boutique firm) who knows your industry really well. They’ll help you build the appropriate models/categorization, know which financial metrics are key to your survival (so that you don’t go bankrupt from growth), and help you plan and build a successful venture. —Charlie Graham, Shop It To Me, Inc.
7. Role clarity
The need for a part-time CFO may arise if there are some financial leadership needs. To ensure you’re getting what you need from this role, you must identify why you’re hiring a part-time CFO and make the job requirements and outcomes clear. What meetings must they attend and what is their role in the meeting? What reports do they need to see? Should they be creating those reports? —Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
Pay attention to how they communicate in your emails back and forth. Are there a lot of grammatical errors? If so, that could signal that they may not pay attention to detail, which is crucial for a CFO. Also, notice how long it takes them to email you back. This will give you a sense for their availability with delivering assignments in a timely manner. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
9. External representation
Make sure that whomever you hire has the time for you, and can also represent your brand externally, equally, or better than their other clients. Anything that falls short of this really can be accomplished by a consultant, rather than a CFO. Additionally, pay attention to how they represent their past work and clients’ success rates. Deep vetting, especially where finance is concerned, is critical. —Matthew Capala, Alphametic
10. Ability to see the bigger picture
The right person for the job must be able to quickly acclimate to the company’s environment and culture. With that said, integrity comes hand in hand in financial dealings, so communication is key to forming trust and relationships. A good part-time CFO does his or her important functions efficiently, while taking into account the concerns of business owners. —Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
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