Small Business CFO: What They Are and How They Can Help

Small businesses have a lot to handle, from managing employees to overseeing operations and making strategic decisions. One critical role that can make a significant difference in a small business’s success is that of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This blog post will explore what a small business CFO is, how they can help entrepreneurs, the difference between a controller and a CFO, and how a fractional CFO can help save money.

CFO services for a small business allow the business owner to hand over accounting systems and cash management to our team. As accounting experts, we address your business needs and fiscal activities for sustainable improvements. We implement systems and resources for organizations to improve their accounting process.

What is a Small Business CFO?

A small business CFO is an expert who oversees a company’s accounting and finance operations. They are responsible for managing corporate risks, creating budgets, forecasting business performance, and developing strategies aligning with the company’s goals. They also ensure that the company is compliant with industry regulations and standards.

In contrast to a controller responsible for managing the day-to-day accounting operations, a CFO focuses on the company’s big-picture strategy. They work closely with the CEO and other executives to make informed decisions impacting the company’s balance sheet health.

Learn more about this in our previous article, What is a Fractional CFO?

How Can a CFO Help Small Business Owners?

A CFO can provide valuable insights to startups to help them make informed decisions. They can help identify areas where the company can cut costs, invest in future opportunities, and manage enterprise risks. They can also help create revenue and profit projections and forecasts for the future state.

A CFO can help business owners navigate federal regulations and generally accepted accounting principles. They can ensure the company complies with tax laws and regulations and help prepare pro-forma statements and reports that investors and lenders require.

Keep reading our previous article, The Benefits of Hiring a Fractional CFO For your Small Business.

Controller vs. CFO

As mentioned earlier, a controller is responsible for managing the day-to-day accounting operations of a company. They oversee bookkeeping, accounts payable and receivable, payroll, and financial reporting. In contrast, a CFO focuses more on the company’s strategic financial planning. They analyze financial data, create budgets, and develop strategies aligning with the company’s goals.

While both roles are critical to a company’s financial health, a CFO is more focused on the company’s long-term financial strategy. At the same time, a controller is more focused on the day-to-day accounting operations.

Daily controller activities include recognizing revenue, recording expenses, administering payroll, and other financial management. Sometimes the controller can act as a one-person accounting team in certain companies. Your internal finance team can work with your certified public accountant to achieve business goals.

Many startups benefit from access to high-quality financial information to raise capital or inject new funding into the growing business. Raising capital requires experienced CFO services for a small business. We work to reduce your cost of capital and focus capital on areas of opportunity to acquire new resources.

Why Can I Save Money with a Fractional CFO?

A fractional CFO is a part-time CFO who works for multiple clients. Hiring a fractional CFO is a more cost-effective solution for small businesses who cannot afford to hire a full-time CFO. Fractional CFOs can provide the same expertise and insight as full-time CFO but at a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, a fractional CFO can be more flexible than a full-time CFO. They can work on specific projects or tasks, such as creating a financial forecast or developing a financial strategy, without needing a long-term commitment.

Growing businesses have increasing demands, whether it is sales tax, revenue accounting, or month-end closing. When hiring a fractional CFO, you have more resources to manage investments, financial strategy formulation, and all the expertise to implement systems.

Hiring a fractional CFO can be a cost-effective solution for small businesses that cannot afford to hire a full-time CFO. We can combine the part-time bookkeeper and controller roles into one leadership position.

What Does a CFO Actually Do?

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a critical executive in any organization, responsible for managing the company’s accounting operations and ensuring its fiscal health.

CFO services for entrepreneurs provide accounting and finance management for companies. Many startups and industries need cost-effective solutions to organize data in their accounting department. A fractional CFO will provide your business with a turnkey solution for your financial systems.

As your business finance partner, we oversee spending expenses, your cost of goods sold, and payroll funding. Accounting is no longer your worry with our service – you can focus on your business and personal organizations.

    • Due diligence on mergers and acquisitions or other corporate investments
    • Work with potential investors in raising capital
    • Manage debt and deal negotiation
    • Managing business performance through the financial statements
    • Reconciling bank statements
    • Implementing and processing sales tax and overall tax plan
    • Facilitate balance sheet maneuvers
    • Participate in board meetings as required

Why Does My Small Business Need a Fractional CFO?

A fractional CFO can bring significant benefits to growing businesses. Here are some reasons why your business may need a fractional CFO:

    • Cost-Effective Solution: A fractional CFO is cost-effective for entrepreneurs who cannot hire a full-time CFO. They work part-time and can provide strategic guidance at a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO.
    • Financial Expertise: A fractional CFO brings expertise to the table, which can help medium-sized businesses make informed decisions. They can analyze financial data, identify areas of improvement, and implement strategies to optimize cash flow, reduce costs, and increase profitability.
    • Strategic Planning: A fractional CFO can help businesses with strategic planning. They can assist with budgeting, forecasting, and scenario modeling to help the company make informed decisions about organization development and expansion.
    • Improved Financial Visibility and Control: Fractional CFOs can help growing businesses improve their visibility and control by setting up accurate accounting systems, providing timely financial reports, and implementing corporate controls.
    • Access to a Network of Professionals: Fractional CFOs often have a network of professionals they can tap into, including tax experts, attorneys, and other financial professionals. This network can be a valuable tool for emerging businesses that do not employ in-house expertise in these areas.

A fractional finance officer helps owner-operators make informed corporate decisions and achieve business and expansion goals. To achieve sustainable growth, a CFO must monitor financial activities carefully.

Financial Strategy

One of the primary responsibilities of a CFO is to develop the company’s financial strategy. The CFO works closely with the CEO and other executives to identify the company’s fiscal goals and develop a plan to achieve them. This includes creating a budget, forecasting performance, and developing strategies aligning with the company’s goals.

Financial Planning

The CFO is also responsible for financial planning, which involves creating a roadmap for the company’s financial future. This includes identifying high-potential opportunities, managing risks, and creating financial projections and forecasts to help the company plan for the future.

Financial Analysis

A CFO is responsible for analyzing transactional and consolidated data to identify trends and patterns to help the company make informed decisions. This includes analyzing income statements and balance sheets, creating budgeting models, and identifying areas where the company can improve its financial performance.

Implementing Growth Strategies

The CFO plays a key role in implementing change strategies for the company. This includes identifying opportunities for success, developing budgets and plans to support corporate initiatives, and working with other executives to execute organizational strategies.

Managing Debt

A CFO manages the company’s debt, including negotiating loan terms, interest rates, and ensuring that the company complies with debt covenants. Managing balance sheet liabilities requires cash management and processes for asset or equity agreements.

CFO services for small business help monitor debt-to-equity and return-on-investment ratios. Protecting your bottom line is built into our internal controls. Operating a more efficient business year-over-year will improve your future in the business and personally.

Negotiating Corporate Transactions

The CFO often negotiates corporate transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions. They work closely with other executives to evaluate the impact of these transactions and negotiate favorable terms.

Many industries have different expenses, which can make due diligence difficult. Our process ensures no payments are made without strict authorization. We protect entrepreneurs so they can enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Working with Banks

The CFO works closely with banks and other institutions to manage the company’s finances. This includes negotiating loan terms, managing cash flow, and ensuring the company complies with banking regulations.

When acquiring lines of credit or new funding, receiving the best rates and shortest payback period is important. If you own multiple companies, there can be potential savings depending deal structure.

Managing Financial Performance

The CFO manages the company’s performance, including revenue growth, profitability, and cash flow. They work closely with other executives to identify areas where the company can improve its margin and liquidity and develop strategies to address them.

Fractional CFOs monitor activities through the accounting function to manage payments, expenses, and banking transactions. The benefits of fractional services are simple – receive in-house accounting without the full-time employee salaries.

Reviewing and Reconciling Business Statements

The CFO is responsible for reviewing and reconciling the company’s financial statements, including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. They ensure that the financial statements are accurate and compliant with accounting standards.

Your organization benefits from multiple parties reconciling your books. Investors want to see clean books and records during an audit. Your business has accounting support with Westport Business Management services.

Driving Balance Sheet Growth

The CFO drives balance sheet growth, managing the company’s assets and liabilities. This includes managing inventory, accounts receivable, and accounts payable.

A growing business may focus too much on the profit and loss statement. The balance sheet tells the truth about your business. How does a fractional CFO monitor your balance sheet?

CFO services your business to have standardized reports and internal audit schedules to maintain the integrity of your books. For example, variance analysis of your plan, prior periods, and industry benchmarks are a strong starting point to maintain control.

Achieving Tax Goals

The CFO is responsible for achieving the company’s tax goals, which include managing tax liabilities and identifying opportunities for tax savings.

CFO Role in Technology Systems for Small Business

The role of a CFO in technology and systems for small businesses is becoming increasingly important. CFOs ensure the company uses technology effectively to support its accounting operations and overall business strategy. According to Robert Half, CFOs wear many hats in small businesses, including assessing cybersecurity risks, managing system and data integration, filling talent needs, and evaluating new technologies like Blockchain and AI.

CFOs are critical in identifying and implementing technology solutions to help the company operate more efficiently and effectively. This includes evaluating and selecting software and hardware solutions, managing technology budgets, and ensuring the company’s infrastructure is secure and compliant with relevant regulations.

CFOs also work closely with other executives to ensure technology solutions align with the company’s overall business strategy. This includes identifying opportunities to use technology to support growth initiatives, improve customer service, and enhance the company’s competitive position in the market.

CFO Services for Small Business: How Much Do They Cost?

Your business provides great services, but you need help with your accounting. For a fixed fee every month, your accounting and finance program could be taken care of starting at $1,000/month.

Depending on your business’s size, scope, and scale, there is a package or customized plan for your situation. Some companies use a Controller, which is more efficient than fractional CFO service.

Keep reading our previous article, Five Traits of Savvy CFO’s

Contact Westport Business Management for Your Free CFO Consultation Today