How do I find a seasoned CFO for my startup business?

Chris Barsness, startup, finance, law, and tech nerd

I agree with Dan Sweet that at your stage, you may have little need for a seasoned full time CFO if you are really early on; however, the assumptions in the question need to be changed a bit.  If you can find a good interim CFO to work a few hours a month on deferred salary or for equity/options, he or she can help you get the first round of funding and provide valuable high level advice and guidance.

From a cash flow standpoint, you could also use a temp accountant to come in a few hours per month just to be sure your accounting is up to date.  When it comes to due diligence for financing, having solid books is a huge advantage, especially if the company has to go through a full audit to go public or for numerous other transactions.  Quickbooks is a good entry level software program that is pretty easy to use to keep track of things and only costs a couple hundred bucks.  It prepares easy financial reports, but be sure to turn on the audit function if you do use it (it will help in the future).  

Beyond the posts listed, utilize any board members you may have or your own personal  network to the best of your ability.  There are services that not only provide basic entry level accountants on a temp basis, but also services that provide interim CFOs as well.

Hiring an interim CFO/Controller early on is like hiring a lawyer early on.  It may cost you some money up front, but can lead to invaluable guidance beyond what you may think is their traditional role.  Having played both of those roles, I can tell you that there are many things people either don't understand or don't realize to do to give themselves a much better chance of being successful.

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