Checklist for a Startup Finance Function

  • In early stage (pre-series A), consider using an outsourced finance team from a full-service accounting and finance firm.
  • You should look to outsource payroll and basic AR/AP functions but stay intimately involved in digesting the reporting you will receive.
  • Once you execute on a Series A round, consider building an in-house finance function. This is likely when you also want to hire your CFO/Head or VP of Finance to oversee the transition from the outsourced firm and build out the team and internal processes.
  • Start hiring when existing processes or lack thereof begin to become a problem for existing staff or hinder your ability to get information in a timely manner. You will know when this occurs due to delayed monthly closes, late reports and team working higher than normal hours.
  • Deep understanding of product or service being offered, target market dynamics and external competitive influences. They should be able to tell stories around what is happening in the financials and link back to what the key business drivers are.
  • Solid handle on the overall strategy of the startup and what the key milestones are. Can develop, refine and provide execution of the financial roadmap which will become the operational plan.
  • Focus on Gross Margin, cost control (efficiency), cost to acquire (CAC), cost to serve (CTS) and lifetime value (LTV).
  • Good accounting knowledge and even better Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) skills, including Excel, database (SQL) and reporting (dashboards/KPIs/charts/PowerPoint).
  • CFO/Head of Finance — Will be responsible for three main areas initially: transactions (GL), compliance (audit/tax/etc) and performance (reporting). You want someone fluent in all three. Capital raising can come later but if you anticipate having to raise capital eventually (very likely), you want someone experienced in this area or at least comfortable interfacing with external parties.
  • Accounting Analyst (AP/AR) — Will handle basic bookkeeping and bank reconciliation.
  • Controller — As you get to a big enough structure, having a Controller who can oversee the AR/AP analysts and get into tax as well becomes helpful. Will likely also handle initial reporting needs but the backward looking focus will limit ability to forecast future.
  • Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) Analyst — Will expand on reporting capability and build out a robust budgeting/forecasting framework used to evaluate performance vs targets. Can also own financial model used for strategic planning purposes. Will likely be very involved in information provided to external parties such as investors and banks.




Recruitment firm supporting high growth startups. Specifically focused in supporting Tech Founders, CFO’s & VC’s.

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Recruitment firm supporting high growth startups. Specifically focused in supporting Tech Founders, CFO’s & VC’s.

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