Is Your Business Ready For A Fractional CFO? How To Decide If It’s The Right Move For You

If you’re a business owner, then you know that there are a lot of moving parts that go into making your company successful. From sales and marketing to operations and finance, keeping track of everything can be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with all aspects of running a business.

That’s where a fractional CFO comes in. Fractional CFOs are experts in financial management, and they can help your business make the most of its money. From my interview with Nelson Tepfer, the managing partner at ProCFO Partners, which provides fractional CFOs across New York state and Chicago, I have compiled the following on what fractional CFOs are and how they can help your business grow. I’ll also give you tips on deciding if hiring a fractional CFO is the right move for you.

What is a Fractional CFO?

A Fractional CFO is a Chief Financial Officer who works part-time, usually for small to mid-sized businesses. This type of CFO can be an excellent option for companies that can’t afford a full-time CFO or only need someone to handle financial matters part-time.

The CFO is the strategic and managerial head of finance, and they can be critical allies for founders without a financial background. The CFO can set and review financial key performance indicators (KPIs), implement best practices, create budgets and forecasts, and assist the board and potential investors in understanding the company’s financial status.

Many startups are unable to afford a full-time CFO. An outsourced CFO service might assist you in understanding your company’s finances, producing customized forecasts, or formulating a fundraising approach for a short or one-time engagement.

What is the Difference Between a Fractional CFO and an Interim CFO?

According to Nelson Tepfer, a temporary CFO differs from a fractional CFO (part-time CFO) because the interim job is short-term. An interim CFO fulfills an area between a company losing its full-time CFO and filling the vacant position. A fractional CFOs’ services are continual, but their weekly hours are limited to part-time.

Fractional CFOs are often considered more strategic, while Interim CFOs are more operational. Fractional CFOs work with a company to help them grow and scale, whereas Interim CFOs help to keep the company running smoothly on a day-to-day basis.

Another key difference is that Fractional CFOs are usually brought in when a company is doing well and looking to take things to the next level. In contrast, Interim CFOs are typically brought in during times of crisis or transition.

What does a fractional CFO do for Growing Businesses?

A fractional CFO is a crucial functionary who serves many responsibilities in a business, including:

Ensure a Proper Financial Foundation is in Place

As a company grows, its financial processes grow increasingly complicated for the founders to manage. They need someone who can see the whole picture through the nuts and bolts of financial reporting and accounting to maintain their economic health.

This is where a fractional CFO comes in to clear a path through the web of numbers and statistics.

Nelson shares that “as the lifeblood of every small business, cash flow can be a big issue. Small businesses may struggle with getting funding, building their company strategy, and figuring out why their profit margins are shrinking. These are all symptoms of bigger problems that a fractional CFO can help with. A fractional CFO brings experience and expertise to recognize symptoms and build a financial function that will support the business’s goals. This can help small businesses get back on track and be successful.”

A fractional CFO is vital for small businesses, as they provide the financial stability and foresight required to maintain a company’s health and growth.

Help Manage Growth

One of the main benefits of having a fractional CFO on your team is that they can help manage growth. If you’re seeing consistent growth in your business, it’s essential to have someone on your team who knows how to handle that growth and ensure it’s sustainable. A fractional CFO can help you do just that.

For instance, when looking at a potential acquisition, it’s essential to look at more than just the numbers on paper. It would be best to consider how the company would fit with your existing business. Would the acquisition help you to achieve economies of scale? Would it give you access to new markets or technology? What would be the impact on your existing employees? These are all important factors to consider before making an offer. Of course, you also need to ensure that the company is a good financial fit for your business. But by taking a holistic view of the acquisition, you can avoid making a mistake that could cost your business dearly in the long run. 

These are the considerations a Fractional CFO can bring to the table to ensure that you make the best decision for your business.

Implement Systems and Controls

When businesses grow, they must create more effective procedures to address their fluctuating needs. This necessitates the oversight and direction of someone who has implemented numerous systems in various situations. Someone who’s seen it all can anticipate what might go wrong and how to address it before it happens. A fractional CFO may draw on their experience to guarantee that the business is always moving forward, even when changes occur.

For example, there was a company whose invoicing process was inefficient. It would often take them four to six weeks to send out an invoice after completing a project. Nelson recognized this was a legacy issue from when the company was much smaller. At that time, a single person was responsible for a checklist of six items that needed to be completed before an invoice could be sent out. As the company grew, those six items became the responsibility of six different people or teams. However, no one took the time to reassess whether this was still the most efficient way to do things. As a result, being a fractional CFO, Nelson helped them implement systems to streamline their process so that invoices could be sent out within five days. This helped improve their efficiency and better meet the needs of their clients.

To Sum Up

A fractional CFO is a financial expert with an extensive background in many areas who works part-time and relieves startups of high expenses. Hiring a fractional CFO is the only way for a young business to gain access to best-in-industry knowledge without having to pay through the nose for it.

It’s a win-win situation like all great business models.

Of course, once startups grow large enough, they may find that having a full-time CFO makes good business sense. Those who are still learning the ropes, on the other hand, should think about employing a fractional CFO at any time.

 

Ben Wolf Author
Ben Wolf, founder and CEO of Fractional Leadership, has been on both sides of the Fractional Leader search process.
As a leader in companies where he served as Fractional Integrator (outsourced COO), he has searched for and found multiple Fractional Leaders for clients. And as a Fractional Integrator, he has gone through many cycles looking for new clients at the successful conclusion of each engagement.
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