Question: I'm thinking of hiring a part-time person to manage finances. What is one thing I should do to ensure this is a successful option for my company?
Trust but Verify
"First, don't hire someone based on their cost. This is your money you're talking about. If someone is charging significantly less than everyone else, there's a reason why. Second, you need to hire someone to verify the work of the first party. Nothing keeps a consultant honest like peer review."
Make Sure Their Power Has Limitations
"The person doing your bookkeeping entries must not have the power to write checks or spend money. The people who are allowed to spend money cannot alter their purchase entries in your accounting system. If you ever set up a structure where one person can cover up their commute or nail salon expenditures, you've got a recipe for disaster. The temptation is just too high for most people."
Test Their Digital Savvy
"Before I found my current CFO, I worked with a money manager who wanted to do things the "old school" way and just wasn't understanding the online tools and technology I used to automate bookkeeping and financial tasks. In hiring a new person for the role, I tested technical savvy and familiarity with online tools and systems and I ended up with someone perfect for our business."
Evaluate Your Needs
"If your monthly spend is less than $10,000, keep your fixed costs low and hire a professional bookkeeper. If you have more than 10 employees and some revenue or external capital, it's advisable to loop in an experienced CPA who will function as a part-time controller. If you are a high-growth startup and need a strategic financial advisor who will go beyond the month-end close, search for a part-time CFO."
Pair Software and Industry Knowledge
"Hiring a part-time person to manage finances might not be the best idea as contracting can likely get you better and scalable talent. If you are set on this, look for someone who knows the software platform that you have. That can be a big issue. Industry knowledge is great, but not super important in most cases. Lastly, check all their references."
Set Up a Regular Schedule to Check In
"When starting to work with a part-time finance person for your business, make sure that you set up a regular cadence for checking in. It is important to organize your finances in an ongoing way to avoid getting backlogged during crunch times for reporting, taxes or fundraising. Bi-weekly or monthly works best, depending on how much work you are outsourcing."
Be Up Front With Their Responsibilities
"If you are hiring someone part-time, there has to be a clear job description and tasks to accomplish. It's important for them to have a defined role so they aren't stretched too thin. Additionally, set up and stick to a regular check in schedule. You must be in the know about what is going on with your books."
Don't Do Business With Relatives
"Stay away from hiring non-financial family members. Many people look to their family to help with finances because they think they are going to save money and that they can trust family members. However, having inaccurate books or not setting up and maintaining budgets, spells trouble. Hire the most talented person you can find who has the experience and know-how you need."
Partner Up With an Expert
"If you're working with someone part time, make sure they are closely working with a financial advisor, business consultant, or CPA who can advise them on the best way to organize your finances. Let an expert guide your part-time employee to make sure your finances are being maximized and properly organized. It's easy to create chaos with finances without proper guidance. Involve an expert!"
"Whenever you hire someone to work with you on your business, you need to have open and clear lines of communication. That includes letting them know exactly what you need and require, as well as what their responsibilities are from the start. The earlier you can establish great communication, the faster you will be able to build trust and have a great working relationship."
"This person is managing one of the most important aspects of your business. Pay them what they're worth. If you get an offer from a potential hire that seems too low, that's usually a sign of inexperience and can -- in some cases -- be an indicator of competency. Don't skimp! Spend the extra you need to hire an expert and don't entrust your finances to anything less."
"Be specific on duties. What are you handling as founder/owner and what they will be handling? Make sure they are clear on what reports they have access to, who they can divulge confidential information to, what is expected in terms of payroll, liabilities, payments, authorizations, deposits, forecasting and other specific duties."
Know Your Business
"It's important that you know your business when it comes to cash flow, expenses, market forces, etc. Build a dashboard with tasks that you would like your part-time resource or contracted company to provide you with on a monthly basis apart from the usual deliverables. Personally onboard the person/contracted company and share the challenges and your concerns. Be on same page for tools, policies, process and expectations."