Written by Carolina Aponte | CAJA Holdings LLC | KNOW Charlotte
Many small business owners handle their own finances for a number of reasons that include wanting to keep control of their company, keeping staff costs down, and fear of delegating sensitive financial information to another. Depending upon the size of your business, the industry, or other factors, you may actually save money by hiring professional financial staff.
There are three primary financial positions that cover most businesses: Bookkeeper and/or Accountant; Controller; and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Let’s take a look at each professional role, and explain when your business may need one or more of these financial specialists.
Bookkeeping and/or Accounting Functions
Most bookkeepers work reactively. They record what has already been done financially within the company. Bookkeepers work on a transactional basis; a talented bookkeeper will keep your records and reports current, identify discrepancies in your books, and may recommend cost-saving ideas. Their job is primarily to chronicle the business and its financial transactions, and to compile reports based on this information.
It’s true, accounting has become easier with the advent of newer, intuitive software. As an owner, it’s entirely possible to keep the books. However, it may not be a good idea as your business grows. When paperwork begins to compromise your time management or efficiency, it might be time to consider hiring a bookkeeper. You may not need a full-time individual; you might even want to consider outsourcing this role.
Controllers, sometimes referred to as comptrollers, supervise bookkeepers, tax managers, credit managers, and other accounting staff. They report to the CFO, CEO, or business owner. The controller is the company’s chief accounting officer. This individual bears responsibility for preparing financial statements, business plans, budgets, taxes and compliance certifications. In addition, they also perform special, as-needed projects such as business acquisitions and/or mergers, asset sales and securing financing or investors. This is considered a middle-management position.
As your business grows, it will likely need more than a bookkeeper. If you have stockholders, or a true board of directors, hiring a controller is sound business practice that will protect your company and its assets. Controllers concentrate on accounting. They provide tactical management reporting and supervision of the accounting staff.
Chief Financial Officer Responsibilities
The CFO takes part in all senior business decisions, and advocates in the best financial interests of the organization. CFO responsibilities include assessing the cost of doing business as well as the risks the organization may generate. CFOs work with owners, boards of directors, senior management and other key stakeholders. They play a critical role in research and development, company oversight, regulatory compliance and day-to-day operations.
The CFO will often manage assets and financial relationships with multiple stakeholders, may help streamline operations, help with short and long-term financial planning as well as determine how best to invest corporate assets.
Small businesses have evolving needs for accounting as their operations grow. As demands on your time multiply, you may find the need to bolster your accounting staff to include full-time or part-time hires and/or outsourcing all your needs to a local accounting service.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CAJA Holdings LLC
Carolina Aponte is the founder of CAJA Holdings, LLC an Accounting and Fractional CFO firm in NC. She is the author of ‘Pave Your Own Way: Thirteen Skills To Create Your Professional Success’. Carolina is the recipient of several awards including the Enterprising Woman 2021 Award and the 2021 NAWBO Charlotte Woman Business Owner of the Year.
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