When Does A Company Need a CFO?

Navigating financial management is crucial for business growth, and effective cash flow management is a key component of success. A study indicated that 82% of small business failures result from poor financial oversight, underscoring the importance of having a strategic financial leader. This article will guide you through recognizing when your business might need a CFO, the role a CFO plays in scaling businesses, and financial leadership alternatives for smaller companies. By the end, you’ll understand the right timing for bringing a CFO into your team.

Key Takeaways:

  • A CFO plays a critical role in overseeing cash flow, budgets, and profit margins, but their responsibilities extend far beyond that.
  • Signs that your business may need a CFO include stretched accountants or bookkeepers, cash flow issues, lack of organisational direction, difficulty in budgeting and forecasting, and difficulties in recruiting and retaining key employees.
  • Evaluating your business’s financial complexity and growth milestones can help determine when it’s time to hire a CFO.
  • A CFO is essential in scaling businesses, providing financial strategy, managing cash flow, making strategic decisions, identifying and mitigating risks, and ensuring profitability and financial health.
  • If your business is too small to hire a full-time CFO, alternatives such as outsourced CFO services, part-time CFOs, or working with a bookkeeper or financial advisor can be cost-effective solutions.

At What Size Do You Need a CFO?

Evaluating Your Business’s Financial Complexity

One key factor in determining when you need a CFO is evaluating your business’s financial complexity. This includes considering factors such as your annual revenue, financial data management, insights into finance and accounting, and the need for strategic financial planning. If your business has grown to a point where you require more in-depth financial analysis and expertise to manage your cash flow effectively, it may be time to consider hiring a CFO.

Growth Milestones and the Need for a CFO

Another factor to consider is the growth milestones of your business. As your business scales, you may encounter new challenges and opportunities that require the expertise of a CFO. A CFO can help navigate the complexities of different business models, assist in capital raising efforts, provide financial expertise, manage risk, and develop strategic financial plans. Understanding the growth milestones of your business can help determine when the need for a CFO becomes crucial for its continued success and financial health.

Factors to Consider Evaluating Your Business’s Financial Complexity Growth Milestones and the Need for a CFO
Annual Revenue In-depth financial analysis and expertise Complexities of business models
Financial Data Management Manage cash flow effectively Assist in capital raising efforts
Insights into Finance and Accounting Strategic financial planning Provide financial expertise
Strategic Financial Planning Manage risk

The Role of a CFO in Scaling Businesses

A CFO plays a vital role in scaling businesses, providing crucial financial guidance and expertise. Their responsibilities encompass various aspects of financial management, strategic decision-making, and risk management. By taking a holistic approach to financial strategy, a CFO helps drive growth opportunities and ensures the financial health of the company. Let’s explore the key responsibilities and contributions of a CFO in scaling businesses.

Financial Strategy and Decision-Making

One of the primary roles of a CFO is to develop and execute a comprehensive financial strategy. They analyse financial data, perform financial forecasting and analysis, and make strategic decisions based on these insights. By aligning financial goals with business objectives, the CFO establishes a roadmap for growth and guides the company towards achieving its financial aspirations.

Cash Flow Management

Effective cash flow management is critical for scaling businesses. A CFO oversees cash flow by monitoring inflows and outflows, ensuring that sufficient funds are available to meet operational and investment needs. They implement cash flow forecasting and analysis to anticipate cash needs, address potential shortfalls, and optimise working capital. By maintaining a healthy cash flow, the CFO enables the business to seize growth opportunities and navigate financial challenges.

Financial Forecasting and Analysis

Financial forecasting and analysis are essential for informed decision-making and strategic planning. A CFO utilises financial data to evaluate the company’s financial performance, identify trends, and assess growth potential. Through comprehensive financial analysis, they provide insights into profitability, cost optimization, and investment opportunities. These analyses guide strategic decision-making, enabling the company to allocate resources effectively and capitalise on growth.

Risk Management

Managing risks is crucial for safeguarding the financial health and stability of a scaling business. A CFO assesses potential risks, such as market volatility, regulatory changes, or operational disruptions, and develops risk mitigation strategies. By implementing robust risk management practices and internal controls, the CFO safeguards the company’s financial assets and protects against potential liabilities. Their proactive approach to risk management helps ensure long-term sustainability and resilience.

Profitability and Financial Health

A CFO is responsible for monitoring and improving the company’s profitability and financial health. They analyse financial statements, measure key performance indicators, and identify areas for improvement. By implementing cost control measures, optimising financial processes, and identifying revenue-enhancing opportunities, the CFO drives profitability and strengthens the company’s financial position. Their expertise in financial management helps enhance overall business performance and ensure sustainable growth.

Growth Opportunities

Identifying growth opportunities is a crucial aspect of scaling businesses. A CFO plays a pivotal role in identifying potential avenues for expansion, evaluating investment opportunities, and assessing the financial viability of strategic initiatives. By providing financial insights and evaluating the financial impact of growth strategies, the CFO helps the company make informed decisions and pursue growth opportunities that align with its long-term objectives.

Alternatives for Smaller Businesses

Smaller businesses may not have the resources to hire a full-time CFO. However, there are alternative options available to meet their financial management needs and access strategic financial guidance.

One alternative is to consider outsourced CFO services. These services provide smaller businesses with the opportunity to work with part-time CFOs who can offer their financial expertise and manage the company’s financial affairs on a flexible basis. With outsourced CFO services, smaller businesses can benefit from the knowledge and experience of a CFO without the cost of hiring a full-time executive. This cost-effective solution allows businesses to tap into strategic financial guidance tailored to their specific needs.

Another option for smaller businesses is to work with a bookkeeper or financial advisor. While they may not provide the same level of financial management and expertise as a CFO, they can still offer some level of guidance and support. Bookkeepers can assist with basic financial tasks such as managing expenses, recording transactions, and preparing financial reports. Financial advisors, on the other hand, can provide advice on investment decisions, retirement planning, and overall financial planning. While these alternatives may not offer the same comprehensive financial management as a CFO, they can still be valuable resources for smaller businesses in need of financial guidance.

Ultimately, finding the right alternative for smaller businesses requires careful consideration of their specific needs, financial goals, and available resources. Whether it’s outsourced CFO services or working with a bookkeeper or financial advisor, these alternatives can provide cost-effective solutions and strategic financial guidance to help smaller businesses thrive.


In conclusion, hiring a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a critical decision for any business. The right time to bring in a CFO depends on various factors, such as the complexity of your financial operations and the growth milestones your business has achieved.

A CFO can significantly contribute to the success of your business by providing expert financial strategy, effectively managing your finances for growth, and ensuring the overall financial health of your company. They play a crucial role in making strategic decisions based on financial analysis and forecasting, mitigating risks, and identifying growth opportunities. For further guidance finding a CFO for your business, get in touch via the contact form to see how Boardroom Advisors can help you.


When does a company need to hire a CFO?

A company typically needs to hire a CFO when it reaches a certain level of complexity in its financial operations, such as when it surpasses a certain annual revenue threshold or when the business owner requires strategic financial advice to move the company forward.

What is the role of a CFO in a company?

The CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for overseeing the financial operations of a company, managing the finance team, providing strategic financial advice to stakeholders, and ensuring the company’s financial health and ROI.

How can a small business owner benefit from hiring a CFO?

A small business owner can benefit from hiring a CFO by gaining access to financial expertise, strategic advice, and data analysis that can help make informed business decisions and drive the company forward.

What should a company look for when hiring a CFO?

 When hiring a CFO, a company should look for someone who is a financial expert, well-versed in the field, and able to work with the executive team to turn financial data into actionable insights that can help the company achieve its goals.

Why might a company choose to hire a part-time CFO instead of a full-time CFO?

 A company might choose to hire a part-time CFO if it does not require a CFO’s full-time attention or if it lacks the resources to support a full-time CFO. Hiring a part-time CFO can provide the necessary financial expertise without the financial commitment of a full-time hire.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.