Finance

Building A Finance Team From Scratch – Important Aspects To Consider

Starting a business is a brave and admirable decision, and you deserve all the praise for it. But even if you were bold enough to start on this path alone, it’s important to acknowledge that you can’t grow your startup and turn it into a successful company if you remain a one-man show. You might be the one holding the reins and making the most important decisions, but you have to be realistic about your possibilities – as much as you’d like to do things on your own, you’re just one person and there are only so many hours in a day to fulfil your duties and responsibilities. 

The truth is that running a business, regardless of the industry you’re in, requires a collective effort. That means you have to surround yourself with the right people and build a solid team that can help you reach your goals and support you throughout your entrepreneurial journey. This also includes hiring talented staff members who have the necessary skills and abilities to handle the daily financial operations of your business.   

However, setting up a finance department from scratch is not as easy as some might think. There’s a wide variety of factors to take into consideration, from the roles that are required to the investment you’re willing to make. So, if you’re new to the entrepreneurial environment, here are a few aspects to keep in mind when building your finance team. 

Why it’s important to build a finance team

First thing first, you have to grasp the importance of setting up a finance department, and that means you have to understand what a finance team does and how it can help your startup evolve.  

Back in the day, the role of a finance team was limited to basic back-office tasks, such as preparing financial statements or day-to-day record keeping and reporting. But things have evolved over the years and finance teams have expanded their functions, becoming one of the pillars of business success. Modern finance departments have a much wider range of tasks and responsibilities to fulfil, such as:

  • Providing important insights through numbers – finance teams collect important data and information that can provide valuable financial insights. They keep track of all the money movements in a business, acting as a hub where all financial data across all departments is stored.
  • Assessing business performance – based on the data they collect, finance teams can provide an accurate view of the business’ financial situation and performance over time. That can help other departments identify patterns and trends, and make the necessary adjustments when required.
  • Forecasting and financial planning – business growth implies looking into the future and planning your next move. Finance teams can provide insights into potential economic issues and make predictions about the company’s future performance, thus ensuring a more efficient decision-making process.

Know when it’s the right time to invest in a finance team

It’s obvious that at one point your business will need to have a finance department to help you stay on top of all your money-related matters. But how do you know when the time is right to start setting up your finance team? For most entrepreneurs, that moment comes when they get too overwhelmed with financial tasks and realise they need help, or when some major financial error happens, disrupting the smooth running of the company. 

If you’re not sure about the timing, here are the telltale signs that you need to invest in a finance team sooner rather than later.

You’re stuck in a routine that doesn’t allow you to evolve

Ideally, you’d be able to use financial data to gain valuable insights and drive business growth. But that’s not possible when you’re constantly struggling to get your records up to date, make sense of the numbers and make last-minute decisions to correct any errors that happened along the way. If this routine sounds familiar to you, it’s a clear sign that you have to get some experts on board to help you deal with business finances. 

You’re dealing with increasingly complex financial tasks

As your business grows and evolves, so does the complexity of the tasks you need to fulfil, and that includes financial operations. If the volume of financial data you have to process daily has increased beyond your capabilities, you could surely use the support of a finance department. That will help you save time and effort, and give you the freedom to focus on other business-related issues. 

Evaluate and hire the right candidates

Finally, you have come to the point of selecting the right candidates for your finance team, so you better choose them carefully. When you start interviewing and evaluating potential employees, here are some essential characteristics to look after: 

Software skills

It’s important for your future team members to have extensive knowledge of the tasks and processes they have to handle. But besides training and experience, they should also have a good grasp of finance automation tools, as they play a crucial role in running daily financial operations. Ask candidates if they’ve ever worked with an accounting software and make sure they’re familiar with popular financial management tools. 

Proactive approach

Building a finance department takes time, so in the beginning, you might have only a few employees handling the entire workload. For that, you need to hire individuals who have a proactive attitude and are able to make important decisions on their own. That way you’ll know that when they come across an issue, they’ll be ready to solve it quickly and efficiently, without waiting for someone else to take the initiative. 

Good teamwork skills

While hiring professionals who can work autonomously provides a major advantage, so does their ability to collaborate with other team members. As your finance department grows, you’ll bring in more people on board, so you have to make sure they can work together as a team and become a valuable asset to your business. 

Steven Ly

Steven Ly is the Startup Program and Events Manager at TheNextHint Inc. She recruits rockstar startups for all TC events including Disrupt, meetups, Sessions, and more both domestically and internationally. Previously, she helped produce Dreamforce with Salesforce and Next '17 with Google. Prior to that, she was on the advertising teams at both Facebook and AdRoll, helping support advertisers in North America and helped grow those brands globally. Outside of work, Priya enjoys Flywheel, tacos, the 49ers, and adventuring around the globe.

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