Thu Jun 30, 2022 | | CFO Services

Should You Hire a CFO or Controller for Your Small Business


When you started out your business, you may have handled all the financial aspects yourself. But when your business grows, you may need to hire qualified professionals to make up your finance team. Naturally, most small businesses start by hiring a bookkeeper. But a bookkeeper alone cannot handle all the different financial responsibilities. So you may want to consider hiring a CFO or controller as well. But which role should you prioritize?

What Is the Role of a CFO?

A chief financial officer (CFO) is the highest-ranking member of the finance team and is responsible for overseeing the management of the financial activities of the business. A CFO typically has the following responsibilities:

  • They create a budget and work to meet it based on the strategic goals of the business.
  • They are responsible for the financial planning, forecasting, and control of the operations of the company.
  • They monitor the financial performance of the company and develop measures for the business.
  • They align the finance function with key business objectives.
  • They lead and oversee the financial management of the company, including budgeting, accounting, treasury, investing, and banking activities.

What Is the Role of a Small Business Controller?

The role of a controller is to manage the day-to-day financial activities of the business. As the second-highest ranking member of the finance team, the controller prepares and manages the financial reports as well as coordinates and oversees the work of other finance staff members.

  • They ensure compliance with company policies and laws.
  • They ensure that the operating, financial, and management reports are up to date and relevant to the company’s activities.
  • They manage the company’s accounts payable and receivable, credit card activities, and bank account activity.
  • They manage the internal audit of the finance team.

Who Should You Hire First?

When you’re starting a new business, your first priority should be finding the right financial partner who can help your business grow. While having a CFO on your team may help you with business planning, it is actually the controller who will help you keep track of your finances. The advantage of hiring a controller first is that they can help get the accounts payable, payroll, and internal controls set up, and they can also help you with cash flow management and forecasting.

Your controller is also the best person to help you create a budget and monitor it against your projections. They can help you with employee expenses, help you with your budget and prepare the annual budget for you and the rest of the business.

As your business takes off, it may be time to hire a CFO. However, when you first start out, it can be useful to have your controller take on some of the tasks of a CFO.

Final Thoughts

Hiring a controller first can give you an advantage in getting your business up and running quickly. Since there’s a lot of work to do when you are just starting a business, it helps to have a controller who can keep track of the daily financial details of your business. Once your business is up and running, then you can add a CFO to your team who will take on the planning and strategic aspects of your business.

Stay on top of your business’s finances with the help of CFO Strategies. We are a team of accountants and other senior professionals that provide financial controller services on a permanent part-time basis, onsite and virtually, to help your business make more money. Get in touch with us today!