How to Prepare as a Startup CFO


Change is the only constant; at a startup company change happens quickly. Usually, in this environment there is no established business model, which can make these changes hard to keep pace with. What do you need to do in order to stay current as a startup CFO? Being able to accurately assess and correct issues when things aren’t working is invaluable.

A prepared CFO is flexible, embracing change while fostering innovative and creative problem solving. Being flexible will lead to growth and success within the company, even when it challenges the status quo. The prepared CFO is unafraid of speaking up and shirking procedures that are halting growth in their businesses, attempting to move towards creating a results-driven culture.

CFOs tend to be rather risk-averse, which is in contrast to the usual mentality of a startup. They attempt to find the safest path to their goals as they can; making determinations off of data and financials, hoping they lead to a predictable outcome. If they instead took measured, calculated risks using expert assessments, they could potentially grow their company faster.

A startup company is extremely risky by nature and success or failure of a single project does not determine long-term success. There will be some failed projects. Others may merely be mediocre. Few projects really promote growth and define your company. As long as we have more good outcomes than bad, over time value will be created. The only real failure is missed opportunities.

A great start-up is the perfect mix of people and product — a talented team working productively toward a goal that will deliver big impact and results. Microsoft has been a game changer for enterprises, allowing executives to make informed, intelligent decisions and better analyze risk. Startups have been early adopters, relying on big data for business intelligence on everything from audience segments to sales strategy to market adoption. CFOs should be company champions for Microsoft Software and work toward creating a corporate culture that harnesses the value of data of all types.

In today’s fast-changing global marketplace, startup CFOs, and other managers should develop their styles from both the large-company and startup models: process but with purpose; risk minimization but with smart risk-taking; set goals but flexibility in approach; and deep belief in ideas but with pragmatic diplomacy.

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