How to Build Your Finance Team

May 15, 2024


In your early days, one person can probably handle the entirety of your startup’s finance function. The right person with the right level of expertise can stay on top of key areas like payroll and taxes. At the same time, they can help you forecast and make strategic decisions. 

As your company grows, though, the complexity of its finance needs scale up. And that usually means it’s time to scale up your finance headcount, too. 

Different companies make different decisions about which finance roles they need. To help you pinpoint the right job titles and responsibilities for your first few designated hires, we have a few tips. 


Identify the specialties you need

The right early hires hinge on your company’s needs and processes. If you’re already outsourcing to a bookkeeper and that’s working well, for example, you might not need to hire an internal bookkeeper. 

But let’s say you plan to hire a remote team spread across multiple states — or even multiple countries. In that case, payroll taxes will get complicated fast. Bringing on someone who specializes in payroll can help you overcome obstacles and stay compliant. 

Most startups also benefit from bringing on someone with financial planning and analysis (FP&A) expertise relatively early on. This way, you get someone who can help with planning and predicting your company’s trajectory. In a lot of cases, your CFO brings this to the table. 

Ultimately, as you’re considering your early dedicated finance hires, take a step back and look at how your business operates and where you want to head. Identify gaps and opportunities that your first hires can fill. 


Consider CFO advisory services

A lot of startups wait a long time to hire more than one person in their finance department. That’s because the first hire is usually a CFO or other head of finance, and they usually require a pretty sizable compensation package. 

Bringing in a CFO in the early days provides your company with the guidance it needs. But it doesn’t have to add a huge chunk to your overhead. Rather than hiring a full-time employee, many startups benefit from CFO advisory services. This gives you a way to outsource the CFO role. As a result, you can get high-level expertise from a seasoned pro without handing over a hefty paycheck or major benefits plan. 

This frees up more money to dedicate to other finance hires that can benefit your startup. 


Balance hiring and automation

Sometimes, the issue you’re trying to solve with a dedicated hire could be handled by the right tool. Software is available to automate everything from payroll to invoice collections. Before you assume you need to bring on a person to handle a specific task that takes a lot of time, explore technology. 

If you’re not sure what options are available — and, more importantly, which actually work — talk with our team. As accountants who specialize in working with tech startups, we’re exposed to a lot of leading-edge finance software. We can help you identify automation opportunities and the right tools to deliver what you need. 


Think through your team structure

When you only have a few people in your finance department, they usually work collaboratively to make sure everything is covered. As the team grows, though, you’ll want to define roles and responsibilities more clearly. 

As you hire, think through who would thrive in a leadership role within your finance department. At the same time, make sure you’re bringing on people who will be happy to stay in individual contributor roles. 

If you exclusively hire people who have ambitions to rise to CFO, you’ll have a lot of individuals trying to claw their way to the top. Ideally, you want to grow your team so that staff with lots of career ambition can climb while people who are content in their current roles can continue contributing. 


Plan for fundraising and auditing

Of course, a large part of your finance hiring centers around meeting your company’s day-to-day financial needs. But you should also plan for things that won’t necessarily be happening all the time but will require a big lift from this department. 

Specifically, structure your team so it can handle future rounds of fundraising and any audits that come up. Both of these things can create a lot of stress within a company. Ideally, you want to have a finance team that can jump in, provide the necessary information, and serve up strategic support. So as you make hiring decisions, factor in audits and fundraising rounds. Ensure that you have team members who can move time and attention to these types of projects as they arise. 

These are a few general tips, but if you want recommendations tailored to your company, talk with our team. We have extensive experience helping startups build their finance teams. Plus, we can come alongside your new hires with the accounting expertise they need.