Running a growing business is time-consuming and often stressful. It is a juggling act that demands you keep everything from HR, finance, sales and marketing, technology and product development working perfectly all of the time.
Successful founders will quickly realise that it is all too much for just one person, making strategic appointments to manage those business-critical functions.
But whilst the business may have a finance team managing the day-to-day needs, the decision when to appoint a finance director to provide greater strategic direction and oversight is often a tricky one. The business may not need that expertise and insight of an experienced FD all of the time, or perhaps have the budget that FD salaries demand.
When an FD is out of reach, it might be time to consider a virtual finance director – a role that I and many of my colleagues at Hillier Hopkins hold. It is a cost-effective option for a business that starts the journey towards a permanent appointment.
Your business can tap into the expertise it needs when it is needed. It can be scaled up or down depending on the demands of the business, providing a cost-effective solution.
And a virtual FD does not mean they necessarily work remotely, although changing working patterns now often means that a physical presence in your office is less important. A virtual FD can, should it be required, allocate a set number of days to your business each week or month, or be ‘on-tap’ when needed.
One of the advantages of having your accountant act as a virtual FD is that they will already have a good understanding of your business, your goals and ambitions. They can also tap into the wider expertise a firm like Hillier Hopkins can offer. They bring to the experience of having acted for a wide range of businesses, meaning there is rarely a scenario or challenge that has not previously been addressed.
One of the vital contributions a virtual FD can bring is a greater oversight of cashflow – the lifeblood of every business. Fast-growth businesses can, from the outside, look incredibly successful but have high cash burn rates. It is often one of the main reasons successful businesses fail.
A virtual FD can keep a close and critical eye on cashflow, help with financial forecasts, budgets, management reporting and financial oversight. This becomes even more important when a business must report to external funders.
A virtual FD can be a terrific resource to a business, freeing up your time to focus on growing and building the business whilst reassured that the finances are in experienced and capable hands.