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Kim Lavine
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Kim is on a mission to inspire people to follow their dreams, empowering them with hope, honesty and faith.

Identified as America’s Expert on Inspirational Business Advice, Kim touches and inspires millions around the world through her appearances on The Today Show, Rachel Ray, Good Morning America, NBC & ABC news, CNN, CNBC, FOX, NPR, Oprah & Friends Radio Network, and features in USA Today, Country Living, Guideposts, Inc, Business Week, Entrepreneur, Women's World, and American Baby to name a few. Read More...

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Chief Financial Officers—What They Can Do For You That a CPA Can’t

by Kim Lavine

If you're a start-up entrepreneur trying to raise capital you're going to need a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to help you do it. Do not confuse this with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or it could cost you everything you own.

Most start-up entrepreneurs have no idea what a CFO does, let alone how to find one. Every CPA I've met is trying to sell their services as a CFO, and not one of them has ever had a true understanding of what the job demands, which has cost me a lot of money. Don't make the same mistake.

CFO - CPA...What's The Difference?

  • Don’t expect a freelance CFO to do your taxes or even to do basic bookkeeping.
  • A CFO will organize a company’s financial statements to provide the best and most accurate economic snapshot for owners and possible investors. This is much more complicated than you would think.
  • A CFO will help you analyze costs more closely, so you can adopt more profitable long-term financial strategies. Everybody I know who has used the services of a CFO needed them when they were in crisis, usually as a result of rapid, undisciplined growth, or when they were in search of capital from investors, also often a result of rapid, undisciplined growth.
  • CFO’s are more than a CPA. The best ones are tough, real-world business people who know how to take creditors and bankers to the mat to protect your business’s economic viability.
  • The best CFO’s charge up to $200 an hour. This is a bargain when you consider many CPA’s charge the same and give you half as much.
  • There is a whole industry of freelance CFO’s out there. I’ve had three of them. Call up your SBDC office for references.

There’s no end to what a CFO can do for you. My CFO’s have done everything for me or their other clients from terming out debt between two parties to hedging Euros and natural gas futures for their international customers.

How Do You Find a CFO?

No start-up entrepreneur can afford to have a CFO on staff, and if you do, you're probably wasting lots of money with someone selling you services you don't need. Most professional CFO's work on a contract basis for specific time periods or needs. The best way to find one locally is to check with your Small Business Development Center.