The Series A round is usually when sophisticated investors start to dive into the important details of your company's finances. In contrast to a seed round, where you can sometimes get by without diligence, it’s rare that a company without efficient financial processes can raise a Series A without difficulty. For example, if it takes longer than it should to get clean financials when your potential investors ask for them, it can indicate to investors that your company isn't sophisticated enough or prepared for a Series A.
As a CEO or co-founder with a million other priorities, how can you make sure your finances are in order, and when should you consider hiring an outsourced accounting firm? Here’s how you can make sure your company has clean financials to get your Series A round finalized without delays.
Step 1 - Get the right systems and automate
Having the right tools is essential to streamlining your accounting operations. It's essential that those tools are fully integrated and set up in a way that removes paper and data entry. Although it might be easy to do something inefficiently when you're small, if you grow quickly, this inefficiency will cause big problems at a time where you don’t want to be distracted from key business decisions and growth.
A good example of a tool that removes paper and data entry is bill pay software. Bill pay is only one of many areas that touch money in a business. An inefficient bill pay process can create downstream problems for financial reporting and cash flow management, not to mention issues with your vendors and suppliers. Having a solid foundation of integrated tools and streamlined processes is essential for scaling a business and getting better oversight and visibility into your real-time financials.
Step 2 - Set up the right processes around those tools
How you get to your numbers and use your tools is just as important and having them. First, in order to have tight financials, your company needs to have good accounting operations processes. You need to have a clean, efficient way to track the money that goes in and out of your business. This can be solved with a combination of the right people, processes, and tools.
Don't settle for any paper or manual data entry in your accounting operations. Automating your payment processes with an easy bill payments platform would be an ideal first step. If your business is writing checks, you’re subjecting your business to tons of human error potentials and burdening yourself with an inefficient process. That process breaks as volume grows.
Step 3 - Find the right person to run your accounting operations
At an early-stage company, determining who will own accounting operations is important. While it’s only natural that you or your co-founder handles the accounting needs at the beginning, doing this in the long-term quickly becomes a waste of your time as you need to focus on other business needs. You’ll reach a point where you need to make a crucial decision about your accounting department: hire a bookkeeper, or outsource your accounting operations.
Option 1 - Hire an in-house bookkeeper
To get a deep understanding of your numbers, you may want to consider hiring a full-time, in-house bookkeeping services before you start trying to raise a round. An in-house bookkeeper will make sure your company has clean finances, keep track of transactions, manage expenses, perform data entry, pay bills, and create financial reports.
However, unless you're hiring a very senior employee, this is a position that usually requires a good bit of personnel management for high-quality output. Another important consideration is cost: hiring someone internally is typically more expensive than outsourcing.
Option 2 - Hire outsourced accounting services
While hiring a full time employee might be your natural inclination, using outsourced bookkeeping services is an important consideration. While your company is growing, you may need the headcount for other roles. In addition, outsourced accounting professionals with start-up experience bring the right skills and knowledge from working with other companies.
Another consideration is the cost of accounting operations. Hiring someone else to run accounting operations while you run your business may be the most cost effective option. If you pick the right outsourcing partner, such as Decimal, they'll use their insight and expertise to make sure you have the right accounting software, resources, tools, and processes to prepare you for your Series A. That partner won’t just focus on accounting processes, but will be operations experts who bring best practices too. That’s what will really make the biggest impact.
Financials are the best, unbiased snapshot of a company’s health and potential. If your company has poor tools and processes, getting the accurate financial reports that investors require can be challenging. Having a solid foundation of financial operations is essential to raising money as well as running your company. Although hiring an internal bookkeeper is an option, hiring an outsourced service provider is typically the smartest move for a pre-Series A company. They’ll also be able to implement the right processes and bring in the right tools and software to help you build an even more successful business.
Decimal is an outsourced accounting operations company that helps small to mid-sized businesses streamline their back office. Their services include bookkeeping, bill pay, payroll, invoicing, inventory, accounting technology, and more. To learn more, visit www.decimal.com.