eCFO Tips: Communication, communication, communication… when it comes to strategic decisions never assume that you know what each stakeholder wants. You will most likely approach a decision from a financial analysis perspective – most other (normal) people will not think that way – so make sure you talk to everyone and do not assume anything. Often you will be surprised – sometimes pleasantly and sometimes not so :).
eCFO Tips: Do not be afraid to think about new things. If you are working in an innovative start-up there might be lots of balance sheet optimization questions that nobody has really thought about. Are facebook fans in generic groups that are rented out for advertising assets? Should the initial investment into these groups be on your balance sheet and depreciated over time? How do you value your investments in other start-ups? What happens with your old, cancelled projects? Make sure you have good advisors and get lots of support when tackling these questions.
eCFO Tips: Especially in a start-up environment do not get bogged down in the details. If you are looking to establish financial goals do not say EUR9,287 because your business plan spits out that number – instead just define easy to remember goals e.g. we need EUR10,000 revenue per month with at least 30% EBIT. Do that for 3 months in a row and this business starts to be viable. This is an easy rule for not only you to remember, but it also sets a financial target the management team can work towards.
eCFO Tips: Make sure that management teams can differentiate between expenses and investments. In our company everybody gets a VOIP phone installed on their computer and uses a headset for calls. We do not have actual phones anymore. Nevertheless, the FolienKnecht team requested to spend EUR40 for an actual phone – it took a long discussion for them to convince me that this was a necessary expense and approval took a while. At the same time I suggested that they should get together with the city of Hamburg and sponsor a networking event. Sponsoring fees here were a small 4 digit amount and they asked why I did not have a problem with such a comparatively large amount, versus all the hassle for the EUR40 phone. The answer is easy – for a start-up it is essential to spend money on the RIGHT things not on those that are nice to have. As an eCFO it is your responsibility to ensure that this principal is actually enforced and that every expenditure is measured.