Be prepared to wear many hats and take on the challenge of growing a business from with minimal resources in a matter of months. The role of accountants and CPAs in startups can vary – you may start out paying vendors, running payroll, projecting earnings and expenses, and helping to raise capital to grow the business. As the business scales (and you’ll play a pretty major role in that), you’ll likely become more of a strategist and planner – and maybe even the company’s chief financial officer (CFO).
A growth hacking accountant in a startup should be:
Flexible: Since startups typically save costs by minimizing the number of staff positions and focusing on critical roles for designing, building and shipping products, employees may need to take on a variety of tasks and make adjustments to their day-to-day responsibilities as the company grows or makes adjustments to address market or investor demands.
Self-driven: Startups may not have highly developed responsibilities, roles and hierarchies, which places more emphasis on the individual’s responsibility in getting things done and communicating with others. The company may also have flexible work hours or work-from-home opportunities to help entice people to join the company or to conserve money that would be spent on larger offices, equipment and infrastructure.
Team-oriented: Close knit, small teams are typical at startups, especially ones that follow agile or rapid development processes. As an accountant in a startup, you may be a bridge between leadership and staff, offering updates on team performance, product launches and hiring practices.
Curious: A healthy dose of curiosity can make research and testing of new techniques or practices an essential part of your role at a startup. Curiosity can open up new pathways and address the constraints faced by typical startups and small businesses.
Perseverant: Revenues, expenses and capitalization may fluctuate on a monthly or quarterly basis. Accountants who are adept at normalizing cash flow and maintaining a degree of financial consistency in startups are highly valued. Developing a sense of perseverance, ingenuity and a “thick skin” are helpful traits.
But don’t worry, some of the biggest names in the startup world learned most of what they know from their on the job experience.