The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Interim CFO for Startups

Discover why and when to hire an interim CFO for startups. Learn about cost, strategic insights, and finding the perfect fit.


startup finance - hire interim cfo for startups

For startups navigating the hectic world of growth and financial complexity, an expert hand in financial management can make all the difference. If you’re looking to hire an interim CFO for startups, here's what you need to know right off the bat:

Quick Insights:

  • Immediate Access to Expertise: An interim CFO brings well-honed financial skills to your startup without the need for long-term commitments.
  • Cost-Effective Solution: Pay only for the services you need, avoiding the hefty salary of a full-time CFO.
  • Strategic Financial Oversight: Gain valuable guidance in budgeting, forecasting, and financial modeling, ensuring your startup stays on track.

Interim CFOs provide the critical financial leadership that growing startups urgently need. These temporary financial wizards help with everything from stabilizing cash flows to setting up robust accounting systems. As your company scales or faces financial challenges, the interim CFO steps in to deliver clarity and direction.

These financial experts offer more than just number crunching; they bring strategic vision, risk management, and a wealth of industry experience. They work seamlessly with your team, ensuring that all financial operations align with your business goals.

Benefits of Hiring an Interim CFO for Startups - hire interim cfo for startups infographic pillar-4-steps

By enlisting the services of an interim CFO, you can focus on what you do best: growing your business.

Why Hire an Interim CFO for Startups?

Cost-Effective Solution

Hiring a fractional CFO or a part-time CFO can save startups a significant amount of money. The median salary for a full-time CFO is around $440,000 per year. In contrast, an interim CFO offers their services at a fraction of this cost, providing financial expertise without the hefty price tag of a full-time hire.

For instance, indinero offers custom pricing that starts at $750 for essential bookkeeping services and $1250 for growth accounting services per month. This flexibility allows startups to scale financial oversight up or down as needed, making it a cost-effective solution.

Strategic Financial Insight

An interim CFO brings valuable strategic financial insight to your startup. They help with:

  • Financial Planning and Forecasting: Creating accurate financial models to predict future revenues and expenses.
  • Budgeting: Establishing realistic budgets that align with your business goals.
  • Valuation Strategy: Helping you understand your startup's worth, which is crucial during fundraising rounds.

For example, a SaaS company on the brink of scaling secured a $50M Series B funding round thanks to an interim CFO's strategic financial planning. Their expertise in navigating market trends and applying successful strategies can be a game-changer.

Financial Discipline and Accountability

Interim CFOs ensure financial discipline and accountability through:

  • Financial Reporting: Providing accurate and timely financial reports.
  • Dashboards: Implementing dashboards that offer real-time financial data.
  • Board Meetings: Representing the financial health of the company at board meetings.

They also help answer critical questions like:

  • What are the startup's projected revenues and expenses?
  • How much funding is required to reach key milestones?
  • What are your projected cash flows and burn rate?

These insights are invaluable for maintaining a robust finance function and guiding the company towards sustainable growth.

By enlisting the services of an interim CFO, you can focus on what you do best: growing your business.

When to Hire an Interim CFO

Knowing when to hire an interim CFO for startups can be crucial for your company's success. Here are some key stages and scenarios where bringing in an interim CFO can make a significant difference:

Pre-Revenue Stage

At the pre-revenue stage, startups often receive seed funding but haven't yet reached the Series A funding round. This is a critical period for establishing a solid financial foundation.

Why hire an interim CFO now?

  • Financial Modeling: An interim CFO can develop a three-statement financial model, linking the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements. This integrated model provides a clear picture of your company’s future.
  • GAAP-Compliant Reporting: Investors want to see GAAP-compliant financial reports. An interim CFO can ensure your financials meet these standards, saving accountants and bookkeepers time and effort.
  • Preparation for Funding Rounds: While not always necessary at this stage, an interim CFO can help prepare for the next funding round, liaising with investors and honing your pitch.

Revenue Stage

Startups with annual recurring revenue (ARR) between $3 million and $20 million are typically pursuing or have secured Series A funding. At this stage, the stakes are higher, and the need for financial expertise becomes more pronounced.

Why hire an interim CFO now?

  • Profitability Path: Brian Johnson, an interim CFO at indinero, emphasizes the value CFOs bring at this stage. "You’ve raised capital from institutional investors, and there’s a lot at stake. We step in and say, from a quantitative perspective, this is how you get there."
  • Strategic Consulting: An interim CFO can provide strategic financial insights, helping you navigate the complexities of scaling your business. They can offer guidance on everything from cash flow management to budgeting and forecasting.

Transition and Crisis

Often, startups seek financial services during times of transition or crisis. Whether it's due to rapid growth, an accounting system that can't keep up, or profitability challenges, an interim CFO can be a major asset.

Why hire an interim CFO now?

  • Accounting System Issues: If your accounting systems can’t keep up with your revenue growth, an interim CFO can help optimize and upgrade these systems.
  • Profitability Challenges: If you’re struggling to achieve profitability, an interim CFO can conduct a thorough financial analysis. For example, Brian Johnson from indinero helped a client achieve profitability by cutting costs and right-sizing the business.
  • Strategic Direction: In times of uncertainty, an interim CFO can provide the strategic direction needed to stabilize and grow your business.

In summary, whether you're in the pre-revenue stage, scaling up with significant revenue, or navigating a crisis, an interim CFO can provide the financial expertise and strategic insight needed to guide your startup toward success.

Next, let's explore how to find the right interim CFO for your startup.

How to Find the Right Interim CFO

Finding the right interim CFO for your startup can be challenging. But with the right approach, you can identify the perfect fit for your financial needs. Here are some effective ways to find an interim CFO:

Ask Other CFOs

One of the best ways to find a qualified interim CFO is through your professional network. Ask other CFOs in your industry for recommendations. They often know experienced professionals who are looking for short-term assignments.

  • Leverage Industry Connections: Reach out to finance professionals and industry connections. They can provide trusted recommendations.
  • Utilize Professional Networks: Platforms like LinkedIn are great for connecting with CFOs who have a documented history of success.

Professional Services Firms

Several professional services firms specialize in providing interim CFOs. These firms have a pool of vetted candidates ready to step into your organization on short notice.

  • PwC Interim CFO Services: PwC offers hands-on controlling and accounting experience, ideal for startups needing a temporary setup.
  • Keating Consulting: This firm focuses on financial discipline and growth, with a strong presence in Silicon Valley.
  • Business Talent Group: Known for meeting the demand for strategic consulting through interim CFOs, often collaborating with Heidrick & Struggles.

Online Platforms and Marketplaces

Online platforms make it easier to find and hire an interim CFO. These platforms vet candidates and match them with your specific needs.

  • Toptal: Toptal prides itself on Ivy League-level vetting, quickly matching you with the right interim CFO. Their experts have helped startups like Sidekick achieve significant ROI.
  • indinero: This platform offers financial analysis and profitability strategies with custom pricing. They helped a client right-size their business to achieve profitability.
  • CFO Dive: A resource for finding part-time and project-based CFOs. They also provide news and insights on financial leadership.

Using these resources, you can find an interim CFO who fits your startup's needs and helps you navigate your financial challenges effectively.

Next, we'll look at some of the top interim CFO services for startups.

Top Interim CFO Services for Startups

PwC Interim CFO Services

PwC offers hands-on controlling and accounting experience tailored for startups. They can provide temporary or project-based setups to fill gaps in your finance team. PwC’s interim CFOs can help with:

  • ERP rollouts: Managing complex ERP implementations with a mix of IT, finance, and business skills.
  • Financial health checks: Monitoring financial performance and advising on efficiency improvements.
  • Value-added analysis: Providing detailed financial analyses, calculations, and scenarios.

PwC's services are designed to be flexible and efficient, ensuring that your startup can handle financial pressures during growth or transitions.

Keating Consulting

Keating Consulting specializes in providing financial discipline and a growth-focused culture to startups, particularly in the Silicon Valley area. Their key functions include:

  • Financial planning and analysis (FP&A): Offering accurate, high-quality financial advice to link strategy to budgets.
  • Modeling, forecasting, and budgeting: Building financial models to predict performance based on strategic milestones.
  • Board meeting preparation: Assisting in preparing data and presentations for Board meetings, even attending and conducting them if needed.

Keating's interim CFOs help startups maximize their valuation and make sure every penny is spent wisely.


indinero provides financial analysis and profitability strategies with custom pricing. They are particularly adept at helping startups in the pre-revenue and revenue stages. Services include:

  • Three-statement financial modeling: Linking income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • Profitability strategies: Right-sizing businesses to achieve profitability, as seen in their work with various clients.
  • GAAP-compliant reporting: Ensuring financial reports meet investor standards.

indinero's interim CFOs are well-suited for startups needing strategic financial direction and planning.

Business Talent Group

Business Talent Group meets the interim CFO demand with a focus on strategic consulting. Partnering with Heidrick & Struggles, they offer:

  • Executive-level finance positions: Providing a pool of candidates for short-term assignments.
  • Project-based CFO roles: Matching startups with CFOs for specific projects or transitions.
  • Strategic financial leadership: Offering expertise in navigating financial challenges and opportunities.

Their services are ideal for startups looking for high-caliber financial talent to guide them through critical periods.

CFO Dive

CFO Dive is a valuable resource for finding part-time CFO roles and project-based CFOs. They also provide:

  • Financial leadership news: Keeping you updated on the latest trends and insights in financial management.
  • Expert matching: Quickly connecting you with the right interim CFO for your needs.

CFO Dive's platform is perfect for startups needing flexible, on-demand financial expertise.

Using these top interim CFO services, your startup can find the right financial leadership to navigate growth, profitability, and strategic planning. Next, we'll address some frequently asked questions about hiring an interim CFO for startups.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hiring an Interim CFO for Startups

How much should a CFO of a startup make?

A full-time CFO’s salary can be quite steep, with the median estimated salary around $440,000 per year in 2024. However, many startups opt for an interim or fractional CFO to save costs. An interim CFO typically charges $150 to $200 per hour, making it a more affordable option for startups that need high-level financial guidance without the full-time commitment.

CFO Salary - hire interim cfo for startups

When should a startup hire a CFO?

The right time to hire a CFO often depends on your startup’s stage and financial complexity. Generally, companies consider hiring a full-time CFO when they reach around $50 million in annual revenue or are preparing for significant milestones like private investor funding or an IPO.

For earlier stages, such as pre-revenue or Series A funding, an interim CFO can help with financial modeling, GAAP-compliant reporting, and strategic consulting. As Brian Johnson, Interim CFO at indinero, points out, “Startups at this stage need strategic financial insight but don’t yet require a full-time, in-house CFO.”

Is a CFO required in a startup?

Not every startup needs a full-time CFO right away. Think of a CFO as fulfilling needs on a financial hierarchy, similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Early-stage startups might only need basic accounting and bookkeeping, but as they grow, strategic planning and financial oversight become critical.

Outsourcing these duties to an interim CFO can provide the necessary financial leadership without the hefty price tag. As Scott Brown from Toptal explains, “An interim CFO can benefit a startup by providing immediate financial leadership, expertise on demand, and effective cost management.”

Hiring an interim CFO allows startups to focus on growth and strategic planning without the burden of a full-time salary. It's a flexible solution that scales with your startup’s needs.

Next, we'll dive into the top interim CFO services for startups and how to choose the right one for your business.


Hiring an interim CFO is a strategic move for startups looking to gain financial leadership without the hefty price tag. As Scott Brown from Toptal explains, “An interim CFO can benefit a startup by providing immediate financial leadership, expertise on demand, and effective cost management.”

When it comes to consulting services, Russell Rosario, Co-founder at Profit Leap, offers a wealth of expertise. Profit Leap specializes in consulting and business intelligence services tailored for small businesses. Their technology-driven approach ensures financial efficiency and profitability, making them an ideal partner for startups in need of interim financial leadership.

Profit Leap’s services focus on:

  • Consulting Services: Providing expert advice and strategic planning to help startups navigate financial challenges.
  • Business Intelligence: Leveraging data to make informed decisions and optimize business operations.
  • Financial Efficiency: Streamlining financial processes to save time and reduce costs.
  • Profitability: Implementing strategies to maximize revenue and achieve sustainable growth.
  • Technology-Driven Approach: Utilizing the latest technologies to enhance financial management and reporting.

Choosing an interim CFO through Profit Leap can help your startup achieve its financial goals while maintaining flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

For more information about how Profit Leap can support your startup's financial needs, visit Russell Rosario's service page.

Hiring an interim CFO allows startups to focus on growth and strategic planning without the burden of a full-time salary. It's a flexible solution that scales with your startup’s needs. By leveraging the expertise of professionals like those at Profit Leap, startups can navigate financial complexities with confidence and achieve long-term success.

Russell Rosario

My insights for entrepreneurs on financial strategy and integrating AI into business operations come from my experience as a CPA, fractional CFO, and AI software engineer for over 100 businesses.

Russell Rosario

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