Being CFO of an established enterprise is one thing – managing the finances of a start up entirely another.

There is no firm census of the number of start ups in Australia and in any case a blurring exists between start ups and any other new small business. What tends to distinguish a start up from a small business is that the former is generally digital and fast growing, but with a high risk profile.

Whatever their absolute number start ups are enjoying a boom period.

For example, Sydney’s Start Up Hub, funded by the NSW Government to the tune of $35 million will eventually be home to 2,500 start up employees. The city is already ranked 17th in the world for start up ecosystems by the Startup Genome index. Melbourne and Brisbane have similarly vibrant start up communities, and there are pockets of start up activity right around the nation.

Managing the financials of such enterprises demands specific skills according to KPMG entrepreneur-in-residence Alan Jones, who also works with tech accelerator BlueChilli. In the early days start ups tend to invest in technical skills rather than financial smarts, and when they do eventually seek out finance executives; “A lot of Aussie startups smash together CFO with COO role, or sometimes it’s CEO/CFO – it’s also common to outsource CFO to a third-party provider,” said Jones.

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