SaaS Brief

The First 90 Days for the New SaaS CFO

New CFO Banner

Making the move to CFO is a big, bold move. The CFO holds some of the most critical responsibilities among the C-suite employees at any company. As a SaaS CFO, you'll be expected to carry out core financial tasks such as: 

  • Forecasting revenue and growth figures. The ability to forecast your SaaS company's revenue metrics, such as its annual recurring revenue (ARR) and monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
  • Devising profitable pricing strategies. You'll also be expected to create pricing strategies that are appealing to your target customers and also  profitable for your company.
  • Slashing Churn to the bare minimum. In addition to reporting on churn rates and related metrics, you'll be expected to play an active role in creating strategies for minimizing churn as much as possible.

Your first 90 days in your new role are especially important. They show your bosses and coworkers that you have what it takes to succeed. First, we'll cover some quick interviewing tips that might help if you're still searching for your first CFO role. Then we'll get into a few recommendations about your central priorities.

Interview Tips to Land a CFO Role

Interviewing for any C-level position at a recurring revenue company can be daunting. But following a few simple best practices can make the interview unfold smoothly and naturally. 

These SaaS company CFO interviewing tips will be useful whether you're trying to get your first C-level role or switching to a new company:

  • Check under the hood before your interview. While you're doing your due diligence on the company and the role, keep three questions in mind. What problems do they need solved?  Are you the one to solve them? Does the thought of solving those particular problems interest or excite you? 
  • Assess the fit from both sides. Interviewing is a two-way street. Remember to ask detailed questions about the company’s culture and values to ensure it's a good fit from both sides. 
  • Take a collaborative role in your 90-day plan. Many first-hire CFOs make the mistake of letting their interviewers dictate their 90-day plan to them. That sets you up for failure, or at least a suboptimal first 90 days. Instead, view yourself as collaborating with your interviewers on your 90-day plan. 

Now let's look at some general guidelines on approaching your initial three months as a new CFO hire.

Month 1: Listen

During your first month at your new company, absorb as much information as your brain will hold, and get your bearings as fully as you can. 

You should learn as much as possible about the company's core goals and strategic positioning. What market segments do they serve? Are they highly niched, or have they taken a more general approach? Which metrics are they currently using as signposts, and why? What is the company's fundraising strategy? 

Be sure to take copious notes during this phase to review and reflect on later. Speak to employees at all levels of the company as you encounter them in your day-to-day working life. Ask for their genuine opinions and thoughts on how the enterprise is running. You never know who has valuable observations and insights to share.

It's a common business saying that impactful executives listen more than they speak. This is even more applicable during your first month on the job.

Month 2: Prioritize & Plan

Once you've spent 30 days or so absorbing as much data as possible about the company, it's time to start planning.

By this point, you should know enough about the company to be able to start putting some business systems in place and addressing some critical organizational issues. 

This brings us to the significant term "organizational capital." There are two aspects of this concept to keep in the forefront of your mind:

  • Systems integration: the literal definition of organizational capital is the systems and processes you put in place to help your company operate and scale effectively. This is one of the core purposes of the CFO role, no matter which type of company they're leading.
  • Leadership capital: the more metaphorical side of organizational capital is also called leadership capital. Leadership capital is the goodwill and trust you've established with your employees and coworkers during your time at the company. The most effective executives know how to inspire people with their leadership style and personal reputation.  Be clear on what Success looks like.  

Use your second month on the job to build up both aspects of organizational capital. Be mindful of the systems and processes the firm would benefit from: compliance automation, more internal controls, accounts payable automation, or something else? 

Month 3: Act

By your third month on the job, it's time to start taking a more active rather than observational role. Now it's time to begin integrating the systems, tools, and processes you spent the last two months discussing and brainstorming. 

Three of the most crucial accounting processes for any software company to streamline include: 

  • Internal reporting: How often is the company reviewing its SaaS KPIs? Which KPIs are being tracked, and are these the best metric selections?
  • External reporting: Is the company's external reporting accurate, effective, and consistently reaching the right people?
  • Taxes & regulatory issues: In the age of accounting automation, issues like taxation and regulatory compliance don't have to be the annual headaches they've always been.

 

Don't stop there, though. The opportunities to scale and improve your company are only limited by your drive and ingenuity.

Summing Up

If you've achieved all of this by the end of your first 90 days, you'll be on the fast track to effective C-level leadership. 

For even more SaaS CFO wisdom, click here to hear from experts at this year's Modern SaaS Finance Forum.

First 90 Days as a Finance Leader Banner

Back to Blog Home

Recent Posts