A Financial Controller in a hi-tech small business writes about the trials of running a finance department...
We need a Financial Controller!
Let me start by introducing myself a bit.
I’m the Financial Controller at a small business somewhere Up North. We make software that powers computer games, both online and offline.
It all started with two guys working together, one doing programming, one doing design. They were doing that all in their own time, at their own expense, with some friends helping them on the programming side, and another friend building their website and spreading the word about them on Facebook and Twitter.
Then, late last year, the programming guy was left a fairly serious amount of money in his grandad’s will and decided to go full-time on the business.
He set up a limited company, and a bank account for the company, and decided to call himself the Chief Programmer (CP). The design guy (Chief Designer, CD) decided to stay part-time for a bit, and everyone else will still be paid as freelancers.
CP said when he first recruited me, “I’m very keen to get the books in order. You can imagine, two guys on their own, there are a lot of piles of paperwork everywhere.”
That took me straight back to my days in practice, with clients turning up with boxes and bags full of receipts… At least I knew there would be plenty for me to do.
“I don’t think we’ll need you more than two days a week at first,” CP went on. “But as the company grows, can you plan to give us more time? We all work from home at the moment, but I’ve got big plans for this business. I want to take on employees, rent an office, take more funding, maybe even get a StartUp Loan before my 30th birthday next year.”
Scratch that “plenty to do”. Replace with “masses to do”.
“That’s going to mean a lot of organisation of the paperwork before I can even start to put any financial systems in place,” I warned him.
“I’ll have to register the company with HMRC as an employer and set up a payroll and some employment contracts, too – and if you’re serious about applying for a StartUp Loan, that’s going to mean a full business plan with financial forecasts.”
“You see we don’t know about any of this. That’s why we need a Financial Controller - no, a Finance Wonder!” he said.
Where did I put my magic wand, because I’m going to need it?!