CFO for a micro-business?

My brother has a small business that he is able to operate from his home (in Mexico). The business is registered in the US.

He would like to find someone who can help to advise him financially and sort of serve as a reality check, before he makes big financial decisions for the business, and to set it up so that when the business is flush he is able to separate the business money from his personal money, and view that money as capital for future growth rather than good money to go buy a speaker system for his car with.

That is to say, he wants someone who does more than just jot numbers down and file a tax return once a year. He wants someone who will actually be interested in the business and aware of what’s going on, and opinionated about it.

Is there some sort of job description/job title that he could put up job requests for that would better be able to find the right sort of person? Is this something that exists?

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Yes, it’s called an “accountant”

If it’s a one person business he’d probably (in my opinion) be better off hiring a CPA on a consultant basis - that’s why my spouse did for his business. The accountant helped set up book-keeping and worked on an hourly basis when needed, basically made a system for the spouse and tweaked it as necessary. Actual CPA’s do more than just “jot numbers down and file a tax return once a year” (if nothing else, most American businesses need to file quarterly).

Or your brother could hire someone as an employee, but such a person would need enough work to keep busy and they do command fairly high wages for the competent sort.

This. What you are thinking of is more than just a bookkeeper. He needs a CPA with a business background to help him make smart financial decisions for the business.

A full-time CFO would be nice, but he probably doesn’t need to pay someone a big salary for the amount of work that he needs done right now. If he hires a lot of employees, and grows big enough, he should then hire a CFO to manage all of the financial aspects of his business.

A CPA can help with deciding if he can afford to do something, but may not be able to actually advise him if he should do it or not. For example, if he’s trying to decide to use capital to buy more inventory or open a showroom, the CPA might not know which is the best for the business. The CPA can advise about the cost impact of the two choices, but the decision about which path to take will need to be done by someone who knows the business very well.

One thing that small businesses often do is take on partners that have the necessary expertise. Right now he owns 100% of the company, but maybe he could find someone with the right financial/business skills and they could split ownership 50/50.

Do you have any idea how much revenue he has? How big of an issue is this right now? How is he filing his taxes today? I assume he’s filing taxes in the US. If he uses an accountant for that, the accountant could probably give some recommendations on how to find someone.

One thing that has me puzzled is wondering how big this business is, considering he’s conflicted about whether to use money to buy speakers for his car. It makes it sound like the business is really small, which means the revenues are low, which means he wouldn’t be able to hire a high-quality person who would make the right decisions. These kinds of business decisions are neither easy nor simple. Even to hire someone, your brother would need to be able to figure out if the candidate really had the skills or not. If your brother can’t make these financial choices himself, he won’t know if the candidate can either. It would be very easy to accept bad advice if he doesn’t understand what is going on.

Here in the US, there is SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives, I think) which has retired people who offer their time & expertise to help small businesses. I believe it’s mainly volunteer, unless it becomes big enough that they are offered a part-time wage. That might be a possibility.

I don’t know if that is available to a business outside the US. But maybe a retired financial expert from the northern US (Minnesota, the Dakotas, upstate NY, etc.) during mid-winter and offer to host them in Mexico while they consult with him – might find takers for that.

Google for a small CPA firm in your area. The one I work for has 3 CPAs (including me) and 2 office staff, but I interviewed at one once that was even smaller. The larger the firm the more they’ll probably charge and the less that they typically deal with businesses without other employees. I don’t know what rates are like; I try to stay away from that aspect of our practice. We offer business financial planning services, not just than tax preparation, and if it the type of knowledge you’re looking for is outside our realm of expertise, we probably know people who can help (although that’s mainly true because we’ve been around a while - someone just starting their firm on their own might not). Sometimes people need a lawyer or a personal financial advisor as well as a business financial advisor, and we really only do the last of those three and refer people to others for the first two.

I recently got done with a cash flow forecast for a law firm that was just given a whole new line of business from which they would be getting work and had to hire a couple new people and buy new office equipment, but wouldn’t start getting paid until 3 months later. We needed to put something together to be able to suggest how much of a line of credit he would need to be able to get through it. You don’t even need to be a CPA to get this kind of work done, only have taken management accounting classes; the vast majority of the stuff CPAs learn is not related to advising clients on financial matters, but about auditing and proper presentation of financial statements. You might even be able to pull a guy that’s just has a finance (not accounting) degree, but they tend to work with larger businesses, whereas small CPA firms predominately work with small businesses and have the requisite trained staff in business financial planning as well.