Small Business Accounting – Developing Your Talent Stack

Eric Weynand, Founder

What is the right talent stack for your small business accounting department?

The talent stack is a concept attributed to Scott Adams (creator of the Dilbert comic strip) and used by successful business owners everywhere. The idea is that you can combine many ordinary skills to create extraordinary results.

It can be a challenge to get all the skills your business needs without over-hiring the department and costing your company too much money. Consider all the skills needed for a successful small business accounting department.  At a minimum, it must:

  • Record business transactions
  • Pay the bills
  • Pay your employees
  • Collect money from customers

But it also needs to:

  • Comply with tax and audit protocols
  • Manage working capital
  • Implement sound risk management
  • Prepare accurate and functional reporting
  • Manage systems and processes
  • Align financial strategy with the company’s overall business strategy
  • Drive and support the planning and budgeting process
  • Organize and manage the business intelligence engine
  • Analyze financial data to provide sound decision making

And this is when the company is static!  Any change to systems and processes places further demands on the accounting department – and can add further risk to the business.

Building Your Talent Stack to Balance Efficiency and Strengths

Most small businesses are not in a position to hire the full skill set necessary, which includes:

  • Executive-level CFO – strategic direction and oversight
  • Controller level accountant – GAAP, tax and audit compliance
  • Staff-level accountant (bookkeeper) – payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • Financial analyst – manage planning and budgeting.  

The result of not hiring across the spectrum? Major inefficiencies.

Why pay a CFO or a controller to process invoices?  Staff accountants aren’t experienced or trained to make controller-level decisions.  Controllers generally don’t do change management and strategy. And who is performing financial analysis and budgeting? (more info in the table below at end of this post).

On the flipside, trying to match needs to skill sets may not be the most efficient for your current staff.  

Do your accounting operations actually require a full-time person, or more than one full-time person?  If you struggle with the balance between finding the right skill sets and maximizing efficiency, you’re not alone.

The Emergence of a New Staffing Approach

Fortunately, with the help of technology and a little bit of strategic organization, you can build an accounting and finance team that is both efficient and skilled, with multiple levels of expertise and function, available both on-site and remotely via cloud-based solutions.

Transitioning the finance and accounting work from in-house operation to a third-party expert eliminates the high cost of office space and internal HR and IT management. The result for the CEO and management team is drastically improved business intelligence and financial analysis.

If you’re a small business CEO and want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your accounting and finance team, maximizing skills across the talent spectrum, and minimizing cost, this model could be a good fit for your business.