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3 lessons from startup culture

45663140 - young man pointing at startup concept over a tablet computerInspiration abounds, even in the finance world. Sometimes as accounting professionals, we get mired in the details and lose sight of the big picture. But every now and then it’s a good idea to look to other industries and types of organizations that seem outside of your world. One great example is the startup mentality. Here’s what you as the top finance professional at your company can glean from the success of startups:

Be nimble: A rapid rate of change is intrinsic to startup culture. Often there is no established business model to fall back on. This gray area can be challenging and disruptive to the traditional role of the CFO. However, there is a value in being able to assess the situation and pivot when things aren’t working to your advantage. Successful CFOs must embrace and enable change for the sake of business success and growth — even when it means challenging the old way of thinking. In other words, adapt or become obsolete.

Keep the end game in mind: Startup founders often begin with the end in mind. They are generally more concerned with the end game than the process. CFOs, however, by nature are often married to process, which can be counter-productive. In reality the need to not be afraid to look at their policies and procedures in place that may be weighing them down.

Don’t be afraid of risk: It’s in their DNA to be risk-averse, which is a stark contrast to startup founders. A CFO is most concerned with the day-to-day financials, which leads to decisions based on the “safest” outcomes. But startup leaders know that “predictable” doesn’t allow much room for growth. There is a happy medium here. CFOs should apply their analytical skills to predict success and push toward change instead of avoiding it. The only real failure is missed opportunities.

Remember, sometimes tunnel vision can be detrimental to your business. This exercise might provide some much needed fresh air!

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