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It's a point that many entrepreneurs encounter as their companies grow – it's time to hire a financial pro.

Mike Picco, the president of Picco Engineering in Concord, Ont., says it's time for a chief financial officer "when you feel you're not in control of the financial viability of the company."

Mr. Picco, who is also president of Coachwood Manor Homes Ltd. and IDEE17, a new company that imports engineered wood flooring from Italy, has seen his business grow. He's experienced the rigours of trying to keep on top of everything.

There are some telltale signs, he says, that indicate it's time to hire a CFO:

• You discover surprises. For example, you print out the profit and loss for the quarter and "you start sweating," Mr. Picco says. "You're working on a reactive rather than a pro-active basis."

• You regularly feel overwhelmed with financial demands because you're busy with the day-to-day running of the company. "You've only got time for so many things."

• You're not keeping good records, which makes it hard to look at numbers "from a holistic point of view," he says.

• Regulatory changes are overlooked, compliance issues might be falling through the cracks and long-term planning is hard to do – or non-existent.