03/19/2014 04:13 pm ET Updated May 19, 2014

4 Steps to Prepare for an IPO

Ken Brown via Getty Images

The first quarter of 2014 has experienced the largest number of IPOs in the past decade, compared to first quarter data from previous years. With the JOBS Act in place and an improved economy, the accelerated pace is not expected to slow down.

If you are building a company today, you may want to consider whether or not an IPO is right for your company. Keep in mind; the average duration from first financing round to IPO is seven years.

Here is a quick guideline to assist with your planning:

1. Preparation Phase - Six to 12 months

During this stage, you want to hire a CFO with IPO experience. In fact, of the 37 companies that have filed public offerings in 2014, nearly 54 percent hired a CFO with experience bringing private companies public.

Your battle-tested CFO will be instrumental in updating your financial reporting to conform to Sarbanes Oxley and crafting the financial section of your S-1, the formal document that is filed with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

The selection of a lead underwriter and, if needed, accounting firm should be completed by this stage.

2. Organizational Meeting - One to five days

Your organizational meeting may be brief if all parties can agree on the terms of the offering and the timeline for the IPO. It is wise to use your preparation phase to get your management team, investors and board to reach a consensus.

3. File S-1 - Three to four months to draft and one to two months for (SEC) approval

Most early-stage companies are allowed to file confidentially as an "emerging growth company" under the JOBS Act, which allows the company to receive their first review from the SEC prior to disclosing the filing publicly. The main criteria for a confidential filing is: 1) revenue of less than $1 billion in the last fiscal year, and 2) no sales of common equity prior to December 8, 2011.

Your company should be prepared to review and respond to all SEC comments over the next few months. This is where having an experienced CFO will aid the process.

4. Road Show - Two weeks

Once your company has obtained FINRA clearance you are ready to
conduct nationwide presentations to showcase your investment opportunity. This is managed by your underwriters, but you should expect your time to be on hand to meet with investors.

The most important element of preparing for an IPO is recruiting the right people. You can begin that process today. Ensure the staff you bring on today has what it takes to be part of a high-growth team.

On March 21, I'll host a free broadcast to discuss the IPO process. RSVP here. Have a question for me? Leave it in the comment section!

This article originally appeared on