Entrepreneurs, as leaders, have often found themselves figuratively sitting on an island, alone, while determining the operational, financial, and strategic direction of their company. Many ultimately realize the importance of sending up flares to fellow entrepreneurs or trusted advisors for support and expertise in specific areas.
One of the biggest needs that Fractional CFOs fill is an unbiased, analytical approach to running a business that is not impacted by emotional or political biases. Fractional CFOs, as trusted advisors and sounding boards, provide entrepreneurs a 360 degree view on multiple aspects of their business.
The Fractional CFO is often part of a broader strategy team, or council, that supports the entrepreneur on a monthly basis. Through speaking candidly and digging into the data honestly, the team explores issues impacting the business — and, more importantly, how to solve them.
An example of a well-known global brand that provides mentor services is Vistage, the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize business leaders. They offer the most effective approach to achieving better results, growing companies faster, and maximizing the impact of business leaders. AcceleratingCFO has been working with Vistage as a Trusted Advisor for several years and values the relationships it has built in the Vistage community.
When business owners join Vistage, they are seeking experienced advice and guidance from fellow business owners and meaningful and issue-specific dialogue ensues. Additionally, being a part of the mentor group can provide good benchmarking data. For example, if a Vistage member is experiencing an issue in their supply chain, another member of their council might have suggestions or ideas to solve or circumvent the issue. A group of like-minded individuals who deal with the same day-to-day challenges can provide incredible perspective. The group will also hold members accountable on progress.
Yet the most basic, and most strongly bonded, model is a direct mentor/mentee relationship. A mentor could be somebody in your industry who has more experience, more years in, or has been through a significant business event such as selling or making a significant acquisition. The mentor is someone who has confronted similar issues, taken action steps towards resolution, and emerged successful in most cases — but, at minimum, educated as to what to expect. For example, in a scenario that involves selling a business to family, there may be dynamics or blind spots that a mentor can see more clearly, ultimately easing potential tensions for everyone involved. Or perhaps the mentor may think twice about a seemingly innocuous loophole in a contract that could end up becoming a major thorn in your side because of the industry that you’re operating in.
This direct relationship is usually fused over many years and, as a result, has a stronger bond than any professional or business relationship typically does. One should be seeking mentors to learn from experiences and to understand potential avenues of success that may not be obvious to the entrepreneur.
Mentors can be found in everyday life. And while there is no set formula for finding the right mentor, it typically happens organically over time with a foundation of mutual respect.
Take-away: If you feel like you’re all alone on an island trying to run your business with no one to turn to, you’re wrong. For a free consultation on how to optimize your finance functions, reach out to Scott or Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-founders & Managing Partners