“Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” Marianne Williamson
When we started AcceleratingCFO almost 10 years ago (wow – that flew by fast!), we struggled to define who we were and what value we provided to the small- and medium-sized business community. After our pitch, people would reply, “Oh, so you are an outsourced CFO?” And our reply would always be some version of: Yes…… but no.
We wanted to emphasize that outsourced CFOs were C-level executives who were looking for full-time jobs with clients after a three or six month trial period. But we did not want a full-time job.
We did want to help as many business owners as possible reach their fullest potential and achieve their desired business goals. We wanted to let our clients know that if we did our job correctly, we would put ourselves out of a job. We started telling people that we were Fractional CFOs, financial executives who provided the full value of what a head of finance would offer for only a fraction of the time and without burdening your payroll. As our colleagues and clients started to listen to our value proposition and understand that business owners could truly “have their cake and eat it too”, the reputation of AcceleratingCFO began to grow and develop into one of the leading global boutique consulting firms.
Last week, I was viewing a webinar that discussed the role of fractional CFOs and their clients’ expectations. It made me think a lot about what fractional CFOs should be doing. There was a lot of good and detailed discussion about it; but after reflecting for some time, I believe our greatest services boil down to three broad areas:
- Finance Leader: The biggest reason why entrepreneurs seek our guidance is to assist in all things related to finance. It’s not bookkeeping — that’s making sure that debits = credits and income statements and balance sheets are generated. We as Fractional CFOs make sure that the trends and key financial indicators of your company’s financial performance are clearly read and understood and that an action plan can be created and implemented quickly. Our history of success and wealth of experience results allows us to solve all financial issues affecting business owners in a cost-effective and efficient way. We have experience — our history of success ensures that find the most informed and cost-effective solutions for all financial issues facing business owners.
- Business Plan Expert: We have solid knowledge about what a business plan should — and should not — include as well as the key assumptions and financial metrics that drive a successful one. While being an excel jockey is a great skill to have, building a successful plan requires a different level of skill set. The Fractional CFO understands how to make a business plan attractive to potential investors and lenders and can convey the mission statement of the company to financially savvy individuals. It is also beneficial to work with a Fractional CFO who has industry knowledge and expertise as there are particular nuances that can have a significant impact on expected financial results.
- Mentor: We have found that guiding and advising entrepreneurs requires both emotional intelligence as well as financial intelligence. When we prepare financial analyses for a company, numbers don’t lie. They are always black and white. However, we understand that there are tremendous emotional ties to any decision, financial or otherwise, that we make in life. For example, it may be difficult to sell a company that your parents started when you were a child. Or, it can be very painful to let go of employees, despite the need to save costs, who have been with the company for many years. These types of decisions require more than just a piece of paper with numbers to enact on. Working through decisions requires empathy, understanding, and good listening skills, among others.
As finance leaders, we take on a lot of responsibility and roles for our clients. We always have our clients best interests at heart and we love what we do! No matter how you define it or quantify it, you should make sure that you have someone in your organization or board of advisors that has the expertise and experience that firms like AcceleratingCFO has.
Takeway: If you read this post and want to know more about how a Fractional CFO can improve your business, contact Brian or Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-founders & Managing Partners