8. Strategic input from a CFO really can help you grow

If businesses are expecting growth it is important for them to critically evaluate their growth strategy to ensure that they can cope with the anticipated changes – and therefore grow in a sustainable way.

You are not alone

The owner manager can often be a lonely role and when considering how best to position a business for growth, finding an experienced individual to offer objective advice and be a sounding board can often be challenging and expensive.

In recent years, UK SMEs have increasingly turned to experienced finance professionals. For example, a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will provide this objectivity whilst keeping the growth and success of the business at the heart of any advice.  Historically, the role of the CFO has been seen as someone focussed on compliance and audits as opposed to having a proactive involvement in business planning and strategy; but the role is evolving rapidly, and many CFOs are now being encouraged to look beyond the numbers and provide strategic insight and direction to the owner manager, or the wider executive board.

Understanding the financial position of a business can be a significant challenge for those who do not have a financial background; but a CFO will draw on the experience they have gained commercially to take this pain away, allowing the owner to focus their time and attention on what they do best.

An effective CFO can also act as a coach to the owner manager, guiding them through the finances of the business, both current and projected, and forecasting how best to take advantage of other opportunities whilst keeping the financial security of the business at the core.

You don’t have to be ‘big’ to have a proper finance function

Despite the multitude of benefits that a CFOcan offer to a smaller businesses, many owner managers feel that having a dedicated finance function is the preserve of large companies with large budgets and multiple departments. There are however, a growing number of business owners who have already benefited from the experience and strategic input that a CFO can offer without the large budget required for a full time, dedicated finance function.  And that is by working with a CFO on a part time or interim basis.

By taking on a part time CFO, SMEs will benefit from having access to all the skills, knowledge and experience that a full time CFO offers – but at the fraction of the cost and often for little more than the price of an intern.

A part time CFO provides a plethora of benefits to owner managers of ambitious SMEs; they will not only support with projecting and managing future cash flow requirements (read our blog), but can also provide critical support in managing relationships with stakeholders (eg. HMRC, the bank and other funders, shareholders), offer guidance on acquisition and expansion both domestically and overseas, undertake extensive competitor analysis, get the business debt ready or investment ready, or prepare for an exit.  For ambitious SMEs, the added value that a CFO will add is priceless.

Experience, knowledge and cultural fit 

Once the decision has been made to hire a CFO, you need to think about how you will select the right individual – both for the business and for the owner manager. The personality and values of the CFO need to be an excellent match to those of the owner; this is just as important as ensuring the experience, knowledge and the network of contacts that they bring. And this is where Tectona come in with a team of 16 commercially experienced CFOs – we take away the pain of choosing the right one.

By enlisting the support of a part time CFO, ambitious UK SMEs can ensure that they are well positioned to take full advantage of their growth potential; utilising the holistic experience of a seasoned executive, and matching it with the drive and dedication of the owner manager can create a winning combination.

Making the difference 

The challenges facing SMEs in the modern business world are vast,and seemingly never-ending; so taking advantage of the added credibility and confidence of having an individual who has a breadth of experience, a wide network of contacts and most importantly, a deep understanding of business finance will be a move you will not regret.

Having someone on board with a thorough understanding of the numbers, excellent forecasting skills and an objective input to the business strategy could well be the difference between the success and failure of an SME.

A part time or interim CFO could just be that difference.

If you would like to discuss how your business will benefit by working with one of the Tectona part time CFOs (or any of the topics covered above), please contact us through the Tectona website or call Mark Nicholls on 07818 407061 .

Posted in FD Role, Tectona Ten - Business Planning, Tectona Ten - Strategic Leadership.

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