84. Mark Nicholls on xTEN Podcast – Episode 18

Mark Nicholls, our Managing Director, was recently interviewed on the xTEN podcast with William Buist. In the interview, Mark delves into how a part-time financial director, from Tectona Partnership or otherwise, can support small businesses with their continued operations and growth.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Thoughts On Collaboration

The podcast begins with William Buist, the host, talking about his experiences in the 1990s and how he learnt about collaboration. His story begins in 1995 when he changed jobs and moved his family to join TSB in their insurance division to help launch a new product.

Three weeks after joining his new company, Lloyds and TSB merged. He predicted, and was proved to be right, that the newest project, his, would be cancelled. As is often the case in these scenarios, the last in is often the first out.

Therefore, he had to find another way to fit into the business. During the next few weeks, he learned more about building relationships than at any other time in his professional career. What he learnt was that it took five steps to develop a collaborative framework. Those steps included:

  1. Becoming conscious that there is a need to be collaborative.
  2. Having conversations that explore the needs of others, their ideas, etc., then seeing how you can fit into the team to offset weaknesses while using your strengths.
  3. Being co-operative and seeing others at work.
  4. Learning about others and how they deal with both positive and negative situations.
  5. Building a community.

In 1995, William had to do this quickly. However, this framework can be used over a longer period, and it isn’t just for employees. Business owners need to understand these concepts if they want their businesses to be successful. Whenever you are looking to gain new customers, get the best suppliers and communicate with the community – these skills are essential for both sides to win.

Part Time Financial Directors

Next, Mark Nicholls took to the stage to talk about how part-time financial directors can help small businesses grow. The first thing he noted was that not as many small businesses take advantage of part-time directors, whether they are financial, marketing, sales, etc., as they possibly could. Yet the option to take on expert resource at this level is intuitively right and small businesses should be aware of all their options.

A part-time director brings many positives to a company. Mark explains the advantages, that they:

  • Become a key member of your management team and will offer a high level of rigour to your business.
  • Give advice covering all aspects of the business – whereas accountants and bookkeepers often can’t.
  • Provide a business owner with forward-thinking financial insights and advice.
  • Can take responsibility for discrete projects; for example, mergers and acquisitions.

The host noted that the last point is important. When people are looking to exit, they often think more about the operational aspects, and perhaps not enough about the financials. Mark states that if business owners want to exit their business and maximise the cash in their bank account, they need to plan years in advance – not months or weeks. This is definitely something a part-time director can support.

The Tectona Difference

When clients come on board with Tectona, the company invests the time to fully understand the the nuances of your business by conducting a Tectona Ten© awareness review.  From this, the business owner will get an Action Plan where points are prioritised. Then, if there is to be an ongoing relationship with any of the 15 directors in the Tectona team, Tectona make a real effort to ensure the fit is right – both in terms of personality match and relevant skills and experience.

In an ongoing relationship, the part-time director becomes a key member of your team. They work with you, depending on your needs. They will ask challenging questions looking for improvements that can be made in the business and ensure information is ready for board meetings and attend those board meetings.

Small Business Successes And Mistakes

Mark is finally asked 2 questions:

  1. A business “Do” – what businesses should be doing but currently they are not

Mark’s response is that businesses are not asking for outside advice, even when it is far quicker and cheaper to get an expert to help out. Another predicament is that business owners very often do not understand their financials.

  1. A business “Don’t” – what businesses don’t do, when they really should

Mark’s observation is that businesses should really ensure that they aren’t relying on too few clients. If one company ceases to be a customer for whatever reason, this can have a devastating impact on your business. The customer spread is also looked at by investors. So take action to continuously grow the breadth of your client list.

The podcast ends with the host, William, looking at the latest business news.

Want to listen to the podcast? Do so here.


or listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher Radio

Posted in Focus Groups.

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