Consultant & Entrepreneurial CFOs

by Michael Stoudt, Jr.

The average LinkedIn user has 930 connections.  How many do you have?

It’s no secret that we live in a hyper-connected world.  Social media has enabled unheralded intimacies between people, and between companies and their value chain.  Relationships have become a catalyst to growth, and to succeed we must continually connect with new people, nurture emerging relationships, and leverage existing connections.

Your ability to network and form meaningful relationships has become a valuable asset.  A strong network of versatile connections provides a more productive, proficient, and enduring outlet to achieve business goals.  As such, the concept of Networking is at the forefront of a business’ journey to successful growth.

Businesses today must embrace networking and leverage it’s powers in all business methodologies and processes.  This starts with an executive team that understands that “networking is the single most important tactic to accelerate and sustain success” (Adam Small).  Executives must operate outside of traditional roles, providing broader assistance by maximizing their network to build a support team that is qualified to address today’s challenges.

The executive role that has evolved the most is that of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  As William Fuessler, a global leader of IBM’s financial management practice, proclaims, “the era of the CFO as a key influencer in the C-Suite has arrived, and those who are ready for it will reap the rewards for their organizations–increased competitiveness and greater profits.”

CFOs are no longer seen as just number crunchers.  Stakeholders expect CFOs to broaden their focus on company-wide concerns and help shape the overall strategic direction.  They are expected to cut costs, grow revenue, ensure financial controls, and provide fact-based insight.  As a result, CFOs are emerging with far greater clout and responsibilities than before.

Many small businesses cannot afford a full-time CFO and instead have opted to hire consultants as part-time CFOs.  Sometimes these services are labelled as CFO for Hire or CFO in a Box.

With a strong focus on return on investment (ROI), consulting CFO services should supplement the normal expectations of a CFO with the focus, determination, and adaptability of an entrepreneur.  Consider some of the advantages of a consultant/entrepreneurial CFO:

  • Provides financial leadership and aligns business and finance strategy to grow the business.
  • Stimulates change by bringing a fresh perspective to tackle ongoing or new challenges; breaks traditional, and possibly stale, processes and mindsets.
  • Drives business improvement initiatives such as improved cost reduction, procurement, pricing execution, and other process improvements and innovations that add instant value to companies.
  • Brings diverse experiences from serving as a C-level finance executive in other enterprise.  Experience makes all the difference!  All the difference between telling you how other companies have handled certain situations and telling you this is how we have handled similar situations in the past.
  • Provides higher ROI than a high-priced, in-house CFO
  • Leverages your network.  The entrepreneurial consultant CFO has a more diverse network than individuals working 100% in your business do.

In a fast paced, slimming margins world, leveraging your resources, and maximizing your return on investment are essential.  Your CFO should be leading the efforts in this area.  Consider the options you have available to you.

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