In one of the great classical poems of western literature, Escape, the author narrates as follows:
I was tired of my lady, we´d been together too long
Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed
And in the personals column, there was this letter I read
“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
If you´re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
I´m the love that you´ve looked for, write to me, and escape”
While a full exploration of the poem is beyond the scope of this article, let it be known that ‘my lady’ in verse 1 is actually the author of the personal ad and has been suffering the same boredom as her partner.
They meet together in verse 3 and realise the wonder that had been lurking beneath the dead shell of their current relationship.
Our relationship with our businesses can end up much the same. We like it, it’s comfortable but we’ve spent so much time trying to stay afloat, chase bills and put out fires, we don’t dream as big as we used to. We don’t even see our business’ full potential and the opportunities we could be exploiting. In short, we don’t really UNDERSTAND our business, especially the financial factors that could fuel its success.
One of the advantages that big businesses have is that they can employ a CFO who sees more deeply into the business than anyone else. While the sales department might notice sales figures and the HR department notices staff turnover, the CFO checks under the bonnet to understand the true health of the business, where hidden weaknesses lie and where it should invest to maximise its growth. They have their eye on the future and the financial tools needed to make that future a success.
Small businesses usually have to rely on instinct and intuition to make the same decisions. Not surprisingly, many make the wrong decisions and continue to grind away in an under-performing business or go bust.
But things are changing. Small businesses can now access the service of a virtual CFO who provides all the expertise of a normal CFO, but at a fraction of the cost.
What can a virtual CFO help with?
Here are the main tasks your virtual CFO will do for you.
Most businesses learn from the past. The ones that stand out make accurate forecasts about the future so they can make better decisions in every facet of their business (rather than making preventable mistakes). A virtual CFO will help you make the most reliable forecasts possible about your business so you can better manage staffing, product and service development, marketing and other key areas.
How much should you spend on each area of your business? Don’t leave it to gut feel. A virtual CFO will use hard data and ROI projections to help you know how to divide your precious budget between the various departments of your business.
What should you do with your profits? Pay out the shareholders? Invest in a particular product line or service? A virtual CFO will help you determine which investments will give the best return and update you as the variables change.
To manage your staff you need to deeply understand their impact on the bottom line, or the impact of the staff and departments that they manage. Your virtual CFO will help provide the hard data you need to manage your staff and provide benchmarks you can use to improve their performance.
One of the keys to success is to continually improve the way your business operates. Your CFO will provide the financial data you need to streamline your processes so that they are more efficient and profitable.
While we’ve been talking finance for most of this article – the real joy of working with a virtual CFO is understanding your business in a whole new way and using that to kick a new level of ass than you thought you could.
Let’s leave our last word to the disillusioned man in Escape as he waits in the bar for the woman he plans to have an affair with:
So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it´s you”
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”.
Contact us for information on how we can provide affordable Virtual CFO support to you.