The empty spot on your bench

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The empty spot on your bench

By Anna MaskerIn standard25th May, 2011

Ask any business owner if they ever have enough money or enough people to get the job done and their answer is probably a guffaw and a resounding “NO!”

When you ask them who they need (in a perfect world) you’ll hear they need sales people, operations people and line workers.  Rarely do they say they need a Chief Financial Officer (CFO.)

Ask any business owner that has left their accountants’ office during tax time still puzzled on why they owe so much to Uncle Sam or how they could have made so much on paper but don’t see it in the bank.  Many accountants can’t answer these questions.  A CFO can.

If you are worried about looking foolish in front of a CFO, or are embarrassed that you don’t have a grasp on your numbers, don’t be. You aren’t alone.

If you have a handle on your financials but still find yourself with questions about product line or customer profitability, whether you should pay back your loan or take the money and use it to grow, or why you never seem to have enough cash, you should consult your CFO.

If you believe your CFO is strictly a glorified bean counter, you have found the wrong person for the job. If you think that a CFO is really short for CF-“no”, that is, someone who will shoot down all your plans or ideas, you’ve found the wrong person.

If you are looking for someone to help you map out your growth, “run the numbers” and provide you options backed by analysis, and you naturally turn to your CFO, you know you have the right member on the team.

But most businesses don’t have that team member in place. There is an empty, yet critical, spot on their bench. It comes down to one change in mindset on the part of the business owner:

Hiring a CFO isn’t an expense, it’s a growth strategy.

A CFO can provide you with the best springboard for growth: information.

Information can be in the form of financial analysis and trends or forward-looking projections. It can be a scenario analysis (“if I do X, then my profit could be Y”) or a post-mortem (“why did this job run over budget?”) A CFO with good business sense can take your operational and financial data to give you a picture of the effectiveness of your daily operations. That’s pretty powerful stuff.

So, you can muddle along and find out what works through gut instincts or trial and error. You can hire another sales person or line worker and you can grow in increments. Or you can fill that empty spot on your bench with a CFO, even on a part-time or consulting basis, and grow exponentially. You just need to change your mindset.

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