The financial needs of a small company are relatively simple. However, as business takes off and things become more complicated, the financial infrastructure must also develop. My role as a fractional CFO is to design a financial infrastructure that supports anticipated growth and enables success. Specifically, I consider the following:
Establish timely and accurate financial reporting
Solid financial reporting is critical to making smart business decisions. Setting up proper reporting involves reviewing the accounting structure, getting the gross margin right, establishing a month-end closing process, and mentoring the accounting manager.
Educate the senior team on financial statements
Leaders don't need MBAs in accounting, but they do need to have enough financial literacy to read financial statements, ask accountants the right questions, and understand the financial and tax consequences of business decisions.
Manage cash flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business. Significant cash can often be freed up by working out snags in the billing process, tightening up the AR collection procedures, and negotiating favorable vendor terms.
Construct a robust financial model
A well-built financial model allows you to forecast financial performance. It helps project net income for the coming year and whether a loan might be needed to open a new location or make a significant investment.
Enact a thoughtful pricing strategy
Pricing decisions are too often made in a vacuum. If a business with a 40% gross margin is considering a 10% discount, it's important to understand that sales must increase by 20% to break even.
Secure and maintain lending relationships
Outside financing can help a business grow, expand into new territories, and hire new people. An experienced CFO provides instant credibility with lenders and can help secure the most appropriate funding at the best rates with the least restrictive covenants.
Identify and track the key performance indicators (KPIs)
Every business has certain critical indicators that truly move the needle. KPIs communicate to the team what is most important. They also serve to gauge the organization’s progress towards meeting its strategic objectives.
Coordinate the planning process
While running a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day problems and forget the big picture. Successful entrepreneurs take the time to plan for the future and create budgets which are in sync with long-range goals.