Uncertainty, Fear and Doubt in Finance – January 2007
Uncertainty, Fear and Doubt in Finance
FD Centre Press Release (On-line) – 28th January 2007
How Employing a Part-Time CFO Can Eliminate Fear and Doubt
Most successful business owners and entrepreneurs have considerable personal courage and drive – without it they would not achieve their goals. Unfortunately, it is also true that these otherwise fearless folk can be prone to unreasonable fears when it comes to business finance.
The problem is that ‘financial fear’ tends to creep up from unexpected quarters. It’s often unforeseen because it can affect an expanding business as easily as one that is failing. This fear is not solely the province of a business that’s in trouble – – neither the ‘hero’ nor the ‘zero’ business is immune. When a business is a runaway success and growth is seemingly endless, keeping financial control can still be a problem. This is because most entrepreneurs with great business ideas, innovative products and a powerful selling capability are often limited in their financial skills.
It’s frequently true that entrepreneurs rarely understand how to handle the financial management aspects of fast growth. They are often unable to articulate plans and proposals in terms that banks need to hear. They rarely forecast and manage cash flow effectively. And they are usually without a skilled financial adviser who understands their business. This results in a rising feeling of uncertainty because the entrepreneur is on unfamiliar ground.
The energy and enthusiasm, which drove them at the outset starts to falter as financial concerns, for which they have few answers, take up an increasing amount of their time. As a result, the driving force behind the business is increasingly taken away from running the business and dragged into managing finance – albeit rather badly. It does not take long before the business starts to suffer from the entrepreneur’s inattention.
When Uncertainty Turns to Doubt
Unlike successful business owners, those facing hard times hardly take their eyes off the problem. They are consumed 24 x 7 with survival. In some ways they are more focused than the runaway success. Yet both are prone to the same problem of progression. That is because in many cases, both hope that the problem will eventually go away – it won’t.
Instead of simply ‘going away’ the problem will just get worse; successful business or not. The process that begins with a little edge of uncertainty soon escalates in the mind of the previously ‘driven’ entrepreneur and he begins to doubt himself. This may sound improbable but unfortunately, it’s true. It happens and the results are not pretty.
The real issue is the escalation of the problem both in real and perceived terms. In real terms the business will suffer. The financial problems will not go away and whether the business is a hero or a zero, uncontrolled, unmanaged finances can have the same impact. The hero business that is growing out of control could run off the rails and the zero business that is suffering could vanish without trace.
Just because an entrepreneur is an experienced retailer, restaurateur, product specialist or inventor does not mean he can acquire the skill set needed to manage the finance function.
Facing Financial Fear
As previously stated, many entrepreneurs react badly to the assertion that they could ever be afraid of anything. However, business finance proves to be the number one fear. So how do entrepreneurs overcome their fear and deal with their finances. The short answer is they don’t – they get someone else to do it.
Accountants rarely have the necessary business acumen and skill to do the job, so the obvious solution is to employ a part time financial director. Unfortunately, such individuals are not cheap, but the good news is a business probably does not need a high calibre finance individual full time. That’s where a part time solution provides all the answers.
An outsourced solution consists of engaging a part time CFO, with all the qualifications, skill sets and experience from a larger corporation, but on a part time basis. The entrepreneur and business therefore gets all the benefits of a full-time CFO but at a fraction of the cost.
Ensuring you get a part-time CFO that can deliver all the peace of mind you’re after can be achieved by using the following guidelines:-
- Make sure the CFO can make sufficient time available when you need it.
- Get someone who has experience in all the areas you need.
- The chemistry has to be right – could you work closely with them?
- Sector experience – this might bring more help than you think. Seek it if at all possible.
- Discuss a clear task list with the CFO, and review it regularly to assess progress and adjust it whre necessary.
The part-time CFO is increasingly being seen as a cost effective solution for entrepreneurs and business owners. Fear, uncertainty and doubt associated with the business can be eliminated and enthusiasm, energy and fun released back to driving the business forward delivering the aims the entrepreneur dreamed about when first starting up!