How I Work

Why does a company without a CFO need Outsource CFO Services?


How I Work

The short answer: To help build company value.  There’s a powerful cause-and-effect chain that leads to value.  It starts with accurate financial information.  This allows a better review of the business and better planning, which in turn drive stronger financial results.  Those results–revenue, earnings, and cash–build the company’s value.  Earnings is the key, because most companies are valued and sold on their earnings history.

But, who in a small company has time to focus on financial information and to use it for monitoring and planning?  The CEO-entrepreneur is usually busy being the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and running the daily business.  The accounting staff is appropriately very small, assigned to record the financial history.  So, there’s a gap in the area of strategic financial thinking and execution.  That’s where I work.


Determining the scope of work

First, the CEO and I meet for a no-obligation discussion, to see if I can provide value-added solutions to the company’s needs.  This discussion is often wide-ranging. If we agree that I can be helpful, we develop a scope of work, guided by the company’s own unique business goals.  As we decide on that scope, my suggestions will be based on my list, Assessing Your Company’s Fiscal Fitness, 10 Questions for CEO’s to Ask (See Resources page). After defining the work, we sign a basic consulting agreement to spell out our understanding, and then we begin.  I can bring in other financial team members from among my independent collaborators, as needed.  The work may be onsite and/or remote, as fits the company’s style.  Usually, I work on an hourly fee basis, because in my experience, even with a defined scope, the time required is difficult to estimate accurately.   

The work process, overall

After being introduced to the staff by the CEO, I become as much a part of the team as possible.  We discuss how I can help them and vice-versa.  I keep them up to date on my tasks.  Along the way, I’ll be educating them, either directly or indirectly, in how a company’s financials work.  Also in how the actions of the employees can affect the financials.  CEO’s generally appreciate this education aspect.  It makes their staff better-qualified, and most importantly, it often helps drive better financial results.


Doing the work vs. delegating it

In general, I take pride in being both strategic and hands-on.  So, I’ll be discussing strategies with the CEO and then using my keyboard to create agreed-upon work products.  But, if there’s a way to delegate the more routine work to a company staff member, that’s best.  It’s cost-effective, and it’s an opportunity for staff education.

If specialized knowledge is needed, such as bookkeeping or tax, I’ll suggest someone from my large network of service-providers.


How long does a company need Outsource CFO Services?

Usually, at about $15-20 million in annual sales, the company is large enough to need a full time senior head of finance.  At that point, I can help recruit and hire the right person, based on my experience and contacts.  My involvement may then continue on special projects.