A CFO for many: a path worth taking.
As I approach my first year as a consulting CFO with Burkland Associates, I wanted to share some of my reflections regarding the journey and the amazing people and companies I have been lucky to meet along the way. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t meet inspiring CEOs and business leaders in a variety of industries. The consistent thread with all of them is a strong drive and an open heart.
Each client has a distinct set of financial and operational challenges, and I try to tailor my approach accordingly. Some are scaling up and need to find optimized ways to manage and keep track of their growing businesses, while others are just getting going and haven’t yet translated their plans to even a basic financial model, Regardless of the situation, I see smart financial tracking and financial modeling as key ingredients for making business decisions. I try to guide clients to see that there is more to financial operations than periodically presenting information to a board of directors or handing over financials to a tax accountant at year-end.
Past year “check-in list”
To reflect on my learnings this past year, I created a “check-in list” that describes my approach to providing services to my clients.
Be a trusted advisor
As trusted advisor, I can be a sounding board for new ideas, always striving for clean and efficient execution to make them real.
Get to know the people
I have met so many fascinating people that operate with a super-motivated state of mind. While there have been myriad personality types I have seen a common thread: passion and compassion.
This could be a self-selected because passion and compassion are traits I care a lot about and when it is time to get a new client, interviews of course go both ways.
Importance of soft skills
Entrepreneurs value the hard skills – setting strategy, tactical planning and tracking against plan, accounting cleanup, HR and legal, creating intelligent ways of tracking data. Yet I have seen the soft skills are appreciated and valued just as much – coaching management on ways to continuously improve, coming up with creative “this might sound crazy” ideas, communicating to employees, vendors and customers, presenting arcane or complex concepts in a relatable way.
One size doesn’t fit all
There is no single path to success. I have seen some clients strive for industry standard metrics and raise from top tier VCs, some build off earnings, some go big with large fundraise and audacious ideas and plan and some self-fund based on prior success.
I would not recommend one path versus the other. The key for all of these to succeed is persistence by the founder, a strong belief in their path, clean execution in product or service and a strong sense of self.
I challenge myself every day to be useful to my clients. I try to listen and observe to uncover what the client is asking for and what the client might need that he or she is not asking for. I always try to respond in a meaningful way to inbound requests, whether from the CEO or the accounts receivable clerk.
I am a big believer in continuous learning, and I feel an important part of my journey has been to impart my knowledge to others as I go. I always emphasize to those clients that seem “stuck’ that a little bit of planning goes a long way, and that if they keep exploring the answers will be revealed.
Meeting inspiring, passionate entrepreneurs, who pursue world-changing ideas and being able to help them is a privilege I enjoy as I travel on my journey with them.