“This too shall pass”

“This too shall pass”

If history has taught us anything, it’s that the only constant in life changes.

Over the course of the last century alone there has been a litany of challenges and numerous disasters, all of which have one thing in common – they’ve all passed.

Some months from now – it’s impossible to predict the true timeline – the current situation we face with Covid-19 will too have passed. It will have left in its wake a trail of debris and destruction which we ought not to minimise, but it will pass.

As the great German writer, Goethe once said: “Fresh activity is the only means of overcoming adversity.” It’s a wonderful way to focus the mind on proactive, practical activity and look forward. To deal with things that you can influence and change rather than those you can’t.

As Finance Directors part of our role is to use our knowledge of the past and translate it into actions that bring about a better future.

With 750 of us in the UK and abroad, many of us spanning 3 or even decades of service to SMEs, we have weathered many storms. We’ve also come out the other side.

And we have learned from those experiences that there are certain actions we must take quickly if we want to overcome adversity and put ourselves in a stronger position for when the storm abates. In the midst of the storm, it can be difficult to make sense of what is happening. This is precisely the time to slow down for a moment, as hard as it may seem, and make some proactive decisions.

To address the negative, we can take it as read that the speed at which many industries will contract over the coming weeks will increase. Primary industries such as aviation, travel and tourism, events and conferencing, restaurants and pubs, will suffer devastating blows as will the supply chains they support. The ripple effect will affect everyone, in some way or another. These events are already in train.

While all that happens, as SME owners, we have to do whatever we need to do in order to weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.

And you don’t have to face that challenge alone. There’s a lot the government and banks are doing to help small to medium-sized businesses get through the challenges of the coming weeks and we’re also here to help you navigate the options and put you in the strongest possible position when some sense of normality is restored.

Below are some key considerations, risks, opportunities, and resources. If you would like us to help you navigate the options, we are offering a courtesy 1:1 Scenario Planning Call to help you get clarity around what you should be doing now to put you in the strongest possible position.

Protect the downside

Cash

Cash is king. What cash buffer do you have in place, what funds can be drawn down from available credit facilities if required? From March 11th the government is pledging £30bn. This covers welfare and business support, sick-pay changes, and local assistance. In relation to business, the support includes:

  • £2bn of sick-pay rebates for up to 2m small businesses with fewer than 250 employees
  • £1bn of lending via a government-backed loan scheme, with government backing 80% of losses on bank lending
  • The abolition of business rates for this year for retailers (a tax cut worth more than £1bn)
  • The provision for any company eligible for small business rates relief to be allowed a £3,000 cash grant, estimated to be a £2bn injection for 700,000 small businesses

In addition, here are just a few key resources you may be able to draw upon from the major banks:

  • Barclays has a range of options for business customers, including 12-month capital repayment holidays on existing loans over £25,000 and increasing overdraft facilitiesCOVID-19
  • RBS has said it is offering more flexibility over loans to businesses, suggesting repayments may be deferred by up to three months for those in financial difficulty
  • NatWest has pledged £5bn Working Capital Support for SMEs during the Coronavirus outbreak
  • The Lloyds Banking Group said it would be open to requests from small businesses for overdraft extensions and other support

Scenario Planning

  • If you are predicting a reduced demand what will be the impact on sales and cash?
  • What costs can be cut or deferred? Is there flexibility in the cost base that could partially offset a downturn in revenues?
  • Are there major capital expenditures that could be postponed?
  • Over what time period might you expect revenues to be reduced?
  • What impact might you expect in regard to late payments from your existing customers?

Supply-side:

  • Are you likely to be impacted by a break in the supply of inputs/services from other businesses struggling with the virus?
  • How much contingency are you holding if supplies of inputs stopped/became erratic?
  • Are there alternative sources of supply if a supplier fails?
  • What is the likely impact on the workforce – do you have a business continuity plan, can workers productively work from home/remotely?
  • Could you look at taking measures now to reduce the risk to your workforce; e.g. more virtual meetings rather than asking staff to travel?
  • Are you operating in an area which could be impacted by “lockdown” measures e.g. city centre, does the workforce travel largely by public transport (impact if closed/restricted), would the travel patterns of the workforce mean it would be necessary, for staff safety, to suspend travel to the head office/main site.

Demand-side:

  • Potential impact on sales volumes – e.g. what is your level of exposure to consumer demand, are you B2B or B2C, are your corporate customers likely to be significantly impacted (airlines, cinemas, hotels, restaurants, attractions, events, etc.
  • Any delivery issues for goods/services?
  • What are the contractual implications of failure to service customers (do they have a force majeure protection in contracts?)
  • Does the client have contracts that enable clients to claim force majeure and cancel commitments without penalty – the worst case what might this mean in terms of the liquidity scenario planning.

Communications:

COVID-19

  • Who should you be contacting new – suppliers to see what contingency plans they have, customers to reassure, other stakeholders?
  • If someone has an issue, do they have the means to communicate with you?
  • Can you post messages on your website remotely if required as a means of keeping customers, suppliers notified?

Staff:

  • What is your policy on sick pay if staff have to self-isolate (the Government has announced the availability of SSP from day 1 of self-isolation but does your policy mirror that?)
  • Are there contingent measures that can be put in place to bring in temporary staff if necessary?

Miscellaneous:

  • Any business-critical single points of failure?
  • Can you switch your office phones to an alternative line?
  • What insurance arrangements do you have in place?

Prepare for the upside

All of the suggestions mentioned above constitute the day-to-day role of an FD. These are things that companies ought to be doing as a matter of course, but of course, many do not.

The advantage of going through this process now is that it will enable you to build a better, stronger, more resilient business for the future. Whether Covid-19 or the next major recession or some other unforeseen event, knowing that you have done all that you can to prepare your business will give you greater confidence in the future.

The future of work is all about remote working, flexibility, greater specialisation, and outsourcing. The Coronavirus will increase the pace with which we transition to a new global model.

We encourage you to be cautious and use this time to spark ‘fresh activity’ and build a stronger, leaner business for the future.

We are here to help and are offering 1:1 Scenario Planning Consultations to help you make the right decisions to get you through the coming weeks and prepare you better for when the current madness subsides.

Business Budget – A Simpler, More Effective Approach

Business Budget – A Simpler, More Effective Approach

Hearsay, you may shout! How can I possibly run my business without a budget? Can I hold managers accountable? How can I reward and incentivise my staff to perform? 

And, most importantly, how do I measure my financial performance on a monthly basis? All these are very valid questions, but an annual business budget is not the best financial management tool to achieve this and can drive limiting behaviours.

What if I were to say there is a better way. A way that improves financial performance and increases employee engagement. This way is known as Beyond Budgeting.

Let’s remind ourselves of the 3 core objectives of any business budget:

  1.       It sets a target i.e. what we want to happen
  2.       It acts as a forecast i.e. what we think will happen
  3.       It’s there to allocate the company’s resources i.e. capital expenditure

A business budget is both a target and a forecast. How can one number be both things?

A budget sets a ceiling on performance, once it has been met what is the motivation to keep going? After all, you are only going to get a bigger target next year. “A new survey from Clutch just revealed close to two-thirds of 61% of small businesses don’t have an official documented budget”. smallbiztrends.com

A budget sets out fixed costs with a plan of how we intend to get to our destination and it also allocates company resources accordingly. The world never ends up being how we planned it, so why do so many of us continue to follow – and stick to – the budgeted plan that is now out of date?

Many businesses witness a drop, both in employee performance and their motivation levels just because a large customer went bust during the year. This sees them losing any hope of commissions or bonuses just after the first quarter and you don’t need to be an expert to understand that this is not good for business.

These conflicts that arise due to budget conflicts need to be resolved as they can cause serious disruptions. We can resolve them by separating them and having different management processes.

Setting a small target that will take 12 months to achieve is not ambitious enough. Why not reach for the stars? If the target is met in 12 months maybe it wasn’t ambitious enough. If the target isn’t ambitious enough, you give yourself very little chance to achieve big things.

The world outside our businesses does not beat to the sound of our company’s financial year-end. Many of the important business decisions are made in the last few months of a financial year to hit a budget number, that was set 15 months earlier. This lack of strategy shows the ineffectiveness of business budgets as the only means to measure performance. 

Often these decisions cost the business in the subsequent months. Time is a continual line; we should manage our businesses in the same way. The numbers that we make budgets for, get added up every 12 months (the previous year) to pay business loans, not to manage decision making.

Wondering how you can make better decisions in the light of the numbers that your business generates by not being dependent on a budgeting worksheet that you keep on following every year? You can do this using rolling 12 forecasts. Using this technique, you can forecast what you believe will happen in the next 12 months. Every month, you renew this and plan for the coming 12 months without limiting yourself to a specific period.

This helps you in understanding if you are closing the gap on your target or are you going away from it. If you’re closing the gap, keep repeating what’s working, if you’re drifting away, try something new. Measure, report, assess, and repeat, never stop seeking to improve.

Allocate cash flow based on the opportunity, as it arises. Empower management to make decisions that improve customer service, delivery and seize the opportunity when it arises. Simplify decision-making for resource allocation and keep the process simple and easy. It does require rigor – just enough to make sure everything’s well thought through.  

Lead your business by establishing clear values, goals, and boundaries. Delegate responsibility to those closest to the customer; give teams and management autonomy and freedom to act.  Promote transparency. The bad news is to be shared openly, so the remedial decisions can be made quickly. 

Create bonus pools, not individual targets. You want everyone in the business pulling in the same direction. 

The process of how small business manages its financial decisions is a culture driver. By managing your business using the above processes, it will change the culture and drive performance and increase employee engagement, improving staff retention and customer satisfaction. A happy employee is the most important step that leads to a happy customer.

So, let’s go beyond budgeting and business budget templates to break the glass ceiling that these budgets set and unlock the potential of your employees and their abilities.

Top 9 Advantages of a Part-Time FD

Top 9 Advantages of a Part-Time FD

Top 9 Advantages of a Part-Time FD/CFO

The quicker you want your company to achieve its goals, the sooner you should consider hiring a part-time FD or CFO.

That’s because a part-time FD or CFO will provide your company with the high-level financial expertise necessary to scale up (things you and your team may not even be aware you need), for a fraction of the cost of a full-time FD/CFO.

Hiring a part-time FD or CFO provides your company with many advantages that really help it to grow and stand out in any marketplace. But here are the top nine advantages you and your employees and stakeholders can expect when you hire a part-time FD/CFO.

  1. Cost-saving

By hiring a part-time rather than full-time FD or CFO, you can avoid the often-hefty recruitment and hiring costs (and the delays they inevitably entail). What’s more, you can hire a part-time FD or CFO for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. You won’t have to offer a benefits package or bonuses to retain the appointee.

  1. Strategic advice

Your part-time FD or CFO will provide you with strategic analysis and support on every financial aspect of your business. A report from the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) described CFOs as “critical to the success of start-up and early-stage growth companies” since they provide key insights.
It found CFOs play key roles in not only managing a young and fast-growing company’s finances but also in setting broader strategic goals and establishing and achieving financial and non-financial milestones.

What’s more, part-time CFOs or FDs can highlight potential threats or risks of which you and your team may be unaware or perhaps don’t know how to deal with.

  1. Flexibility

You can use the services of your part-time CFO or FD for what you need when you need it. That could be for a variety of different financial functions or a specific project. This means you and your CFO or FD can tailor the role to suit your company’s needs at any time.

  1. Multiple industry experience

Although you can choose to work with part-time CFOs or FDs who have direct experience in your given industry, you can also opt to work with those that have experience across multiple industries. The advantage will be that your CFO or FD will provide you with access to networks and multi-layered insights that you might not otherwise have.

  1. Crisis management

The loss of major contracts, customers or employees can be devastating for any business. Your part-time FD or CFO will be able to help you and your team navigate your way out of the crisis. This could include producing short-term cash flow reports, identifying costs that can be cut, producing new financial forecasts, and helping with raising vital funds.

  1. Sounding board

Running a company can often be a lonely, stressful experience for CEOs, according to the FD Centre’s Chairman Colin Mills in his book ‘Scaling Up How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash.[1]

He’s seen first-hand what pressure does to business owners.

“I’ve sat in sales meetings with entrepreneurs who had literally been brought to tears by stress and frustration and the feeling that it’s all too much.”

That’s where a part-time FD or CFO can help. He or she can act as an independent sounding board for the over-burdened, stressed-out business owner. With their ‘big business’ experience, it’s more than likely CFOs or FDs can provide solutions to what can seem like overwhelming problems to the CEOs of growing businesses.

  1. Mentorship for your team

Part-time CFOs help to establish sound reporting systems and tools that help improve reporting metrics and communications to investors. They can also act as mentors to members of your existing finance team, guiding them where necessary and providing the advice they need to rise to new challenges.

  1. Access to a national and international network

If you choose a part-time CFO or FD from an organisation like the FD Centre, you’ll benefit from the expertise from all the FDs in its worldwide network. That’s hundreds of years of experience in every aspect of finance—all for a fraction of the cost of employing a single full-time FD.

  1. You won’t get left behind

If you’re still hesitating about whether now is the right time to hire a part-time FD/CFO, consider the sorry tale of Kodak—a company that got left behind, despite once being one of the most powerful companies in the world.

Kodak was once known for innovation (being the creator of the Box Brownie camera, Kodachrome film and the Instamatic).[2] Here’s what’s remarkable—a Kodak engineer Steve Sasson developed the world’s first digital camera way back in the mists of time (actually, 1975). Okay, it was the size of a toaster, took 20 seconds to capture low-quality images which had to be viewed on a TV. But still… it had the potential to disrupt the market massively.

The company poured billions into developing the technology to take photos using mobile phones and other digital devices but delayed acting on it due to fears digital technology would destroy its film and photographic developing business. It failed to act fast enough and to identify the opportunities posed by digital technology.

On January 19, 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection 2012, then exited its legacy businesses and sold off its patents.[3] It re-emerged in 2013, albeit in a vastly slimmed-down version of its former self.

If you want to avoid becoming a post-script or salutary tale in your market, appoint a part-time FD or CFO. He or she will provide you and your team with strategic help and advice to recognise threats and to seize opportunities—thanks to vast experience and expertise.

The CFO Centre (and CFO Centres) offer the services of part-time FDs or CFOs with big business experience who can use what they know to help your company achieve rapid yet sustainable growth. What’s more, they’ll help remove fear, confusion, and stress from the entire process.

To discover how the FD Centre (or CFO Centre) will help your company to scale up, please call us on 0800 169 1499 or contact us here.

How it works

The CFO Centre’s part-time FDs use a proven framework known as the ‘12 Boxes’ to identify where the problems are within any business. They use it to review every aspect of your company finance function and identify every problem area.

They will help you to understand your company’s finances and not only eliminate cash flow problems and identify cost-savings but also to improve profits.

They can also help you and your team to understand your main profit drivers; find and arrange to fund; identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help you to expand nationally and internationally; and build value to make your business more attractive to investors or buyers. To discover more about the 12 Boxes, click here.

Need help?

To find out how an FD Centre part-time FD or CFO will help your business, contact us now on 0808 164 8902. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, click here.  You can see how they add rocket fuel to any business here.

What people are saying

People are talking about what they really think of the FD Centre’s part-time FDs. Find out what they’re saying on these short videos here.

Where are you going wrong?

You can identify strengths and weaknesses in your business in just nine minutes with the F-Score click here now. Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive an 8-page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Click here now to take the F-Score.

Got a Big Question?

Have a burning question for one of our team of FDs? Just ask it here, and you’ll get an answer within 24 hours. The question must be finance-related (sadly, they can’t predict who will win Wimbledon).

[1]Scale Up: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash’, Mills, Colin. BrightFlame Books, 2016

[2]The Moment It All Went Wrong for Kodak’, Usborne, David, The Independent, https://www.independent.co.uk, January 20, 2012

[3]Kodak’s Downfall Wasn’t About Technology’, Anthony, Scott D., Harvard Business Review

https://hbr.org, July 15, 2016

Where To Find The Cash You Need

Where To Find The Cash You Need

A lack of cash can not only stall your company’s growth but also place its very existence under threat.

It doesn’t matter how profitable the business may be; cash flow problems can place it under severe pressure, according to the FD Centre’s Chairman Colin Mills in his book ‘Scaling Up How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash.[1]

“You might think you’re immune from danger because your business is experiencing a high level of growth, but you’re wrong: expansion can exacerbate the problems caused by poor cash flow management,” he said.

“You almost always have to make investments and bring certain expenses on ahead of achieving the higher revenue and cash flow that comes with successful growth.”

It is the oxygen every business needs to survive.

“The stark truth is, without cash your business will be unable to meet its payroll obligations, default on payments to suppliers and creditors (payables), and ultimately cease trading.”

Fortunately, there are ways to find cash both from within your business (by improving processes, cost-cutting and selling off unused assets) and from traditional and alternative external funding sources such as banks, invoice factoring companies and crowd-sourcing platforms.

Getting the cash your company needs earlier rather than later can not only save you and your employees from unnecessary stress but also help you to achieve more rapid growth as the following example illustrates. One of the CFO Centre’s American clients had over-hired which caused it to run into cash flow problems.

But with the help of the CFO Center, the company was able to survive the blip and then attract one of the ‘Big Three’ automobile manufacturers in the US—Chrysler—as a client.

“They were really bumping up against their credit line of $US500,000,” recalled the CFO Center’s Bill Starr in ‘Scaling Up. “We came in, restructured their financing and their forecasts, and in a couple of months we were able to get them a new line of credit for $2 million,” he said. “That effectively allowed them to invest in the growth of the company.

“A year after we were engaged, the client won a massive deal with Chrysler. Chrysler conducts vendor analyses on the financial position of its vendors, and this company got a green light across all areas that Chrysler reviewed them on.”

Look within your company first

While many business owners automatically look to external funding sources, it pays to look closer to home first.

“Most entrepreneurs don’t realise there is often considerable funding to support growth from within their own business,” says Mills. “That’s because the collection of customer receivables can often be improved through strong credit control and the level of stock holding reduced through improved systems and processes. In some instances, poor negotiation of supplier payment terms means fewer funds are available within the business to support scaling up.”

So before you pick up the phone (or click your mouse) to apply for external funding, consider the following methods for freeing up cash within your business.

Declutter

If the business has the machinery, equipment or large amounts of stock that is idle, consider selling it or renting it to other businesses.

Remove unnecessary overheads

Look at all your overheads to see if they can be lowered. For example, consider reducing staff numbers, or not replacing employees when they leave or moving premises to get a more favourable lease.

The head of the Australian CFO Centre Stephen Copplin recalls how one part-time CFO was asked to help a fast growth branding business that had got into trouble with cash flow. Most troubling was a looming $AUD 500,000 tax bill.

At the company’s headquarters, it was easy to see why the company was struggling: the carpark was crammed with ‘flashy’ company cars.

A conversation with the owner revealed he did not have a good grasp on his financials. He didn’t know how to improve his margins and had no idea how much his product was costing to produce.

So he was advised to sell the cars and make half the staff redundant.

“We were really hard with the guy; we took a firm line with him, but he did all the things we suggested he do to get his business back in order,” the part-time CFO said. “That was three or four years ago, and today his scaleup growth has delivered the cash flow and sustainability, to where he should have been if he had the financial nous beforehand.”

Negotiate better terms with vendors

Ask for more favourable payment terms from your suppliers. This doesn’t necessarily mean asking for reduced prices but could be as simple as requesting an extra seven days for your payment window.

If your suppliers refuse your request, look for other suppliers who can offer lower prices or better payment terms for the same quality of the product.

Resolve late payment issues

Make your payment terms clear to minimise the possibility of late payment issues. Try to keep to the same terms for all your customers (for example, a 30-day window for payment of the invoice). Get agreement to your payment terms from all your customers or clients. Carry out credit checks on all new customers or clients. Ensure that invoices are issued promptly. Ideally, you should issue invoices by email on the day of completion of the job or project and ensure that overdue payments are pursued.

Get deposits for large projects or orders. Build a deposit (of anywhere up to 50% of the total cost) into your contract for large projects or orders. This is especially important if the projects or orders are likely to involve a lot of resources and time.

That way if the customer decides to cancel the project or fails to pay the balance on the project or order, you have at least recovered some of the cost of the resources and time you’ve already invested in it.

Look for External Funding

You should also consider external funding sources to help ease your cash flow challenges. There are a dizzying number of sources to consider, both traditional and alternative (which is why you should use the services of a part-time FD or CFO to identify the best method for your company and help you navigate your way through any such process).

Apply for a bank overdraft

A bank overdraft has been the traditional form of funding for many businesses. But these days, banks are more likely to try to steer their clients to other forms of debt that provide the banks with more security.

While overdrafts are usually quick to set up, they have a major drawback, and it’s this: banks can call them in on-demand.

Request a bank loan

The advantages of bank loans are that they are for a set term with regular repayments and that the banks can’t call the money back on demand. The downside is that banks will demand strong security for the loan such as a personal guarantee secured on the assets of the business or even the owner’s personal assets.

Use asset financing

Using your assets as collateral for the loan is one of the easiest ways your growing business can get access to quick cash. However, there is a drawback: not all assets are considered equal.

Typically, lenders will only consider assets that they can sell quickly if you default on the loan. Therefore, they usually want high-value assets with a low depreciation rate or high appreciation rate, and which are easy to convert into cash.

Get alternative financing

The alternative finance market includes a wide variety of financing models including peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and specialist finance providers offering products such as selective invoice finance and invoice trading platforms.

The benefit is that since they have greater flexibility than traditional funding sources they can often offer a faster turnaround on the right deals.

Invoice Discounting

The advantage of invoice discounting, in which banks and invoice discounting companies lend money secured against your debtors/receivables, is that you can borrow up to 80% of the invoice amount within 24 hours.  So you get the cash flow benefit and the rest when the money is collected.

The disadvantage is that it can cost more than overdraft or loan charges so it may have a bigger impact on your profit margins.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending

P2P platforms match lenders directly with borrowers so that you can borrow money from individuals. The huge benefit of this is that the rates are favourable and often much better than any other type of lending method. The disadvantage is that you will still have to undergo a credit check and possibly pay an application fee.

Equity-based crowdfunding

The way it works is that people come together on crowdfunding websites to pool money towards a particular venture or idea in return for an equity share in your business. The issue with crowdfunding though is that it’s not as easy as some people make it out to be, as it requires months of planning and lots of marketing in order to get people excited enough about what you are doing to contribute money towards it. There’s also the risk that you don’t receive the amount you’re seeking, in which case any finance that has been pledged will usually be returned to your investors, and you will receive nothing. If you’re successful, there’s the risk you give away too much control in your company. This could have an impact later when you decide to sell the company.

The easy way to raise cash

Of course, you can make the finding or raising of cash a much easier process by engaging the services of a part-time FD or CFO. For example, the FC Centre (and CFO Centres) offer the services of part-time FDs or CFOs with big business experience who can use what they know to help you uncover or obtain the cash you need to help your company achieve rapid yet sustainable growth. They will help remove the fear and confusion from the entire process.

To discover how the FD Centre (or CFO Centre) will help your company to get cash and scale-up, please call us on 0800 169 1499 or contact us here.

How it works

The CFO Centre’s part-time FDs use a proven framework known as the ‘12 Boxes’ to identify where the problems are within any business. They use it to review every aspect of your company finance function and identify every problem area.

They will help you to understand your company’s finances and not only eliminate cash flow problems and identify cost-savings but also to improve profits.

They can also help you and your team to understand your main profit drivers; find and arrange to fund; identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help you to expand nationally and internationally; and build value to make your business more attractive to investors or buyers. To discover more about the 12 Boxes, click here.

Need help?

To discover how an FD Centre part-time FD will help your business, contact us now on 0808 164 8902. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, click here.  You can see how they add rocket fuel to any business here.

What people are saying

To hear what people really think about the FD Centre’s part-time FDs, watch these short videos here.

Where are you going wrong?

To identify strengths and weaknesses in your business in just nine minutes with the F-Score click here now. Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive an 8-page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Click here now to take the F-Score.

Got a Big Question?

If you have a burning question for one of our team of FDs, ask it here, and you’ll get an answer within 24 hours. Please note the question must be finance-related (sadly, they can’t predict who will win the Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup or even the US Masters Golf Tournament).

[1]Scale Up: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash’, Mills, Colin. BrightFlame Books, 2016

How a FD Can Help You Sleep Better At Night

How a FD Can Help You Sleep Better At Night

Babies, as any hollow-eyed new parent will tell you, often sleep for just a few hours at a time which is why ‘sleeping like a baby’ is a practice best avoided if you have a growing business to run and need to be on top of your game during working hours.

Instead, sleep experts recommend you look for ways to get between seven and nine unbroken hours of night-time sleep.[1]

That’s because sleep is believed to be crucial to your physical and mental wellbeing. It’s essential for maintaining cognitive skills such as communicating well, remembering key information, and being creative and flexible in thought, says Dr. Justin Varney in an article for Public Health England.[2]

Insufficient sleep has a “profound impact” on your ability to function, he says. It makes you more vulnerable to infection and raises the risk of accidents and injuries.

What’s more, studies are beginning to show a link between a lack of sleep and conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

So, what can you do to ensure you get a great night’s sleep?

Almost every article you read on the topic will fail to mention what is arguably the number 1 strategy for a great night’s sleep… They’ll tell you to transform your bedroom into a technological-free zone (so no late-night watching of ‘Peaky Blinders’ or checking your Twitter feed before you shut your eyes). That’s as much to avoid too much stimulation before sleep as it is to minimise the amount of blue light you’re exposed to from some TVs, computer screens, tablets, smartphones, and LED lighting. The blue light can keep you awake by suppressing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

Sleep hygienists (the name for experts in this field) also recommend you stick to regular bedtimes and avoid consuming caffeine and rich food in the last few hours before bed, and so on.

What most ‘sleep tips’ articles fail to mention is one of the best ways you can get your full quota of night-time sleep—that is how to deal with work-related stress which is one of the biggest causes of sleep problems. As the owner or CEO of a growing business, one of the best ways you can reduce your work-related stress is to hire an experienced part-time Finance Director (FD) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Take the FD Centre’s part-time FDs as an example. They all have many years of big business experience so that they can identify and assess the areas of risk in your business. More importantly, they can advise you on how to deal with such risks now and in the future.

Equally, part-time FDs can highlight areas of risk that you are either unaware of or don’t know how to deal with. In other words, they’ll identify, quantify and help you to manage the risks your organisation faces.

But they do so much more than that. They will also advise, analyse and implement processes and practices to ensure your organisation performs better. They can provide strategic analysis and advisory support on every finance-related aspect of your business.

At any one time, they can be involved in all those areas of the business that have previously kept you awake at night: things such as reporting, auditing, tax planning, business planning, capital expenditure, working capital management, budgeting, and exit planning. Your part-time FD will work on your financial strategy and finance operations while also managing your tax planning, legal, compliance, outsourcing, and banking relationships.

You can rest easy at night, knowing your part-time FD will help you to improve your cash flow and profitability and provide insight into how your business can move seamlessly to the next level.

With a part-time FD on your side, insomnia and restless sleep should become a thing of the past.

How it will work

The CFO Centre’s part-time FDs use a proven framework known as the ’12 Boxes’ to identify where the problems are within any business. They use it to review every aspect of your company’s finance function and identify every problem area.

They will help you to understand your company’s finances; eliminate cash flow problems; identify cost savings and improve profits.

They can also help you and your team to understand your main profit drivers; find and arrange to fund; identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help you to expand nationally and internationally; and build value to make your business more attractive to investors or buyers.

To discover more about the 12 Boxes, click here.

Need help?

To discover how an FD Centre part-time FD will help your business, contact us now on 0808 164 8902. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, click  here.  You can see how they add rocket fuel to any business here.

To hear what people really think about the FD Centre’s part-time FDs, watch these short videos here.

Identify strengths and weaknesses

Identify the strengths and gaps in your business in just nine minutes with the F-Score.

Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive an 8-page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Click here now to take the F-Score.

Got a Big Question?

If you have a burning question for one of our team of FDs, ask it here, and you’ll get an answer within 24 hours. Please note the question must be finance-related (sadly they can’t predict who will win ‘Britain’s Got Talent, ‘Dancing on Ice’ or ‘The Voice’).

[1]How Much Sleep Do We Need?’, The Sleep Council UK, https://sleepcouncil.org.uk

[2] Is a lack of sleep affecting your work?’, Dr. Varney, Justin, Public Health England, https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk , January 30, 2018