It can be uncomfortable and possibly scary to engage an outside consultant. Overused business slogans and undecipherable acronyms in boiler-plate proposals offer little to define how the engagement will proceed, what will be accomplished, and an understanding of what it will cost.
The B2B CFO® process includes The Game Plan™, a six step process depicted in the paragraphs below:
The Discovery Analysis™
When I first meet a business owner who is curious about my services, I offer to conduct a free, no obligation Discovery Analysis™. This analysis helps me understand the business and see where I might be able to provide value. I hold a confidential meeting with the business owner(s), and may also interview other staff to understand the company’s strengths, challenges, and aspirations. I look through the company’s finances including accounting systems, tax returns, computer systems and other information. I also benchmark the business against other firms in the industry, seeing how their key performance indicators line up. At that point I can create a “gap analysis” to lay out the company’s current financial state of affairs in juxtaposition with what the business owner tells me is the desired state. I then meet with the business owner to discuss the key findings from my Discovery Analysis™.
The Strategy™ phase is free for the business owner to keep, and there is no obligation to go further. It describes the strategies needed to address the deficiencies identified above in the gap analysis. In this document, I attempt to clarify and simplify the business challenges. I also clearly state whether or not I can be of assistance to the business owner in remedying these deficiencies. In many circumstances, the business owner wants me to help implement the recommendations in The Strategy™. The process and the overall cost structure is clearly laid out in The Strategy™ and is agreed upon before proceeding, making sure the engagement will be affordable for the business.
At this point I am able to put into action the items we agreed on in The Strategy™ phase. I engage other staff in the business to help with some of the lower level tasks, reducing the costs of the implementation activities, and giving them the opportunity to learn and grow. I meet regularly with the business owner to update progress and confirm priorities. The owner begins to breathe easier about the financial health of the company and is able to spend more time on activities intended to grow the business.
The Implementation™ phase usually lasts for several months. As that phase approaches its end, I sit down with the business owner and discuss the results. The benefits will normally include tangible and measurable profit and cash flow enhancements. There will usually be non-financial benefits as well, such as the business owner feeling less stress or having more free time.
This step in our engagement ensures that the business owner has received all of the value we envisioned back when we discussed The Strategy™.
We then talk about how I might stay engaged with the business as a long-term business advisor (Excel™). The previous accomplishments would be monitored and maintained, and new initiatives explored (exit strategies, etc.). But those are subjects for the next newsletter.