Archive | Blog

Become a Trusted Advisor to your CEO

Summer is quickly transitioning to fall as the weather gets cooler and millions of Americans get ready for football season. Fantasy teams are drafted. Lucky jerseys are dusted off. Schedules are cleared for Monday night football. The action is enticing and our minds focus on all the excitement outside of work. But many neglect to look where the real action is – your career. This fall is your opportunity to become a trusted advisor to your executive team. Get ready for some major movement and success in your career this season!

What is a Trusted Advisor?

A trusted advisor is someone who translates all the technical data into functional and applicable resources necessary for business leaders to make intelligent business decisions. But let’s break that down further… There are two major factors in this role: trust and advice.

Trust is the confidence and ability to rely on something or someone and know that it’s correct. A trusted advisor is dependable, accurate, and able to be emphatic to the position of the CEO. Why? Because as the face and leader of the company, a lot is on the line for them. Respect the weight of each decision they make for the company. By understanding them, you can build a trustworthy relationship.

Advice is a suggestion on how to act according to a situation. When someone takes an advisor role, they are not expecting whoever they are advising to transfer every piece of commentary into action. But rather, they are sometimes blinded and the advisor is helping lead them to a safe, reliable, stable path.

Your CEO wants you to be a trusted advisor or a wingman. But where do you start? Download our free “How to be a Wingman” guide to go beyond the initial steps required to be a trusted advisor.

Transitioning to a Trusted Advisor Role

You have gained the trust of your executive team and they willingly take your advice, but you need to take it one step further if you want to become a trusted advisor. As a financial leader, you cannot talk the talk without walking the walk. So that means you need to get up from behind your desk to see how the business runs and what it needs by talking to those who are involved in production, operations, and shipping. By being an “operational CFO“, you can more quickly gain the trusted advisor role.

Operational CFO

As the needs of your organization change, you need to change your role from a financial CFO to an operational CFO. That may seem a little contradictory, but let’s investigate. If someone asked you to put together a bookcase and provided all the pieces but no instructions, you could probably figure it out with some time. This is the financial CFO: they provide all the data and reports but no instructions on how to interpret them, what they mean, and how to use them to lead the company forward. But if you are given the resources along with instructions, guidance, and coaching, you would be able to build that bookcase in a matter of minutes.

How to Become a Trusted Advisor

There are three primary ways to acquire the insight required to become a trusted advisor or wingman to your CEO. Those include: on-the-job training, apprenticeship, or have a coach. The first option requires 20-25 years of experience, quality experience, and it must be the right experience. Because of the time and quality aspect, this is the most difficult path. For example, you may have 20 years of experience only to realize it is the wrong experience. The second option requires someone who will let you study underneath them; but this is also difficult because computerization and time demands limit the number of CFOs available to mentor. However, the last option is great and can be a quick path to becoming a trusted advisor, but you must find a good coach.

We have put together 5 easy steps that anyone can do to become a trusted advisor in their company.

become a trusted advisor

Ask Them About their Goals

Goals are a huge part of operating a business. Therefore, learn where your business owner, entrepreneur or CEO wants to take the company in 3-5 years. There are two purposes to this: 1) it enables you to help set the course to success and 2) it demonstrates your commitment to being the CEO’s wingman. You will be able to learn why that is the goal, what the plan is, and how you can help get there quicker.

become a trusted advisor

Build a Team

There are eleven men from the opposing team on the football field, then there is you. What are the chances that you can play both offense and defense and win against another team that is switching people in and out depending on their position? Probably 0 So how can you become a trusted advisor to your CEO without having a team to support you?

You are not able to execute the game plan alone. so you need to get others in the company on board. They don’t all need to come from the financial side of the business. Building relationships with other departments outside of finance makes you a more valuable and effective financial leader. This goes back to transitioning to an operational CFO.

become a trusted advisor

Have Their Blind Side

Do you like surprises? If you are a business owner, you most likely hate surprises. As the financial leader of your company, it’s your job to “peed around the corners” to protect the CEO. By having their blind side, you can enable the CEO to focus on executing their vision rather than fighting whatever is distracting them or worrying about things they may not see coming.

become a trusted advisor

Don’t Get Called For Holding  

CFOs often get a reputation for being the CF”NO” or no-man. While it is important to guard your CEO’s back as a trusted advisor, it is not wise to hold them back from doing their job. You will either get excluded from being part of the key strategic decisions or have your job seen as non-essential. You don’t want to get stuck in this situation.

Remember, there’s a find line between playing defense and being an obstacle for your CEO to avoid. Be aware of where that line is, and don’t cross it. Instead, try to enable them to safely take risks or suggest other options that are less damaging to the company.

become a trusted advisor

Keep Score

Teams don’t get to the College Football Playoffs or the Super Bowl based on the score of the last game they played, but instead get there based on what they did all season. Imagine the disaster where a team that only won one game in a season playing against a team who won every game! Keep score of your accomplishments. By keeping tab of what you have accomplished and what you are working on, it’s easier to put a dollar value to it and prove your value. Quantifying your contributions not only builds your confidence, but shows the value you have added in terms that the CEO can appreciate

Conclusion

Your CEO, whether they realize it or not, needs a trusted advisor or wingman. The captain of the team cannot do anything without other leaders. Be the trusted advisor your CEO needs. Download our free How to be a Wingman guide by clicking the link below. Take your career to the next level and step up into the trusted advisor role.

Force Majeure

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Projections Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to get ahead of your cash flow.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

become a trusted advisor

0

The CFO Guide to Your CEO

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a guide for everything we do? A guide for marriage? A parenting guide? A guide to dealing with difficult times?  Or maybe a CFO guide to understanding your CEO?

cfo guideTypically, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) come from an operational or sales background. Naturally, Chief Financial Officers (CFO) do not always see eye to eye with their CEO. But over the past 25 years, The Strategic CFO has been working with CFOs to not elevate their status within companies, but also to make them more useful to the CEO… And therefore, more valuable to the entire company.

What The CEO Wants to Know

Just like every person in a company looks at their own focus areas (finance, marketing, operations, etc.), the CEO needs to know specific things and can go without knowing other things. To improve the way the CEO sees and respects the CFO’s role and guidance, it is critical to know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate with them effectively.

CFO Guide to Your CEO

The first step in our CFO guide is to understand how your CEO thinks.

1. Future, Not Past

The typical CEO is future oriented. What’s the next move? What are the company’s goals for this next quarter? The CEO acts as the visionary for the company – a pilot, a ship captain, a general. They look forward at the horizon, protecting the people behind them as they march forward. Therefore, instead of focusing on past records or past performance, make the future path clearer for the CEO. The future is more important than the past in the CEO’s role. But don’t neglect past performance’s value to the CEO. Past performance can help predict the future. Although the past is the past and nothing can be changed in the past, you can change the future and that’s what your CEO wants to know.

As the financial leader of your company, you may struggle with focusing on the future, as you have been trained for so long to justify and rationalize the past. One thing you should impress in your mind is that your CEO and other executives are laser-focused on the future. Use what you have recorded to display your vision of what lays ahead.

2. Know Your Numbers

One of the top things taught in business school is to know your numbers. What does “know your numbers” mean? Think about your unit economics. Go back to the basics. If your company sells 10,000 widgets at $1 in a month but your company is wanting to increase costs to $11,000, you should be able to immediately indicate that decision would not be wise as you will then be unprofitable.

Everyone in your company, especially the financial leader, needs to know the numbers of the company. Have the facts and data to support every claim, prediction, or forecast. If the CEO is relying on your financial expertise, you better be able to lead them forward financially. Know your numbers and how they impact your company in the short-term or long-term.

cfo guide3. Cash, Cash, Cash

Cash is king. To operate the company successfully, cash is absolutely critical. Whether you are paying down debt, keeping up with growth, or allowing for flexibility, you as the financial leader need to know exactly where you are with cash always.

What happens when you need more cash or when you want to improve cash flow in your company? It’s difficult to know where to start. But you don’t have to guess anymore… Download the 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow to start increasing the amount of cash in your business today!

4. Impact, Not Progress

You are painting a picture… The CEO doesn’t need to know the type of paint, the kind of paint brush, or the size of the canvas. But they do need to know the big picture and how it’s going to look after it’s finished. They don’t have enough time in the day to know all the details about progress; however, they do want the big picture updates on the impact of what is happening.

Remember, progress is still important. The managerial level needs to know the progress of projects. When you meet your CEO, have the project’s progress in the back of your mind in the case the CEO wants to know anything more specific.

Try to summarize all outcomes and updates on milestones concisely. Their high-level thinking does not need to be clouded by minute details and the nitty gritty of day-to-day operations. Sometimes details are necessary for the CEO to know when deciding the future of the company; so in that case, don’t hesitate to expand on the details.

What does impact mean?

Impact is defined as the “measure of the tangible and intangible effects (consequences) of one thing’s or entity’s action or influence upon another” (Business Dictionary). Think about it this way… Whether you are the CEO, COO, CFO, Controller, manager, community leader, a parent etc., you are responsible for people. Your worry should not be focused on the past but on how your decisions will impact people in the future. The CEO is responsible for everyone underneath him or her so a decision that will change the future for their employees, partners, stockholders, family, etc. is a big deal. Adjust your mindset from past performance to future impact.

5. Understand the Big Picture

Unfortunately, your CEO does not have all day to listen to you. The quicker you understand why your CEO acts the way they do and what they need to run the company successfully, the better you will be able to perform in your role as a financial leader. Align your goals/decisions/recommendations with the visions and priorities of the company.

For example, cash is tight but you want to get a software program that will report more timely and accurately the things you need to do your job. If you approached the conversation by trying to convince the decision maker (i.e. CEO) by sharing all the features, you will most likely get a “no”. But if you understand the big picture, communicate how this investment will serve you better long term versus the current software. Hint: Show some numbers of how this solution will improve cash flow, profitability, productivity, time, and money.

Conclusion

You should be your CEO’s partner, wingman, guide, confidant. Know what your CEO wants, thinks, and needs. To get started on improving your relationship with your CEO and to improve cash flow, download the 25 Ways To Improve Cash Flow whitepaper for free. Find other ways to improve your cash flow within 24 hours.

cfo guide

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Cash Flow Tuneup Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. This tool enables you to quantify the cash unlocked in your company.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

cfo guide

3

Are you maintaining accurate records?

maintaining accurate records

Have you ever sat down at your desk and seen papers everywhere, little to zero organization, and not been able to tell where your company stood financially right away? It is easy for financial leaders, executives, and other business leaders to get in this messy state. Sure, you may have once had accurate records and known exactly where you were. But maintaining accurate records consistently is a critical piece to positioning your company for sale, getting ready for growth, acquiring capital, etc.

Are you in the process of selling your company? The first thing to do is to identify “destroyers” that can impact your company’s value. Click here to download your free “Top 10 Destroyers of Value“.

First, what is accurate or accuracy? Oxford Dictionaries defines accuracy as “the quality or state of being correct or precise.” If your company’s records are not consistently correct and precise, you may encounter some undesired results.

Are you maintaining accurate records?

A simple way to answer this question is to look at your records. Can you easily pull client reports, tax filings for the past couple of years, or receipts from a specific vendor?  Are you able to find information quickly? How well are you able to manage your business with your current records?

Why Maintain Records

Maintaining accurate records is not just for external entities like the IRS, banks, venture capitalists, etc.; but it is also essential for major management decisions, customer support, and financial growth. It allows every party related to your business to see clearly where the company stands. Banks, attorneys, decision makers, etc. all need to understand how your company is positioned. “These records will help you analyze your business’s profitability, stay out of trouble with tax authorities, maintain positive relationships with clients and vendors, protect your business from lawsuits and win lawsuits if you are harmed” (Investopedia).

maintaining accurate records

No one likes to drive blind, so why would you have disorganized, inaccurate records that blind you from seeing the whole picture when making decisions?

How to Maintain Records

There are several ways to maintain accurate records. These include identifying revenue streams, keeping track of invoices and receipts, preparing financial statements, tracking deductible expenses and preparing tax returns. Although these are not all the important records you should maintain, they are a good starting point.

Identify Revenue Streams

This might seem like the most obvious thing to do. But oftentimes we arrive at a new client to find they are mixing business and nonbusiness receipts as well as taxable/nontaxable sources of income. Separate for-profit and non-profit clients from each other. If you service multiple industries, it might be useful to separate your revenue streams by industry.

You don’t want to avoid looking at your business’s revenue. Where did that revenue come from? Is there an industry or type of business that is more profitable than others? Maintaining accurate records isn’t just for those outside the business, but it also will allow you to understand your entire company’s performance.

If you’re selling your company, buyers want to see each revenue stream clearly. By not having accurate records, you may be looking at destroyers of value. To improve the value of your company, identify and find solutions to those “destroyers” of value. Click here to download your free “Top 10 Destroyers of Value“.

Prepare Financial Statements

To prepare precise financial statements, it is critical that you maintain accurate records. Your income statement and balance sheet act as a window into how your business is performing. If the data isn’t 100% accurate, then any decisions made based on that data will not be the best decisions possible as the information isn’t reliable. This can cause a disaster!

Keep Track of Invoices & Receipts

Because of the importance of tracking profitability, you as the financial leader should have a process to track your income and expenses. As a major tool in managing cash, regularly produce reports of the amount and composition of accounts receivables and accounts payable, what has been collected and paid. Not only will this create a system to time payments and encourage your team to collect, but your bank or creditor will be able to rely on your system. This is essential knowledge for the banks to know if you are in a financial crunch.

Prepare Tax Returns

Taxes are a necessary part of operating a business. When you produce tax returns, precise records are required. You need to report income, expenses, and debt on this document. Thankfully, this is not a major burden on your time as you should already have these three categories accurately measured and tracked as you need them to effectively measure the success of your business.

Track Deductible Expenses

Unless you track your deductible expenses throughout the year, you will most likely forget them when you prepare your tax returns. Be sure to create a file for all deductible expenses.

Tips in Maintaining Accurate Records

There are a couple tips and tricks to maintaining accurate records, which include separating personal and business finances, having client files, storing contracts, and maintaining accounting/tax records.

Separate Personal & Business Finances

One of the top rules in operating your own company is to separate personal and business financials. When companies do not separate business and personal finances, records are muddled and there is no clear method to see what is personal and what is business. By doing this, you may run into tax issues, relationship issues, and inaccurate records.

Have Client Files

Separate each client into their own individual file. This will allow you to easily see when they started doing business with you, what work you’ve done with them, and how your relationship is progressing. In addition, you will be able to save time by picking up just one file for the client and having everything you need to know about them in that folder. Need to have invoices, etc. in another folder? Make copies and put everything related to that specific client in their folder.

Store Contracts

When you get served with a lawsuit, it can be shocking. But the best way to combat the stress is to know exactly where to find everything you need to battle your accuser. Store and make copies of all contracts in one place. Categorize the contacts by clients, employees, vendors, suppliers, etc.; organize the contracts in a way that makes sense for your business.

Maintain Accounting & Tax Records

The worst offence in maintaining accurate records is not staying on top of your accounting and tax records. Instead of doing the past three months of accounting in a week, create a system to update, maintain, and produce reports regularly. Submit these report for your financial and executive team to view on a schedule.

One of the main “destroyers of value” is not consistently having accurate records. If you are looking to sell your company or just want to improve its value, download your free guide to avoiding things that take value away from you.

maintaining accurate records

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra
Access your Exit Strategy Checklist Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to put together your exit strategy and maximize the amount of value you get.
Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?
Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

maintaining accurate records

Connect with us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Become a Strategic CFO insider

0

Productivity of an Accounting Department

Most people (especially those outside the finance side of the business) see the financial function as a cost center. Although an accounting department does not generate any revenue, it has the potential to dramatically improve profitability. Think about this: you should be able to convert 1-2% of sales into profits if the department was more productive. The productivity of an accounting department is directly linked to the improvement of profits and cash flow – the bread and butter of financial leaders.

How Productive Is Your Accounting Department?

Before you attempt to improve the productivity of an accounting department, assess how productive or unproductive it is currently. First, log what is working and what is not working. By going through this process, you will allow yourself or the financial leader of your company to fully evaluate what is going on. There are a couple areas that you can start considering when asking the question: how productive is your accounting department?

If you find that your accounting department is productive, brainstorm ways to make it more productive. The great thing is that there is always room for improvement.

Track your accounting department’s productivity by using KPIs. For help, download the KPI Discovery Cheatsheet!

productivity of an accounting departmentTips to Improve Productivity of Accounting Department

While there may be a million little things that you can do to push the needle a little, we have found that there are a few focus areas that allow you to take the biggest strides ahead. When improving the productivity of an accounting department, start by using best practices, training and developing your team, automating as much as possible, communicating effectively, tracking progress, and outsourcing. Finally, walk through your accounting department to ensure maximum profitability.

Use Best Practices

The best way to accomplish this first tip is to continually read up on, research, discuss, learn from thought leaders, and attend events to catalog the best practices used by others to attain a productive accounting department. In addition, if you keep ahead on implementing the best practices, you should be able to accomplish company goals quicker. According to GAAP, some best practices include regularity, consistency, continuity, and recording sales when they are certain.

Training & Development

Unfortunately, some employees are simply not going to do the dirty work of reading up on the best practices. They are leaving that up to you ­– the financial leader. Those employees are going to continue to do exactly what they have done in the past; and therefore, reduce the chances of being more productive. So, it is up to the financial leader to provide training and development for the team. If the team hears and learns the same training and development sessions, then there is a huge opportunity to create a more synergized accounting process.

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says that synergy “is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. But it doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a process, and through that process, people bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table. Together, they can produce far better results than they could individually. Synergy lets us discover jointly things we are much less likely to discover by ourselves.” The more your team is on the same page, the more productive your accounting department.

Automate

One of the great things about technology is that you can automate almost everything. While that could be bad news for those of you whose jobs could be automated, it is great for the productivity of an accounting department. Rather than laying off those employees, strategize how you can transition those people into more value-adding roles.

Communicate with Team

There’s a joke that you can tell extroverted accountants from introverted accountants by whose shoes they look at – their own or the other person’s. All jokes aside, it is critical that the financial leader get themselves and their team out of their office to communicate. During the hour or so when you take lunch or get coffee, ask one of your team members to join you. In addition to getting to know them better, see if they have any ideas about how to make the department more productive.

Identify Skills of Team

Part of communicating with your team includes identifying the skills of your team. Understand what talents they may have that was not on their resume. Assign projects to them in areas that they excel. Ask questions like: What’s the first thing that you like to do at the beginning of the day? Or if there is something that you could do all day, every day, what would that task be? When you identify the skills, talents, likes, and dislikes, you will be able to further develop your team.

Have KPIs

Identify those key performance indicators (KPIs) that indicate the productivity of an accounting department. Once you have identified them, use and track them. If you find your department sliding backwards, reassess and start the process over again.

If you are struggling to identify and track the KPIs that indicate the productivity of your accounting department, click here to access your free KPI Discovery Cheatsheet!

Outsource

If a specific job or task is not a core function of the business, explore whether it can be outsourced. For example in our retained search business, we have discovered that many companies are outsourcing their accounting departments to countries like the Philippines and Germany because it is more cost-effective for their organization. While that decision may be outside the norm, it is an opportunity to step up and be a financial leader. Outsource tasks and roles that can be accomplished at the same quality for a lower cost.

productivity of an accounting departmentWalk-Through Process

Finally, generate a list of topics to run through when evaluating the productivity of an accounting department. The Journal of Accountancy developed a questionnaire as part of a walk-through process checklist that can be accessed online (we have also included it below). When you ask yourself these questions, you’ll be able to better gauge the productivity of your accounting department and exactly where you need to focus.

Time

  • How much time are you spending on any given task?
  • Is it labor intensive?
  • How many people participate in the process?
  • Does it take excessive time to complete?
  • Is there a duplication of effort?
  • Are too many handoffs occurring?
  • Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Is anyone performing similar tasks?
  • Are roles and responsibilities appropriate?
  • What is slowing down the process?
  • Do you require needless reviews or approvals?
  • What are the busiest times of the day, week, month and/or quarter?

If there is a task or job that is time intensive, judge if that job could be automated, outsourced, or done quicker. The goal is to reduce the cost associated with that task or job. Unfortunately, you are going to find that there are jobs that simply cannot be trimmed as they are essential to the business itself. That’s okay! But try to find and reduce the costs associated for as many tasks as possible.

Necessity

  • Is the step or process necessary to the company’s success?
  • Can you eliminate it without causing any damage?
  • Do you have more tasks to do because of a single task?
  • Is duplication of information necessary?

Automation

  • Can you automate a task?
  • Are you keying in the same data into multiple places? (For example, the accounting system, an Access database, spreadsheets, etc.)
  • Does a backlog exist?
  • How often are your deadlines missed?
  • Where is there a breakdown of a streamlined process?
  • Is there a person or a job that stops the production of financials?

Value Adding

  • Does a task add value?
  • How accurate is the data?
  • How much value can come from automating/outsourcing/etc.?

Conclusion

Streamline your accounting department by asking questions, automating, outsourcing, and find more profits and cash flow. Don’t continue to just be a cost center… Transform your department into a value-adding entity within the company! For help and tips to track your transformation, you need something to measure your performance. For help, download our KPI Discovery Cheatsheet and start measuring your accounting department’s KPIs today.

Productivity of an Accounting Department

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Flash Report Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to create a dashboard to measure productivity, profitability, and liquidity of your company.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

Productivity of an Accounting Department

0

Force Majeure – Acts of God

force majeureMost would agree that there is risk associated with pretty much everything that we do. There is a certain level of risk when we drive to work, close a sale, sign off on your subordinate’s work, etc. But knowing that there will always be some risk, we are able to better prepare for it.

Lawyers and insurance companies rely on the black and white of contracts to protect themselves. So, to protect yourself, make sure that all your contracts include an act of God and force majeure clauses. Theses clauses protect you from any event out of your control. It is like putting on your seat belt when driving… The risk associated with not doing so is too high not to wear it.

What is Force Majeure?

Force majeure is a superior force that acts against the best interest of the company. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law claims that force majeure is “used to designate problems beyond the reasonable control of a party”. In the case that there is a contract between two entities, this clause allows both parties to be freed from any obligations when extraordinary circumstances prevent one of the entities from fulfilling their end of the contract. These events must be unforeseen and/or unforeseeable.

For example, you have a restaurant with contracts and/or promises with vendors to purchase a certain amount of goods. A riot destroyed the property, forcing you to temporarily shut down the facility, this would free you from any obligations set up in the contract. This riot was out of your control and required you to shut down for a period. In addition to events such as a riot, crime, event, war, strike, etc., there are acts of God that tie into the force majeure.

So, what’s the difference between force majeure and acts of God?

Difference Between Force Majeure & Acts of God

Simply put, force majeure is a human caused event whereas acts of God are physical events caused by natural occurrences. The force majeure can be related to human, political, and/or movement issues. These events can cause severe financial dents in companies, if those clauses are not in writing.

Why have them?

Why not? These clauses protect your company when it is at its weakest and when it is unable to conduct business like normal. But it is critical when writing these clauses that you include every type of event that could impact the operation of your business. The wording “but not limited to” can be used in a court of law to dispute any claim not written in ink.

As a financial leader, guide your CEO, COO, and legal team to identify potential forces that would disrupt business. First, access your free How to be a Wingman guide! This free whitepaper will coach you how to be a trusted advisor.

Example of Force Majeure

Over the past six months, BHP Billiton had imposed, enforced, and lifted a force majeure. They had originally exercised their force majeure clause because the workers in their coal mine in Chile went on strike for 43 days. Therefore, they could not fulfill business deals and contracts. This clause protected them from lawsuits, etc. This Chile strike cost the company $1 Billion without it being their fault or in their control, but the damage could have been much worse without the force majeure clause in their contracts.

No Party Accountable

With no party accountable during these events, you as the financial leader can put a plan together, recover, and get back to an operational state of business. But before we go into how to get back into the game, it’s good to start off with a basic no party accountable force majeure clause. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law provides a template:

“Party A will not be liable for any loss, including, without limitation, the loss of Party B’s prospective profits, resulting from events outside of Party A’s control. Examples of occurrences outside of Party A’s control include, but are not limited to, strikes, lockouts, fires, floods, mud slides, earthquakes, machine breakdowns, lack of shipping space, carrier delays, governmental actions, and inability to procure goods or raw materials.” (page 302)

Allocation of Risk

Typically, those in charge of financial functions try to avoid risk at all costs. These clauses mitigate the legal risk associated with physical or natural events. By spreading out and minimizing the risk with this clause, an actual situation becomes a lot more management… Both financially and legally.

force majeureWhat happens when these events occurs?

When these human-related or natural events occur, it’s critical to have a game plan (and even better to have the plan prior to it happening). Brainstorm with your team and while you’re in negotiations with the other party about what each scenario would look like. Imagine that your warehouse holding all the supplies was destroyed by a hurricane. What percentage of the product would still be functional and in good condition? How long would it take to rebuild the building, recover damaged goods, and start distributing again? What would be the order of actions needed in the case of these events? These questions indicate the potential financial implications of an event like this. By answering these questions, you and your team will hopefully identify the costs associated and calculate the length of time and the profits lost during that time period.

Time for Suspension of Force Majeure

At some point, you need to lift the force majeure. As the wingman and financial leader, calculate when would be the prime time for the company to resume conducting business again. As entrepreneurs, we are taught to create a minimum viable product and/or be a lean startup. With that know how, what is the earliest that you can start operating, even in a small way? It is not intelligent to suspend the force majeure only when everything is back to 100%. The company would risk running out of cash, the patience of Party B, and going out of business.

What happens if this event extends longer than expected?

There are some cases that an event lasts longer than originally expected. Set up KPIs to track the progress of the resolution – both externally and internally. Notify legal, executive, and the other party with a revised plan of action and/or projections.

Guide Your CEO

In times of uncertainty, your executive team can be blinded by the distractions of events and/or reactions of the company. Be the eyes and guide them using the financials. The ability to be the wingman or trusted advisor your CEO needs will get the company out of harm’s way, elevate your status, increase the amount of trust, and steer your company to success. Download our free How to be a Wingman guide today!

Force Majeure

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Projections Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to get ahead of your cash flow.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

Force Majeure

0

Status Quo in Business Movement

business movement Have you ever treaded water for lengthy period of time? At first, it’s easy to maintain that movement; but at some point, your muscles start cramping and treading the water becomes more difficult. Everyone knows you can only tread water for so long before you either move or sink. So, when we look at our business, why do we think we can maintain the status quo for a long period of time?

Truth is: your business will either move upwards or downwards, not stay in the same place for a long period of time. This is because there are too many factors, including competitors, customers, vendors, etc., that impact your business movement.

Status Quo in Business Movement

Over the past two years, the oil and gas industry has been struggling with the declining price of oil. A frequently asked question in the energy business community is how long the price is going to remain in the $40 range. At $47 a barrel, that price point is not good for the industry or the economy of cities with a high concentration of energy related businesses. Although we do not have a timeline outlining when the oil price will recover, we do know that something must happen to make it move. By not innovating, changing, or moving, the entire economy is aching. Either companies will adapt and find a way to make it work or their competitors will do so.

Although dealing with a challenging market price can limit your ability to change your status, there are many other ways to counteract those external factors. But first, how do you get stuck?

Lead your company forward and keep your business moving! Download the 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs to learn the habits of leading the company to success.

How You Get Stuck

There are two ways to get stuck in the status quo: no one is pushing to make a change in your business or external factors limit the amount of business movement you can have. It is quite easy to get stuck in your business. You accept that the economy is bad and you cannot change those external forces. Although those external forces, like the oil prices, may limit what you can do to make a change, you will get stuck if you do not do something. Change can be hard if you are not prepared for it.

Some signals that you are becoming complacent and risk not moving in the right direction include:

  • Not investing in new technologies
  • Resisting to new ideas and changes
  • Being comfortable with the status quo with no energy to move forward
  • Lack of momentum
  • Fear of failure

HINT: Not taking a risk may be worse than betting on an investment or launching a new idea. Calculate the opportunity costs and risks associated with doing nothing compared to doing something.

Why It Is Not Good

No one likes to drown, so why do we allow our businesses to do so in “calm” waters? You are treading water in a large body of water. You are comfortable in the water that you are in; the water is the perfect temperature, the sun is not too hot, and you are with friends. But as you tread the water… The sun goes down, waves get bigger, friends go home, and now you are all alone.

Treading water is wanting everything internally to stay the same and still expecting all the external factors to remain the same. After a short time, it becomes impossible to continue to do both. Competition moves forward and customers transfer their business to other companies, leaving you with a company without any innovation, progress, or cash. Getting stuck is not good as it decreases the value of your company, allows for an increase in the amount of competition, and has the potential to destroy the future of the company.

business movement

Competition

Forbes once said, “your competitor isn’t your real competition: status quo is.” Although the unknown may be scary, it’s important to compare the costs of investing in something to keep you moving forward versus staying complacent and letting your competition pass you by. If you stay in the status quo for long enough, not only will your current competition pass you up and take your customers but more competitors will flood your market.

Not doing anything at all is worse than trying and failing. The moment you decide not to take a risk when all odds are against you is the moment when a competing firm will take a risk.

Competition cannot be accounted for in the financials, but as a financial leader, you can guide your executive team to success. Download the 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs to see the bigger picture and steer your company in the right direction.

Loss of Business

Everyone should want to be the latest and greatest. So why would your customer stay with you if you haven’t changed/updated/reacted to new technologies that the customer expects to see?

If you were the customer, would you stay with a company that has stopped investing in their product or service or move to another company that has improved their services to adjust to the technology changes or the moving economy? Most people would choose the latter. My guess is you would too. Don’t lose business over being complacent!

Start Moving

business movementIn today’s world, it is no longer safe to just survive. In fact, companies must be working on the offensive side rather than the defensive side to succeed. What does this mean exactly?

Instead of reacting to a declining or expanding economic climate, it’s time to start making educated decisions before it is time to react. For example, our team at The Strategic CFO has consistently looked at what other companies in other industries are doing. If we felt that what they were doing was a good investment and we would be first-to-market in our specific industry, our team would “start moving.”

If times are slow, this is a great opportunity to improve your skills, train your staff, brainstorm, strategize, streamline your processes, and trim off some of the fat of your company. Invest a little in projects, marketing, and training. Although it seems counterintuitive to spend when sales are slow, you will be better equipped to grab a bigger share of the market when the economy picks back up.

It Starts with Leadership

If your company is just trying to maintain the status quo and is avoiding risk/innovation/change/etc., then it is lacking a real financial leader. As a financial leader, you must lead your company forward rather than keep your team in a holding pattern. To learn more financial leadership skills like managing your company’s ideas, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs. Find out how you can become a more valuable financial leader.

Business Movement

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Flash Report Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to manage your company before your financial statements are prepared.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

Business Movement

0

5 Cs of Credit – How to Be More Credit Worthy

Are you credit worthy? Right now, is your credit good enough for a lender to give you a loan or line of credit today? If your answer is no or if your not sure of your answer, take a look at the 5 Cs of Credit. This 5-point checklist allows loan officers to easily determine if you are going to be good for their banking business. Although, banks don’t strictly rely on only the 5 Cs of Credit, it’s good to know where they start.

But first, what are the 5 Cs of Credit?

5 Cs of Credit

The 5 Cs of Credit include cash flow, collateral, capital, character, and conditions.

5 cs of creditCash Flow

The bank need to know that your company can generate (and has generated) enough cash flow to pay off the debt. To increase your chances of getting approved for a loan, display how you have paid off debt before, had consistent cash flow, and plan to pay off debt in the future. Remember, cash is king. Because of that, this is one of the most important Cs.

If you need to improve your cash flow, download our free 25 Ways to Improve Cash flow whitepaper. Get approved for that loan!

Collateral

Unfortunately, some companies fail. Regardless of whether the company fails or not, the bank wants to make sure that it can be paid. The bank looks for sufficient collateral to cover the amount of the loan as the secondary source of repayment. This C allows the bank to cover all their bases because at the end of the day, they just want to be paid.

The bank wants to make sure it is protected if you cannot repay the loan. As a result, the bank will look into your savings, investments, and/or property.

5 cs of credit

Capital

Capital is a huge sign of commitment. One of the reasons why the bank looks at capital to approve a loan is to confirm that the company can weather any storm and ensure that the owner will not just walk out any day. The bank needs to know that there is a significant commitment, that being an investment, from the owners of the company.

Character

One of the suggestions we give to clients when developing a banking relationship is to take their banker out to lunch. This provides an opportunity for the banker to assess your character. What are they looking for? Integrity, honesty, respect, and other virtues reflect a good business person who will stick with their commitments in the good times and the bad. Sound character is critical in business. The banks want to feel safe when doing business with you.

Indicators of character include credit history and stability. The biggest question asked is, “will you be able to repay the debt?”

Conditions

With any business, there are external factors that could impact the company’s success. Therefore, the bank looks for conditions surrounding your business that may or may not pose a significant risk to your ability to succeed (and pay off your loan). If there is high risk, the banks will be more cautious when approaching you. But if the risks are small and do not impact any of the 5 Cs of Credit, then the bank is more willing to offer a loan.

Ask yourself: can you repay the debt?

Why do banks follow the 5 Cs of Credit?

In short, banks follow the 5 Cs of Credit to mitigate any risk related to loaning to a company. The risk a bank incurs from lending money to companies can be managed by assessing different areas of credit. Although not every bank uses this list, it’s safe to assume that when approaching a bank, you need to address each of these factors.

Relationships

Business deals with people; therefore, it is critical for the management (especially the owner/CEO/CFO) to have a good relationship with their banker. Imagine a random person coming into your office to ask for a $350,000 loan. Because you have no relationship with them, you don’t know how honest they are, if they have integrity, how willing they are to pay back the loan, how they do business, etc. Because there are a lot of unknowns, the risk increases dramatically.

Trust between a bank and a company is developed when you have proven that you are able to pay off your loans, have long-lasting relationships with customers, vendors, suppliers, etc., and alert the bank if your projections are a little off.

5 cs of creditWhat Lenders Look For

Lenders look to reduce their risk. They are willing to provide loans that may not have the highest return over risky loans with high returns. Areas of risk include the amount of credit used, the number of recent applications for loans, how much the company makes, and available collateral.

To start the process of applying for a loan, address areas that need to be fixed before the application, explain any red flags that your banker might raise, and prove you are credit worthy.

How to be More Credit Worthy

Creditworthiness is a valuation method banks use to measure their customers, your company. Although there may be slight differences between personal and business credit scores, it is a good start to improve your personal credit score. If you follow the same guidelines in your business, the company’s creditworthiness will increase.

Be more credit worthy by:

  • Paying bills on time
  • Pay more than just the minimum amount required
  • Manage credit card balances
  • Limit or manage the usage of debt

In addition to addressing the factors that directly impact your credit score, take a look at the 5 Cs of Credit. If you find yourself lacking in any one of those areas, make it a goal to increase your creditworthiness in that area over the next quarter. If you have decided to start tackling the first “C” – cash flow – download the free 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper. Make a big impact today with this checklist.

5 cs of credit

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Cash Flow Tuneup Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. This tool enables you to quantify the cash unlocked in your company.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

5 cs of credit

0

 Download Free Whitepaper Today!

ACCESS NOW!