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March 09 - Business Advice - Finance

8 Things To Know About Holding Your Own CFO Meetings

Our VCFO service has gone off with a bang and it’s not hard to understand why – small to medium businesses get all the perks of a CFO but with a bigger team and a much (much) smaller expense. However! Not all of you are quite there yet, and that’s absolutely okay. 

VCFO meetings are a key part of our service and are incredibly valuable, for numerous reasons. They allow you to reflect, plan and problem solve, all through the lens of your numbers – which means smart decision making and future proofing. You can hold your own CFO meeting yearly, every six months or even quarterly. Here’s some of what we run through in ours:

  1. Where are the problems, what are you trying to fix? Be *honest* with yourself. As business owners it’s easy to let pride get in the way and giving and receiving truthful feedback can be hard to hear, and even harder to come up with yourself. For a business to succeed, (we’ll be blunt) this is something you have to get over. If you take a step back and look at it not only from an owner’s perspective but also from an employees, a stakeholders or a client’s perspective, where are the issues in your business? What needs to change? This could be something obvious like profit, or something more detailed like the conversion rate of your add to cart vs sale ratio online. 
  1. Financial results vs budget. If you don’t have a budget, you can’t measure your performance – it’s that simple. Let’s assume you do have a budget (if not, start there). Compare what you forecasted versus your actual results. What happened? Did you go over or under budget, a bit of both? It’s important to set financial targets here, particularly if this is your first ‘CFO’ meeting.
  1. With financials done, it’s time to talk strategy. Again if this is your first meeting, you might need to backtrack and create a business plan first. Do you have a strategy document? A short term and long term, fleshed out plan? What about a marketing strategy? Sales and growth? If you do have all these ducks in a row, reflect on your strategy and see what needs updating, or use it to help guide your next moves.
  1. Identify three things that are working really well. Not only is this a confidence booster, it’s a good reminder of where your strengths lie and potentially where you should be spending more of your time and effort. Why are they working so well and how could these learnings be applied elsewhere in the business?
  1. Identify three things that could be going better. Again, honesty is key here. Why aren’t they doing well, and do you need to cut them loose? Or, can you learn and do better? 
  1. Outside of business performance, look at people performance. This can’t be measured properly unless you have formalised job descriptions and some form of performance review template, that’s done regularly with each team member. We suggest enlisting the help of a HR professional if you don’t have someone in-house. Regular catch ups with your team – both casually and formally – will allow you to keep on top of where they’re at performance wise but also overall personally and professionally. Honest lines of communication are crucial to ensure the happiness of your team, and happy people are productive people. Have a look at your own management style and listen to the feedback of those around you. Does anything need to change in this regard? Managing people is one of the hardest tasks as a business owner and we should all be evolving in this sense, constantly.
  1. If your business is online, drill into those stats – what are your website numbers looking like? Social media campaigns? Digital marketing as a whole? Look at your ROI, and your individual channels. Assess their performance and decide what needs more or less investment, or a complete overhaul.
  1. Once you’ve gotten through all the above content, it’s time to set action items. Assign people to each item and set due dates. Keep each other accountable and make sure the meeting actually incites changes.

On a different but related note… we all know the pain of a poorly run meeting. It’s like pulling teeth and falling asleep at the same time. Now that you know what you’re talking about, here are our top tips for good meeting structure (might seem obvious but we bet you don’t all stick to these): 

  • Arrive on time! 
  • Mobiles off, no distractions
  • Have an agenda pre-circulated and stick to it – No agenda = no attenda!
  • Also pre-circulate any reports that will be discussed
  • Hold your meetings at the same time each month/quarter/year 

If this is something that’s currently sitting in the too-hard-basket, you know where to find us. We offer different VCFO options for our clients and would love to give you a hand.