For small business owners, we are the CEO, CFO, or Controller.
For those of you who know us at Timm Funk Associates, you know we specialize in small to medium-sized businesses in the local Sioux City area, many of which manage large inventories. Of the number of inventory-based clients we serve, 80% have needed assistance tracking this critical component of their businesses.
When I have a conversation with a Siouxland small business owner, it often starts with something simple. The conversation in my meeting today was no different. "My sales staff needs a quoting tool to ensure consistent margins," asked this particular Sioux City CEO. "Can you develop one?"
During the course of this discussion, and further discussions with sales and operations staff, I was able to see overarching trends that were causing 10% or more in lost margins. The sales team didn’t understand labor requirements, the operations team didn’t understand the expected hours of work for each job, and customers could get a different quote for the same order each time they ordered it.
It became apparent that the complex product offering provided by this company would not be served by a simple price list; it required a quoting system that could tie all the aspects of the business together to increase consistency, efficiency, and profit margins. To work properly, the quoting tool would also need to maximize technician productivity, especially since analysis uncovered labor costs that were 20% higher than required.
In the case of this particular Siouxland business, what seemed like a simple request for a quoting tool became something different entirely. And it came with some amazing results.
More and more Siouxland small businesses are incorporating part-time CFOs into their executive teams--and for good reason. A Chief Financial Officer can provide many financial and operational services that many CEOs and business owners have little time, training, or patience for, and having the professional experience available on a part-time basis not only makes it accessible, but also affordable.
According to the Small Business Administration, anywhere between 400,000 and 600,000 small businesses close their doors each year. While retirement and acquisitions account for some of these closings, the majority of exiting companies go out of business for largely preventable reasons.
They say no man is an island, and no small business is, either. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs know what roles they can handle, and which ones are better left to those who are better equipped. The truth is, there are only so many hours in a day and only so many things entrepreneurs can do well while awake.
Running a business in Siouxland is not for the faint of heart, or for those who despise financial analytics. Whether a company has two employees or 40, business owners often have to grapple with historical data, current performance, and forecasts; a tough job in and of itself when you aren't also wearing at least five other executive hats.
It can be tricky to know when you can handle the role as an executive finance officer on top of your other duties and when your company is best served by hiring a part-time CFO. If you are contemplating the decision, consider these three questions.