Time To Transform Your Business

If you read my last post on Blueberry Hill and how they found the strength to change from being risk averse in order to achieve their dreams, you’ll want to know what the secret ingredient was.

Time out
Time - that most precious commodity. Most business owners and drivers have the creative talent to take their business to the next level, but more than often they don’t have the time needed to let that creativity really breathe. To breathe like it did in the early days when great ideas built their business on the back of some hard graft. But that was then and this is now. Now all their time is spent running the business, keeping it on an even keel, fire-fighting, calling customers. Where did the creativity time slot go?

They've got the answers within themselves but they’re so wrapped up in running their business to think about anything else.

Creative thinking
Enter the commercially creative Financial Director for a few minutes. We set about facilitating ‘time outs’ where they can think creatively about their business for half a minute, half an hour or half a day. Time after time it’s fascinating to see how their old business creativity genes start kicking in and dreams start forming in front of your eyes. But then I like to make sure we act quickly and turn those half ideas into smart, solid plans for the business. From the plans come the strategies and I make sure that they’re held accountable to seeing that those strategies are executed within a set time frame. Dreams don’t get anyone anywhere – but plans do.

Now we’re talking business.


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Risk Averse Is The Biggest Risk Of All

Let me tell you about a company I’m working with. For confidentiality let’s call them Blueberry Hill for this blog post. Blueberry has five Directors and make decisions on a consensual basis. They are all hitting their fifties and when I first went to see them they all had a shared ambition to exit in three to five years time. But (and this was a big but), they had no plans to grow the business in a way that would enable them to realise that shared dream. Why? Because they were risk averse and their product offerings had consequently grown stale. They thought they were swimming hard but they were just treading water.

I sat down with them, and they talked me through how they wanted to realise X million out of the business. Then I talked them through how, on their current growth path, they were not going to get anywhere near achieving their dreams. 

Expanding horizons
That got their attention. Now they were interested enough to spend some time and energy thinking creatively. Thinking about what else they could do, what they could change, how they could capture more market share and crucially how they could engineer an increase in profitability. That led to a really fascinating session where they moved radically into widening their horizon from Business to Business commerce to include the Business to Consumer sector. That was new for them!

Blueberry Hill is now well on the way to taking those guys to the place they always dreamed about. That's the difference sitting down for a chat with a creative Financial Director can make.

Fancy a chat, FD Centre style?


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Are You Small (business) Minded?

There is a small business mindset that prevents the most promising companies from reaching even a fraction of their potential. I’m reminded of those fabulous Bonsai trees which live out their lives in a tiny pot. Beautifully perfect, yes, but they could be so much bigger!

Part of that mindset holds that Finance Directors are a requirement only for really big companies. But actually, any company that is looking to grow will benefit from partnering with an FD and also enjoying the reduction of risk that they bring with them to a small business.

Turn over a new leaf
I’ve just been working with a company that had a very modest half million turnover. We transformed that into five million through putting in place the systems that would help them to grow. It meant that they didn't reach that blockage which small companies often reach if they started out as a sole trader on their own. Typically many small family businesses whose owner is more than happy pulling in a 50k salary and with a pension sorted are those that get stuck. Their accountant is doing a great job monitoring their progress and ensuring they are on an even keel but the company runs aground and stops moving forward. Stops growing.

Get growing!
But if a business wants to grow; it needs to think again. It needs to think out of the pot! Because it’s at that point, where they are stuck at the one to two million turnover level that they need to say to themselves: ‘Let’s get some expert financial help on board and start moving forward again - now”.

That’s where a commercially minded part time Financial Director will come alongside them and take them through the growth steps in a smooth, planned way. Effectively re-planting them in the great outdoors where they have the room, vision and strategy to reach their full potential.

So how does a part time Financial Director do that? Stay tuned!


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How FD's Turn Dreams Into Plans

The old misconception that a Financial Director is just an overpaid accountant is fast disappearing from the Thames Valley business world, and that’s largely due to FD’s like those at the Thames Valley FD Centre changing that misconception at grass roots level, in and amongst the local business community.

The Unique Approach 
It doesn't take long once one of our Financial Directors starts working with a business for it to experiencing the unique approach we bring. Actually there are two different types of customers. There are customers who have set up on their own having previously worked for large companies. These guys know what value an FD can bring to a business as they have seen their added value for themselves. They will take a part time FD on board at the earliest opportunity. On the other hand there’s the self-made man or woman who has never worked for a large organisation and is therefore unfamiliar with commercial finance people, or ‘bean growers’ as I like to call them. Someone like that, who has set up on their own in business and become relatively successful, doesn't realise how much a commercial FD can grow their business.

The Next Level 
The fact is that with an FD they could take themselves to the next level and become a much more successful business. In a much faster time frame.  They are able to take the carefully calculated initiatives they wouldn’t otherwise have even considered because they have all the information and with that, the confidence to take risks.

A lot of businesses get stuck in a rut and can't move beyond their current turnover and profit levels. This is often around the one or two million turnover mark but varies by business. It is the stage where to profitably grow the business; the owner needs to rely on the skills of people other than herself and needs to take decisions that may well be outside her own comfort level.

Turn Dreams Into Plans
An FD will come in and say “OK, let’s look at the whole market, let’s look at other areas you could go into, let’s look at the skills you need to take the business to that next level and let’s look at the best way of financing this growth”. You may even find yourself raising finance for the first time which can be a scary prospect but, once that’s securely in place, we can turn those dreams into plans.


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An FD Spills the finance beans

Bean counters vs bean growers:
Understanding the difference can save and make your fortune.

A bean counter, or Financial Accountant looks at your company’s history and identifies what has been achieved in the past. They should give you a good analysis of where you have managed to make your money and where you have suffered losses. Bean counters focus on the number details, making sure that any figures put in front of you are 100% correct. A good bean counter can quickly spot figures that are worrying enough to signal the alarm.

Really good bean counters, those that I would like to work with, are not only on top of the numbers but call us in as soon as an alarm bell rings.

A bean grower, or Finance Director is something else entirely. The Thames Valley FD Centre is full of bean growers and they're very different creatures to bean counters. We Financial Directors are the people who look at the numbers and say “How can we use those numbers to grow your business?”  Bean growing FD’s will take the numbers and slice and dice the business so that you really understand how and where you can be getting the best bang for your buck.

We FD's analyse the numbers in different ways to identify which parts of the business are profitable and which are making a loss. We then formulate a plan to grow the business knowing that every ounce of energy is working to get the results the company is looking to achieve.

Thames Valley FD Centre bean growers will help you plan ahead, sow the seeds for the future and give your company a clear pathway into realising your business goals and financial dreams.

Come on, let’s get growing!