3 years ago I stepped out of the corporate world and became, what I didn't realise at the time, a virtual CFO for Banjo (Fintech lender).
I don't really like the word VCFO but it's what we have for now so let's just roll with it. Probably a blog on its own.
I wrote a post on the topic about how it was actually quite challenging being a VCFO of 1 (Power of One = Power of None).
I shared some lessons learnt which reasonated with many fellow VCFOs who I have met and even those who I hadn't heard of it in other countries around the world.
Since then I've also met many more virtual CFOs as many of those CFOs, like myself, were just running a single man or woman operation.
I (possibly some of them too) thought despite the fact of running my own business, it really didn't feel like I was building a scalable business with a good work life balance.
Long hours and weekends, but that's all now changed.
I had no choice but to disrupted my own role with this post, “Why I disrupted my own role and you should do the same”.
I also know of a few VCFOs who struggled so much, just like I did, to build the dream business and ultimately gave it all up to go back to a full time role, earning much less but removing the stress, increasing their take home pay but sadly not fulfilling their dream.
I also decided to join SequelCFO and help our CFOs (Financial Mentors) leverage and scale their time using technology, which I had done in Banjo.
More recently I have handed the keys to the operationally efficient Banjo role to one of the Sequel CFOs in the group.
Now SequelCFO offers those CFOs the most cutting edge technologies and training including much needed sales training on our in-house digital LMS (Learning Management System).
The important thing to learn is that change is constant and we have to constantly change too, even if its just to stand still and not fail.
At times I have felt like all I was doing was standing still, never quite cracking through the pain barrier.
Refocus on your why?
I am a huge Simon Sinek fan.
Building a business that is not grounded in your own purpose (why?) is very dangerous.
Getting paid for your time or making a profit is not a purpose but an outcome (many miss this point).
Make sure your purpose is clear and try stick to it. It can evolve on the edges but every morning you wake up it should be front of mind.
How are you going to fulfill your purpose today?
My primary focus is helping finance professionals or business owners adopt or use the ever evolving skills and tech landscape of finance, centred mainly around financial modeling.
In doing so I assess/research and even develop new ones to educate and communicate this knowledge.
As the Group CFO / CTO of SequelCFO this is a big task but also very rewarding as I get to play with cool new tech stuff.
So much of our roles today in finance is linked to technology so I continue along this path and through it add more value to business owners, founders, startups and other keen Finance professionals wanting to learn.
Our CFOs just don't have the time to research all the tools out there, so I get to do it for them, so they stay ahead and become even more efficient.
How do you avoid the mistakes I made?
If you find yourself questioning your purpose then it might be time to consider the following key learnings.
1. Price for value not time
Most service businesses still charge for time. With time being a limited resource so is your revenue potential. If your purpose is not valued you will get stuck with time and materials.
2. Learn, adjust, execute and repeat.
Learn from mistakes, fix them and make the tough calls. You can never avoid mistakes but you can avoid learning from them which is much worse. Learn and repeat all over again till you have the right solutions that are aligned to your purpose.
3. It's not about you, but your customers that define success.
We assisted clients raise capital, list on the ASX, solve business complexities, negotiate with government and navigate the cashflow pinch. Success is not just the outcome but the journey on how you got your clients there.
4. Hire or invest in systems, processes and people that can do a better job than you.
Focus on your strength, doing admin work is not it. Selling and keeping customers happy is and should always be your number 1 focus. Keeping focus on this as it has to be the highest priority, ahead of admin work and in some cases even delivery.
5. Surround yourself with great people that share and support your purpose.
This is not just a mentor, although having one (and being one) is certainly recommended. I gain support and mentorship from many different people all over the world.
6. Sales, sales, sales.
If you not doing sales and marketing related activities every day and stuck working in vs on the business it will not end well. I experienced this over 12 months ago when I had too much work and my global team wasn't fully established.
Sales is a process and without leads and conversion you simply don't have a business.
7. Practice what you preach.
Look forward and create value not a job.
If you are seriously considering leaving your cushy/shitty job to start a business being a financial mentor then you need to think of what that looks like.
Businesses out there have an accountant and bookkeeper but really need someone to help them look forward, and you might well be the person to do it.
But do you have the infrastructure to execute on that value?
If you don't setup your business for success and reskill/train yourself, which SequelCFO offers and got an award nomination, then it's really going to end up in tears.
If you want to learn more follow us and read more about the content we are planning to release on the Future of Financial Modeling and Finance.
I encourage you to take a peak at my past articles on financial modeling which is the foundation of business decision making, planning and forecasting.
We have also redesigned our website to help you along your journey of levelling up in this space.
We will continue to discuss this topic and you can click to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn or subscribe to our short but sweet newsletter.
Be sure to check out our pods and video page.
Here are also some past/present blogs that might be of interest.
Lance Rubin is the Founder of Model Citizn, partner of theOutperformer, approved training provider to the Financial Modeling Institute and Group CFO for SequelCFO.
Lance has more than 20 years of combined experience working in model audit, investment banking, corporate finance, finance business partner and Fintech CFO.
Organisations he has worked with include PwC, KPMG, National Australia Bank, Investec Bank and Banjo small business lender.