Six growth tips from a Finance Director’s toolkit that could help you double your profit…
Since late 2009, I have worked with a small number of clients (just 25) and, my engagements have lasted from 3 months to 7 years.
Sometimes I help with a specific project, for example assisting with the recruitment of a financial controller OR helping to handle a tough cash situation OR helping to deal with a possible business acquisition or sale.
In the longer term engagements I get involved as a business advisor or part time Finance Director.
Through these continuing engagements I have helped 6 clients to double their profits or better.
I think “6” is a good strike rate, as I’ve only worked with 10 clients on a longer term basis (lasting 18 months or more). The SMEs are private companies so I will not give their names but the table below gives the statistics (years and profits) :-
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Obviously, I am very proud of the above table and I’ve found it very rewarding professionally to help all my clients. Clearly, these are great results for my clients as the value of their companies will have grown even more since the multiple used in valuing a company will increase as the companies grow their customer base and organisation.
There are four common themes that have helped these clients to achieve their profit growth and I have summarised my six growth tips, which contributed to their success and which now form my growth toolkit.
The four common themes are:
1 – In all six cases the clients are very experienced in their sector;
2 – They were always driven, committed and often good with people;
3 – They had commercial insights to bring to the market or a niche that they developed;
4 – They saw the benefit of functional diversity to their business. The owners were very strong commercially and wanted to strengthen the financial input to their top team.
What did I do?
My involvement mainly acts to increase the probability of success and reduce the chance of failure. I give constructive challenge and can bring in successful initiatives that I have seen work elsewhere. In 35 years in business I have also seen things go badly – so preventing problems or taking steps to reduce risk can add significant value.
My six growth tips that helped my clients achieve the results are:
I help the clients to articulate why they win and how they win currently and then develop insights as to how this can be improved going forward. My involvement here is to help sharpen the insights; develop a plan and help communicate it. Translate the ideas into a financial budget or revised forecast. Many SMEs don’t have a budget (pro-active plan).
I help the owners think through how the organisation will have to evolve over the next two – five years, if they are to reach their ambition.
Incentives / motivation
Improve or set up incentives that may be short term (e.g. bonuses or commissions) and/or long term (e.g. share options) that can be used to motivate existing team members and make them feel valued. These schemes can also be used to help owners recruit and add to their top team.
Some businesses can benefit from forming Contribution Centres. This has often delivered outstanding results financially but I think more importantly, this process helps the company organisationally. Leaders are developed for key parts of the business. Contribution centres often reduces stress on the owners AND add significant value as EbITDA multiples will respond to a strengthened management team.
What gets measured, gets done. There is a lot of academic material on this. I’m a believer, and therefore, I will upgrade the monthly tracking and give on-going coaching to the finance resources and senior management team. Putting the results in writing seems obvious but is often lacking.
I also train the existing finance team on how to produce the upgraded monthly results. This could also involve adding to the team or replacing the financial leader if needed.
Putting the elements together – synergy
By developing a good business plan, which is linked to incentive schemes that are tied to Contribution Centres with monthly tracking and reporting, can aid engagement and buy-in and motivate a top team. It works as the above results demonstrate.
I think many accountants can do some of the above items. However, it takes an experienced commercially minded Finance Director to bring it all together.