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The Simple Way to Dominate Your Market

Want an easy way to outsmart your competitors and dominate your market? One that doesn’t involve an investment of time or funds in social media, Google AdWords, email marketing, SEO or any of the usual suspects.

Nor will you have to employ a swathe of graduates from Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard to carry this one out on your behalf.

It’s one that will give your organisation a distinct and profitable advantage over the majority of SMEs, no matter your industry or specialty.

So what is it?

Well, you may be surprised to discover that it’s the oh-so-humble business plan. Yes, that often derided document can indeed give your company a distinct competitive advantage over the rest of your market. (If you’d like to find out more about how to create and use an effective business plan/implementation timetable as a working document to keep your business on track to achieving your desired objectives, you can download a free report now by clicking here.)

Our experience, and just about every survey you read, shows that SMEs who have and use a business plan are consistently more successful and more profitable than those that don’t. A survey commissioned by business and finance software provider Exact, for example, found companies with a business plan were consistently more profitable (70%) than those that did not (52%).

So why don’t all SMEs have a business plan, one that details the company’s operating and financial targets, its strategic direction, and tactics? Apparently, many don’t consider it necessary. Or their entrepreneurial owners like to keep everything ‘in their head’. That’s probably fine for a start-up but fatal for a growing company.

There are so many benefits to having and using a well-constructed business plan. It will help you and your management team to:

  • Clarify objectives and develop suitable strategies
    • Understand your market
    • Identify and overcome internal and external threats
    • Seize opportunities
    • Organise the company
    • Raise external funding
    • Obtain raw materials
    • Develop new products or services
    • Generate sales
    • Comply with regulations, define job duties, etc.

There’s a catch however. While having a business plan is mission-critical, creating it can be arduous, which is probably why so few SMEs have one.

After all, thinking through objectives and likely outcomes which may occur many years down the line is, by nature, challenging. But it is the hard work up front which makes for lighter work down the road as all of our team of part-time FDs will attest to.

It’s the case that most CEOs and MDs just don’t have the time to spend on quality strategic thinking and to document and communicate that thinking in a way which allows the whole business to buy into the vision.

Likewise, they don’t have the time and specialist knowledge to manage such a business plan.

That’s unfortunate because a business plan provides CEOs, MDs and management with an ability to foresee threats and opportunities and course-correct when necessary.

Not spending quality time on strategic planning usually leads to a chaotic working environment. Opportunities get missed. Threats aren’t identified until it is too late. Small wonder that the business owners who reach out to us often talk about ‘not feeling in control’ and ‘not really knowing what is coming around the next corner’.

Business planning and getting it right brings a real sense of clarity and direction to a business – this is where an experienced FD or CFO can make a significant contribution. They can help you to create and manage a highly-effective implementation timetable.

CFOs often possess a different albeit complementary set of skills to CEOs/MDs. What’s more, they can act as devil’s advocate to ask the right questions and help to steer the company in the right direction. Meanwhile, you can get on with what you do best. This 3-minute video explains the part-time FD/CFO model in a little more detail.

Now, if you’re like many SMEs, you probably don’t have the resources or the need to employ a full-time CFO. So what can you do? You can try to manage the entire process on your own. Or, you can make it easy on yourself and your management team by hiring a part-time CFO to manage the entire process for you.

The CFO Centre will provide you with a world-class CFO with ‘big business experience’ for a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO. It’s the business equivalent of having an Olympic coach to help your business thrive.

To get started, just book your free one-to-one call with one of our business planning experts today—just click here now.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Finance Directors

Colin Mills – Founder & CEO, The FD Centre Limited (www.thefdcentre.co.uk)

So, to be a highly effective FD in your business, you have to be up to date on all the latest accounting standards, be really up to speed on the latest developments in tax legislation and spend long hours in your office reviewing reconciliations and signing off VAT returns. That’s right isn’t it?

NO.

Our experience over ten years suggests that highly effective FDs need a rather different set of skills to be effective and “make a difference” in the businesses they work for. With over 100 FDs providing FD services to a number of SME’s each on a part time basis, we understand what it takes to be a great FD!

Here are the top 7 Habits for effective FDs:-

1. Competence
2. “Bean Growers” not “Bean Counters”
3. Build a team outside the business as well as in it
4. Manage up as well as down
5. Communication is everything
6. Passionate
7. Sharpening the Saw

Competence
There’s no getting away from it that an Accounting qualification and experience gained being a real life FD counts for a lot. FDs will be judged initially on how well they keep the score, solve financial problems in the business and direct management attention to the things that matter financially. Although it starts here, this is not where it stops! Other key habits are:-
Bean Growing, not Bean Counting
Highly effective FDs should come with Business, Commercial and Strategic skills that are super strong. Super financial skills are merely a pre-requisite.

Team Orientation
Teamwork is key for the modern day FD. As well as the ability to build their own team, highly effective FDs must be able to work effectively with the management team of the business and develop relationships outside the business to provide a strong network of support professionals.

People Skills
“Soft skills” are the hard skills these days. Managing down, across and most importantly up to MDs and business owners is key. Being a great FD and doing the FD “stuff” is not sufficient in adding real value to the business. People need to be brought with you.
Communication
The way you communicate and get your point across is critical to making a difference. Influence and persuasion skills are massively important to be highly effective.

Passionate
Yes “passionate”. High energy levels and having some fun is an important factor in effectiveness. What FDs do is a serious business, but it doesn’t have to be dour, and nobody likes a bore!

Sharpening the Saw

Keeping fresh and finding time to keep up to date is vital in this fast moving world. This relates to all the effectiveness habits not just technical skills!

FDs who want to make a difference to their businesses should work on these habits to become highly effective. Those that can master all these skills will find themselves in very high demand!

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