A few years ago we wrote a blog about the importance of a CFO in a small business. Most small businesses either think they don't need one or that they can do it themselves. I think this topic is important enough to re-do the blog on the CFO.
In small businesses executives must wear many hats. There simply isn't enough revenue to fund specialists in various "non-direct" areas like accounting. For this reason alone, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) duties are often carried out either by a founder with limited financial experience or carried out by someone who does not have enough time to devote to the duties to do the job in a complete and efficient manner. As a result, the business usually suffers. To hire, as a consultant, an outsourced CFO for your business you can focus on the tasks that will bring the most benefit to your firm again and rest assured that the financial health and strategic growth of the company are being watched. Here is a quick list of the top 5 reasons for hiring a consultant to serve as your CFO:
- Cash flow: Cash flow is the lifeblood of a small government contractor or subcontractor. Managing cash for a small government contractor requires knowledge of government contract types and specific clauses related to contract payment. Negotiating the most favorable terms may mean the difference between long term success or failure of the contract and possibly even the firm.
- Pricing: Pricing in the proposal stage of a contract is crucial. Knowing how to leverage government cost rules when budgeting and pricing new proposals will directly affect cash flow after the award of the contract. With all the FAR regulations and other flow-downs on most government contracts it is critical that the small business has an expert CFO that can anticipate and construct pricing models that will be in the best interests of the firm going forward.
- Compliance: Depending on your mix and dollar amounts of the contracts, your financial and business systems may be heavily scrutinized by the government. Most small businesses simply don't have the expertise to survive the scrutiny if it focuses on your firm. An experienced outsourced CFO can provide that expertise and stability.
- Profitability: Success as a government contractor means monitoring profits and threats to performance on a job-by-job basis. Understanding the special contractual obligations imposed by government work is key to assuring this success. Understanding all of the government's complex matrix of requirements and applying them strategically can also lead to the maximization of a limited "fee" under government contracting guidelines.
- Company Vision: An outsourced CFO provides a "second set of independent eyes" on your business that assures the best possible long term strategy. This helps control costs because you pay for only the CFO duties that you need and don't need to pay 6 figures to receive the benefit of this position. A part-time CFO makes you look "bigger" and helps assure the government of your ability to survive and grow in the market. Also, by hiring a consultant you may have the benefit of more than one CFO at the outsourced agency that can "poll" their ideas and strategies resulting in a better final strategy for the small business. To top it all off, this is an allowable expense for government contractors.