Michael Burton, RD at the FD Centre in the North and West Yorkshire (part of The CFO Centre Group)
Back in 2018, Michael exited a small medical device business that he had set up with his business partner. There were no hard feelings and the decision was theirs – they had set up the UK operation for an Indian manufacturer and had agreed on an exit plan for when they’d built it to a certain size.
With a wealth of experience in pharmaceutical and medical sales, Michael has led national and international sales operations for different businesses, all building long term relationships within the NHS. After exiting the business, he was finding it tricky to decide on his next move as he knew he didn’t want to commit to 3-4 nights away from home as he had done in previous positions within the corporate world.
Looking through LinkedIn, he stumbled across the RD role with the FD Centre. The name rang a bell and Michael realised that he’d worked with a principal from the FD Centre when he helped to set up a contract sales division for a recruitment company over ten years ago. He called up his old contact and the rest is history.
Michael now enjoys the autonomy to run his own region and as his contacts are all local, there’s a lot less travel than he was used to in his old role. He’s also in control of his own diary:
“As a Regional Director, I’m able to structure my days however suits me. With a team of highly skilled FDs and the support of the wider team, I feel like I’ve finally achieved the right balance.”
When reflecting on the interview process, Michael describes how the job is everything he expected it to be:
“Everything I was told before I joined is absolutely true – I’m surrounded by good people and there’s a supportive structure. Without all the corporate clutter, my mind is free to focus on the positive things.”
Hearsay, you may shout! How can I possibly run my business without a budget? Can I hold managers accountable? How can I reward and incentivise my staff to perform?
And, most importantly, how do I measure my financial performance on a monthly basis? All these are very valid questions, but an annual business budget is not the best financial management tool to achieve this and can drive limiting behaviours.
What if I were to say there is a better way. A way that improves financial performance and increases employee engagement. This way is known as Beyond Budgeting.
Let’s remind ourselves of the 3 core objectives of any business budget:
It sets a target i.e. what we want to happen
It acts as a forecast i.e. what we think will happen
It’s there to allocate the company’s resources i.e. capital expenditure
A business budget is both a target and a forecast. How can one number be both things?
A budget sets a ceiling on performance, once it has been met what is the motivation to keep going? After all, you are only going to get a bigger target next year. “A new survey from Clutch just revealed close to two thirds or 61% of small businesses don’t have an official documented budget”. smallbiztrends.com
A budget sets out fixed costs with a plan of how we intend to get to our destination and it also allocates company resources accordingly. The world never ends up being how we planned it, so why do so many of us continue to follow – and stick to – the budgeted plan that is now out of date?
Many businesses witness a drop, both in employee performance and their motivation levels just because a large customer went bust during the year. This sees them losing any hope of commissions or bonuses just after the first quarter and you don’t need to be an expert to understand that this is not good for business.
These conflicts that arise due to budget conflicts need to be resolved as they can cause serious disruptions. We can resolve them by separating them and having different management processes.
Setting a small target that will take 12 months to achieve is not ambitious enough. Why not reach for the stars? If the target is met in 12 months maybe it wasn’t ambitious enough. If the target isn’t ambitious enough, you give yourself very little chance to achieve big things.
The world outside our businesses does not beat to the sound of our company’s financial year-end. Many of the important business decisions are made in the last few months of a financial year to hit a budget number, that was set 15 months earlier. This lack of strategy shows the ineffectiveness of business budgets as the only means to measure performance.
Often these decisions cost the business in the subsequent months. Time is a continual line; we should manage our businesses in the same way. The numbers that we make budgets for, get added up every 12 months (the previous year) to pay business loans, not to manage decision making.
Wondering how you can make better decisions in the light of the numbers that your business generates by not being dependent on a budgeting worksheet that you keep on following every year? You can do this using rolling 12 forecasts. Using this technique, you can forecast what you believe will happen in the next 12 months. Every month, you renew this and plan for the coming 12 months without limiting yourself to a specific period.
This helps you in understanding if you are closing the gap on your target or are you going away from it. If you’re closing the gap, keep repeating what’s working, if you’re drifting away, try something new. Measure, report, assess and repeat, never stop seeking to improve.
Allocate cash flow based on the opportunity, as it arises. Empower management to make decisions that improve customer service, delivery and seize the opportunity when it arises. Simplify decision-making for resource allocation and keep the process simple and easy. It does require rigor – just enough to make sure everything’s well thought through.
Lead your business by establishing clear values, goals, and boundaries. Delegate responsibility to those closest to the customer; give teams and management autonomy and freedom to act. Promote transparency. Bad news is to be shared openly, so the remedial decisions can be made quickly.
Create bonus pools, not individual targets. You want everyone in the business pulling in the same direction.
The process of how small business manages its financial decisions is a culture driver. By managing your business using the above processes, it will change the culture and drive performance and increase employee engagement, improving staff retention and customer satisfaction. A happy employee is the most important step that leads to a happy customer.
So, let’s go beyond budgeting and business budget templates to break the glass ceiling that these budgets set and unlock the potential of your employees and their abilities.
An FD Centre client, METIS Aerospace Ltd, based in Lincoln, is to be featured in a BBC2 Horizon documentary to be shown on Monday 1st July 2019 at 9.30pm.
The programme entitled “Britain’s next air disaster? Drones” will describe the proliferation of drone ownership in the UK and the potential consequences of their negligent or malicious use.
The program will include interviews at London Southend Airport with Alex Cruikshank, Chief Technical Officer of Metis Aerospace demonstrating the capabilities of one of the world’s leading drone detection systems, SKYPERION.
Skyperion works by detecting the radio signals between the drone in flight and the pilot. The RF detection is complementary to other systems such as radar and cameras thereby providing an extremely reliable multi-layered approach to drone detection. This will be key in preventing the incursion of drones into the airspace around airports, thus ensuring ‘Britain’s next air disaster’ is not the result of a collision between an aircraft and a drone.
IMKO LONDON is a complete ‘full service’ general contractor and construction management company. Our experienced management team has the knowledge and experience in the mechanical, electrical, structural and architectural fields to find and eliminate unforeseen challenges in the construction process, providing solutions to these issues up front. This approach helps to eliminate project risks providing program and budget certainty on each project.
Mykola, the managing director is an established business owner and successful entrepreneur in the extremely dense and challenging construction industry in London. Specialise in high-end and luxury residential makeovers, basements, extensions and new build with over 14 years experience. In addition to construction, successful property investor and developer with projects in London and Home Counties.
At IMKO LONDON everybody works hard to make sure that the three most important principles of the construction industry are upheld on every project: time, quality and value. We use CRM and project programming software, seeking to maximize results and value in every area of our business. We work with our clients to save them money without compromising quality in each phase of the construction process. We are always seeking new ways through technology, research and innovation to maximize the value of each project while eliminating the extra cost and completing each project in the time agreed. These can be extremely important, protecting your investment and budget from the effects of a volatile market.
We can guarantee this because of the professionals that work with IMKO LONDON. Our staffs understand the importance of the processes we use and the safety standards by which we operate. We live for the challenges that come with each construction project and we believe that our success is based on the extra effort we give.
One of IMKO LONDON’s recently completed project was a near 8000 sq ft family house with complete renovation and refurbishment and expanding the space with a sunroom and orangery extensions adding 2000 sq ft living space. The dated building required extensive works to modernise the steel structure and build a new foundation and a whole new roof. Inside every bathroom got refurbished and the kitchen was updated to modern standards to harmonise with the other parts of the house which all received its caring touch to make this house a lovely and welcoming warm home for our dear customers.
Check out the video below for a walkthrough of the newly completed family house:
The quicker you want your company to achieve its goals, the sooner you should consider hiring a part-time FD or CFO.
That’s because a part-time FD or CFO will provide your company with the high-level financial expertise necessary to scale up (things you and your team may not even be aware you need), for a fraction of the cost of a full-time FD/CFO.
Hiring a part-time FD or CFO provides your company with many advantages that really help it to grow and stand out in any marketplace. But here are the top nine advantages you and your employees and stakeholders can expect when you hire a part-time FD/CFO.
By hiring a part-time rather than full-time FD or CFO, you can avoid the often-hefty recruitment and hiring costs (and the delays they inevitably entail). What’s more, you can hire a part-time FD or CFO for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. You won’t have to offer a benefits package or bonuses to retain the appointee.
Your part-time FD or CFO will provide you with strategic analysis and support on every financial aspect of your business. A report from the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) described CFOs as “critical to the success of start-up and early-stage growth companies” since they provide key insights. It found CFOs play key roles in not only managing a young and fast-growing company’s finances but also in setting broader strategic goals and establishing and achieving financial and non-financial milestones.
What’s more, part-time CFOs or FDs can highlight potential threats or risks of which you and your team may be unaware or perhaps don’t know how to deal with.
You can use the services of your part-time CFO or FD for what you need when you need it. That could be for a variety of different financial functions or a specific project. This means you and your CFO or FD can tailor the role to suit your company’s needs at any time.
Multiple industry experience
Although you can choose to work with part-time CFOs or FDs who have direct experience in your given industry, you can also opt to work with those that have experience across multiple industries. The advantage will be that your CFO or FD will provide you with access to networks and multi-layered insights that you might not otherwise have.
The loss of major contracts, customers or employees can be devastating for any business. Your part-time FD or CFO will be able to help you and your team navigate your way out of the crisis. This could include producing short-term cashflow reports, identifying costs that can be cut, producing new financial forecasts, and helping with raising vital funds.
He’s seen first-hand what pressure does to business owners.
“I’ve sat in sales meetings with entrepreneurs who had literally been brought to tears by stress and frustration and the feeling that it’s all too much.”
That’s where a part-time FD or CFO can help. He or she can act as an independent sounding board for the over-burdened, stressed-out business owner. With their ‘big business’ experience, it’s more than likely CFOs or FDs can provide solutions to what can seem like overwhelming problems to the CEOs of growing businesses.
Mentorship for your team
Part-time CFOs help to establish sound reporting systems and tools that help improve reporting metrics and communications to investors. They can also act as mentors to members of your existing finance team, guiding them where necessary and providing the advice they need to rise to new challenges.
Access to a national and international network
If you choose a part-time CFO or FD from an organisation like the FD Centre, you’ll benefit from the expertise from all the FDs in its worldwide network. That’s hundreds of years of experience in every aspect of finance—all for a fraction of the cost of employing a single full-time FD.
You won’t get left behind
If you’re still hesitating about whether now is the right time to hire a part-time FD/CFO, consider the sorry tale of Kodak—a company that got left behind, despite once being one of the most powerful companies in the world.
Kodak was once known for innovation (being the creator of the Box Brownie camera, Kodachrome film and the Instamatic). Here’s what’s remarkable—a Kodak engineer Steve Sasson developed the world’s first digital camera way back in the mists of time (actually, 1975). Okay, it was the size of a toaster, took 20 seconds to capture low-quality images which had to be viewed on a TV. But still… it had the potential to disrupt the market massively.
The company poured billions into developing the technology to take photos using mobile phones and other digital devices but delayed acting on it due to fears digital technology would destroy its film and photographic developing business. It failed to act fast enough and to identify the opportunities posed by digital technology.
On January 19, 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, then exited its legacy businesses and sold off its patents. It re-emerged in 2013, albeit in a vastly slimmed down version of its former self.
If you want to avoid becoming a post-script or salutary tale in your market, appoint a part-time FD or CFO. He or she will provide you and your team with strategic help and advice to recognise threats and to seize opportunities—thanks to vast experience and expertise.
The FD Centre (and CFO Centres) offer the services of part-time FDs or CFOs with big business experience who can use what they know to help your company achieve rapid yet sustainable growth. What’s more, they’ll help remove fear, confusion, and stress from the entire process.
To discover how the FD Centre (or CFO Centre) will help your company to scale up, please call us on 0800 169 1499 or contact us here.
How it works
The FD Centre’s part-time FDs use a proven framework known as the ‘12 Boxes’ to identify where the problems are within any business. They use it to review every aspect of your company finance function and identify every problem area.
They will help you to understand your company’s finances and not only eliminate cash flow problems and identify cost-savings but also to improve profits.
They can also help you and your team to understand your main profit drivers; find and arrange funding; identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help you to expand nationally and internationally; and build value to make your business more attractive to investors or buyers. To discover more about the 12 Boxes, click here.
To find out how an FD Centre part-time FD or CFO will help your business, contact us now on 0808 164 8902. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, click here. You can see how they add rocket fuel to any business here.
What people are saying
People are talking about what they really think of the FD Centre’s part-time FDs. Find out what they’re saying on these short videos here.
Where are you going wrong?
You can identify strengths and weaknesses in your business in just nine minutes with the F-Score click here now. Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive an 8-page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Click here now to take the F-Score.
Got a Big Question?
Have a burning question for one of our team of FDs? Just ask it here, and you’ll get an answer within 24 hours. The question must be finance-related (sadly, they can’t predict who will win Wimbledon).
 ‘Scale Up: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash’, Mills, Colin. BrightFlame Books, 2016
METIS Aerospace Ltd based in Lincoln has invested heavily over the last eight years developing a Radio Frequency detection and tracking system called HYPERION. A spin-off of this technology gave rise to SKYPERION, an effective Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) detection system based on the same technology. Owner and CEO, Tony Burnell remains confident that his system is far superior to anything currently available in the market.
Skyperion works by detecting the radio signals between the pilot and the drone. The system is complementary to other systems such as radar and surveillance cameras to provide a layered approach. Utilising a layered system provides an extremely reliable drone detection capability. This has massive market potential where the detection of drones is critical, such as airports, prisons, military installations, government buildings, historical sites VP Protection and public events to name but a few.
As the saying goes “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good”, the December 2018 drone activity around Gatwick brought the airport to a standstill, causing misery to thousands of people and costing the airport and airlines millions of pounds.
With a mobile system working from a modified van and trailer, METIS were able to deploy the SKYPERION system within hours of being requested to help. Gatwick Airport Executive were provided with the assurance that it was safe to reopen the airport based on ‘real-time’ reporting of drone activity.
Following extensive testing, Gatwick ordered a 6 sensor SKYPERION system for delivery in February 2019. A subsequent incident at Heathrow Airport required the deployment of a temporary system to provide immediate protection and avoid a repeat of the disruption suffered by Gatwick.
Once again, drone activity is firmly in the news with a Panorama documentary on 15th April 2019 specifically on the issue of drone activity close to airports. Upcoming television programmes featuring the Skyperion system include BBC Click and Horizon which, again, will hopefully elevate the profile of Metis Aerospace Ltd.
With interest from numerous other UK and international airports, the Home Office, the MOD, and sporting venues, Metis have employed Adrian Dorr from the FD Centre and Andrew Scheer from The Marketing Centre to help with the scaling up of the business.
Chris Willford, portfolio FD at the FD Centre in the Thames Valley (part of The CFO Centre Group)
“Portfolio working allows me to keep close to the business I founded, whilst supporting other entrepreneurs and doing the things I love.”
Chris Willford joined the FD Centre back in 2016 after over 30 years working in FTSE 100 companies and the creation of a successful software business.
Having worked his way up to FTSE board level in two different industry sectors, Chris felt it was time to do his own thing, so in 2011 he joined forces with a friend and neighbour, said goodbye to corporate life and started a software business. Together, they established business relatively quickly, and after setting a good solid foundation, Chris concluded the business didn’t need his financial experience full time.
He wanted to stay close to the business, but it didn’t make sense for him to spend time on non-strategic or non-financial tasks that other people could carry out. Chris, therefore, decided to reduce his hours with the company – staying involved in the strategic direction and freeing up time for him to support other entrepreneurs.
After a chance meeting with a regional director at the FD Centre in 2015, Chris joined the FD Centre team the following year. He now looks after a number of businesses, working mainly in the tech, media and publishing sectors.
“I enjoy being in control of my own diary, and the variety of the work means there’s always something interesting to work on. I oversee some really strong and diverse businesses and there’s no shortage of opportunities to make a difference in each one.”
Oh, and when he’s not checking in with one of his clients, you may find Chris cycling with his local road cycling group…if you can catch him of course. You see, he has made sure he sets time aside for the work-life balance we all crave.
Chris Sparkes, Portfolio FD at the FD Centre in the West Country (part of The CFO Centre Group)
“I was considering non-exec roles when I came across the FD Centre, which fitted perfectly with my FD experience.”
At the beginning of 2018, after a career in corporate and seven years working away from home, Chris started to search for a role that would allow him to redress the work/life balance we all strive for.
He liked the idea of acting as a trusted advisor to small businesses, and therefore considered non-exec roles. After a few months, it seemed like finding the odd one or two roles was possible, but making a substantial career out of it seemed trickier.
“It would have been too much of a shock to me if I went from working full time to just working one or two days a month.”
Chris discussed his dilemma with colleagues and friends and was introduced to the FD Centre, who could support him in his search for SMEs in need of strategic advice.
“Being a part of a bigger organisation provides credibility and reassurance to entrepreneurs who are looking for someone to provide them with sound advice and direction. With the FD Centre, they are buying into something bigger than just me – there’s a whole team of experts to help and support us if we need additional resources or expertise.”
James Christian, Portfolio FD at the FD Centre in Yorkshire & Humberside (part of The CFO Centre Group)
“I really enjoy helping business owners understand the value of the numbers, and life as a portfolio FD allows me to do just that.”
After 15 years working in the same company in a variety of roles including FD and Chief Operating Officer James craved an alternative lifestyle with more flexibility and the opportunity to work on more varied projects. He left his full-time role, and an online search and a chat with a trusted friend directed him to the FD Centre.
On joining, new clients came from his network and from the well-established central marketing machine that the FD Centre invests in. His skills and experiences were fully transferable to different industries, and colleagues within the business were available to help with any industry-specific advice he initially needed.
“There’s a lot to be said for taking stock and considering where next, and I really enjoy the variety this lifestyle allows.”
James would humbly say that he’s not a born accountant. He prides himself on his ability to explain the figures to non-accountants and to help them understand what they can learn from the finance team, and of course, how they can act upon the findings.
“I’m helping entrepreneurs grow their business and broaden their horizons. It goes without saying that I’m broadening my own along the way too.”
Genesis Homes was formed with a simple objective ‘to create quality, vibrant and welcoming housing developments’ which now forms part of our vision.
It was born out of a desire to offer a much better product and in turn a well-managed process in the house building industry. Our MD, Nicky Gordon, has spent a large amount of time contracting for large house builders and he was frustrated that the process was by no means perfect, often disorganised, and producing an uninspiring product.
We have implemented a deliberate core selection of 2, 3, 4 and 5 bed house types that are practical homes, aesthetically pleasing and easy to build (16-design in total). Our first scheme, St. Cuthbert’s in Wigton, commenced on site June 2017. It is our flagship development and a strategic choice as it ticks a lot of boxes in terms of demographics, local employment centres, transport connections, good schools, local amenities and it is relatively close to the lakes and coast. The first completion took place in November 2017 with excellent feedback from the first occupants especially in terms of the size of rooms, the layout of their home and the development as a whole. Our second development, St. Bridget’s in Brigham launched end August 2018 and is building on the success of Wigton. Sanders Brow, Armathwaite takes the total to three active schemes and is launched to the public (8th March)!
‘Genesis Homes has begun work on its 18-home development on Station Road, Armathwaite. The development, to be known as ‘Sanders Brow’, honours the architect of Armathwaite Station, John Holloway Sanders. Early interest has exceeded expectations for the 2, 3, 4 and 5-bedroom houses and bungalows, with more than a quarter already reserved.
A ground-breaking ceremony on the site was attended by Genesis Homes’ MD, Nicky Gordon and Head of Land, John Blue and representatives John McKeon and Fraser Watts from Housing Growth Partnership (HGP).
Nicky Gordon said: “We’re very happy to have started building at Armathwaite in such an attractive and desirable location. These new properties will contribute to meeting the need for new, high-quality homes in Cumbria. We have already noticed strong interest in the site, including a number of reservations, and we’re pleased to partner with HGP in delivering these homes.