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The Art of a Successful CFO Client Journey: Debunking the All-or Nothing Myth
There's a pervasive myth in the world of fractional CFOs – that we must roll out the red carpet, set off fireworks, and perform a high-wire act to dazzle new clients from day one.
But if we're being brutally honest, this all-or-nothing mentality is about as effective as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.
So, how can we make the CFO client journey more seamless and enjoyable for both parties?
Let's break it down step by step and turn that pressure cooker into a slow-cooked masterpiece.
The Great Escape: Ditching the Do-It-All Mindset
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let's acknowledge that, as fractional CFOs, we do a lot for our clients:
- Goal setting
- Dashboards and KPIs
- Cash flow forecasting
- Budgets and projections
- Internal controls and process optimization
It's natural to want to showcase our full range of services, but attempting to do everything at the highest level right from the start is downright impossible.
❌ Not only is it unrealistic for you, but it's also overwhelming for your clients.
💡So, let's leave that do-it-all mindset behind and embrace a more structured approach.
The Monthly Journey: A Recipe for Success
Instead of diving headfirst into the deep end, think of the CFO client journey as a gradual process.
Each month, shift your focus to a new aspect of the business. By doing so, you'll be able to build a solid foundation and set the stage for long-term success.
👉 Onboarding: Getting Acquainted
Focus: Understanding the business model and financial health
During the onboarding process, concentrate on getting to know your client's business inside and out. This is your chance to dive deep into their financial health and identify potential areas for improvement.
👉 Months 1-2: Follow the Money
Focus: Understanding cash flows
Without a clear grasp of cash flow, strategic planning is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. So, for the first couple of months, make understanding cash flows your top priority. Depending on the business, this step may take longer than expected – and that's okay.
👉 Months 2-4: Laying the Groundwork
Focus: Budgets and projections
Now that you have a handle on cash flows, it's time to switch gears and tackle budgets and projections. This phase will lay the groundwork for goal setting and help you develop a roadmap for your client's financial future.
👉 Months 4-5: The Fun Part
Focus: Systems and goal setting
With a solid foundation in place, it's time to get down to the fun, meaty, forward-looking work we all love. This is where you'll start to see the fruits of your labor as you help your clients set achievable goals and optimize their systems.
👉 Months 6+: Tailoring Your Approach
Focus: Aligning with client priorities
As your clients establish better goals, it's essential to adjust your priorities accordingly. By focusing on what matters most to them, you'll ensure your clients remain engaged and satisfied with your services.
Building the Blocks: A Balanced Approach
Does this mean you should completely ignore budgets and projections during month 1?
While the majority of your efforts should be focused on cash flow forecasting, it's still crucial to start putting the building blocks in place for other areas from the very beginning.
Embracing the Journey, Not the Destination
The secret to a successful CFO client journey lies in a structured, step-by-step approach.
Instead of frantically juggling every task at once like a circus performer, focus on building a solid foundation and gradually working your way up.
By doing so, you'll not only improve your clients' experience, but you'll also set yourself up for long-term success as a fractional CFO who truly understands the art of the journey.
Whenever you are ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
1. The Inner Circle - every month my team and I go live and share the most impactful lessons we've learned in our journey to start, scale, and optimize our own CFO firm (including live Q&A). Plus you'll get access to our private community of nearly 150 fractional CFOs.
2. The CFO Academy - This is a 7 week deep dive into the exact playbooks that I use to run my firm, KFE Solutions.
3. If you'd like more amazing (and free!) content about starting, scaling, or optimizing your Fractional CFO firm check out:
→ The CFO Report on YouTube (if you love video)
→ The CFO Report on Apple Podcast (if you prefer audio)