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THE 5 MINUTE FRACTIONAL CFO

066: How Successful Fractional CFOs Think

Dec 01, 2023

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066: How Successful Fractional CFOs Think

Dec 01, 2023

December 1, 2023

Read time: 2:18 minutes

Someone recently asked me a really interesting question: 

"Mike, now that you've worked with over 400 fractional CFO firm owners, what would you say are the top differences between the ones that succeed and the ones that don't."

It was a great question that I didn't immediately have an answer to.

I spent some time over the next few days journaling on the question and realized that my final answers weren't what I suspected they might be at first.

Success (in terms of revenue and profit) had little to do with: 

• Education
• Experience
• Credentials
• Certifications

The more I considered what I had observed, I found that success is more a factor of 3 specific mindsets that I see time and time again.  

Today, I'm going to break down these 3 mindsets and share specific resources you can leverage if you need to level up.

 

#1. As Goes Sales and Marketing, So Goes the Company

It's simple: 
If you want profit, you need revenue.
If you want revenue you have to sell.
If you want to sell you have to market.

Everyone wants the former, but few are willing to do the latter.

Frankly, an unwillingness to embrace marketing is THE TOP REASON that most fractional CFOs never get off the ground.

The most successful firms owners I know have made sales and marketing part of their firm's DNA. They know they HAVE to do it to succeed. 

If you're someone that's all cringe at the idea of "marketing", remember that marketing doesn't have to mean posting videos of yourself dancing with you dog to K-Pop songs on TikTok.

I think of marketing as going out into the world and telling people what you do and there are so many ways to do that, even if you're introverted. 

I wrote THIS post almost a year ago detailing the different strategies my firm was using in 2023 (none of them include TikTok or K-Pop).

One of my favorite books on the topic of marketing is Fanatical Propsecting by Jeb Blount. I've read it at least 3 times over the last eight years! It gives great tips and insights on how to market you and your services.

#2. Own Your ðŸ’©

Every single one of the most successful firm owners I know recognizes that everything bad that happens in their firm is their fault. 

1️⃣ Bad hires
2️⃣ Sales decline
3️⃣ A customer leaves
4️⃣ Bad customer service score
5️⃣ Employees quit unexpectedly 

Every one of those things falls on the owner of the firm. Don't agree? Here's how: 

1️⃣ Bad vetting
2️⃣ Insufficient marketing
3️⃣ Poor relationship management
4️⃣ Lack of customer service training
5️⃣ Out of touch with the employees and culture

Those are just examples but I think you get my point. Successful CEO's realize that when ANYTHING goes wrong, they have to take ownership of the problem.

Unsuccessful CEOs tend to find ways to become victims of whatever happened. Here's how: 

1️⃣ Bad human
2️⃣ Can't fix the market
3️⃣ Sucky client anyway
4️⃣ Some people just don't get us
5️⃣ Money hungry people looking for more money

In other words, when things go wrong: 
Successful firm owners look in the mirror and take ownership.
The rest look out the window and find excuses.

The good news is that when you take ownership, that means you have the power to fix it!

One of the best books I've found on this topic is Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink.

The reason I like this book so much is because it does an excellent job of taking the lessons learned from the Navy SEALS and applying them to the business context. This is a must read for you and your leadership team.

#3. Failing Is Just Part of the Game

Being a firm owner means that like 91% of the things you try will fail. 

👎 The new CRM was a bust
👎 Three clients decided to leave
👎 The podcast never gained traction
👎 The new service package had zero takers
👎 The price increase pissed off every single client

...and typically all of this will hit by 9:32am on a Monday morning. 

When this stuff comes up (and it ALWAYS does), you have to realize that it isn't because you're a bad CEO or you don't belong in the game.

That stuff IS the game! It's literally what entrepreneurship is all about. 

The successful firm owners that I've worked with don't let the L's hit their ego. They recognize that taking 91 L's are the cost of admission for getting the 9 W's that make it all worth while. 

(Note: W's are "wins" and L's are "losses" for those of you that aren't into sports 😀)

While successful firm owners embrase the L's, others tend to do 1 of 2 things: 
1️⃣ They quit after getting a few L's
2️⃣ Or they never even get in the game because they're terrified of the L's

THIS Steve Harvey video is a GREAT reminder about how often the greats fail (and you almost never even hear about it!) 

I hope you found this edition to be helpful. 

If you did, please consider sharing it with a friend.


 

Whenever you are ready, here are 2 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 200 fractional CFOs. During this month's call, I'm going to teach on how to overcome objections on sales calls. You don't want to miss it! 

2. If you'd like more amazing (and free!) content about starting, scaling, or optimizing your Fractional CFO firm check out The CFO Report.

Whenever you are ready, here are 2 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 200 fractional CFOs.
  2. If you'd like more amazing (and free!) content about starting, scaling, or optimizing your Fractional CFO firm check out The CFO Report.

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