A Sample Interview with Danuel Rebecca
How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be a Chief Financial Officer?
To answer this question, it?s probably best that I share with you a defining moment and resulting ?compelling story? that brought me to where I am today, helping founders like you build a strong business.
That defining moment in my life happened in late 2014. A few months before, I had worked as a CFO for a medium sized website hosting business?who had just sold to a larger business in the same industry.? I sat back and thought about the achievements during my short time there, achievements that included bringing the finance team in-house, moving the accounting system to Xero, preparing the businesses first budgets and acquiring a smaller business and divesting a US-based operation.
I realised?the value the founders placed on the work I did and the value the earned from having clean accounting records, and a CFO that could help the founders plan for the future, identify small changes that amounted to large gains and make sure tax advice was targeted to the business’ needs.? I also realised to part of the problem was the advice the business had obtained in the past was from advisors who had been in the advisory space all of their careers who had little experience of actually working inside a technology business.
At that moment,? I decided to do everything I could to build on the knowledge I had gained while working as an advisor for firms like PwC and EY, and as an internal finance team member working for businesses turning over $15million to $100million per year.? I attended conferences in Australia and overseas, and read all of the information I could find. Quickly, the founders I helped exit became investors in other companies, inviting me in to review the financials and strategy of their targets and even asked that I join as CFO.
Since then I have worked with companies in Australia, Hong Kong and the US and have created the numbersowl system, a series of 3 programs that help founders build a strong business with efficient bookkeeping, business performance management and planning for the future.
Who are your clients exactly?
I work with founders and their executive teams who are really good at what they do but have never been taught exactly how to manage the financial side of their business or simply no longer have the time to look after all of the finances themselves.? That said, the business I have advised include:
- e-commerce retailers
- Webhosting companies
- Training providers and consultants
- Webdesign agencies
- SEO agencies
- Marketplace operators (apps, parking, real-estate)
- Software developers
- Custom clothing manufactures
- Fitness providers
(There may be more, but for now, that?s a pretty good sample.)
What happens if you haven?t yet worked with people in my field?
Our programs are suitable for businesses in many different industries, but more than the business we look for traits in the founders that we work with.? That is the founders we work with are ready to delegate their finance function, are looking for a fresh perspective and most importantly are ready to grow their business.
How are you different from other ?accountants??
Although we will occasionally touch upon tax and other ?business coach-y? things, you have me as a CFO expert. I ONLY work with founders of high growth businesses. What that means to you is that I am very focused on anything and everything that works for the business like yours.? I use the tools you use, Slack, Zoom and others, to be there for you and support you as you navigate the hurdles growth brings, being part of your team.? And because my focus is very narrow, what you get with me is no-nonsense, undiluted expertise on what works. I?ve simply become an expert at this stuff and that?s why my clients get great results (and I throw in a healthy dose of compassion, humour and encouragement, which ALWAYS helps!)
What type of business are the numbersowl programs NOT going to work for?
Please know that I’m very selective in who I work with and I cherry-pick my clients, choosing to (gently) turn away people who aren?t suited for this program and won?t get the results they would sign up for. (It wouldn?t be fair to them.)
Numbersowl programs are NOT for those who have no money coming in and are absolutely financially desperate, at least not right away. Generally, our founders have secured seed funding or are well on their way to achieving?$1million in sales. It?s been my experience that businesses with less than $500k in sales often are looking for a tax agent to prepare tax returns and aren’t looking at building a strong financial team (probably because they are so focused on the product).
If you fall into this category, it?s absolutely OK.? Our Numbersowl programs may not be suitable but there are often services we can provide on a project basis, such as building a financial model or budget?or reviewing the health of your business.
Another type of person I won?t work with (without exception) is the whiner or the chronic skeptic, as well as someone who consistently makes excuses for not getting something done or challenging every aspect of the programs. If you are one of these people, I gently and respectfully ask that you not call and I hope you?understand why. We?ll probably just not work well together and I wouldn?t want you to waste your time or money. Is that fair?
I already have an accountant, how will a CFO help me?
It’s rather normal to get confused with the titles of bookkeeper, accountant, CFO?or even financial controllers.? All are involved in the financial management of a business, but there are differences in what they do
Bookkeepers is the most junior but having a good bookkeeping on your team makes a huge difference to the quality of your numbers.? A bookkeeper?will make sure all data is entered into your financial system (such as Xero), payroll is done and all accounting records are up to date.? This differs?from an Accountant, who focuses on making sure the accounting records are accurate, financial statements are prepared,?month-end procedures are completed and budgets are assembled.? Some external accountants will also prepare income tax returns and audit your financial records.? ?Accountant generally works with historical data.
A Chief Financial Officer (CFO), on the other hand, is a forward-looking role that an accountant will often grow into but is not always filled by an accountant. CFOs are part of the executive team of a business responsible for managing the financial aspects.? A good CFO will act as a strategic partner?and advisor to the CEO that helps maximise growth by:
- Translating business plans into financial goals
- Identifying warning signals in advance, so you can do something about it before the problem gets out of hand.
- Making certain that you understand where your business is?heading (trends), the issues that your business is facing and offer practical advice.
- Identifying when to raise capital
- Managing mergers & acqusitions
- Providing leadership to your in-house financial teams so you can concentrate on what you do best.
- Establishing policies and procedures which ensure the integrity of record and financial accuracy reporting control
- Making sure you have a cash flow forecast and understand cash burn
- Assisting with pricing strategy.
Really the term accountant is a broad term to describe someone that plays with numbers for a living.? The job of an accountant varies, and just like a surgeon, the skills of an accountant each role requires can be very different.? A CFO is a big picture role that helps you establish the systems and procedures needed to manage your business and achieve your goals.
How does your pricing work?
Our fees are based on a monthly fixed program of services that are tailored to your business.? Of course, there may be times when you need more than?services that are included in your program – for example, a CFO to help you through an acquisition.? We will be available to help and will provide a fixed price quote before any extra work is done.
OK, I know which program I want. How do we get started?
Great! Did you know that one of the most prominent characteristics of successful people is that successful people take action? They take educated risks. Yes, they make a mistake (we all do), but overwhelmingly, they are decisive and they take action. It?s a well-known fact that these people make decisions based on their gut instinct. So, that being said, since this feels right for you, then go for it.
Here?s what you do: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which program will work best for you in terms of the results you want to get. We?ll set up a day and time to learn about your?business and from there we will work out a plan to get started.