A client recently emailed me to complain about two things:
- One-He’s losing touch with his customers because of his decision to delegate.
- Two-He’s disorganized lately—things are crazy, disjointed—and he misses the days when he was more organized.
These are commonplace issues to address with an Interim CFO.
With regard to losing touch with your customer base, my advice is as follows:
You go up or down in business—and that’s it. There really is no middle ground here. If a business does not try to grow, they will eventually go down, so as a business owner you must always be striving to grow. The price of always growing is indeed always feeling that you are losing touch with your customers. There is, however, a very simple solution called communication. It might be harder work, but to truly better your company, communicating with the customer base is necessary. You should regularly attempt to call “delegated customers” directly for their valuable feedback on how things are going and how your company can do better. You can bet your life that your employees won’t be the ones to tell you if there is anything wrong with their service, so you won’t find out anything’s wrong without your customers’ feedback until it’s too late. Telling your employees that you will be calling these customers in advance will give them extra incentive to perform well, and knowing that they’re going to receive feedback instead of having it sprung on them will make them more receptive to both the positive and negative feedback of these customers, and in the end strengthen your employees’ performance.
With regard to feeling disorganized and crazy, and preferring a business that feels organized, my advice is as follows:
Frankly, you need to change your mind set just a bit. You want your business to grow, because there’s no such thing as neutral ground in business, and if you don’t grow, eventually you will start to go down. A bit of chaos is par for the course when your business is changing and growing. I used to be in the retail business, and when things started to get a little crazy, though of course it was a bit jarring, I knew that was in fact a good sign because it meant my business was growing as I’d wanted it to. There will be no joy in organization if it’s only feeling organized because your business is stagnant. It’s more likely that you’ll become more stressed and less focused than ever if you become complacent only to avoid feeling disjointed. The true test of how organized you are in reality when chaotic times of change hit, is how prepared you are to deal with those times. The winning formula for running a successful business is preparing oneself to avoid the crazy, disorganized and disjointed so that you can move on to new things that cause new craziness.
It’s not only about working with numbers, metrics and forecasts for a Part Time CFO, it’s also about understanding business ownership and in turn understanding the inner workings of business.