Do You Need a Virtual CFO
In this episode, Ed had an opportunity with KC Chohan. KC is with Together CFO – a virtual CFO service. Business advisors, like Ed, run into a lot of financial statements where the financial conditions are abysmal. And when they aren’t able to track expenses and income, it impairs value. The buyer or the bank reviewing or scrutinizing them lack the confidence that they’re accurate. And that’s when KC comes in.
1:22 – Who is KC Chohan
2:40 – Where is the value tied in Sky Zone?
7:09 – What makes a good CFO?
8:18 – How to make working with someone virtual painless and comfortable?
10:46 – Do business owners also think about exit strategies when working with Together CFO?
13:31 – How to get the business owner’s attention?
15:15 – Tips that the audience can implement to make their business grow
17:23 – Do you work together with EOS implementers?
19:15 – Habits business owners have that increase business value
21:10 – How do you encourage business owners to relinquish control?
22:54 – What areas do the business owner need to focus on to be successful?
25:36 – Lifestyle or Legacy?
28:10 – What would have the most immediate impact on a business?
29:00 – Connect with KC Chohan
Who is KC Chohan
Born and raised in England, KC moved to the US in 2012 with a Fortune 500 company Flowserve. He worked there and left to start together CFO in 2016. And that’s where he is today. He helps companies and businesses of $2M plus in revenues scale growth or improve financial strategies and awareness.
Imagine a kid growing up in the countryside of England with lots of beautiful green fields, rolling hills, running around, playing in the mud and the grass with his dogs. That’s KC when he was a kid. He was hopelessly curious. He had the anxiety to grow up which led him to business and a big interest in solving big problems. KC loves solving problems and pushing people and things to the limits to see how far they could progress. From there KC ended up getting a degree in Business and Finance because he thought they were 2 great skills to help build businesses not thinking that he would start his own account. From university, he went straight into bookkeeping which gives him a visual cringe every time he talks about it because it’s a little bit boring and not really a good fit with his personality, but he had a job offer straight out of university and it was too difficult for him to turn it down at that time. He quickly realized he had a lot more to offer than basic bookkeeping. It was apparent to him that it was not aligned with his unique decisions and personality. One of the things KC believes strongly in is that to be successful, you need to be in a place where you thrive. That then led him on further to his career and he became a much more outgoing person than he is an introvert. The idea of being an entrepreneur is something that fits well with him.
Unlike most of the people from his university days who mainly moved to London or Dubai in investment banking and finance, KC moved back to his hometown and started a job and quickly moved to Flowserve with the majority of his learning years. Then he relocated two times and eventually to where he is today in Los Angeles.
After nearly a decade of working with Flowserve, KC had enough of corporate lifestyle – a decade-worth of making month-end close, cash flow analysis, forecasting, budgeting, building better systems and processes. It was a good time for him to leave. By the time he left, Flowserve was doing $4.7 Billion in annual sales. KC got bored with corporate America as the focus was on maximizing everything instead of optimizing first. It’s all about perception over results. That didn’t sit too well with him as he is more about delivering results over perception. And that’s why he went from the big corporate background into the startup world. He started working with much smaller million dollar companies to make a bigger impact. At this point, he started seeing great results because he was able to be more hands-on with the marketing people, the operations people, and bring the whole team together and have everyone understand the finance settlements so they all can move in the same direction. This is the start of the idea of Together CFO.
After working with a few startups, KC started getting asked a lot of questions by people and he realized he is getting pretty good with being a CFO. And it was a huge opportunity to add value to small business owners. Together CFO started off helping startup businesses, but as they transitioned over the last few years, they now help with complaints that are doing around $1M-$2M as a minimum but that does include hyper-growth companies. Ultimately speaking, they help people better understand their numbers and metrics so that they can control business better in whichever direction they want to go – whether it’s a sale or acquisition, or whether they wanted to keep hold of a healthy business for generational wealth.
What makes a good CFO?
One of the things that Together CFO pride themselves on is being able to explain the numbers to non-financial people and not have their eyes glazed over. The majority of CFOs are a little bit old school and traditional and they don’t deliver information in a way that’s enticing to the end-user. However, Together CFO presents their reports in an aqua lens fashion. They spend a lot of money on UX design to make sure that their reports make sense and that even non-financial people can understand them. And ultimately they can use that information in decisions to grow their business. A lot of it all boils down to communication and knowing who the end-user of the information is.
How to make working with someone virtual painless and comfortable?
Together CFO has a very robust system that deals with their virtual and remote clients which comprise 90% of their clientele. The way they differentiate themselves from other firms is that they learn about the client and their clients learn about them, they go over tools and processes. And then before they get into any engagement with anyone, they perform a CFO roadmap, a deep-dive where they go into the business and understand what is happening, what isn’t happening, what the goals are, so they can see where the gaps are. Then their leadership team creates presentations and reports for the business owners. In that report and documentation, they are really connecting with the people, understanding what their needs are – do they like to see reports that are printed and bound, are they happy reading reports on a laptop, do they want the reports to be delivered in person as a presentation. Together CFO is building up the relationship with their clients as they do that first step of work. And once they get to that place, they can then be in a better position to give recommendations and get feedback. Very much like learning to date the person before marrying them.
Do business owners also think about exit strategies when working with Together CFO?
It’s all part of the goal-setting. For Together CFO, it’s important to understand what the client’s goals are. Everyone’s goals are all different, but to understand that the client is looking to expand or sell or just keep the business for generational wealth. Once they have a clear understanding of those goals, we then take them to the numbers and make different decisions based on those goals. It’s a key part of knowing what the owner of the business wants to do because you would take a different strategy if someone wanted to merge or acquire another company versus selling their own company. Two completely financial strategies. We need to have that in mind front and center so we can engineer the business in the right direction.
How to get the business owner’s attention?
According to KC, it’s the hardest part to get the attention of the business owner because understandably they have hundreds of fires to be put out all at the same time. The way Together CFO does it is that they look at the scoreboard, they have a set dedicated time – whether it’s weekly, bimonthly or monthly – to sit down and get that one-on-one time with the business owner. And if the business owner can’t commit to that then they are not a good fit.
It goes back to their initial process of the CFO roadmap and then the reports because a lot of that roadmap usually takes between 3-4 weeks to complete, and they’re always asking for a lot of information and there’s a lot of back and forth. During that process, they can pretty much see very quickly if the client is good for them to move forward or not based on the client’s responsiveness and attention to details. If they don’t feel that they’re getting enough of that then they don’t want to work with that person.
Tips that the audience can implement to make their business grow
- Have a very good scorecard. If you have a really good scorecard – numbers, metrics, and whatever good information there is to make a decision – and you are reviewing it weekly, that’s a one really strong basic principle to help you get ahead of potential issues.
- Right people, right seats. You might have really good staff members, but they might be in the wrong department or the wrong area. Letting that number go is a very difficult position but in the long term, it’s going to be the best decision for the company. Ultimately, the right people, right seats is fundamental. If you don’t have the right team around you, you won’t be able to scale to that the next level and you won’t be able to get the full value out of your business.
- Systems and processes. If you have solid systems in place and processes that your staff can follow then that just gives ultimate clarity. Regardless if you have staff turnover or someone is sick, if someone could come in, pick up the procedure, and follow it through, that’s when you get to an ideal situation.
Do you work together with EOS implementers?
It’s definitely side by side. Together CFO fundamentally believes in the framework. They think it has a lot of power and makes a lot of sense. In terms of the financial metrics side of it, it’s exactly what they do. But when they get down to the real meat and potatoes of it – which is the numbers and what they do to drive that numbers – it all circle back to two real things; 1 – systems and processes, 2 – having the right people.
Habits business owners have that increase business value
These are the habits KC noticed with the business owners he worked with that increases business value.
- Making decisions. The most successful business owners he worked with all make decisions quickly. They get enough information and they act fast. They’re not dwelling around weeks and weeks to make a decision.
- Mindset and meditation. They get into a daily ritual, kind of personal development, making sure that you start your day well. A lot of CEOs, KC included, do Tony Robbins 15-minute breathing ritual at the start of every day just to get them to the right frame of mind to take on the day.
Ultimately, if you surround yourself with a strong team and you have leaders around you bringing you different perspectives and solutions, that helps.
How do you encourage business owners to relinquish control?
The trick is in the level of trust where you can delegate the numbers out. It’s such an intimate part of any business, and Together CFO understands that and is very sensitive around that. They have to build up a level of trust to assure the business owner that they can add value and that working together with Together CFO is for the business owner’s best interest because he is working with specialists that had a lot of success in that field.
The business owner needs to have the self-awareness that they cannot do everything. Part of the initial onboarding takes into account where the CEO says in their own words, “I need help,” “I can’t do this all by myself.” And once they get to that frame of mind and that stage, it means that the person acknowledges that they can’t do all of this. They want to scale their business from a half-a-million-dollar up to a four-million-dollar company and so they’re needing a team to do that. Once the business owner reaches that frame of mind, it makes everyone’s lives a lot easier.
What areas does the business owner need to focus on to be successful?
Every business owner should understand that their expense is so much more important than revenue. They need to fix the engine first before adding the gas. It should result over perception, optimizing before maximizing. Look at the ways you can improve. Put the low-hanging fruit in place, polish things up, and that’s when you can get the scale-up and get the true value of the business.
Lifestyle or Legacy?
When asked what type of business owners they are working with – lifestyle business owners or legacy builders, KC said that they have a mixture of everything which is why it is very important for Together CFO, at an early stage, to identify where the goals are for each business. Not two businesses are the same and not business owners have exactly the same need, so they tailor what they do to each one of their clients.
If a legacy business owner is just looking to continue in the same form that the business has been for many years, there’s not a lot of what Together CFO can optimize and tweak in to get the business to perform well. There’s not a lot more they can push in terms of, “Hey, let’s look at an acquisition,” “let’s look at a merger,” “let’s find a way to expand”. Whereas if someone is in the business for the lifestyle, they want to maintain and create a certain level. And that could change quite quickly in terms of their lifestyle needs – they might just want to buy a private jet. So, CFO needs to figure out a way to make the company be able to fund a $5M or $10M jet. What do they need to do to get this increase in cash flow and profitability without harming the company?
Together CFO is a lot more agile with the lifestyle people. One of the things that they specialize in is taxation setups, and trusts and formations. They work similarly to the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Tony Robbins, and the list goes on. Pretty much all the most powerful and influential people in America, they all have a very complex setup of trusts and formations. And for the clients that need that service, Together CFO offers that as well. That’s one way where they specifically help people create generational wealth, all legal, and it just limits the amount of tax that they have to pay.
What would have the most immediate impact on a business?
Whether it’s in terms of selling the business or just understanding what’s going on in the business, knowing your numbers and having them corrected has the most valuable impact. Make sure that books are accurate and in order because the worst thing that can happen is if someone is doing due diligence on your company and they realize that there are some discrepancies with the numbers, that loses the trust from the offset and it makes the transaction drag a lot longer, and more than likely you will not get the value that you expected.
Connect with KC Chohan
You can reach KC through the following:
KC also has a little surprise for all listeners.
Go to https://www.3stepstoprofit.com/ and you can download the ebook 3 Vital Steps to Increase Profitability in Your Business for FREE!