I am a Part Time Chief Financial Officer. I was asked recently by a colleague,”when does a client become a client? Is it some particular CFO Service that they are looking for? Is it usually some problem the client is having whether it is solving cash flow problems, getting the business owner to know their numbers, Preparing a business and cash flow forecast or doing some strategic planning?” I responded by saying that certainly the potential client could be looking for specific CFO Services or for solving a specific problem, but the client really doesn’t become a client until they feel some loss of control of a particular problem in their business. For example a potential client may feel they have a cash flow problem, but if rightly or wrongly they can justify in their mind that they can solve the cash flow problem, they feel they have control of the situation and so they say “I can solve this one, why pay someone to solve it?” Of course, the potential client does not understand that a good CFO can identify potential problems, like cash flow problems before they occur. The potential client does not understand that through the use of the right business and cash flow forecasting tools a good CFO can tell the business owner that trouble is brewing and what to do to prevent the trouble. So it is all about the level and sense of control.
As someone who has owned retail, manufacturing and service companies for 25 years I surely can say one of the most uncomfortable feelings for any business owner is the feeling of a loss of control. It only has to be the feeling of a loss of control in one aspect of the business. It doesn’t have to be the feeling of a loss of control of the entire business. The fear and the risk of loss that you feel when you feel a loss of control can be numbing. Conversely, there is no greater feeling for a business owner than the feeling of having control over their business and being able to solve most all problems or issues that come their way.
The potential client underestimates the value of strategic planning. Through the strategic planning process that wonderful sense of control begins to emerge and when the planning process is through and it is then maintained on an ongoing basis that sense of control becomes a more permanent posture of the business owner and confidence ensues. One thing the potential client never underestimates is the power of control.