Virtual CFOBusiness Advisory

From Entrepreneur to Virtual CFO: 7 key business lessons

Michelle Sinclair Michelle Sinclair
26 February 2024
6 min read

Starting and expanding several businesses for over 16 years has been a life changing and eye-opening experience for me. As a business owner, I've weathered the storms and celebrated the successes, accumulating invaluable lessons along the way.

Now, as the Head of Virtual CFO services at Findex, I bring these insights to the table, offering a unique perspective to prospective Virtual CFO clients. This article unveils the seven key business lessons I've learned throughout my journey.

The importance of crafting a vision

Setting a big, audacious vision or ambition for your business is more than a strategic move—it's a mindset. In the face of inevitable business challenges, having a clear end-goal and a compelling vision empowers entrepreneurs and business owners to navigate uncertainties with determination.

We had a very ambitious vision for our business in Australia and it was the pursuit of this ambition that consistently propelled us forward as a start-up amidst the global financial crisis.

In relation to life as a Virtual CFO at Findex, I understand the significance of aligning financial strategies with the overarching vision of the business. By comprehensively grasping the "why" behind the business, I help clients translate their vision into actionable financial plans that drive growth and success.

Building resilience through agility

The business landscape is ever-changing, and adaptability is a cornerstone of success. Being agile means not only responding to change but proactively seeking opportunities within it. Embrace a culture of flexibility, foster innovation, and remain open to adjusting strategies swiftly when market conditions demand it.

As a business owner, I realised the ability to pivot during economic challenges, such as the Global Financial Crisis, allowed my business to not only survive but thrive in the face of adversity. This experience has helped me understand the importance of financial agility in responding to market changes.

Meanwhile, Findex’s Virtual CFO services help clients navigate the changing business landscape by proactively adjusting financial strategies and resource allocation.

Being customer focused

Customers are the heartbeat of any business, and their needs and preferences evolve. Being attuned to customer feedback and market trends is essential for sustained success. Ensure your business remains customer focused by regularly assessing and adapting your products or services.

My business experience taught me that staying closely connected to customer expectations positions a business as a dynamic force in the market. Drawing on this experience, I help our Findex Virtual CFO clients understand the importance, and financial implications, of maintaining a customer-centric approach.

By analysing financial data alongside customer feedback, Findex helps businesses make informed decisions that enhance customer satisfaction and drive profitability.

Using data to make informed decisions

Timely and effective decision making requires accurate information. While financial metrics are crucial, a holistic approach involves measuring both financial and non-financial data.

Understanding factors like customer satisfaction, employee retention, product margins, and innovation is essential for informed decision-making and sustained success.

As a Virtual CFO, I leverage data analytics to provide insights beyond traditional financial metrics. By integrating financial and non-financial metrics, our Virtual CFO clients are empowered to make informed decisions that optimise performance and mitigate risks.

Establishing strong systems and business processes

In the dynamic landscape of business, growth can materialise swiftly and unexpectedly. Ensuring you build a foundation of robust systems and business processes from the get-go is paramount. Without this foresight and foundation, rapid growth can catch you off guard, leaving you scrambling to cope with escalating complexities. Once you have established systems in place, the next step is looking at business process improvement. Make a habit out of monitoring, optimising and managing – rather than falling into the trap of setting and forgetting.

By setting up strong financial systems early on, you make sure your business can easily grow and expand without chaos. This helps manage business growth smoothly instead of rushing through it. As Virtual CFOs, we advocate for the implementation of robust financial systems and processes to ensure scalability and efficiency in financial operations for our clients.

Build a team and learn the art of delegation

SME business owners are the architects, the visionaries, the trouble-shooters, and the front-liners—all rolled into one. Juggling multiple responsibilities is an inherent part of the entrepreneurial journey. However, the true mastery lies in recognising that wearing all the hats simultaneously isn't sustainable for long-term success.

Building an effective team and delegating becomes the linchpin, allowing each facet of the business to thrive under the expertise of those best suited for the task.

Wearing different hats, I've learned that delegating tasks effectively is crucial for business success. It has changed how we work and helped us achieve our goals. In my role as a Virtual CFO, I prioritise building capable financial teams and fostering a culture of delegation thereby empowering the people best suited for the task.

The role of governance and trusted advisors

Recognising that a business will outgrow its founders is key to long-term success. Transitioning from an owner/manager model to incorporating a governance function or advisory board is critical. A thriving business requires strategic oversight separate from daily operations, ensuring sustained growth beyond the capacities of its originators.

We asked experts for business advice throughout our journey and had a few key advisors who helped us along the way. An objective and honest opinion from someone we trusted, who was not emotionally attached to the vision was gold. Drawing from this experience, I advocate for the establishment of governance structures and the engagement of trusted advisors in driving business success.

Key takeaway

In today's fast-paced business landscape, the demand for better business advice has never been more critical. Entrepreneurs and industry leaders alike are constantly seeking insights and strategies to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and drive sustainable growth.

Whether it's optimising operational efficiencies, refining marketing strategies, or fostering a productive company culture, the quest for valuable guidance is relentless. With access to tailored, actionable advice, businesses can overcome hurdles, adapt to changing market dynamics, and ultimately thrive in their respective industries.

Embarking on the journey from business owner to Virtual CFO, I bring these lessons to the forefront, offering a unique blend of entrepreneurial wisdom and financial acumen. Together, let's navigate the complexities of your business journey, drawing on experiences that span successes, challenges, and the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship.

Find out more about how speak to our team to learn more about Findex’s Virtual CFO services.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the thought or position of Findex (Aust) Pty Ltd ABN 84 006 466 351 (Findex).

26 February 2024

Michelle Sinclair
Author: Michelle Sinclair | Head of VCFO Services