How are we different?

How are we different from other CFO services providers?

First of all, we don’t knock anyone’s business model and we never say anything bad about our competition. We believe in and practice the “law of abundance”: we know there are tens of thousands of businesses in Ohio that need the help of an outsourced CFO. There’s plenty of work to be done for everyone.

We welcome the chance to work with and help other CFO services providers in developing their practices. We do this even within our operating markets. We also know firsthand how hard it can be to start a CFO services practice.

In Ohio, our biggest “competitor” is probably the owner of a company in our target market who tries to do it all. The owner tries to be the CEO, COO, CFO, and everything else for his or her company.

One of the biggest challenges we face is that our target market usually doesn’t know what a CFO does or how a CFO works with a small and medium size business. Although these business owners certainly know the challenges they face, they don’t know where to turn to for help, and too often they turn to the wrong source.

If you are thinking about providing CFO services and want to know how we are different, here is how we see it:

FocusCFO

  • We have a 100% team oriented culture and operating structure. We all work together to help each other.
  • We only work with companies that are physically located in Ohio or just across the border in neighboring states.
  • We only provide recurring, outsourced CFOs services to businesses that are not large enough to need or afford a full time CFO. We do not do short term project or interim work for private equity firms or large companies.
  • We work 99% of the time on site at our client’s locations and usually spend 1 day a week or less with our clients on a long term, recurring basis.
  • We do pure CFO work, which we define as being forward looking and operationally focused. We place a huge emphasis on driving cash flow from operations, strategic planning, and pulling it all together to increase the value of our clients’ businesses. We do not do controller (accounting and historical oriented) work. Our CFOs always help each other on challenging client issues.
  • We presently have five full time Area Directors in Ohio who are 100% dedicated to business development. We will double this number over the next few years. CFOs who join us have the backing of a dedicated team.
  • We have a proven business development model that works. Our CFOs do not have to “find their own work.” We work together to help each CFO develop a client base as part of a total team effort.
  • We have at least two people involved with every one of our clients: the CFO and the Area Director. This is a real plus to our CFOs and to our clients.
  • With over 30 full-time, permanent members of our team, FocusCFO is by far the largest CFO services provider in Ohio and perhaps in the entire Midwest. We have been operating in Ohio since 2001.

Solo CFOs

  • Successful solo CFO operate great businesses!
  • They tell us they often have significant challenges balancing the “doing the work” and “finding the work.”
  • Often they get started with one or two projects but when the project is over, they struggle with finding more clients.
  • The “business” side of developing and running their CFO practice—responding to queries, creating and maintaining a website, branding, lead generation, and marketing—consumes them, reducing the time they actually spend working with clients, especially in the startup phase.
  • Ohio is cluttered with the remnants of solo CFOs who started their “business” and then later shut it down to accept a traditional, W-2 job. Unfortunately, this causes some referral partners such as bankers and CPAs to be skeptical in referring their clients to these solo CFOs.
  • It is common for a solo CFO to join the FocusCFO team after having worked on their own. They tell us how hard it can be to operate solo. We really like having these CFOs join our team because they already understand what is involved with providing CFO services.
  • At FocusCFO, our objective is to have a strong working relationship with all of the solo CFOs who operate in our markets. We would like to help them as we know how hard it can be to develop a practice. Brad Martyn, founder of FocusCFO, has given and will continue to give free advice to many, many CFOs in Ohio and throughout the United States who call asking for help.

Multi-person national CFO groups

  • There are a couple of these firms in the United States and they run great, very successful business models! Some of these firms say they “pioneered the CFO services industry,” and we know that to be true. Some operate as partnerships with partners either throughout the U.S. or simply in major U.S. metro areas.
  • Today we find these firms do not have many partners who live in Ohio—perhaps the largest national CFO firm has five or six representatives in our state. We know many of these partners, and they are great CFOs who do great things with their clients.
  • From what we have seen and heard, the partners of these group in Ohio operate pretty much on their own when it comes to finding clients. In other parts of the U.S. where these groups may have a larger presence, this may not be the case. But it seems to be the case in Ohio.
  • At FocusCFO, our objective is to have a strong working relationship with all of the partners of the various national firms in our markets. We would like to help them as we feel we are all working together to develop the CFO services industry in Ohio.

Multi-person CFO groups based in Ohio

  • We know most of these CFO groups and they are all great businesses!
  • There are only only a handful of Ohio-based CFO groups with more than three or four CFOs—perhaps four or five companies that have a team of CFOs who live in Ohio. There may be a few others, but not many.
  • Some of these groups market that they provide placement, interim, and part-time or fractional CFO services. Some provide primarily interim, project or placement work for private equity groups and large companies that are looking for CFOs to join them who want to travel and who have large company experience. Others do more SEC type work. And others do more controller level work.
  • We believe we are the only Ohio based CFO services company that provides only recurring, outsourced CFO services to small and medium sized companies in Ohio.

CPA firms

  • Although we have great respect for CPA firms and know they provide a valuable service to their clients, we find that nearly all, if not all, of the CPA firms who say they provide CFO services are actually providing controller services.
  • Our experience is that CPA firms who say they provide CFO services are usually repackaging traditional accounting or controller services with a third party budgeting template or software program and calling it CFO services. This is often true of the smaller, local CPA firms but some of the larger, regional firms do it, too. This confuses business owners. The business community understands that a true CFO is an operating role that impacts the numbers and is deeply involved in the day-to-day operational aspects of the business, not someone who simply reports the numbers.
  • Over the years we have had a number of CPA firms tell us they do what we do. So far, we have not found any that really do, except a few very large firms that might have one or two people with “real” CFO experience. Sometimes these individuals take on projects here and there, but not long term, integrated partnerships with a small or medium-sized businesses. All we can say for sure is that although most of these CPA firms say they are great accountants, real CFOs are not accountants. Real CFOs may have been accountants early in their career, but they moved past that long ago to become much more operations, sales, and finance oriented.

 

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