How are you doing?

successful_vs_unsucessfulMy position as CFO has given me great insights into the inner workings of my clients.  And in my client list, I have companies that are hugely successful and others that struggle.  In reviewing the data to put this post together, I found commonalities  that the successful companies have – and not what you would expect.  How smart an owner is did not matter.  Neither did his education level or how well funded his company was at inception.  Here are some of the highlights of my study:


Topic Successful





Continuously learning. To a man and woman, every business owner remains a student.  And this is not always just about business.  Taking piano lessons, karate, sailing lessons.  Every owner seems interested in his and her own personal development.


Owners have an attitude that they have the answers and now need to apply them.  Where not overly interested in learning new things.  They say they don’t have time to do fun things or learn new things.
Staff Relationships These owners maintain a professional distance with all staff.  They are not unfriendly but they do not go out drinking with the staff Friday afternoon.  Relationships seem to be very professional.


These owners were typically at one end of the spectrum or the other.  Staff were their best friends – treated as family.  Or the owner was very tyrannical and treated staff like dirt.
Involvement with financial reporting Every owner has his finger on the pulse of the business.  This was the most obvious difference between successful companies and struggling companies.  These owners demanded and received the information they would use to make good business decisions.  They had good insights that were way better than the struggling companies.


These owners mostly measured their business by looking at the checkbook balance and recent sales reports.  They believed they knew the numbers of their business though my opinion is that they are struggling because they used assumptions and anecdotal evidence rather than evaluating the facts.


Reason for retaining B2B CFO® They did not believe their current finance/accounting staff had the skills to help them grow to the next level.  They wanted help developing staff and creating the systems to grow the company successfully.


I was almost always brought in because there were cash flow issues.  From the catastrophic “I can’t make payroll next week” to the subtle “I can’t take as much money out of the company as I used to.”  They want me to help them find more cash.  Typically, this does not solve the problems they have.


Vacation time. This group was pretty well balanced.  They always make time for themselves and always make time for their families.  There was no guilt at taking time off. This group has a sense of pride of having to work 16 hour days/7 days a week.    They complain that it would be great to take some time off but the company would fail if they did this.



There are many take-aways from this study.  And I have enough data that these conclusions are valid.  If you are a successful company, congratulations but don’t let your guard down.  If you are a struggling company, have hope.  There are things you can do to make your company successful.

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