Using Strategy, Finance, and Culture to Guide your Business Philosophy

A business philosophy is relevant to every business.  It is especially important for small businesses. It plays into everyday interactions between people – from employee to customer, employer to employee, and among employees. The key is to have a solid foundation built from your strategy, finance, and culture. 

Business philosophy outlines the purpose of your existence and the goals you take on. Effectively, it’s the heart of your business. When strategy is well defined, the world is your oyster! A business philosophy helps both customers and employees understand your core values and beliefs. It becomes an integral part of your brand, your how you hire, and how you relate with customers, vendors, investors, bankers, everyone.

To ensure consistency, a business philosophy should be incorporated into every part of the business cycle. It guides your own decision-making and establishes long-term planning and effective communication and management. Customer-oriented philosophies tend to market better and studies have shown that 5 out of 6 customers will pay 25% for better services, which starts with a strong business philosophy!

How do businesses use strategy, finance, and culture to guide their philosophy? We will guide you through the process to help you begin to discover how to better define your own strategy, finance, and culture. 

What is strategy?

A strategy is a road map with step-by-step actions to lead to success. It allows you to work smarter within your business as decisions are easier to make when they are guided by an overarching philosophy. Success comes from thoughtful strategic planning.

A well thought out, strong business strategy will help you:

  • Adapt to market changes,
  • Manage financial resources,
  • Increase market return on investment (ROI),
  • Understand capacity constraints and thoughtfully adjust as the business changes,
  • Improve team collaboration,
  • Evolve into the incredible and thriving business you were meant to be!

Each business will have a unique strategy. Start with the following:

  1. Assess: Take note of the general state of business in your industry. How do similar companies operate?
  2. Position: Set a specific direction for the business and align the various elements needed to succeed. 
  3. Document: This may seem obvious, but it is an often-missed step. To stay focused on the business goals, define and document the road map.  You must then focus on communicating the strategy in an exciting and impactful way. Define your milestones and how you will achieve them.  Measure your achievement with well thought out key performance indicators (KPIs).
  4. Implementation: Keep the plan on target by talking to customers and employees, this will provide you with a pulse on how your strategy is being accepted. Hold brainstorming sessions regularly with employees to check in.

What is culture?

Having a healthy company culture is the basis for ultimate success. It provides employees with a sense of purpose and sets the tone for acceptable behaviors. It allows employees to build meaningful relationships within the business and supports their needs professionally and personally. It encompasses multiple aspects of personnel relations, inspiring opportunities for personal development and holding them accountable to expectations. Employees should feel comfortable with communication throughout the organization.

Leaders within an organization must set the tone for culture. A healthy company culture encourages personal growth, fosters trust, supports risk-taking, offers flexibility and gives praise and acknowledgement. A toxic culture will steer your business to a grinding halt.

Every company has a culture. A healthy culture can be achieved by:

  1. Establishing core values, communicating them to all stakeholders and using them as the basis for which you do everything from hiring employees, working with customers and even working with vendors.
  2. Lead by example and share your vision.  Define your “Why”.  Does everyone agree?
  3. Cultivate the right environment by hiring employees that exhibit company values.

What is finance?

We use the term finance to mean a variety of things.  A healthy financial outlook is key to running a successful business.  How you balance and report on the various inflows and outflows daily, monthly, and annually determines your profitability, your equity value, and ultimately how much you are paying in federal and state taxes.

We often encounter businesses who are understaffed in this area.  Some even see it as a necessary evil but fail to allocate enough resources to hire the right solutions.  A fractional CFO and Controller will provide a cost-effective way for businesses to get the talent they need to succeed at a fraction of what you would pay an employee.  A strong Controller is rarely an effective CFO. A bookkeeper is not a Controller. Every business needs a strong accounting component to understand where they are and where they are going.  Controllers report on historical information.  They make sure your accounting records are accurately portrayed.  CFOs are the forward thinkers.  They spot trends, they establish and review KPIs and provide strategic guidance to help you achieve your goals.

CEFO Advisors has built its business philosophy on strategy, finance, and culture. We use this process to inspire clients to create a connection and foster cohesion in their businesses as well. These core tenants help to establish a solid framework from which businesses can grow. CEFO Advisors works with businesses at all stages of their development whether at startup or with a family-owned company who has been in business for over 100 years.  We add the leadership, accounting expertise and advisory ability to assist you in reaching your goals!

CEFO Advisors Welcomes Stacey Lybrand as HR Business Partner

The CEFO Advisors team is excited to welcome Stacey Lybrand as their Human Resources Business Partner! Stacey brings over twenty years of HR experience to the team across multiple industries. Stacey will be spearheading a new advisory service for CEFO, HR Outsourcing and Oversight.

“This is a great fit for me because I can get back into doing internal HR, which I love but also assisting CEFO Advisors clients on compliance, employee handbooks, and all components of HR,” Stacey noted. “I find that HR is a full-time job regardless of the size of your business. This is a great offering and aligns with CEFO Advisors mission of strategy, finance, and culture.”

Stacey is excited to help bridge the gap for small businesses to make sure they are fulfilling compliance protocols. Regulations are continually changing and we all need an expert like Stacey to stay on top of changing legislation, regulation and advise of the necessary steps and protocols. CEFO Advisors has already begun working with several small businesses on their HR needs. 

Stacey was particularly keen to join CEFO Advisors because of our holistic approach to finance and culture, which is a pairing that most small businesses need. Stacey recently completed the Culture Talk Certification and is a Culture Talk Certified Partner. She will be focusing on organizational and staff development through the use of the Culture Talk Survey system.

You can catch Stacey traveling and spending time with her family and dogs on her off time! Stay updated on CEFO Advisors and follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cefo-advisors/

Jessica Osso joins CEFO Advisors as Business Manager

The CEFO Advisors team is excited to welcome Jessica Osso as Business Manager! Jessica brings over fourteen years of experience in administrative/office management work to the team including IT and accounting support. We are thrilled to have Jessica and her can-do attitude join us!

“I joined CEFO Advisors because I knew it was a great opportunity to expand my administrative background and expand my marketing skills,” Jessica noted.

While Jessica is our new Business Manager, she will spend a portion of her time focusing on marketing and lead generation. Her contributions to our team will not only help CEFO Advisors but will benefit our clients as well.

During her free time, Jessica loves fishing with her husband especially in Cape Cod!  

Stay updated on CEFO Advisors and follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cefo-advisors/

Elizabeth Hale joins CEFO Advisors as Staff Accountant

CEFO Advisors is excited to welcome Elizabeth Hale to the team as Staff Accountant. Elizabeth previously worked in retirement accounting on both defined benefit and defined contribution plans. She also has experience in drafting financial statements, facilitating audits and performing monthly and quarterly ending accounting duties. Elizabeth is a wealth of experience and knowledge!

“I am excited to join CEFO Advisors! I wanted to take this opportunity to learn and gain skills in various industries through the businesses that are supported here. I am excited to grow with CEFO Advisors,” Elizabeth, said.

Elizabeth’s goals include continuing to develop new skills while building off her existing accounting experience. When she’s not busy with the CEFO Advisors team, she loves cooking and spending time outdoors seeking out new adventures with her husband, son and dog. “We love the summer and one of our favorite things to do is hike and check out as much as we can across the Capital Region!”

Stay updated on CEFO Advisors and follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cefo-advisors/

The art of developing a high performing team

There are lessons we learn and then we learn them again. I challenged myself to really listen yesterday when one of our CFO’s at CEFO Advisors, discussed the first 90 days of onboarding a client at our all-staff meeting yesterday.  He meticulously took us through what went well, how the team overcame challenges, and what we learned. He spoke about the way our team worked seamlessly with the client and how trust and respect were developed early on within the process.  He spoke about how we learned and embraced the strengths of each person to guide and establish our process. I watched the faces of the CEFO team as he reviewed what had been accomplished while he praised each member of our team as well as the individuals we worked with at the client, the attorneys, bankers, auditors, and investors.  All of these people contributed to the overall success of that first 90 days.

He explained that although the onboarding process is mapped out during the initial discovery phase, there will be times that we have to pivot and change course to gain efficiencies and establish best practices. The process is strengthened by the acceptance and understanding that it is ok to change course as needed. It is an extremely healthy and accepting way to manage people and processes. There is little in business that is perfect. Successful relationships are built in those moments when you change course for the best results.

What do you need to establish a healthy high performing team?

  • Establish a culture steeped in learning and understanding.
  • Identify the strengths of each individual and assign responsibilities based on those strengths.
  • Understand everyone’s communication style.
  • Develop trust early on.
  • Lead with honesty, respect, and the passion to do what is best for your team and business. 

 I challenge CEOs and business owners to evaluate their culture. Embrace where you are and take steps to make those changes needed to create your best team. Ask the hard questions.

  • Have you developed your team to be a success?  
  • What do they need from you to attain the best results?  
  • Are expectations clearly laid out and followed through on?
  • Is success celebrated?

Balancing strategy, finance, and culture is the key to winning and having a high-performing team.