In this episode of Freedom In Five Minutes, Jarrod Souza — CFO at Michael Hyatt & Company — returns to chat about his mindset when it comes to scaling a business through automation, systems, and processes.
Check out today’s episode and learn a smarter and more strategic way to grow your business. That and more, in today’s Freedom in Five Minutes Podcast!
Overview & Episode Content
- How is the CFO Role Evolving?
- Save Time and be More Productive Through Systems and Processes
- Crossing the Rubicon of Process Documentation
- Establishing System Checks and Balances
- A CFO Must Learn to Delegate or Automate the Busy Work
- Business Growth from the Standpoint of a CFO
- What do Businesses Need to Know from a CFO?
How is the CFO Role Evolving?
Jarrod Souza first appeared in episode 134 of Freedom In Five Minutes. In that episode, we talked about how Jarrod went from doing simple marketing work to becoming a superstar CFO. It was a really cool episode so if you want to check that out first, go to 134 FIFM – Becoming a Fast and Furious CFO with Jarrod Souza.
We begin today’s conversation with Jarrod about how the role of a CFO is changing. It is no longer a, “Get a job at one of the big five accounting agencies… do accounting… get into Controller CFO,” kind of thing.
There are so many more things involved with working as a CFO. For example, one needs to be in touch with operations, with marketing, and all the data that we have access to now. On top of that, there are different kinds of paradigm shifts involved.
Jarrod said, “My brain doesn’t think like a traditional accounting CFO.”
That is exactly why Jarrod and I got connected. He simply thinks outside the box! I started sharing some ideas from Sam Carpenter who created “Work The System”.
Jarrod knew who that was and asked, “How does what you’re doing relate toward the system?”
By then I thought to myself, “I like this guy already!”
But, just exactly how did Jarrod get into a whole new, yet specific, train of thought? How did he come to start developing CFO systems and processes?
Save Time and be More Productive Through Systems and Processes
“My brain does not naturally work in processes or systems. That’s what took me on the journey of seeing the value in it. I reached out to you, Dean, and tried to learn how other people create actual processes. And I think that is why I’m not a traditional accountant,” Jarrod revealed.
Thinking about things in a linear manner to a certain degree, Jarrod has this creativity aspect that is in contradiction with himself sometimes.
He even compares his work as a CFO to painting, “When I’m running Forecasts, for example, my mind just starts going! It’s almost like painting on a canvas.
“I’m in this flow, I’m seeing what’s happening. I have created this forecast that has answered the question I wanted to answer. But then, 3 months later, I have the same question. I’m like, ‘Crap. Where is that Excel Sheet? What is happening?’
“When you don’t have those processes or systems in place, it’s such a waste of time.”
And that is so true! Nothing can be more of a time waster than having to double the amount of work by redoing them. Or not knowing where things are located.
For some people, the frustration might be enough to drive them crazy! But for Jarrod, it drove him to the right direction. He did not want to be in the weeds anymore!
Jarrod created solid CFO systems and made sure that he has people to maintain the system for him. So, how does he create processes to pass on to someone else so they can maintain what he created?
Crossing the Rubicon of Process Documentation
Whenever I get the chance to speak with other CFOs or financial experts, they feel like they could never delegate because of how they developed their skills over the years. Jarrod tells us how he was able to cross this Rubicon of process documentation so that he is able to offload his tasks to other people.
“I am terrible at it, at the maintenance part of the process. I don’t like the maintaining aspect despite currently serving as CFO at Michael Hyatt and Co. right now and part of the culture is using a lot of executive assistants. Michael always teaches that you must focus on your desired zone of work. This is where you are passionate and you are proficient,” according to Jarrod.
Now, different people have different passions but sometimes we forget this. Sometimes, we think that everyone is exactly like us and that is simply not the case.
Finding people that have different gifts where processes can be passed on to them is an eye opener for Jarrod. When one does not enjoy a particular task, other people just might! This is especially true in the documentation part of the process.
But what were the hardest things in the accounting realm for Jarrod to offload? The fact is, numbers will be numbers and there will be trust issues. Messing it up can affect the whole business!
So, how did Jarrod overcome that hurdle?
Establishing System Checks and Balances
In terms of Finance, there is so much reconciliation to be done. It is for that very fact that you cannot simply trust one set of data.
Jarrod went on to add, “You have — at a minimum — two data points that are reconciling each other. When we started offloading, there was a process of checks and balances — checking the work. Maybe two people are doing it at once just to make sure. I think some of the other trust issues come from people being scared to share financial information.”
Now, I have indeed noticed the same thing. For some people, sharing financial information is almost like asking who they are going to vote for in today’s day and age. People tend to hold their financial data close to their chest.
The only way around this is to build trust and make sure that all your data are kept confidential. Put systems in place for checks and balances to ensure that nothing bad ever happens.
It is vital to build trust with whoever is doing these processes over and over. Jarrod talks about how best it is to start small and build on top of that. Before long, you realize that you can be replaced after all and that you are not the only one who can perform the process. Now that is a very humbling experience.
A CFO Must Learn to Delegate or Automate the Busy Work
When doing a task, you are naturally going to be in the weeds of it. You might think that there is really only one way to do something. The fact is, this degrades productivity.
So, what are some of the things that drives Jarrod to develop CFO systems and processes?
Jarrod said, “Some of that happens accidentally. You really don’t want to give up the reins but something happens and you realize just how capable your people are.”
Once you are able to offload and delegate, it frees up your time so you can innovate and optimize. In Jarrod’s role as a CFO, he is able to work on more ideas and financial forecasts now that he is no longer constantly working on the minutiae.
It is critical that a leader is able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What is the company focused on? Then, start dialing in on certain key metrics.
Jarrod describes a little bit about his process, “Like, if we’re going to introduce a new product. A lot of people will just be looking at the gross profit margin. But, we’re going to introduce a contribution margin. We want our selling expenses to tie into that. What is our threshold? So, somebody fills up a Pro Forma. And then, we review it. Next, how does it hold to where we’ve been trending historically?
“One process from our supply chain is getting a report every day through my email. There’s just so much software out there like Google Data Studio that gives you good graphical images, it’s free, and powerful.
“There are some shortcomings to it but it gives me a quick snapshot of our domestic shipping rates and trends, then we compare it to International.
“I have processes too that raise a red flag so you can start researching or finding where to be efficient if domestic is going up. We always develop new ways to figure things out.”
Business Growth from the Standpoint of a CFO
One of the biggest lessons that Jarrod learned is to ask if it is worth all the trouble to become very good at something you are not.
Jarrod explains, “Like, I don’t really love recording videos. But creating SOPs so the process can be completed is my jam. There is so much value in having the SOPs created.
“Here’s what typically happens as finances are pretty much at capacity. We see everything that we don’t want to take on as another expense. But in my mind, I’m thinking of ways for these expenses to make us more efficient and free up our time.”
And this is something that Jarrod is actively doing right now with the help of VSAs. His mind is at ease knowing that if somebody in his team did leave, he has all of the SOPs created. Someone else can join the team and assume that role.
A company’s growth is seen through its additional products or through generated yearly revenue. Finance touches everything and this adds more complexity to the department.
Basically, anytime that a business expands and there are no systems in place where people can take over certain things, then it’s actually more painful for the financial experts. Everything becomes harder to keep track of.
What Do Businesses Need to Know from a CFO?
Now, imagine a small business that needs to hire a CFO part-time or full-time. What makes an amazing CFO when it relates to systems and processes?
Jarrod went on to compare the typical CFO from the super power CFO, “I think that your typical CFO will provide your reporting and FORECASTING. What does this mean? Where are we going? Cash flow projections are provided.
“I think the next step is becoming almost a partner or almost an advisor within the company not just with the CEO but with the other department heads as well.”
A lot of people see finance as one pillar but it is actually more of a cornerstone. Pulling one out weakens the whole structure.
It is critical that executives know their numbers so they can make real decisions. Superstar CFOs go beyond delivering the data. They become more of a partner with educating, not just with the financials. How do the metrics relate to the company? These are the things a superstar CFO aligns with.
At the end of the day, you have the “why” of what you’re doing — a must have for all business owners. But, unless you’re profitable, that “why” is not going to last too long because you are not going to be in business.
Jarrod’s reminder for business owners is to always keep their eye on the financial health of the company. And work with a strong CFO you can align with, that you can trust, that has the company’s best interest at heart. Work with a CFO that can have hard conversations with you and simply does not say ‘yes’ all the time.
Usually, people assume that you just need to get bigger and grow but that is not always the case. These are strategies that seem counterintuitive but ask yourself, “Why did you start a business in the first place?” Bigger business or more profit? More free time perhaps?
behind the wheel of a car with a blindfold on it. It is a silly story but that is what you are doing if you have no budget or forecasting in place that gives you the measuring stick whether or not you are on track.
If you want to make more money, then you do not have to go bigger. Instead, ask yourself where you are right now. Ask yourself what you have today that you can optimize.
Resources and Links
Also, do not forget to check out our websites if you want to scale your business in as little as five minutes a day. Go do that I will catch you in the next Freedom In Five Minutes episode.