Some businesses are still too small to warrant – or afford – a full time finance director or a financial team. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not at a stage of their development where they need one. An outsourced service, such as the one provided by Annie Thompson, CEO of Cornerstone FD in Northamptonshire, can provide a strategic financial partner who can assist in outlining straightforward processes that make all the difference.
In this article, Annie outlines the benefits of having that expertise to hand, to solve any problems and avoid any pitfalls and help the business grow stronger than ever, and talks about the satisfaction she gets from seeing businesses thrive thanks to her knowledge and expertise.
Why did you start the business?
I’d spend years working in corporate finance, up to Finance Director level, in all sorts of industries and sizes of business and throughout my career realised that I have a passion and a knack for solving problems, whether it be staffing related, cost related, process related etc. I was most happy when I was able to improve things somehow.
However, in a corporate environment it can be a bit soulless. You can save a billion pound business half a million a year and it doesn’t really mean a lot, but you save a small business £30k a year and it can literally change their life.
So, I started Cornerstone because I wanted to give small businesses access to that kind of expertise when they might need it, but don’t necessarily have the need or resources for someone full time. And it gives me a pink and fluffy feeling because I get to do it for multiple businesses all the time.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
I thought it was the awards we started winning and rate we grew at, but coronavirus has taught me that it’s actually being able to say that we’ve stopped more than one of our clients going under. Great for us, because we won’t lose the revenue, but it’s also nice to know that our clients won’t just have the thing they’ve spent years building taken away from them any time soon.
What are the main challenges your clients are facing?
Cash flow is the main one at the minute. The past year has been a lot of ‘mobilising’ them to be able to withstand reduced or no revenue for at least short periods of time. That’s meant we’ve had to make some tough decisions with regards to cutting costs and dealing with suppliers on their behalf. Additionally, making sure all their processes and systems are fit for purpose. The past year has allowed a lot of people the opportunity to step back and look at how things are working in all areas, and it’s been very satisfying to be getting involved with so many projects.
What advice would you give to business owners over the next 12 months?
Get your financials and finance team in order. The effects of coronavirus won’t be going away as soon as we’re all allowed out to play again. The end of furlough and other grants and help that the government has provided will see businesses struggle, and more will be become casualties as they fight to get through the transition.
That’s why it’s important to start planning now. Know your numbers, make sure you’re getting the information you need from your accountant or finance team. Get cash under control and, if possible, start building up some reserves if you haven’t already and get the right people in place to support and advise you through it. And if everything ends up being alright and nothing changes, at least you’ll have got those really important things done.
To find out more about Cornerstone FD or call 01908 429294.