MTD Micro Molding has been around since 1972 with various names, but has never had a CFO.
Dennis Tully, the president of the 20-person manufacturing company in Charlton, decided to change that last year and hired a part-time consultant to help him plan business finances. Now, he wishes he had done it earlier.
That consultant is G. Leo Casey, a former CFO and CEO of various venture-backed high-tech companies and a small business guru. He works for B2B CFO, a national consulting company that provides CFO services to businesses on a part-time basis.
Within a few months of hiring Casey, Tully said he had weekly financial metrics allowing him to analyze and track trends within his company and dedicate resources accordingly.
“It’s a tool that we never really had before,” Tully said. “We always had all this financial information, but we never had the ability to assess the complete financial situation. This makes it a lot easier to steer the ship.”
Looking Outside Small business consulting and the outsourcing of executive-level positions seems to be a growing industry, at least for B2B CFO, the organization Casey works for.
Jerry Mills founded the company in the late 1980s in Arizona as an independent business consultant and since then it has grown from having nine consultants in 2004 to having almost 200 today, including Casey.
Casey, who has worked with Tully for roughly the last year, said many of his small business clients can’t afford a full-time CFO, or have never thought about the benefit of having a financial adviser.
“This is about taking a company to that next level, to look at things strategically, where you are, where you need to be and how to get there,” Casey said.
Casey’s work with MTD Molding is just one example of small businesses outsourcing executive-level positions to part-time consultants.
Jim Roche has made a career out of doing it for the last nine years with his company, Robust Alternatives in Medway.
One of his clients is a construction company that has experienced a recent uptick in work and needs help managing cash flow for supplies and preparing financial documents to get a loan from a bank.
Another client is an independent clothingmaker who has traditionally been hesitant to order fabric and materials when in reality, Roche found that she has enough cash flow to order even more and ramp up production. Other clients have finance managers or bookkeepers, but no one developing strategic financial goals.
Roche works with a variety of business types and sizes and provides long-term planning and financial management services beyond just balancing the checkbooks at the end of the week.
And financial planning isn’t the only business function that gets outsourced.
Other small businesses outsource human resources and employee-benefit management, for example. Sheldon Prenovtiz, president of Administrative Business Resources (ABR), an HR and benefits management group in Westborough, said allowing an expert to come in and manage all aspects of HR is not only more efficient for the company, but it can also ensure that they’re following all of the regularly changing rules and HR laws.
For Beverly Bedard, who is the bookkeeper and HR representative for Grand Image, a digital formatting and printing business in Hudson, ABR not only manages the company’s payroll, but also handles hiring and firing and consults the company on an as-needed basis.
“Basically a lot of people around here are wearing five hats, so to not have to worry about one thing is nice,” she said.
While there is no shortage of business consultants to handle executive-level functions, one of the most important things is finding the right person for the job, said Dino Farina, founder and president of Proveris Scientific Corp. in Marlborough.
He started the pharmaceutical instrumentation company in 1995 and it the now has about 14 employees.
Farina has worked with numerous consultants in the past, but he said the key to finding a good business adviser is having a relationship with them. Particularly on the financial side, Farina said he basically trusts his company with the consultant, so he needs to have a good, frank relationship with that person.
“There is no shortage of people out there that are willing to take your money and give you some business advice,” said Farina, who has been working with Casey for about a year and has been pleased with his services.
Farina said he had wanted someone who’s willing to come in and “get their hands dirty” and be a part of the team.