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  • Writer's pictureMartin Piskoric

How Can CFOs Fuel Small Business Growth?

Guest: Ben Risser

Ben Risser smiling, representing Provident Financial Services, ready to discuss the impact of fractional CFO services on small businesses.

In an enlightening podcast episode, Ben Risser, the founder of Provident Financial Services, shared his vision for strengthening communities through the success of small businesses, faith-based nonprofits, and private equity firms. His approach? Offering part-time Chief Financial Officer (CFO) services that not only demystify financial results but also strategize growth. This episode delves into how financial literacy and strategic financial planning can be the linchpin for not just business growth but also societal well-being.

A Vision Beyond Numbers

Risser's journey is a compelling narrative of resilience, vision, and strategic foresight. His diagnosis with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition leading to significant vision loss, redirected his career path from aerospace engineering to finance, but it also sharpened his focus on making a tangible impact through his work. "The condition of just losing your sight... really has a focusing effect. It forces you to sweep a lot of distractions off the table and say, what do I want to accomplish in my life?" Risser explained, underlining the profound personal motivation behind his mission.

Financial Literacy: The Foundation of Business Success

Provident Financial Services steps in to fill a crucial gap in the market: part-time CFO services, or as the finance industry terms it, "fractional CFO." This role is pivotal in helping businesses "understand their financials, reorganize their accounting so that their financials are meaningful and accurate," and essentially, teaching them financial literacy. Risser's approach is holistic, focusing on operational effectiveness, cash flow management, and strategic planning to ensure businesses are not just surviving but thriving.

One of the key insights from the interview was the importance of "financial situational awareness." Risser emphasizes:

"Owners need to understand...where's cash leaking out of the boat and where are they really earning value with the customer?"

This awareness allows businesses to navigate away from simply tracking sales and cash balances towards a more nuanced understanding of financial health and strategic direction.

Bridging the Gap

Risser identifies a significant void between bookkeeping and tax accounting that many small businesses and entrepreneurs face. He argues that this gap can be effectively bridged by a fractional CFO who provides "year-round financial insight into their company." This role is not just about number crunching but also involves educating business owners, making strategic recommendations, and even acting as a lookout for potential financial pitfalls.

An illustrative case mentioned by Risser involves an entrepreneur with a vision to sell children's toys in major retail outlets but lacked the financial reporting and planning to attract investors. "Entrepreneurs sometimes are so busy being entrepreneurs, their bookkeeping sometimes is a stack of papers on a desk," Risser points out, highlighting the critical need for timely, accurate financial management and reporting.

The Bigger Picture

Risser's vision extends beyond individual business success; he sees financial services as a means to uplift communities and, by extension, the nation.

"My vision is to strengthen families and communities... I believe that makes for a stronger nation," Risser passionately states.

This vision resonates with a broad spectrum of listeners, from small business owners and entrepreneurs to executives in faith-based organizations and private equity firms, illustrating the universal value of financial intelligence and strategic planning.

Key Takeaways and Moving Forward

The conversation with Ben Risser provides invaluable insights into the transformative power of strategic financial management. His emphasis on financial literacy, situational awareness, and the strategic value of fractional CFO services underscores the critical role these elements play in business success and community well-being.

Businesses, regardless of size, can significantly benefit from adopting a more strategic approach to financial management. As Risser's story and insights suggest, navigating the complexities of business finance requires not just understanding the numbers but also strategic planning, foresight, and a clear vision for the future.

Listeners inspired by Risser's vision and approach are encouraged to reassess their financial management practices. Whether it's seeking out fractional CFO services, investing in financial literacy, or simply adopting a more strategic approach to financial planning, the path to growth and success is clear.

As Risser aptly concludes, "it's really about increasing the mission impact of our customer...achieving our mission as well."

In a world where financial challenges are often seen as obstacles, Ben Risser's message is a beacon of hope and a call to action for businesses and communities alike. It's a reminder that with the right guidance, strategies, and financial insight, the possibilities for growth and impact are boundless.


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