We asked one of our virtual members, Tracy Smart of The Smart Team, how she’d dealt with the past few weeks and what she’d learned that might help other small business owners and this is what she said…
Over the years I have learnt that we are best at those things we most enjoy doing.
For me, it is all about making a difference to businesses by improving and influencing the decision-making process. I do this by helping leadership to
- Define their goals.
- Understand the risks and the key drivers which will get them closer to success
- Reporting on those key drivers in a way which really focusses on the issues and drives action (and this is not always financial information)
Another area of my role that I am passionate about is building and leading diverse teams, creating rewarding opportunities for them financially but also for personal development.
A great finance team has expertise across a wide as well as deep spectrum, which is why a “Horses for Courses” approach works well.
That’s why I set The Smart Team up.
By building a diverse finance team that compliments each other’s skill sets we can provide the best, bespoke service to our clients. Even better, we all get to do the things we enjoy the most, and that we are best at!
The Smart Teams’ journey started 18 months ago when my full-time corporate role as UK Finance Director at Bibby Financial Services was made redundant. I decided I wanted to take a more flexible approach enabling me to enjoy the variety of helping more than one business, but also create flexible opportunities for other finance professionals.
My services as The Smart Finance Director grew quite quickly so that I didn’t have the time to work on my business as well as in it. I didn’t have the time to network, and if I am honest that was fine by me! I have never really enjoyed networking and so, it follows, that I don’t feel like I’m very good at it.
However, Lockdown has given me the chance to attend some local networks, and I have enjoyed meeting a wide variety of people through the Business Spa in a relaxed and friendly environment. The “Fluffy Robes” buddies’ group is fun, but we all keep each other accountable to our goals and targets for the next month!
What has become clear to me as I’ve met more and more people through my networking experience is that this brave new world, we are entering needs a brave new breed of business leaders.
As founder of The Smart Team, I believe that we are trailblazing a new, innovative style of Finance Team that is a natural fit with scale up businesses who need agility as well as commercial experience. We are building a new way of offering financial management and business support services to businesses, just like yours, who are looking to grow.
The more I work with small, scale up businesses the more I can see how traditional models of financial management and accounting simply do not meet the flexibility and agility that new and scale up businesses need.
Recently I attended a presentation by Professor Brian Smith entitled “Strategy after COVID 19” and his concluding slide really struck a chord with me…“It’s not the COVID meteor you need to worry about it’s the aftermath you need to adapt to”
The effects of COVID-19 are going to be wide-ranging and long-lasting, perhaps forever-lasting. Flexibility & Adaptability will be crucial skills required by businesses if they want to survive in a post-COVID world. So here are my top three tips for post-COVID business growth:
- Understand how your customers’ needs have changed. Most businesses will find their customer landscape permanently altered, so re-considering Sales & Marketing plans is crucial. These are the sails which give your business momentum towards your goal.
- Move towards a leaner business model. The key skills required to deliver the product or service should be retained in-house. Everything else should be outsourced.
- Get a strong finance leader in your team who can act as a wing man and critical friend. Every thriving business benefits from strong financial leadership. A good FD supports their CEO as they consider strategic options and helps them to evaluate the cashflows. They bring a fresh pair of eyes to the table and help boards make better decisions
These are the three areas of focus I am encouraging clients to work on in the short term. One of the advantages of using The Smart Team’s unique blend of skills and flexibility is that a business benefits from a strong commercially experienced finance leader without the long- term commitment of an expensive resource – vitally important in current times.
Our services combine face to face and virtual solutions to offer small businesses access to commercial financial leadership in a flexible way. Our lean and flexible proposition will enable your business to adapt and thrive in the world after the COVID Meteor.
Thanks to Cathy and my fellow members at The Business Spa for welcoming me to the group.
Tracy Smart – Chief Executive Officer