My journey to becoming a Free Agent CFO™ started in 1993 when I helped a small business obtain a $500,000 operating line of credit and to create their financial management and reporting systems from the ground up.
Afterward, I was gratified hoping I could do more of these projects in the future. Little did I know that 8 years later, I’d be doing this type of work full-time.
What’s in a Name?
Several years ago, I met this amazing business consultant named Jim Gann. He has a long-time affiliation with the Small Business Development Center at the University of Missouri. More importantly, Jim is a servant at heart always bringing out the best in others.
Years ago, Jim introduced me to one of his clients as a hired gun, a fractional CFO. Let me be clear. There is nothing fractional about this kid from the Midwest who grew up working hard outdoors every day.
Over the years, I’ve also heard terms such as rent-a-CFO (that’s awful), part-time CFO, interim CFO (which is true if you really are an interim CFO until a full-time person is hired), and CFO-for-hire. Let’s be brutally honest. These are cheesy names. And I want no association with these financial designations. Do you?
Free Agent CFO™ Merges The Worlds of Sports and Business
Over time, you will see the influence of sports on Free Agent CFO™. Sports, the universal language of many, brings so many people together.
I wish I could say that I love rugby and soccer. Not yet. I’m getting there. I need to become a better student of those games. As someone who grew up in America’s heartland, baseball is my game. And that’s where the name Free Agent CFO™ began to materialize.
I take transparency seriously, wishing to give credit where it’s due. Several years ago before coming up with the name Free Agent CFO™, I read Dan Pink’s book Free Agent Nation. Great book, and if you are a W-2 employee in financial management contemplating a move to CFO free agency, read this book ahead of time.
Did Dan Pink’s title influence my name for what CFOs do for serving multiple business owners as contractors, consultants, and coaches? I don’t know. My greatest naming influence came from Major League Baseball and its many players becoming free agents after their contracts expire. Still, I have no problem giving Dan Pink credit.
When I tell friends, bankers, business owners, and others I’m a Free Agent CFO™, I say it with confidence with a name that I convey with pride. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter. “Mark, what’s a Free Agent CFO™?”
Free Agent CFO™ Defined
By now, you should know that a Free Agent CFO™ is someone who has the freedom to work with the clients they choose to serve.
In baseball and other sports, athletes who are tethered to a team by a contract are not free agents. Once their contracts expire, they are free to the open market choosing the team bringing them the best deal.
Free agency for CFOs is far better. We don’t wait on businesses to call us. We reach out to them through great relationships we’ve established over time. Furthermore, the market basket of opportunities is larger than any league. Pro athletes may only have 4-5 teams bidding for their services. Your situation is different. Even if you live in a small town as I do, there are probably more than 200 small businesses in a 25-mile radius needing your help and support.
With that background, let’s keep the Free Agent CFO™ definition simple. The Free Agent CFO™ is someone who has the freedom to help their clients succeed in all areas of business, not just in financial matters.
Free Agent CFO™ Is Not a Professional Services Firm
I shouldn’t say never, but Free Agent CFO™ will never become a firm. Free Agent CFO™ is an educational platform that teaches the business of CFOing whether you are a prospect, rookie, MVP, or even a Hall of Famer.
I require every CFO I coach and mentor to take the Kolbe A™ Index which measures our natural instincts in the way we go about our business.
My Kolbe A™ Index reveals I’m an 8-8-2-2. Interpreted, those numbers mean I’m a strategic planner. I love reading, studying, researching, interviewing others, and finding out what has worked in the past. Furthermore, I instinctively create systems, processes, and workflows based on my learning.
Accordingly, my Kolbe modus operandi is the driving force behind Free Agent CFO™. My goal is to teach, explain, encourage, and occasionally entertain. I will be rolling out 3 core products in 2017 leading Free Agent CFO™ to start fulfilling its mission–help CFOs to grow and prosper in their practices along with the clients they serve.
The Free Agent CFO™ Dream
You are not just helping your client when he/she follows your advice and guidance. When great things happen due to your performance, you’re helping both the employees and the families that depend on them.
My short-term goal is to help 5,000 CFOs, small CPA firms, and small consulting firms across the globe become better at finding, getting, and supporting clients. In doing so, we’re all impacting the world favorably.
Is this pie in the sky? Try telling that to the young rookie in 1993 when he helped that client secure the $500,000 line of credit described earlier. If we don’t get that loan and make other serious changes, about 23 employees will be looking for jobs. Today, that small business is thriving and selling its goods globally, and most of the leadership team is intact.
I dare you to tell me we’re not changing the world when we help our clients succeed. Again, everything you do impacts the livelihoods of many–employees, their spouses, and their children. Don’t forget, our work impacts our client vendors, bankers, and the communities where they reside.
Your Next Steps
My suggestion to you is to keep reading the content here on Free Agent CFO™. I’ll be adding posts three times a week.
I’ve already started coaching other CFOs and you can learn more about that process if you connect with me on LinkedIn. You can also sign up for a free course to learn about the coaching process here. There is a sign-up form at the bottom of that page.
Feel free to be added to the Free Agent CFO™ mailing list so that you can be notified when I release new products.
For now, keep going yard in everything you do (for soccer and rugby enthusiasts, going yard is a baseball term for hitting a home run).