Keeping score …or running the show

When I was at university, I undertook a project for a privately owned company. On the day I was to present the findings, I was invited into the companies boardroom.  The founder and owner was very traditional, so was sitting at the head of the table running the meeting with his exec members sitting almost in rank order around the table . At one stage they were discussing the strategy of the business and where to invest.  At this point, the head accountant started to speak up and question the investment and outline all the financial things that needed to be thought through.

The chairman listened intently, and then said these words  “thank you, but please  remember that you are here just to keep score”…..

Reflecting on the key differences in my current role in a startup vs the roles I had in large companies, I am struck by the stark differences in control the finance team has.

In a small company, you never hear the words “I need to check with Finance”.  There’s no large forecasting and compliance overhead.  The business is focused on doing good things for customers, building good products and navigating its way toward success. Finance is partner in the decision making process, but definitely secondary to executing on the business plan.

In large business this is largely lost, finance has enormous control and I would argue that the business plan is actually the financial plan.

Have a think about your company and which situation you are in.