Formed in 1989, EMC pioneered the concept of the ‘mobile boardroom’–a multi-disciplined task force capable of providing top-level support and advice to businesses on a short or long-term basis.
After 30 years and having completed over 800 projects the team are still at the top of their game in the South East, helping SME’s grow and prosper. Today we talk to four of their experts as to how and why EMC’s Business Growth team as they are now known, make a real difference.
Laura McKenzie is a senior interim CFO and specialises in financial management and support
As a business owner, why should I hire a chief financial officer?
“Many business owners employ bookkeepers or accountants who record historic transactions, and then act as CFOs themselves in addition to their CEO roles. Even if you are proficient with accounting and finance, time is a scarce and valuable resource. Is this the best use of it? There are three great key reasons to hire a CFO:”
“You need one source of data to be accurate, to enhance knowledge and judgement for day to day business decisions. So that financial reports, often leveraging technology, can be analysed and interpreted allowing meaningful KPI dashboards to be created. This requires understanding of what factors drive the business, and what signals they send off. i.e. The hidden costs of maintaining a demanding client or customer acquisition costs vs lifetime value”.
“Every business should have rolling 12-months projections. Accurate financial forecasts allow meaningful cash management, tax planning, variance analysis and monitoring of performance targets. The faster the business is changing/growing, the more complex the operations, the greater the risk associated with not planning regularly. Understand your cash runway so you maintain an appropriate buffer or raise funds in time. They may take a bit of time to set up but once in place they become an essential and valuable management tool”.
“Every owner benefits from objective advice. Once a CFO, (whether full- or part- time) is embedded in the business and becomes an integral part of strategic planning they will be able to assist with all business decisions whether investment or cut back, pricing, inventory management, to evaluate and cost growth plans and product launches, acquisition and exit decisions for owners”.
“If you are spending more than 20% of your working time on finances, it’s time to hire a CFO. Often a part-time solution is the first step, hiring a top professional for short periods rather than committing to a full-time, less effective solution. This part-time solution will aid owners in truly appreciating the value such a CFO can bring - and how much diary time is recovered to work on all the other elements of their business”.
Carl Fillery, heads the strategy and business planning team at EMC
How do you recognise a good leader?
“I probably visit 25-50 businesses a year so I see all sorts of leaders and in fairness, they all have their strengths or they wouldn’t be there.
The best are the ones always looking to grow, learn, challenge their teams and bring in help where necessary to do this. You have to invest to grow whether in mentoring for your key people, reviewing and crystallising strategy, business planning, or just having an objective independent view, as and when you need it. That’s exactly what the team at EMC offers – expert advice at an agreed price for as little or as long as you need”.
Most businesses are fearful of consultants and costs. What would you say to that?
“I would agree. I ran a business with over 350 people for five years and I was very cautious as to who I listened to and more so took care as to whom I actually paid for advice. But I can assure you that when you get the right support it can push your business forward and bring huge returns. The reason EMC have been around for more that 30 years and completed more than 800 projects is that we are trusted, known locally and give great value for money. What more can I say - give it a go”.
Tony Barsham is head of the technology team at EMC
As a Business Owner, what should my key focus areas for technology be as we come out of the pandemic?
“There are three areas that will be very important as you recover and seek to grow”
B2C and B2B over the internet
“Web / App based ordering is now a given, and again many organisations have embraced this. The internet offers much more opportunity than basic transactions and organisations should consider how they can interact and engage with customers more effectively – and then use that data to drive decisions within their business. The transformation of the airline industry is a great example of this. The toolkits (e.g. Azure or AWS) are available and not difficult or expensive to use – so highly functional websites are no longer the domain only of large organisations”.
Using AI to grow the business
“The know-how within an organisation is very often the most competitive advantage that it possesses. If that know-how is ‘wrapped up’ in people it also becomes a constraint to growth. Organisations must consider how they can ‘automate’ at least part of that knowledge, using AI technologies, which then allows their customers to access that knowledge with less need for human intervention. AI technologies are also becoming more accessible (again Azure and AWS have very rich portfolios) and less costly to develop”.
‘Always Connected’ Devices and Internet of Things (IOT)
“Cars and most consumer appliances today are always connected to the internet using IOT technology. Smart meters to control electricity in homes are now government policy. Any organisations that manufacturer products, that ultimately will sit in a consumer or business environment, must understand how they can use IOT to deliver a better services to their customers. That could be proactive or predictive monitoring (to foresee problems before they happen) or alerting when faults occur. Knowledge is power.
“Business owners must embrace these opportunities and pull together a technology strategy to support their business growth. This can be done at speed and with accuracy if the right expertise is used. EMC is ideally positioned to support this”.
John Stevenson – Head of Operational Excellence
Emerging from the pandemic – how can we ensure that we recapture lost business and grow the sales line?
Sales & Business development
“Most businesses have experienced some sales disruption in 2020. However, there will be significant opportunities as we emerge with a strengthening economy. Ensure your company has a growth plan in place and is ready to be more commercially agile, this is an area where external help can arrive more quickly at a plan that is realistic, innovative, and deliverable. Developing these plans and embedding tracking visibility is something we implement successfully with all our growing clients - and you should be doing the same”.
And what can we do on the operational front to achieve ‘Operational Excellence’?
“This is a significant opportunity to ensure that your company emerges with a leaner, more efficient operational base. Challenge your operations team to add
percentage points to your margin. There is always profit in the buying. You should have a toolkit which your team use to ensure you are working to a more efficient plan, with a measurable dashboard, to improve profitability. Supply chain management will be key going forward”.
“As organisations grow, they have a tendency to try to manage all operational areas that they had to run as a smaller company. When companies mature efficiency, quality, customer service and cost are often best served by an outsourced solution. Make sure that you review your processes and recommend cost-effective areas to outsource. This should be supported by a costed payback model and action plan”.
EMC’s business growth team work alongside their award-winning corporate finance division that tops the South East league table for transactions completed.
CEO Nik Askaroff said: “When I originally founded the business, it was with the idea of helping companies by providing expert advice in small affordable chunks or on a part-time basis. 32 years on, we are still doing that and I am very proud that we continue to be unique in the region in the combination of expert business advice and top quality corporate finance support. Whether you are growing, buying or looking to sell we can help you on that journey”
EMC MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS
Rochester House, 48 Rochester Gardens, Hove, BN3 3AW
Tel: 01273 945984
Offices in: London, Brighton, Eastbourne, Tunbridge Wells, Epsom, Maidstone