019: Scaling a CFO firm from $200k to $1MM

October 7, 2022
Read time: 5 minutes

Scaling a CFO firm from $200k to $1MM is a very different game than going from $0 to $200k.

And to play in the $1MM game, you're going to need some additional tools in your tool box.

Today, I'm going to share the 6 things I needed to scale my firm from $200k to $1MM per year.

Before I dive in: 

It's important to note that I'm sharing what I've learned in my journey. I'm sharing what I've found to be true for the type of firm that I want. 

But there are many other ways to build a successful firm.

My hope is that you'll take what I share as inspiration and apply my learnings on your journey.

OK, here's my list:

Thing #1

First, I realized that I had to stop dabbling in the world of hourly and project billing. 

Instead, I had to focus on monthly recurring revenue.

Don't get me wrong:

There's NOTHING wrong with project or hourly work.

But I want a small, lean team that is able to handle high paying clients. And that means having repeatable work that can be highly systematized and automated.

The answer? 

Set services at a fixed, recurring price.

For me, nailing down the monthly services was the key to unlocking scalability.

Thing #2

 With your monthly recurring packages in hand, now you can to get to work on processes and procedures.

Yeah, like actually documenting them.

πŸ‘‰ It's true:
Documenting processes sucks. No one likes writing that stuff out. But it's nearly impossible to become efficient enough to hit 7 figures without key processes.

There are a few reasons why: 

 Team - your team needs to know what to do and how to do it
 Quality - it's easy for things to slip through the cracks if you don't have processes and checklists
 Efficiency - if you're not intentional about how you do things, it's impossible to identify gaps and time sucks
 Consistency - good clients appreciate (demand) a consistent product

I suggest that you identify the 3-5 most important processes and get those documented before you make your first hire (executive assistant excluded).

Do not skip this. 

Future you will thank present you for not being lazy here.

Thing #3

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Yeah. You'll likely need a team to get to 7 figures.

And a team can be W2 employees or 1099 subcontractors or both.
But you'll need people who can support you in the day to day.

For me, an (amazing) executive assistant is a non-negotiable. 

βœ… Scheduling
βœ… Prioritization
βœ… Client emails
βœ… Reminding me which day of the week it is

As I scaled, I realized that also needed another CFO, but also someone who could serve as a strategic partner.

Thankfully I met Carlos! He's been my OG ride-or-die for over 4 years now. 

But our relationship didn't start out where it is today. In fact, when we first started together, he basically just did all the back-end work while I was client facing.

He focused on: 

• Analytics
• Report prep
• Research and review

Today, Carlos does everything but sales and marketing. He literally runs the entire show.

(Feels good to know that I'm still good for SOMETHING.)

Note that you may not need (or even want!) another high-level person on your team. It's totally up to you.

Thing #4

Next, you're probably going to have to get better at boundaries.

I see it all the time once CFOs raise their prices: 

❌ The client asks you to do (insert thing outside of your scope here)
❌ You feel like you have to say yes to justify your new price
❌ You do a ton more work, negating the price increase
❌ Resentment and burnout ensues

You sold your scope of work to your client at whatever price. And that means that they believed in the value at that price (after all, they DID buy it!)

Now it's time for you to believe in your value.

I want to encourage you to get good at saying no to things outside of your scope.

If you want to or need to say yes, charge them extra via a project.

If you can't maintain boundaries, you'll never hit $1MM+.

Thing #5

To hit 7 figures, you'll need to level up your tech stack. 

Albeit not as much as you might think.

πŸ‘‰ Project Management

You'll want something made for our industry.
Karbon is the best. 
Hands down. 
It's pricey.
Worth it.

πŸ‘‰ Automated Invoicing and Payment Processing

Ignition (formerly Practice Ignition) is the best in class.

Their UI is great.
The price is great.
The client experience is great.
The automations and integrations are great. 

They make you wait 7-10 days to get ACH deposits.
That isn't great.

Still worth it.

πŸ‘‰ Tax Strategy Software

Offering tax strategies has been a great revenue booster for us.

There are several players in the field, but Corvee has been our favorite.  100s of tax strategies which are regularly updated have been a game changer for us.

Thing #6

Lastly, you need to figure out a way to generate more consistent leads.

I see a lot of people thinking that they need to run ads to scale to 7 figures and that's simply not true.

In fact, it pretty much just doesn't work! I've spent over $100k testing ads of the years and they never pan out.

Why not? 

Landing high-paying CFO clients is predicated on trust and relationships.
And clever ads don't build either of those things.

What does build trust and relationships? 

• Talking to people.
• Adding tons of value.
• Serving without expectations.

You can't hack that.

🀷‍♀️ Who should you build these relationships with?

Lawyers
Estate planners
Wealth manager
Accountants and tax professionals

These people work with the types of clients you probably want.

Get to know them. Speak at their events. Go to lunch with them. Do webinars with them.

Do, you know, professional relationship, trust built-y stuff with them.

Other great lead sources include referrals, speaking events, podcast interviews, and, yes, UpWork.

Notice that all of these things require proactivity? 
The thing is, you have to actually "do" business development and marketing.

The journey to $1,000,000 isn't complicated but there are some glass ceilings along the way. Be intentional and proactive about how you build your firm so you can avoid those limitations.

You've got this. 

Your Coach,
Michael


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