18 Apr 2017, 10:32 — 8 min read
The role of the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) has evolved from being a backward-looking financial policeman to a forward-thinking strategist who plays a pivotal role in the growth of the enterprise. Realising that many small businesses struggle to find the right financial expertise, Balkishan Chandak founded SMART CFO Services. The company aims to benefit growing SMEs & startups by providing access, advice and insights of expert CFOs & business consultants.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Balkishan Chandak (BK) shares how his firm provides tailored expertise services to SMEs.
GL: Tell us about your business and how it came into being.
BK: As a qualified financial expert, I had always worked for big corporates and MNCs, but I dreamed of having my own consulting practice. When the last MNC where I was the Country CFO, was exiting India, I didn’t want to take another high profile corporate job but rather wanted to start my own practice. I wanted to use the expertise I had accumulated over a decade, to assist SMEs who cannot afford to have a full-time CFO because of the costs and lack of formal requirements for such a position. I worked for one year in a CFO service firm as partner and in the meantime setup my own firm. Everyone says that getting your first client is difficult, but this was not the case with me. My first assignment was to do a Due Diligence & Valuation of a car parking solution company. My work was appreciated and that gave me confidence to became an entrepreneur.
SMART CFO is a specialist firm of experienced CFOs and business consultants. We provide a strong network of associate partners & a one-stop solution for all the financial advisory needs of a business. We focus on startups and SMEs who are increasingly recognising the need to access professional CFO services. Our consultants can be engaged full time, part-time, on a project basis or outsourced.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
BK: The challenges of managing a startup or a growing business are extraordinary. Initially my main challenge was to attract clients on a consistent basis and to have stable revenue in the firm. Another learning was that SMEs are not willing to pay for quality service, even though they need the expertise. I had to constantly monitor the cost of my services so that it is affordable to an SME.
The other challenge I faced was in networking & marketing my services. You can succeed as an entrepreneur only when you have very good networking and marketing skills, and get references from your friends, family, professional colleagues etc. Shared CFO Services does not rely on advertising, but primarily on references.
The other challenge was acceptance of this new concept. Many companies prefer to have a full-time in-house CFO. To convince promoters & directors is a big task especially in a country like India where people are resistant to change. Shared services and outsourcing were driven mainly by cost reduction, but today the requirement is to deliver quality and value also that supports the corporate strategy.
Apart from quality, privacy of information is another challenge where the client does not feel comfortable disclosing the details to an external CFO.
We have worked hard over the past year to overcome each of these challenges.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
BK: Unlike those who operate internally, an external CFO will have no preconceptions or agendas with regards to business operations. Instead, they will be able to tackle issues with a thoroughly clinical approach. Such an objective viewpoint is critical to assessing all sides of a situation. In addition, SMART CFO’s experts have vast experience of operating in different industries.
Our USP is:
• Our CFOs lead the project
• Practicable & workable suggestions while overseeing timely executions
• Respect client confidentiality
• Tried & tested solutions applied
• Emphasis on onsite presence
SMART CFOs have skills in all aspects of their job, including human resources, law, and operations. We offer a uniquely global perspective, with knowledge of all relevant legalities and regulations.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
BK: In the last 3 months, the pipeline of clients has built up significantly. Until now SMART CFO has served almost 25 clients on various assignments. Apart from Indian clients, we also have clients in the US.
In December 2016, SMART CFO made a strategic alliance with a firm based out of Bangalore that is now helping us serve clients based out of Bangalore and in turn we also helping them with work to be done locally in Mumbai where we have a presence.
In January 2017, I was invited for a Mentorship Conclave of the Vyapar Business Model Competition organised by Vidyalankar School of Information Technology.
Recently I wrote an article on the impact of Fintech in banking titled “India’s Fintech revolution is primed to put banks out of business” which was published in Insight Success magazine, one of the best business magazines for C-suite professionals.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?
BK: GlobalLinker is the ideal platform for SMEs to get connected with market leaders, entrepreneurs & other startups to grow their business. It’s a very helpful place especially now when everything is digital. Getting connected with entrepreneurs who need a professional like me for Shared CFO services is easy on GlobalLinker. GlobalLinker is useful in getting ideas by reading articles by people from different industries. In the outsourcing industry, references play a very important role for getting business. GlobalLinker has helped me get the relevant contacts. I really thank GlobalLinker for enabling startups and SMEs to grow their business.
GL: What is your big business dream?
BK: My dream is to provide high quality financial advisory services to SMEs across India. SMART CFO will become one of the top 5 brands in the shared CFO service industry in the next 5 years serving more than 100 clients across length & breadth of India. My vision is to make the Shared CFO Service, an important critical service for every SME.
I also want to create employment opportunities for young Chartered Accountants and give them a platform for learning business skills and exposure to the functions and responsibilities of future CFOs.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
BK: I treat life like one long university education, where I can learn more every day.
There’s no doubt that running a business takes a lot of time. I have noted that the only way to be satisfied in your life is to do work that you truly believe in. We never know the outcome of our efforts unless we plunge head on.
Have a clear vision and be focused on your dream. The world is full of great ideas, but success only comes through action. The easiest way to get started is to quit talking and start doing. Mistakes are often the best teacher. When you learn from your mistakes, you move closer to success. Keep challenging yourself.
I advise all the entrepreneurs to be honest in their work, be ethical in their practice because that pays in the long term. Truly understanding your industry is key to achieving success, so do extensive market research. Learn new techniques of marketing because you have to market your products and services.
Build a strong network of friends and colleagues, they will help you in achieving your dreams.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is if you love your work.
Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.
Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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