Getting Clear On Your Numbers and Financial Strategy

Podcast: Work Alchemy

Episode Title:  Getting Clear on Your Numbers and Financial Strategy

Host: Ursula Jorch

Episode Guest: Kathy Svetina

Episode Date: April 21, 2021

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Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews is a weekly Business Podcast where Ursula Jorch has wide-ranging and deep conversations with highly successful entrepreneurs and leaders about what it takes to have an impact.

About this episode

For your business to grow, it’s crucial to strategically manage your finances. But if you lack the expertise, implementing effective financial strategies can feel like solving a puzzle without the right pieces. Without a clear grasp of financial management, you might be putting your business growth and sustainability at risk. 

In a recent episode of the “Work Alchemy” podcast hosted by Ursula Jorch, guest Kathy Svetina, Fractional CFO and founder of NewCastle Finance, shares invaluable insights into how businesses can leverage Fractional CFO services to overcome financial challenges and drive sustainable growth.

Many small businesses haven’t reached the stage of having a C-level finance executive onboard. In such cases, engaging a fractional CFO, a professional at that level who works part-time within your business, can offer a practical solution. 

Key Insights from Work Alchemy podcast

5:56 Difference Between CFO and Accountant

9:28 Value of Fractional CFO Services

13:43 Financial Strategy Lessons from Fortune 500 Companies

23:59 Pricing Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs

30:58 Impactful Leadership and Company Culture

Difference between a CFO and an Accountant

As a business grows, its financial needs also evolve. When you started, for example, you probably handled all the financial aspects, perhaps with the assistance of an accountant. However, as revenue and expenses increase, you will need a more comprehensive financial team. This typically includes accountants, bookkeepers, and ultimately, a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who will steer the business toward sustainable growth. Each has a role to play and all are crucial for the effective financial management of your business. 

Accountants and bookkeepers primarily deal with past financial transactions, making sure that all financial records and reports are accurate. They focus on your historical financial data, generating profit and loss statements, cash reports, and balance sheets.

In contrast, CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) take a forward-thinking approach. They look to the future of the business. They analyze the past financial data gathered by your bookkeeper and accountant to help them make informed decisions about future strategies, long-term financial plans, and forecasts. While they look into the past data, CFOs also look at external factors such as industry trends and economic conditions to bridge that gap between the current situation and your future business goals.

While accountants and bookkeepers play vital roles in maintaining accurate financial records, CFOs are the strategic thinkers who translate financial data into actionable strategies for sustainable business growth.

“A Fractional CFO is the person that’s concerned about the future of your business and the overall strategy of your business.” – Kathy Svetina

The value of fractional CFO services

Having a Fractional CFO can go a very long way for your business to achieve sustainable growth and financial stability. They offer tailored strategic financial guidance without the need for full-time employment commitments, making them a practical fit. This is especially true for companies at crucial growth stages. You don’t want to derail all your gains by the lack of expertise and resources to make informed financial decisions. 

Fractional CFOs offer flexible support, allowing businesses to benefit from their expertise without the financial burden of hiring a full-time executive. You’ll get personalized advice, drawing on their extensive experience to help you find a better way to use and maximize your revenues. They also analyze the financial health of your business, identify threats and risks, and help you seize opportunities that can take your business to new heights.

“The foundation of financial planning and analysis is your accounting and bookkeeping, making sure that the numbers that you’re putting in, that they’re correct, that they’re accurate, that they’re timely, that everything is reconciled.” – Kathy Svetina

Financial strategy lessons from Fortune 500 companies

Small businesses aiming for growth and sustainability can gain valuable insights from industry giants. One important insight is that big corporations have a set financial structure in place. Smaller businesses can bring this into their business by setting up accounting systems and processes to track financial data effectively.

Fortune 500 companies also prioritize financial analysis. They take the time to look into their numbers to identify trends, patterns, and even future threats and opportunities. By doing this financial analysis, small businesses will get deeper insights into their performance and make informed decisions for future growth.

Then finally, larger companies do long-term planning well.. They don’t just focus on immediate gains or what’s happening now but develop strategic financial plans for sustainable growth over time. Small businesses can adopt similar practices by setting clear financial goals and coming up with comprehensive plans to achieve them.

The Healthy Financial House™ framework

Kathy developed her Healthy Financial House™ framework to illustrate these complex financial concepts.

Just as a house requires a sturdy foundation to stand, the data that your accounting and bookkeeping collect serves as the cornerstone of financial management. Sadly, many small businesses don’t realize that they need more than just the data and reports. They also need additional “structural elements” of the house to support long-term growth. 

The next part of the framework is Financial analysis which acts as the walls of the Healthy Financial house. By analyzing patterns and trends in your data,  like client payment behaviors for example, you’ll be able to spot potential cash flow issues and, on the flip side, even opportunities for more revenues. This will help guide you to make informed decisions in your business.  

The 3rd part of the framework is the interior design of the house – or having efficient systems and processes in place that will handle all aspects of your finances. This includes having the best accounting software, CRM systems, automated banking tools, and more.  

Then, of course, every house needs a roof to protect it from the elements. This represents the strategic financial planning piece that you need to have in place to shield your business from any threats. And what makes up the roof in a way are the goals you will set, the budgets and forecasts, and all the strategies you need to have in place to guarantee your future success.

The final part of the framework is the security system of your financial house – or the internal controls you have in your business to protect from fraud. 

Through this analogy, Kathy highlights the holistic approach needed for effective financial management. And just like the big Fortune 500 companies, strengthening all the different parts of your financial “house” will help you achieve sustainable growth and success.

“Financial Planning is the strategic piece – taking a look at your business from a perspective of where am I going to be –  not just 3 or 6 months down the road, but in a year or 3 to 5 years.” – Kathy Svetina

Pricing challenges for women entrepreneurs

Beyond Financial Management, pricing your products or services correctly can make or break your business. Sadly, many women entrepreneurs struggle with pricing their products or services in a way that accurately reflects their worth. This is mainly due to the presence of emotional barriers that can cloud your judgment.  

Kathy spoke about the impact this can have on pricing strategies. She emphasized that pricing is not just what one personally feels is fair or if you have internal doubts about whether they are good enough to command higher prices.  It’s also about understanding what’s happening in the market. This way, your pricing can reflect the true value of whatever it is you are offering.

To help overcome these emotional barriers, women entrepreneurs can benefit from coaching and support from a Fractional CFO. Once you foster an objective approach to pricing, you can achieve greater financial success in your business.

“Pricing is a big issue for women as they have a hard time pricing their services or products in a way that reflects their value and appeals to the market.” – Kathy Svetina

Impactful leadership and company culture

While managing finances wisely is good, effective leadership and a positive company culture are just as important to achieve long-term business success. Kathy stresses that leadership is more than just giving orders; it is guiding your people toward a common goal. It also makes it much easier for fractional CFOs to do what they do best when they are collaborating with teams willing to be led and if they are working in an atmosphere where everyone wants to help the company succeed.

Fractional CFOs also play a crucial role in hiring decisions, which significantly impact company culture. While they don’t directly shape the culture, they can advise on hiring the right people and provide support for these hires by planning for them financially. With the right team in place, you’re almost guaranteed a work environment that will support your company’s goals and values.


  • As your business grows, setting up a financial team, including bookkeepers and accountants to manage historical data and reports, and Fractional CFOs to focus on future strategies, might be necessary.

  • Fractional CFOs offer tailored financial planning and analysis and general guidance, helping analyze risks and identify growth opportunities.

  • Large businesses have established financial frameworks, which can be applied to smaller businesses using Kathy Svetina’s Healthy Financial House framework.

  • By overcoming emotional barriers towards the value of their offerings, women entrepreneurs can benefit from objective pricing strategies with Fractional CFO support.

  • While financial management is important, effective leadership and a positive culture are also vital for the long-term success of any business.  

If you’re interested in exploring this promising future and the substantial value that Strategic Finance and FP&A can bring to your growing business, feel free to get in touch with NewCastle Finance today


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About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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