Want to Survive? Don’t scrimp on your FD

by Craig Dearden-Phillips 10/02/2016

Five years into our business of helping new ventures step out of the public sector it is becoming very clear to us just how important it is to have the right person on the strategic finance side of the business.

We have noticed that those who don't manage to secure a really first-class FD early on tend, at some point, to hit real difficulties in their management information and, on occasion, big problems in the underlying business.

And we are not necessarily talking here about bringing external people in - just about having the very best people in the finance director role, be this full or part time.

A common pattern we observe is that new ventures tend to focus on maintaining operational fidelity and on looking after their staff as they transition to a new venture.

All very important, of course. But this can be at the expense of quickly developing appropriate levels of financial management and commercial insight. Understanding your financial fundamentals, the viability – and hidden liabilities - of the new business you’re thinking of taking on, and ensuring the credibility of your organisation with your commissioners are all of vital importance. A high quality FD, who balances caution with the passion for your cause, can be the difference between thriving and surviving. And don’t forget to make sure those financial skills are present on your board too.

Although the term "turnaround" is probably too strong we have now worked with a few organisations who have needed help to rapidly address the consequences of having the wrong people in key jobs. Or in some cases having nobody in those jobs at all!

Finding the talent you need to run a really well-rounded commercial management team is particularly hard when a new venture has to start life with a group of managers whose own skills come from a different operating context.

Nevertheless it is vital to recognise that when you press 'Re-start' by forming a new public service business you have to do exactly the same with its management.

To this end, Stepping Out has been helping several new spin out ventures to find the people they need to ensure success.

We have helped to source finance directors, commercial directors, board chairman, non execs and chief execs. 

We do this through our 'Talent' business which, for a fraction of the price of an expensive recruiting agency, will give you a highly qualified short list of top quality candidates from whom to interview. 

Our model is simple - a modest flat fee, no frills, just great, quality-assured people for you to interview.

We do this because we care and believe that there is a massive pool of fantastic people who want to work in social enterprises. It's just a question of bringing people together.

If you want to talk about 'Talent' and how it can help you, just give me a call on (07764) 203969 or just drop me a line at

We would be very happy to connect you to others who have used this service.

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