"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." -Churchill

John Funnell

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Exponential Growth Challenges!

The economic crisis of 2009 presented a false base for many businesses

The economic crisis of 2009 presented a false base for many businesses including ours, giving us nothing upon which to produce any meaningful type of growth statistics or trend data but all things considered our result of 400% is still incredible growth by any standards. So in this environment and at these high levels of growth how can you possibly manage costs based on historical information or results? Well the fact is you can't!

After many years, I am now of the view that there are two sides to finance, the ‘science' and the ‘art'. Drawing upon a flying analogy, the numbers are like your wingman...always there to provide guidance and assurance, providing you with the holistic view of reality; however their observations are instantly in the past and provide little or no indication of the right flight path going forward.  It's the true gut feel, the ‘art', in this type of journey which helps spot the fighter jet on to the aircraft carrier, a somewhat small target in the scheme of things. In my experience it's this gut feel that unlocks the potential to deliver such impressive growth.

Take the telecoms evolution of the last 12 years as an example; many years ago I remember scanning through articles from mobile operators. Each article described a situation where the CFO had been approached by the CTO requesting billions of pounds for a network build out of 2G, with this investment delivering a pretty impressive ROI. A year later the CTO was back in the CFO's office requesting billions of pounds to take the network to next generation, 3G. The CFO grappled with the decision after just having been potentially compromised on the 2G ROI that he had bought in to and signed off only a year ago. Ultimately though...signing the cheque was the only decision in this boomsector. That was gut feel!

On a smaller scale I find myself faced with similar investment challenges, continually having to wrestle with my conscience. How much science and how much art! As a CFO the emphasis has moved away from the bean counter days, now the need exists to have detailed knowledge of the whole business and not just finance, treasury and governance. If you're going to make decisions based on gut feel then it's critical that you understand the real life challenges and dynamics across the entire business and approach any decision from a position of knowledge and integrity.

For me, cash cover, debtor book and order book will always be the preferable metrics as a starting point, providing short to medium term assurances around cash receipts, whilst considering operating costs. Start to extend this across the business with cash flow trends, order trends, development and deployment project plans and you soon start to build up a pretty comprehensive view of the terrain.

Armed with this amount of information, balancing the art with the science will soon develop as another skill and place you in good standing for the future.

So expect some turbulence, listen to your wingman and your co-pilot they'll give you all the readings and statistics that you need. Believe in your gut feel a little and take the business to the next level.

Richard Fuller Chief Financial Officer Arieso

More Stories By John Funnell

John Funnell has worked in online media for over ten years, after achieving his First Class BSC Hons Degree (BBC Sponsored), John won Bos 18-21 Princess Trust Entrepeneur of the year at 21, setting up Clean Living Records Ltd (including www.BeatReview.com) with great success having many acts that charted in Europe and Canada. After selling the business John looked for a new challenge and joined GDS International, having a successful career in sales and Delegate acquisition, he worked up to Event Director EMEA, forging contacts with some of the biggest technology names in the world, this lead to John having a lead role in the creation of MeettheBoss.com and MeettheBoss.tv – the worlds largest business IPTV channel. John then took over as Marketing and Communications Director and ran a multifaceted global Marketing team for GDS International in New York, Sydney, Kuala Lumper and the UK.. John joined Global in 2011 with the challenge of supporting its growth by developing a solid Marketing foundation through various Digital, PR and brand initiatives.