Jerry L. Mills is CEO of B2B CFO, a part-time chief financial officer company he founded in 1987. He is also a partner of the company, with more than 30 years of service as CFO for clients in a wide range of industries. Mills wrote business books “The Danger Zone: Lost in the Growth Transition” and “Avoiding the Danger Zone: Business Illusions.” He took time recently to answer questions about his leadership style, inspiration and advice for entrepreneurs.
What is your leadership philosophy?
Businesspeople are attracted to other businesspeople who know where they are going. My leadership philosophy is to give direction to those in my company. I have set high goals and teach those in my company where we are going, why we are headed in that direction and a little about how we are going to get there. I explain the benefits to them upon our achieving our goals and objectives.
What inspired you to start B2B CFO?
I spent four years creating a business plan with a micro- and macroeconomic plan. My model was able to predict that the market needed our services and that there would be no shortage of demand for our services.
What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned over the course of building your business?
The importance of using technology and my ability to take advantage of technology (search engines, social media, etc.) in spite of my lack of technical training and experience with such technology.
What do you think is the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make, in terms of finance?
The inability to understand cash flow and finances. They typically do not understand that as sales increase, cash flow has a corresponding decrease. This seems to be a mystery to them, even though it is a simple concept. They usually do not understand how to work with bankers and lenders and how to maximize those relationships to their advantage.
If someone came to you and said he or she was thinking of starting a business soon, what would be your piece of advice?
I would have them document the key reason a customer would buy their goods or services over other competitors, including competitors in foreign countries. I would then ask them to document their vision about how to find customers to purchase those goods or services, especially with the emphasis of using search engines and social media to drive the sales volume.