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Connecting CFOs with Dan Wells

Dan Wells is talking to us about connecting CFOs. He founded two collaborative portals: growcfo and growceo. He’s spent 20 years as an advisor to lots of high-growth, entrepreneurial businesses. Additionally, he was an equity partner in a big four firm. Now, he’s making his own path with his new venture.

Dan Wells is guest on the next 100 days podcast with Graham Arrowsmith and Kevin Appleby, discussing connecting CFOs

Entrepreneurial spirit

Dan’s passion has always been to become an entrepreneur. His family have had experiences as entrepreneurs’ as a result, he wanted to follow suit.

When Dan was younger, his parents worked hard with a catering equipment company. He used to spend his time keeping out of trouble by helping deliveries to local businesses. Also, his uncle ran a successful catering business. Looks like being a business professional runs in the blood!

Connecting CFOs with portals

How do you connect CFOs through portals? What’s the business idea?

When Dan looks at a lot of the tech businesses that have done well, he sees that entrepreneurs apply technology to a good skillset in order to create their own business. It’s a great business model to apply technology to field which you are passionate about and already have a solid network in.

What Dan’s done is get some software and joined with a tech company in order to create a big collaboration zone. That way, there can be a great platform for shared ideas and resources. In fact, this is how Dan and Kevin met! They connected on LinkedIn and Dan offered Kevin a place on the CFO portal.

Once you get into the portal, you set up a profile and then you would have access to all the content and you can message any other members. You can either use the different threads of the information that has been posted; or you can filter all of the content according to what is most relevant to you. For Dan, it’s about making what’s relevant to people. You can get lost information overload and so this service gets people in front of a community and the information you want.¬†He provides support.

Where did it start?

What Dan has found is that people can often be lonely and isolated within their roles. They try find solutions themselves and get their head down. Invariably, they waste a lot of time and cost. What Dan encourages them to do is find others in similar situations and try and learn from the things they have worked out. This also applies to learning from their mistakes too! It sort of links to our conversation with Engel Jones – sharing our experiences can be such a powerful thing.

The portal that’s set up at the moment is purely online. Dan and his team were keen to get a good number of members so there was a solid critical mass in each location. He has about 1000 members now, which means they have enough people with common interest to start thinking about events and getting people together face-to-face.

Income

With gathering people together, there are lots of opportunities for generating income. However, the importance is to maintain and manage the user experience of the portals. It needs to be an attractive place for users to come to.

Dan’s recently departed the world of big organisations. He left back in June last year. Since then it’s been a rapid journey and the uptake of the portals have been really high. What’s really encouraging is the level of referrals – it’s a big indicator of how people are finding the user experience.

USPs for connecting CFOs

Chief Executive Officers

It’s not just all about numbers. It’s about humans as well…isn’t that right Kevin?! On a more serious note, what’s the difference between CFO and CEO portals? Is there any?

To start with, Dan found that the business leaders on the CEO forum were more open and much more likely to post on the forum. Over time, however, the two have begun to neutralise. Actually, there has become a lot more collaboration on the finance officer’s forum. With accountants, there’s a tendency to be tentative but with time people have begun to come forward and share.

A lot of early stage entrepreneurs want to earn money very quickly and so they go down the equity route. How much are you going to get from that equity route? It’s easy to over-dilute yourself so this needs to be thought about.

One of the reasons favour Facebook groups, for example, at the moment is because it’s a platform you’re in every day. Therefore, nipping into the group every once in a while to see what’s been said isn’t too hard. However, if there’s a platform that has a particular sign in process, there has to be something special to drive return there. There’s got to be reminders, etc. That’s a potentially huge challenge there.

Dan uses different things to attract retention. One of them is Weekly Thoughts on Thursday, where they pick a hot topic which needs to be discussed during the next week. Then, people can go into detail and lots of good content is produced.

So, what the thought today (recording day being a Thursday)? Time Saving Tips.

If you are interested in Dan Wells’ services, you can find him on LinkedIn here.

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