When I was working inside the last multi national meat grinder that employed me, I had the unique opportunity during the time I was there to sit on both sides of the corporate fence, first as a CFO and second as a director of strategy.
The two sides I’m speaking to is marketing and finance. So in keeping with the title of this post, if business finance and financing is the Ying of business then Marketing, business development, and sales are the Yang.
And if you look closely at virtually any of the fortune 500 companies, they are all organized around these two sides, Marketing and Finance.
If its not completely obvious, the Ying and Yang analogy has everything to do with the totally different ends of the spectrum that marketing and finance occupy.
Marketing and Finance people don’t even tend to get along as the former tends to be aggressive, even to a fault at times, and the later tends to be conservative, even to a fault at times. Even if these two sides don’t have an ongoing hate for each other, they’re not highly likely to become the god parents for each others kids.
But.. And its a big but, a business (any business) cannot achieve any type of sustainable long term success without marketing and finance being in balance.
This well established business structure is designed to create conflict and push from both sides so that optimal results can be achieved that otherwise wouldn’t if one had power over the other.
For many small and medium sized businesses, the primary focus, as it should be, is marketing, because without customers, nothing else really matters. So the yang tends to be strong, but what about the ying?
Unfortunately, finance takes a major league back seat in most businesses which tends to cause considerable imbalance, and suboptimal results over time.
Business finance has an important role to play and somehow it needs to be worked into the mix for companies whose size does not support a full blown corporate structure.
Basic things like budgeting, a financing strategy, cost control and measurement are important to any business and need to be covered off somehow in order to allow a business to fulfill its potential.
As an example, what I really notice more than anything else in this regard with small and medium sized business is that over 80% (my numbers) of business financing activities are unplanned events, do not adhere to any type of financing strategy for the business, and are difficult to get into place in the time required.
Because of the lack of business finance focus, finance related events are crisis managed when they occur and then immediately put off to the side until the next crisis occurs.
It doesn’t have to be that way, but it will likely be that way without an understanding of why marketing and finance need to balance off against each other.
For business owners and managers, it can very well mean sitting on both sides of the proverbial fence at times to achieve some amount of balance. And for those that do, they develop a competitive advantage that can lead to both growth and survival.