Let's Play Chess

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

- Mike Tyson

Talk to anyone these days, CEOs and CFOs, operations to marketing, senior executives to junior analysts, the conversation is the same: “these are scary times. We’re doing our best, but we don’t really know what to do. How do we weather this storm? What decisions can I make to help my company make it through this without mutilating what we worked so hard to build.”

Today we publicly announce the launch of Stella Financial Solutions, an enterprise Continuous Financial Planning & Analysis as a service, what we are calling CFaaS. While we’re formally launching now, Stella has been brewing for nearly 10 years.

After starting my career on Wall Street, I got lucky, really really lucky. I responded to a craigslist ad for a financial analyst position in Bethesda for a cloud computing company. It was 2010, and while I didn’t know the first thing about cloud, let alone how to operate a business, I did my homework, and learned the founders of my new company certainly did.

Over the course of the next 5+ years we mastered the art of financial planning in a business that had sold everything from multitenant infrastructure as a service, consulting offerings, and software development. We updated our financial outlook (P&L, balance sheet and cash flow) every day, accounting for everything from the bookings and revenue outlooks, through headcount and costing model changes.

Business is a game of chess, and our financial forecasting let us see the impact of our moves for months and years down the road, test out different moves, and pick the ones that would drive us to victory. Whether it was hiring a junior resource or acquiring a competitor, we watched how it impacted the chess board, toggling and tinkering, always keeping track of the levers to pull and when to pull them when inevitably we got punched in the face. That discipline paid off, ultimately contributing to a $1.2 billion exit.

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself on the other side of the table, a venture capitalist, trying to find companies that had the promise of the one I found on Craigslist. In virtually every company, seed funding through exit, FP&A was an afterthought, if it was being done at all. Companies see budgeting as a semi-recurring nuisance, done once a year, perhaps with a minor refresh once a quarter. They do it to appease investors, not to gain any insights themselves.

Sitting in a portco’s board meeting, watching a CFO sweat as he couldn’t answer what EBITDA would look like with a 20% drop in bookings, Stella was born. It wasn’t so much that the CFO couldn’t answer the question, it was that he didn’t ask it himself. Why aren’t companies looking? How do they make decisions? Why are they playing checkers?

We founded Stella to give all companies the tools they so desperately need, but rarely get. Now more than ever, it’s so important leaders have a plan, and another plan and another plan, so when they do get punched in the face, they know what to do to get back up and win the fight.

At Stella, we build and maintain your financial forecasting tools, and present your business’s outlook in an easy to use portal, designed to satisfy the wants and needs across the spectrum of financial aptitude. We integrate with your various systems, CRM, HR, accounting, etc. to get real-time information feeds, which are used to update your outlook at the click of a button. Don’t have everything in a system yet? We’ll work with you to develop easy to use templates to populate Stella’s systems. At Stella, we are giving our clients the power of continuous financial planning, with a fraction of the time and money it would take to develop in house, something that is at a premium for all companies.

Your company probably took a shot to the chin this past month. Do you have a plan? What are you doing to get back up and fight? Are you shooting from the hip, praying your actions save the company without destroying what you worked so hard to build? Come join us at Stella (www.stellssolutions.net), we will work with you to gain real visibility into your financial future, and craft a thoughtful plan to win the fight.

Let’s play chess.



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