For Charlie O., a contract CFO and owner of OSMEAC Solutions, transitioning from working in the corporate world to working for himself boiled down to regaining control. He’d had enough of the 80-hour work weeks that kept him from spending time with his family. Enough of routine work that did not inspire him. Working as an expert with Paro has been the winning formula to achieve the life and career he wanted.
From Marine to Management
Charlie left the Marine Corps after a tour in Afghanistan, and like many U.S. veterans, the transition to civilian life was challenging. After getting his footing, he rose the corporate ladder quickly to a CFO position in a mid-sized company. However, he found the unending hours and limited scope of work restricting, so he began finding private clients and planning his exit.
Colleagues and friends referred his initial clients, but the organic acquisition stream was not enough. Advertising was costly and ineffective. Charlie experimented with networking events, but he grew to hate making weekly pitches. Over time, he shifted his mindset. Instead of listing his services, he described how he could help clients. His results improved and he was happier in his work, but still did not have the client volume he was looking for.
Priming for Paro
Charlie learned about Paro in 2019 while researching ways to attract clients. Paro’s process of matching pre-vetted professionals to pre-vetted clients intrigued him, so he eagerly applied … but did not get accepted.
Charlie applied to other professional networks and marketplaces while continuing to work independently. He describes his interviews with other networks as cold, saying that the people did not really seem to care. Charlie sensed the culture was not a good fit and knew that if his interviewers did not like working there, it was unlikely that contractors would.
A year later, with more CFO experience under his belt, Charlie applied to Paro again. This time, he used a much more focused approach. He gave special effort to writing his application profile, knowing it was the tool Paro’s account executives use to introduce him to prospective clients. Charlie’s work paid off and after excelling in his interview and other screening steps, he was accepted as a Paro expert.
Matching Clients and Budgets
Within two weeks of his acceptance, Paro’s AI software matched Charlie’s construction industry expertise with a consulting client. They needed to select the best accounting software that would work with their implementation of Procore Construction Management software. Through the kickoff process, the client and Charlie agreed they were a good match.
Charlie completed an analysis and narrowed the field to three good options for the client’s accounting software. Then, he created a pitch deck for them. After more than a year, the relationship has grown further. Charlie continues ongoing fractional CFO work for his first Paro client.
Freelancers often spend time with prospective clients only to learn later that their budget was far lower than expected for the scope of work. Paro’s financial consultants hold discovery calls with clients first. Then, AI-powered matching ensures a best-fit match is made before the client and expert meet.
Collecting payments from clients had also been a tedious and time-consuming pain point for Charlie. With the billing functionality built into the Paro platform, funds are automatically transferred to his account after his invoices are submitted and approved.
Paro Support and Positive Surprises
Businesses that come to Paro for finance and accounting support often do not have the in-house talent they need, nor the time available for special projects. Charlie said communication gaps sometimes occur when business owners are not finance/accounting savvy and do not know how to explain what they need.
Charlie’s military background is helpful during video calls with prospective clients. “I’ve spent time in 22 different countries training foreign military and didn’t speak their language,” he says. “I can pick up on body language and voice inflections.”
If not addressed within the call, Charlie will talk with Paro support to work through any potential misunderstandings or unreasonable expectations to help ensure success for the engagement.
With one company Charlie worked with the scope that was defined and he started work. Later, he learned the company actually operated 25 different entities. Charlie’s skill at adapting and communicating through this situation enabled him to speak up and take on additional, needed work for many of those entities.
A Valuable Relationship
Now a veteran of over 35 Paro engagements, Charlie continues to operate as a fractional CFO for many clients concurrently. He loves the variety of work and not having to worry about administrative tasks.
“Paro handles the billing and account management, and they bring me the sales. With the cost to do all that, if I were doing it myself, I’d probably only be making $10 an hour. The value I get from partnering with Paro takes a huge load off my plate as a business owner,” says Charlie.
Paro serves as Charlie’s sales team and administrative arm, which has been crucial to growing his business. As work opportunities through Paro have grown, Charlie has expanded his own team to nine. These finance professionals have expertise in software implementations, financial analysis and more. By creating a team, he has been able to provide training on his processes to reduce ramp up time and better serve clients.
Charlie remains the connection for his company with Paro and the clients they serve. He reviews all work that he doesn’t personally complete.
“With Paro marketing us as in being in the top 2%,” he says, “part of my responsibility in this network is to make sure that’s what we’re producing.” Clients on past Paro projects continue to return to Charlie for more services, so he knows he and his team are helping clients succeed.
Winning as a Paro Expert
Charlie shares these additional tips for those who plan to apply to be a Paro Expert.
- Your application: Work deliberately. Compile a thorough list of your experience, software, education and skills. Be concise. If you reach the interview stage, prepare extensively for it.
- Pitch preparation: Take thorough notes for your scope of work. Speak to the problem the client needs solved, your qualifications and the methods or phases you will use to complete the work.
- Communication: Misunderstandings do not go away on their own. If a red flag pops up, address it as quickly as possible.
- Build relationships: Get to know your Paro support team and your clients. Strategize and offer value wherever you can.
Interested in working as a finance expert with Paro? You’ll need to take initiative, be adaptable and be able to quickly add value for clients. These skills, and many others, have made the relationship between Charlie, Paro and his clients very successful. Apply to join Paro’s elite network of finance and accounting experts today.