Robert R. is an experienced, remote financial analyst with cross-functional experience in finance, operations, sales and human resources. His versatile background in industries like SaaS and eCommerce has allowed him to build a robust book of business as a fractional professional.
Robert reflects on successfully fulfilling his dream to teach and excite business professionals about finance, as well as maintaining a stronger work-life balance as a Paro expert.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue freelancing?
I was separated from another company in summer of 2017, and by chance an acquaintance of mine had called me a couple of months earlier to ask me to help find a COO-CFO. When reviewing with him and what he needed, I would say, “You know, I’d be the perfect person for this job, but I already have a job.” And then a couple of months later, I didn’t have the job. I called him and took that on for about seven or eight months as a freelance consultant.
Through those contacts and talking with more friends and contacts, they suggested I do consulting with my background and diversity.
Q: What led you to become a Paro expert?
I went with a few other platforms—not that successfully. Sometimes, just by chance, I managed to catch a project here and there, but it was not as easy as I thought.
About a year ago, a friend of mine in Chicago who runs a company that does temporary placement and recruiting recommended this platform, and I signed up. There’s been one or two projects outside of it, but pretty much I’ve been working exclusively with Paro, because it works so well. I’m able to reach a lot of potential clients, and they can find me as well.
Q: What kind of clients do you work with as an FP&A expert?
Most of my clients have been very new. A startup or growing, or finally grew enough into a new phase. Many of them are hitting a point where they need more capital, either investors or debt, and so they know they need to have something more formal showing projections and finance and an understanding of it.
Q: What do you define as success with your clients?
I don’t know if you’ve heard the term that a company can grow so well it’ll grow into bankruptcy. So with many of my clients, [cash forecasting] became a very valuable tool to see some vision a few months ahead. They clicked into the finances and began to understand how to fix their business. I would say most all my projects have been successful in that way. They were comfortable with finance and accounting, and that to me is almost always a boon of success.
Q: So you’re able to help them understand the role of finance in their business?
I had one client…the first interview was with the person that oversees a small partnership about to kick off with some big business who was overseeing the finance accounting. He warned me in that proposal call with the sales associate that the CEO would be on the next call, and he does not like accounting and finance people.
Fortunately I’ve been a general manager—an operational manager. I’ve done HR. Many other things. So once I started talking to him, and then when I started working, he loved it, because I provided operational financial information, not just debits and credits.
Q: How have you been able to fulfill your personal or professional goals as a Paro expert and remote financial analyst?
I’ve always had this long-term, gold dream that when I retire I want to maybe teach a business course in some university just to keep busy. Stay in contact with the students, you know, so I don’t get old. They’ll keep me young to some degree. And when I was describing what I was doing for Paro with this person, [they said], “Robert, that is what you always told me you wanted to do. You wanted to teach.”
Q: How important is flexibility to you?
I’ve moved every four years in my life to a different place, so I look for variety in my life. Even then I get stagnant. I get bored. So, going to work for a company, and having a great management position, good pay—just sort of doing the same thing every day would be too boring for me. So, I very much enjoy the variety of the clients and the variety of work.
Q: How has Paro supported your journey?
The Paro platform allows me to go in and see opportunities. So, I can go in and see the ones that seem to have the best fit for me. Also, I believe some of it is the AI engine itself, some of it is sales associates…You can always reach out directly to the sales associate, and it’s a great team. Really good people, good communication.
Q: Do you have any advice to freelance finance professionals on building their book of business?
It’s a numbers game. I described it to a number of people. I’d say it’s like baseball. The best baseball players get on base one out of every three times, at that. The very best. So here you have to submit ten, twelve proposals that might generate three proposal calls. I might generate one SOW, and then see if that finally closes it. So you just have to be patient and work through it.
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