Jayne McQuillan likes seeing tangible results — whether those are in improved financials, leader development or employee communication. That desire led McQuillan from her role as the chief financial officer at Galloway Co. to opening Journey Consulting, a Green Bay-based consulting firm, 11 years ago. At Journey Consulting, McQuillan guides businesses as they grapple with their strategic, financial, organizational and succession goals — tasks that can be challenging.
In addition to being a Certified Public Accountant and earning an MBA in management, McQuillan uses her training in organizational development, coaching and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to help business owners
reach their goals.
McQuillan spoke to Insight Editor MaryBeth Matzek about the biggest challenges facing today’s small businesses, including the lack of succession planning.
How did you go from being a CFO focused on financials to becoming a consultant who not only focuses on financials, but also organizational and strategic needs?
Jayne McQuillan: Through my earlier experiences at other organizations, I learned so much about how organizations work and the strategies needed to be successful. I really enjoyed getting in there and being able to make a difference. When I first joined Galloway as CFO, there was some of that, but over time as things settled a bit, I knew I wanted to get back out there and work again with businesses on their strategic, financial and organizational needs. I love helping business owners, whether it’s helping them to accelerate their business growth, helping them achieve their desired outcomes or figuring out their exit strategy. I love seeing when business owners have that “aha” moment and after making a change that there are better results.
At what point, do businesses typically reach out and say, “we need help”? I am brought in at a pain point, usually a financial issue or an organization restructure. I do a business assessment, look at strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. I dive in and look at business plans and leadership issues, whether it’s structural or strategy. I help them put a plan together and keep them accountable.
Businesses call too when they hit a plateau and are trying to figure how to get past it. Is it a need for different talent, a different structure or something else? I evaluate the situation and help them leap that hurdle. Bringing in someone from the outside provides a new perspective.
Another challenge some businesses face is that they are growing and need to evaluate what they are doing, whether it’s structure, processes or people, and how those need to be adjusted to handle that growth and prepare for even more growth.
I saw a statistic that baby boomers own 63 percent of small businesses and most of them have not planned for what’s next, whether it’s developing leaders, preparing for a sale or what they plan to do personally after retirement. This is something that definitely needs to be considered.
When thinking about selling, most owners have not considered the different options, or they haven’t thought them all the way through. They may think, “my management team can buy the company,” but without probing deeper to see if those employees want to buy the company and if they have the financial wherewithal to do it. I planned two years for my daughter’s wedding, and it amazes me that some of these owners don’t plan for what is a major financial and life decision.
I also think education is a big part of the equation. I want business owners to understand what we’re doing and why.
Why do you think some business owners are reluctant to discuss transitions or succession planning? What’s the danger if those issues are not addressed? For many entrepreneurs, their whole life is their business. They may work 60 hours a week and not really know what they will do after they retire. I think there’s a little bit of a fear factor built in and lack of knowledge about what’s next — they don’t know what they don’t know. I have them try to picture in their head what retirement looks like so they can then think about what it takes to get to that point. Many business owners also haven’t developed a leadership team, so I help with that.
For owners thinking about selling, I work with them up to two or three years in advance to help them prepare. We set different goals and work to reach them. My success is their success. I don’t handle business sales myself — I am there to help them prepare for it, so they are in the best possible decision.
Many small businesses are family-owned, which can sometimes lead to other issues that may complicate the process. How do you address that? There’s often family dynamics at play, whether it’s from a stakeholder’s standpoint or they play an operational role. I often meet with family members and educate them about their roles, such as what it means to be a shareholder in a business and what those responsibilities include and don’t include. If you don’t fix family dynamics, it can take the whole business down.