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Brian Weisberg on a Collaborative Budgeting Process

In this episode of The Role Forward, Brian Weisberg, Head of Finance and Business Operations at Tidelift, discusses the importance of mindful sales planning, the role of technology in the FP&A space, and why every company should perceive a finance leader as a team captain.

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Episode Summary

When someone even mentions the budgeting season, most business owners and their team members — especially the finance department — start feeling anxious. But it should not be like that, says our guest, Brian Weisberg, the Head of Finance and Business Operations at Tidelift.

The key to any fruitful budgeting process is a well-thought-out financial model. Therefore, each company needs a finance expert — someone ready to go beyond their role to get to know the business and its parts and “knit the whole thing together.”

In this episode of The Role Forward, Brian and our host Joe Garafalo discuss the importance of mindful sales planning, the role of technology in the FP&A space, and why every company should perceive a finance expert as a team captain.

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Featured Guest

Brian Weisberg

Head of Finance and Business Operations, Tidelift

Brian Weisberg is an experienced finance leader who enjoys working in startup cultures. Before joining Tidelift, he held VP of Finance roles at companies like Code Climate and Anchore.

Key Themes from the Episode
  • Revenue and sales are the starting points and the foundation for any budgeting process.
  • CEOs shouldn't have to be deep in the budgeting process if they hire the right finance leader.
  • Effective budgeting processes require flexible tech solutions to stay agile and collaborative.

Episode Highlights from Brian Weisberg

2:35 — The Traditional Budgeting Process Is Broken

”It’s painful. I think everybody can agree that when someone says ‘budget season’, you immediately get goosebumps; your palms start to sweat. You get anxious, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

When I first got into the whole startup thing, I came into it from public accounting and investment banking and not knowing what I was doing. I dove in like everybody else and started building spreadsheet templates and shipped all of the functional leads in a file and said, ‘Hey, give me your budget requests.’

And then I cranked it away in the spreadsheet and built another model, and it was terrible. You’d get the wrong versions, or people were like, ‘I don’t know how to fill this thing out.’ And you’d get these long emails or you’d get a different file that someone just created on their own. And you have to cobble this information together; it’s broken.”

11:30 — The Largest Driver of Cash Consumption at an Average SaaS Business Is Staffing

”So, if we’ve got the revenue figured out and we’ve got our three legs of the stool, [you need to] make sure you have enough sales bodies to close those ops, and they’re going to need to hire those salespeople before they’re closing.

So the next conversation I would have is talking with your sales team around where your sales leader is and making sure you’re in alignment around targets and hiring to support the ARR goal.

[…] It depends on your sales model. You probably need one BDR or SDR, whatever acronym you want to use. So understanding whether it’s your sales leader or your BDR manager, but understanding the needs of that relationship. […] And then once you close the deal, what does implementation look like?

And so, this is where you shift from the sales leader to the CS, (unless this rolls up to sales depending on your organization). What does implementation and onboarding look like for your product or business?

[…] The hope is that the product will eventually build the features to make the onboarding easier and get your gross margins out of the negative and into the positive. So then the product conversation, but then, when you start talking with the product [team], what is the relationship between product managers, designers, and software engineers because someone has to build the product.”

19:00 — A Finance Person Is Like the Captain of A Sports Team

”Say you’re on a soccer team. The captain is responsible for making sure everybody is on the same page, driving the conversations, and understanding what’s going on.

And that’s where the narrative, the executive summary, and the pros are super helpful because not everybody thinks of things like spreadsheets. If you put a spreadsheet in front of the VP of Sales, they’re going to be, ‘What the heck is this? I’ve got my CRM, and I know what people do.’

Have that conversation around trying to get those earned secrets out of your leaders, [so that] they truly know what’s going on in each of their functions.

Your job as a finance [leader] is to knit the whole thing together, have the conversation, relay the message back and forth, and sum it all up. And then, the budget is just an output of what’s going on in the business.”

Full Transcript