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Reflections

Hold up our mirror to your business, as we share fresh Bank Your Moment® insights

Are You Strategically Preparing for 2022?

As many businesses start a new financial year in January, now is a good time of year to be thinking about your strategic direction. We’ve all heard the expression, “hope is not a plan” and this is important for all business owners to have in mind as we get ready to start a new year.

Our discussion with business owners is this – you as an owner have a vision or desire for what you want your business to achieve for you one day both professionally and personally. And then your business is operating at a certain level today. Therefore, what is the gap between where your business is today and where you want it to be at a future time? If there is a gap, having “hope” alone won’t help you fill the gap(s). But a strategic plan will.

We then find business owners that will agree that hope is not a plan, but they lack the certainty on how to go about developing a plan for their business. Our job is to take this certainty away. To get you started, here are a few questions to discuss with your team to help you better prepare for 2022:

  • What is our financial and non-financial company data telling us about our general performance? When we look at our performance data for 2018, 2019, 2020 and now 2021 Year to Date, what are our performance trends telling us about where we are strong and where we need some improvements?
  • How are each of our products or services performing for us? Are we seeing the desired level of growth in each or only in some? If some are performing well, what steps can we take to ensure this continues and if there are some underperforming, what steps can we take to improve them?
  • How has COVID impacted our organization culture? Is our culture helping us make progress as a business or do we have organization issues holding back our performance?
  • Do we see any changes occurring in our industry or business related to how customers are making purchase decisions? Are there any new technologies that could impact our business in a positive or negative way?

We work with business owners on a 4 Part Campaign for developing a powerful strategic plan that provides them the bridge they desire to one day be euphoric with the sale of their business. Part 1 of our campaign begins with “Where is our company today” and includes many questions, a few examples listed above. Start today preparing for 2022 and use the questions above to begin having productive new strategic dialog with your team. Use time as a friend in building the worth of your company and ensure you’re ready to maximize the year ahead strategically for your company.

Bridging these two will greatly enhance your company value

A common challenge many owners have is when the day comes they try to sell their business, they deliver a message, or narrative, that describes their company to the acquirer only to then find their company internal performance data isn’t available to back up that message. We often reference the great quote, “in God we trust, all others need to bring data”.

Here is an example of a common business exit narrative delivered by private owners/CEOs: “Our business is a growing market leader with a loyal customer base and a strong product/service portfolio that has us positioned to drive future strong, profitable growth.”

On the surface, this could be a good narrative but does your data back up this narrative because your acquirer will ask the following questions:

  • What data can you show us that reinforces that your business is growing year over year? Do you have lumpy year over year growth or does your data show a consistently growing business over the last 3 years at a minimum?
  • What data are you basing your reference to being a market leader on? Is this based on industry data that is readily available, 3rd party market studies that have been conducted or just your team’s opinion?
  • What data can you present that shows your customer loyalty? Are you able to show things like your top 10 customers 3 years ago remain top customers today (very little customer attrition) or can you show data that shows customers repeat purchases over time?
  • What data or specifics can you show that you’ve been investing in building your portfolio of products/services so the acquirer sees the effort and resources you’ve put in to this key aspect of your business? Does your data show that you have continued to invest in your portfolio?
  • What data can you show that supports your forward-looking growth outlook? Are you projecting a hockey stick of growth with little backup data/specifics as to the basis of this growth or can you show effective levels of detail and backup data that show your growth outlook is realistic?
  • What data can you show that your portfolio of products/services is profitable across the board? Acquirers will initially be impressed with your consolidated profit performance but they will want to see the specific data related to the details of each product/service within your portfolio so they understand how each performs.

The bottom line here is years prior to thinking about selling your business, you will want to think about what your ultimate desired exit narrative will be in presenting your business to potential acquirers. As you think about this narrative, plan for how you need to lead your business to deliver, track and ultimately be able to report the specific supporting metrics and data that will effectively reinforce your message. Acquirers will want to see good history of data which is why you want to start thinking about this now and use time as your friend in preparing to one day experience a euphoric exit event based on receiving a great company valuation.

A new way to think about strategic planning

Many businesses struggle doing effective strategic thinking and planning. Our message to company owners and executives is to think about strategic planning as identifying and filling gaps. Gaps that you have between where your company is today and where you want it to be at a future period.

As we close out 2021 and prepare for the new year, here are some strategic questions to discuss with your team. Start your strategic thinking and planning with insightful questions to facilitate productive new dialog.

  • Are we clear on what good looks like for our business in the years ahead and what key metrics we will use to measure progress?
    • What top financial metrics do we want to achieve in the years ahead, where are these metrics today and what are the gaps?
      • What are the top 2 or 3 issues causing these gaps?
    • What top non-financial metrics do we want to achieve in the years ahead, where are these metrics today and what are the gaps?
      • What are the top 2 or 3 issues causing these gaps?

What opportunities do we have in the period ahead to truly stand apart from the competition? What gaps stand between where we are today and executing on this opportunity or opportunities?

Effective strategic planning starts with the first step of asking insightful new questions to facilitate strategic thinking. As you ask new questions and discuss arriving at answers, this then helps you evolve to capturing your ideas in a strategic plan. Talk with your team about the gaps standing between where your business is today and where you want it to be and build the future valuation of your company.

A Great Metric Could Mean A High Company Valuation

Recently one of our posts asked executives to think about their company Shut The Door Metric. We had many people reach out to us asking if we could provide a sample and here it is - (Shut The Door Metric Template)

As a reminder of this critical business metric, ask yourself this question – if today you announced to your customers that your business is closing its doors and no longer available to accept new business, how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years would it take them to find a replacement for what they have been purchasing from you?

How to use our template - start by developing your scoring model using the example table provided on the left side of the graphic. Identify what criteria you would use with your business using our example for ideas. Setting this score criteria will help you think about what aspects of your business afford you the ability to be very important to your customers and/or show that they are reliant on you. Then identify the customers, or customer groups or segments, you'd like to plot. The bubble size reflects the magnitude or revenue for your company from this customer/group and is plotted based on the vertical axis. Then think about each customer, or group/segment, and assign each a Shut The Door metric score using the scoring system you established and plot on the horizontal axis based on having a low metric of "1 to 5" or a high metric of "5 to 10". Once you plot your customers, use the graphic to faciliate great internal dialog in terms of how your team can protect those you have a high metric with today and steps you can take to build it with those you don't.

Having a meaningful number of customers, or groups of customers, with high Shut The Door metric scoring greatly helps build the value of your company. The reason your company value increases is because a higher Shut The Door metric means your customers are reliant on you and this is a good predictor of future revenue and acquirer's of businesses love having visibility to future revenue growth.

Give us a call if you want help customzing this enabling strategic template for your business!

Managing your pendulum and building company exit value

Picture your business and its two most critical aspects. One is creating demand for your products or services and the other is the fulfillment. Your strategy should be to ensure the proper balance of each of these critical areas of your business because if one of these gets ahead of the other, your business is out of balance and your financial results will be less than optimal.

Now picture a pendulum swinging back and forth and envision this representing on one side the demand creation activity of your team and the other, the demand fulfillment. As you lead your team, avoid creating a pendulum effect where for a period of time your business pendulum is swinging to a focus on creating new demand. Then as the demand grows, you realize your fulfillment team isn’t able to keep up and therefore your focus needs to swing from creating demand over to ensuring you can catch up with fulfillment. A business with this type of pendulum activity is out of synch and is not optimizing financial performance. In addition, this pendulum effect will cause frustration for your sales and fulfillment team as they manage through the stress and frustration of this approach to doing business.

To build the future value, or as we refer to it the worth, of your company, avoid building this pendulum model. Your future acquirer will reward you for delivering consistent financial results, not lumpy results that swing back and forth from period to period. Build your business strategy to avoid the pendulum effect and build your company worth.

How to build critically needed alignment

A private business owner recently shared his frustration related to what he felt the company needed and how his view differed from that of his co-owner partners. He felt their focus on revenue growth was coming at the expense of profitability and was asking us how he might broach this with them.

We see this commonly with co-owners and although it may manifest itself in different ways, the root issue is the same. This root issue is lack of alignment specific to what good looks like long term for the business. It’s difficult to effectively discuss short/near term business focus and priorities if there isn’t alignment around what the end game is. If you have co-owner partners and you are frustrated by not seeing eye to eye on short/near term business matters, start by asking yourself, “do we see the long term the same in terms of how we each define what good looks like?”. Ask yourself and your partners questions like:

  • What is each of us looking to get out of this business long term?
  • Do we envision managing this as a lifestyle business or do we see one day trying to sell it to a third-party acquirer?
  • Do we each have personal financial expectations and needs that we want to get from our company and what are these expectations specifically?
  • Are our short and near term strategic decisions supporting our desired end game?

This conversation about defining the future can be difficult but it’s essential. You are less likely to build short term consensus if you’re lacking alignment related to the long term. This is not an issue to take lightly or to keep deferring. Talk with your advisors to get their insights or give us a call to help guide you. You don’t want the stress and frustration to grow and certainly don’t want to let time pass you by in building the company you’ve dreamed of. Drive for alignment with your co-owners and increase your likelihood of building great company worth.

Why Will An Acquirer Want Your Business One Day?

The answer from many private company owners is, “I don’t know, that’s up to them”. Our suggestion is that you could greatly build the future value, or worth, of your company by giving this question further thought.

Why? Because having an idea, even a general idea, could help you make more effective and worth creating strategic decisions in the years ahead of an exit.

Ask yourself – Is our future acquirer one that will likely:

  • Place the greatest value on our products/services versus our facilities or infrastructure, so we therefore should focus and prioritize our investments in this area?
  • Be drawn to our product/service fulfillment capacity to help expand their own so therefore our investment focus should be in this area of our business?
  • Want our technology/process expertise primarily and would see high value in our infrastructure or facilities?
  • Want to remove our business as a competitor from the market and our focus therefore should be more on customer market share capture?

There are more possible scenarios, but as you consider this overarching question, it could help you in making key business decisions over the years.  We’d all like to invest equally across all areas of our business but limited capital can inhibit this. Giving this question strategic thought can help you fine tune your strategic plan and help increase the likelihood of experiencing a future euphoric exit event.

The short answer may be No.

The future acquirer of your business will determine what value they will derive from owning yours. If they believe your business is perfect as it is, this may translate in their eyes to having achieved its peak and taking it any further is filled with risk. Acquirers generally don’t like risk.

If your long-term plan is to manage your business purely as a family life style one, there is nothing wrong with this and your definition of a “perfect” company might be one that provides you a great compensation and benefits, perks and periodic distributions for decades to come.  But if your longer-range plan is to sell to a third party, now you have to think more about the definition of “perfect”.

The acquirer of your business will have a specific reason for wanting to buy it. Their reasons may include adding revenue and profit scale to their business, expanding their products or services portfolio, expanding their access to customers and markets, giving them access to your processes or technology, access to your team or perhaps even just removing you as a competitor from the market. In their plan to benefit from one or more of these, they will determine where they can take your business to benefit their future plans. If you present them a “perfect” business, they may not be willing to pay a premium for a business that potentially has reached its peak in their eyes.

You will build the worth of your business and position yourself for a future euphoric exit event by building a company that excites the acquirer because it has runway left for them to benefit from. Talk with your advisors or give us a call (949.874.0787) and we'll help you identify how you can have the plan for not building the perfect company, but the right company to excite the future acquirer.

Protect and build company worth with a comparison to best-in-class

A question we will ask clients in the early stages of working with them is what is their approach for determining how their company compares to those that are best in class. The answer is most often that they have a general feel for this but don’t have a good way of really knowing what best in class is. Our suggestion is to periodically compare their business, not to itself, but to those best in class.

To help them do this, we offer Yosemite Diagnostics (Yosemite Diagnostic Tools) and specifically our Stethoscope tool . Stethoscope is a health diagnostic tool that guides an owner/CEO through 10 business categories and over 100 thought provoking statements. Each category and related statement is designed to help you ask new, insightful questions about your business and see how best in class companies operate in each.

Protect and build your company worth by rethinking what you’re comparing your business to. Let Stethoscope guide you to new thinking, new dialog with your team and get an overall business health score. And with the score, get practical tips on steps you can take where our diagnostic tool identifies opportunity for improvement.

Let us help you conduct your business health checkup today and receive a 25% “friends of Yosemite” discount. Where you see “enter a coupon”, simply use DIAGNOSE25. And once you've completed it, give us a call at 949.874.0787 and we'll happy to offer additional insights based on the health score you receive. (Start Your Stethoscope Diagnostic Here)

Identifying your model to build company worth

The future acquirer of your business will start by learning about your historical financial performance. But equally, or more important to them, will be your future growth potential. A key part of exciting an acquirer is to show them you have a well thought through growth plan that will continue the success of your business for years to come under their ownership. By asking the right questions, you can identify and summarize your company growth strategy in one word.

Ask yourself this question: To accelerate the growth of my business, do I need to expand my market, increase my product/service offering, expand my company visibility to potential customers or improve my business win rate? These are your four options.

Market: expanding your business to serve a broader or new market is one of the four options your company has. If you currently possess a high market share of the current market you serve, growth may have to be found by repositioning your business to serve a larger portion of your current market or jump to a near neighbor market.

Product/Service: adding a new product or service to your portfolio is a viable option for accelerating growth. If you have loyal customers, this may be a ready-made market for you to introduce additional products or services to. And a subset of this growth option is to update your pricing strategy. Developing a new pricing strategy for your current product or service may be a driver of new growth.

Presence: is your company brand and capabilities visible to all the possible customers that have need for your product or service? If there were just two buyers in the market buying your type of product/service and only one of them knew of your company, then your market presence would be just 50%. If you can get your company visible to the second buyer, you would have a meaningful new growth opportunity. Now extrapolate this same concept to your dozens, thousands or millions of customers. What percentage of potential customers are aware your company exists?

Win: this fourth growth option relates to taking steps to increase the success rate your company has when chasing new opportunities. Out of every 10 opportunities your team pursues, how many do you win? If your win rate is low, discuss with your team what steps can be taken to increase it. Your company may not need to invest time and money in new leads, you may just need a better win rate on the work you’re already pursuing.

Growing your business is a complex matter. But with the right planning process, you can identify which of these growth options would best serve your company and help position you with an enabling future growth model that will excite a future acquirer. Give us a call (949.874.0787) and we can give you tips on how to determine which one of these growth options will help you build the worth of your company.

Knowing this will be key if selling in the next few years

For those owners considering their exit strategy options, having strong Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation & Amortization (EBITDA) is of course an essential element in order to command a premium valuation from outside parties. There are some exceptions to this such as high technology companies, where profit may be less of a driver in the valuation of a company, but for most businesses EBITDA is essential. Thanks to Zachary Scott & Co, they're now bringing much needed attention to EBITDAC, adding COVID adjustments to the equation.

In a normal exit event for a business, adjustments to profitability are taken into consideration. These adjustments fall into the following categories:

  • GAAP Adjustments – these adjustments relate to how you may currently be reporting various areas of your financial statements versus what the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) requirements call for. Ask yourself, are my financials to GAAP? If not, discuss this with your accountant to understand how your financials may look different if they were to GAAP.
  • Owner Adjustments – these adjustments relate to costs to the business directly related to monies that ownership may be taking out of the business that a future owner may not incur. Things like cars for family members, perhaps a boat, travel, etc, that the current owner may incur but a future owner most likely will not.
  • One Time Adjustments – these adjustments relate to costs your business incurs in a given period but will unlikely ever repeat. These could be one-time legal expenses, one-time warranty expenses that were unusual, employee training that is not being repeated, etc. Work with your accounting partner to ensure these types of costs are regularly being captured for future reporting of your adjusted profitability.
  • COVID Adjustments – these adjustments relate to two possible areas. The first is what costs did your business incur through this pandemic that are one-offs (or at least until another pandemic hits). Costs related to extra cleanings of your facility, buying cleaning supplies, gloves, hand sanitizers, etc that you normally wouldn’t incur had there not been the pandemic. These costs reduced your profitability and should be reflected in your adjusted profitability.

The other COVID related adjustment is a more difficult one to capture and represent and that is any negative revenue impact your business experienced due to COVID. One could argue that had the pandemic not hit your business, your revenue would have been higher and so too would your profit have been. Some business owners project their adjusted profitability through COVID trying to reflect this impact but of course it’s much more difficult to get an investor or acquirer to embrace this. They can certainly see the facts behind the COVID costs related to cleaning and supplies but less so related to the revenue you believe you lost.

Bottom line is this, if you’re hoping to implement an exit strategy for your business in the next 5 years, being able to represent your adjusted EBITDACA will be essential as those placing a valuation on your business will want to look back at least 3 years and potentially back 5 years which means 2020/2021 will be part of their analysis. As part of presenting your adjusted profitability, be fair to yourself and make sure you are including an effective monitoring and tracking of your annual profit adjustments which now includes the COVID impact.

Successful transitions need a plan

We regularly talk with private business owners that are either considering or are in the process of transitioning their company leadership to a son, daughter or even a third party recruited CEO. In our work, we see the transitions that are going seamlessly and protecting, even building the value or net worth of the company. And we see those that are eroding it. Let us share with you some key thoughts and steps to have in mind to increase the success of your transition.

First is conducting an honest assessment by the retiring owner as to their true willingness to hand over the reins. This includes self-reflecting on questions like these:

  • Do I really want to step aside or am I getting pressure from others?
  • Am I truly willing to handle over all aspects of the business or do I want to retain certain aspects?
  • Can I place full trust in the new leader of my business? If not, then is it the right person or right time?
  • Is my business at a place I believe no longer needs me personally and I’m prepared to let a new leader leave their imprint on the company?
  • Is the financial condition of my company where I want it to be so that I don’t need to worry about it supporting my financial needs in retirement?
  • Can I separate my personal identify from that of the business or are they one in the same? Do I view the business as simply a means to another end or is my business everything in my life?
  • Am I ready to start spending time elsewhere beyond my business so I truly allow someone else to take it over without my involvement?

Next is ensuring alignment with the son, daughter or third-party CEO in terms of expectations you might have. Open dialog to drive alignment around things like:

  • Have you discussed longer term deliverables you are looking for, even the vision of the business?
  • Have you identified what communications and information you want to receive periodically from the new leader of your business? Do you want to receive weekly updates, monthly, etc and what specific types of information will you want to receive from them?
  • Have you gotten aligned around what strategic/financial decisions you are empowering them to make on their own? Are you giving them full authority and decision making or are their limits you will place on them?
  • If you aren’t going to remain involved, are you providing them with mentoring from a board or an advisor, so they have support to be as successful as possible in their new role?

These types of leadership transitions generally don’t happen naturally on their own. They need quality dialog and effective planning. If you’re an owner thinking about transitioning leadership to another, just know that others have gone down this path before you and there is much to learn from those that have done it successfully. Give us a call and we can help ensure that the transition of leadership continues to build the worth of your company that you have established.

What we did as kids we should do today

We often laugh when young children ask so many questions. We laugh because their “what” or “why” questioning can be incessant and despite our attempt to provide answers, the questions continue. This is their instinctive way of learning. As we get older, this shifts from a focus of asking questions to providing the answers. On the surface this makes sense based on the experience we gain. But at its root, it’s a problem as it pertains to leading our businesses relating to building company value, or as we refer to it, company worth.

The journey of building the worth of your company must include a healthy balance of asking thought provoking questions with your team and having a process for finding the answers. But for too many business owners and CEO’s, their focus is racing to the answers when the first step should be to determine if we’re even asking the right questions.

If we were kids again today but still running our businesses, here are some questions we’d be asking and should be asking now as adults:

  • As a result of COVID, is our value proposition (the value we bring to our customers) and our unique selling proposition (how we deliver the value uniquely versus our competition), that worked for us prior to the pandemic, still relevant now going forward?
  • What technology trends in our industry were accelerated in terms of being adopted and are we prepared to leverage them?
  • What is different now relating to our workforce and have we developed a plan to manage it?
  • Have we captured our COVID learnings so that when the next crisis hits, we have immediate access to the playbook we developed in terms of what we did well and what we would do differently in the future?
  • Are there new opportunities to build the “stickiness” with our customers (increase our importance to them) – which in turn builds the worth of our business?

These questions could continue, and if we were kids again they would! But for now, you get the gist. Reinvigorate the internal dialog with your team and be the leader that asks great strategic questions of your team and in so doing, build new company worth.

Asking new questions can help

Many private business owners are expressing frustration in terms of finding and retaining talented and engaged workers. This frustration relates to finding new people to support growth and retaining those they’ve invested in their training.

To protect and even build the value or net worth of your company, it obviously takes having the right people, in the right roles with the right focus.  Our guidance to business owners who are struggling with labor is to ask new question to generate fresh dialog with your team that might trigger changes you could make to help address the labor challenge:

  • Do we truly understand the root cause of employees leaving? Are they expressing pay is the issue or are there other reasons they don’t feel comfortable sharing with us?
  • If retention is our challenge, are we losing the newer employees or are we losing those with 2 or more years of service? If it’s the newer employees, is our new employee onboarding serving us well?
  • Do we see the labor challenge across our organization or is it in select areas only?
  • Do we see certain managers or supervisors struggling more than others with loss of employees? Might managers or supervisors be lacking good managerial/leadership skills and that is frustrating employees?
  • Can we redeploy any employees to move them temporarily to critical areas where labor has been a problem? This may mean making a sacrifice in another area of the business but it may be worthwhile at least for an interim period of time. And this could be your opportunity to increase cross training which will help the business long term.
  • When is the last time we reviewed our major workflow processes to determine the most labor intensive ones and identify potential improvements we could make to drive productivity gains? Many processes were designed years ago, are they efficient or are we having to apply labor to outdated processes?
  • Are we monitoring available technologies that could help us rethink how certain job functions or processes get done?
  • Are we offering spiffs to existing employees if they recommend new employees?
  • Are we leveraging local groups that could help us engage with individuals with special needs but they are very capable of performing some jobs we have labor shortages in?

View this as more than a tactical issue. View it as a strategic opportunity to ask new questions about your business.  Getting innovative in labor planning, recruiting and retention is critical to protecting and building your long term company net worth.

Preparing for a euphoric future exit event requires a plan

AES Nation (AES Nation) recently released their survey results of private business owners and “only 12% were highly satisfied with the outcome and less than 50% were satisfied at all”.

This survey result and that of many others recently, including one conducted by BizBuySell (BizBuySell), all are reaching this same conclusion. The vast majority of private business owners are either not getting their businesses sold at all despite their wanting to or they are selling but not happy with the outcome.

At Yosemite Associates we see a common reason for this as we talk with many private owners and are now engaged in helping many of them. It is because private business owners know their company and their products or services but what they don’t know is how to ensure they are preparing it successfully for a future euphoric exit. And it’s human nature to avoid the hard things and allow ourselves to get distracted to return to our comfort zone of what we know. This comfort zone is answering emails, phone calls, attending tactical meetings, and this list goes on and on. These things are in our comfort zone as we know how to approach each. But what most private business owners don’t know is how to approach preparing their business years in advance to achieve a successful exit event.

You don’t want to leave what could be the biggest event of your professional career to hope or chance. This is what the 88% club has done and this is not a club you want to join. You want to join the elite group of the 12% and these are the owners, when spoken with, that had a plan. Their plan helped bridge where their company was when they started their exit preparation activity and how they would navigate it to commanding a premium valuation from an acquirer at a future period. If you’re unsure how to tackle effective exit preparations, reach out for assistance today. Use time as a friend because preparations, to be done right, can take years, not months. Give us a call or talk to your company lawyer or CPA and get their advice. But to do nothing is not a plan and should not be the option you adopt.

Knowing the answer can enable your company net worth

Can you sum up your company revenue growth strategy for the next 12 months in one word?

There are four possible ways to grow a business. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a service business or produce a widget. To answer this main question, ask yourself these 4 supporting questions:

  • Market - Is my market large enough to support my desired growth target(s)?
  • Product/Service - Is my product/service portfolio offering meeting the needs of all, a majority, or a minority of the total available market?
  • Presence - Is my presence (customer’s having visibility to my offering) in the market strong?
  • Win Rate - Is my win rate on the opportunities we pursue at an acceptable level for my industry?

That’s it, four revenue growth options for your company. Whether you make swim wear, repair trucks, make computer chips or provide mortgage services, these are your options.

Brief additional color on each:

Market size – consider what market share you believe you have today and consider your desired targeted growth rate in the coming years. Is your market large enough to provide you the available runway to grab more market share or would it require you to have such a high market share that it’s unlikely to be able to do so? Many companies have plenty of runway left within their current served market because their market share is not that high. But some are market leaders and have dominant market shares and further growth runway in their current served market is challenged unless they shift to playing in a larger market.

Product/Service Offering – if there was just one purchasing agent or consumer buying your type of product/service, could they have all their needs met from your company? If the answer is yes, then your product/service revenue opportunity is the same as your overall market size. But if you find that within your product/service category, you don’t have all the styles, shapes, colors, designs, styles, price points, etc., that are needed, then by broadening your offering you might see new growth opportunity.

Presence – if there was just one purchasing agent or consumer for your type of product/service and when they need something from a company like yours they proactively think to call you, then you have a very strong market presence and your opportunity to grow is potentially maximized because buyers are already working with you. But if there were two or more purchasing agents selecting products/services of your type and they all don’t think to contact you proactively, then your presence might be the opportunity for you to build and therefore grow your business.

Win Rate – out of every 10 opportunities for new business that your team pursues, what percentage do you win? Knowing this will help you determine whether your team just needs more leads to pursue or, if your win rate is low for your industry norm, perhaps what you need is not more leads but an improved win rate. Perhaps your team needs to identify steps that can be taken (enhance the quality of your proposal, proposal follow up effectiveness, bundling of products/services, etc.) to increase your win rate and that will enable company growth.

Going through this exercise of discussing these various questions is a great way to facilitate healthy new dialog with your team. Identify which of these four is your highest priority for addressing. You’ll benefit from the dialog and you’ll certainly identify a focused new way to build the long term value, or worth of your business.

Monitor your company revenue at a granular level

When the day comes that you present your company to a third party for possible acquisition, they will of course review your financial statements. A subsequent request they will make is to see your revenue reported at a granular, or line-item level. Not being able to provide your revenue at a more detailed level could frustrate them and could give them a risk concern of not fully being able to understand your business and therefore this could impact that valuation they place on your business. And if this occurs, this will impact your company and personal net worth.

Let’s presume at time of exit that your overall business revenue has been growing year over year and you have strong growth projections into the future. This alone may help draw a potential acquirer to consider buying your business but until they see the revenue detail, they might not be willing to pay a premium. Despite the consolidated revenue growing, they will want to see the details to see whether all your products and/or services are contributing to the growth or whether you have a situation where those growing are offsetting a concerning decline in others. In other words, your acquirer will want to see a complete picture of your revenues.

This practice of tracking, reporting and monitoring your revenue at a granular level is not just a good practice for supporting your future company worth but it’s also a great practice for today and helping you build worth. Ensure you and your team have the complete picture of your revenue performance, not just a consolidated view. And realize that when the day comes to exit, you’ll want to show the potential acquirer at least 2 to 3 years of this revenue detail so you should ensure you begin this accurate tracking now.

If selling one day to a third party is something you’re considering, this detailed revenue tracking is one of several steps you’ll want to ensure you’re taking now so that when you present your company for sale, you don’t just attract acquirer interest, you excite them and give them reason to reward you with a euphoric exit event.

Excite Your Future Acquirer With An Articulated Growth Plan

A common myth among private business owners is if they show their future potential acquirer a solid history of profitable growth, this alone will drive up the exit valuation of their company. Although solid historical financial performance is the ante into the game of a successful exit, it must be supported with an equally exciting future outlook of ongoing, even accelerating growth under the ownership of the potential acquirer.

When you sell your business one day, it’s your job to excite the potential acquirer(s). It’s a mistake just to present your company to them and hope they find something to be excited about. You will have to build the messaging and the supporting case that articulates why your business is still a strong horse to ride for the future. To do this, you will want to be able to articulate very clearly what growth paths your company has remaining. You’ll want to be able to answer questions like:

  • Do we have future growth opportunity within our current served market or have we penetrated this market historically to a meaningful level and growth must come by expanding the market we play in?
  • What growth opportunity do we have remaining with our existing customers – have we done the best job of messaging our customers with all that we can do for them or do we provide more products or services than our existing customers are aware of?
  • Could we generate new growth by introducing a new product or service and leverage existing customer relationships?
  • If we feel we have maximized the penetration of our existing customers, have we identified new customers we could approach – and can we do this with our existing product or service portfolio or would we need to modify our offering?
  • Do we have an effectively managed sales opportunity pipeline that continues to expand and shows additional growth ideas your company could yet pursue going in to the future?

Business owners are often surprised to hear that the majority of those selling their business aren’t happy with the outcome. Although there are many reasons behind this, we can share from our experience that a leading reason is the business is presented to potential acquirers with a solid history, but lacking clarity related to where the business still has exciting growth runway ahead of it. Position your company as both yesterday and tomorrow’s news and this will enable the potential for a euphoric exit outcome.

Knowing the difference can build your company worth

A business owner said to me he was proud of overhearing a recent conversation between one of his account reps and a customer. He said he could tell that the account rep was managing the call well and that it sounded like the customer was satisfied with the outcome. I asked if he knew why the customer was calling and he said because they were asking about the status of their order. My question was, do you think the customer wanted to make that call in the first place?

The world is rapidly moving from a “fail & fix” mentality to one of “predict & prevent”. Think about this as it relates to your company interaction with your customers and ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the main reasons customers call us? Determine which of these are reactive and an opportunity for a customer experience enhancement.
  • What services could we provide that would show our customers that our support is proactive in nature versus purely reactive? Can we help our customers avoid headaches or firefighting?

In prior blogs, we reviewed the importance of being sticky with customers because the stickier you are generally the higher the worth of your company in the eyes of an acquirer. Talk with your team about the customer experience you’re providing to identify enhancements that will increase your customer stickiness and increase the worth of your business.

Key questions to ask yourself today

Most of us admire what Steve Jobs built at Apple. Although it’s well known that employees found it challenging to work for him, what they didn’t find challenging was embracing his beliefs. His articulation and daily living of his beliefs is given much of the credit for Apple success. He knew that culture would be critical to future Apple success and knew that as the owner/CEO, his beliefs would set the tone for that culture.

He had 7 overarching beliefs and was able to attract and retain top talent because employees wanted to be part of something special. Beliefs such as, we will make products that change the world and design products that are simple versus complex (remember we used to read user manuals on new electronic products until Apple changed the game). Beliefs like these are what Apple employees rallied around and continue doing so to this day.

Unfortunately, what we often see in working with private businesses is they have stated beliefs/values but what they don’t do is live them every day. They live them when it’s convenient, not when it’s hard. Here are questions to discuss with your leadership team:

  • Have we articulated what our beliefs are?
  • Do we effectively communicate our beliefs to our employees?
  • When we hire new employees, do we effectively orient them to our beliefs?
  • Do we identify and praise when we see the beliefs exemplified? Do we react appropriately to modify behavior when we don’t see our beliefs exemplified?
  • When we do employee performance reviews, do we discuss their performance in support of our company beliefs?
  • Do we align any of our metrics with our beliefs? .ie.: we believe in making quality products or we want to provide an excellent customer experience – but do you truly have visible, effective metrics that convey to your team that you take the belief seriously?

If you want to ensure driving long term company results, think like Steve Jobs did. Think about what culture you want and how your personal beliefs will drive the behavior that underpin your culture. A company worth creating formula is Beliefs drive Behaviors and Behaviors drive Results. Revisit your company belief system and start driving new company worth today.

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Use Greenpoint Testing to Achieve Your Desired Exit Valuation

It only takes 106 questions, scanning 10 essential business functions, to stress test your readiness for a successful exit.

However, these questions require thoughtful commitment to achieve your desired exit valuation.

During this up to hour-long online testing, you'll see questions such as the following.

Sample Question 02

After internalizing each question, select among three answer options – Agree, Unsure and Don’t Agree – choosing the answer which best describes you and your business.

Then, complete the Greenpoint questionnaire to unlock your personalized report, which will reveal any gaps in your planning, pointing to the action steps needed to maximize your desired exit valuation.

Format: Digital

Delivery method: Email

Report included: Your Greenpoint results

Stethoscope Frees You to Work On Your Business, Beyond In It

120 questions, scanning 10 essential business functions, free you to work ON your business, rather than solely IN your business.

With each question requiring thoughtful commitment to identify opportunities to further your success.

During this up to hour-long digital Q&A, you'll see questions such as the following:

Sample Question 02

After internalizing each question, select among three answer options – Agree, Unsure and Don’t Agree – choosing the answer which best describes you and your business.

Complete the Stethoscope questionnaire to unlock your personalized report, which will expose gaps [if any] in your planning, and tips for future growth, resulting in action steps needed to maximize your thinking as a business leader.

Format: Digital

Delivery method: Email

Report included: Your Stethoscope results