How would you like to have 170 million dollars in your bank account before your new product even launched? Well, if you’re the new Man of Steel movie you’ve already raised $170 million in brand partnerships before the movie even appears in the theaters. Talk about having star power!
Most entrepreneurs have unique businesses. So how do you know what makes your business more valuable to future owners or investors? What are your organization’s key assets? I recently started working with a client who has a strong consulting business and is trying to decide what his business is worth. He got a call out of the blue from a potential buyer who is interested in the business. Now the challenging part begins to determine what the business is worth today and why is it worth that.
There are four main assets buyers assess in deciding a consulting business’s worth. I break them down so we all can decide what the business might be worth if he chooses to sell. It’s funny that now he got the call of the lifetime, he has to decide what his lifetime investment is worth. How would you respond if you got this call? His first response was to give me a call. Wise choice, I would say, but hey, I’m biased. More importantly, I’ve been through this before with similar consulting practices. Continue reading
What’s the key to building a growing, profitable business? How do you build a leadership team that can help you lead your markets? I’ve spent the last twenty five years working with and leading many of the world’s best run high growth businesses. I’ve spent my career recruiting and developing many of the world’s best leadership teams. I’ve been involved in merger and acquisition activities for several high growth mid-market organizations who have achieved sales exceeding $900 million in sales less than 10 years after their founding in manufacturing, software, and information technology markets.
What have I learned that can help you build a high performing leadership team? I found four factors that all successful high growth businesses have in common. If you focus on these key elements when your recruit and develop your team, you can build your own high performing leadership team. Continue reading
Iron Man 3 debuts this Friday at the Movies. What marketing lessons can we learn and apply from this marketing juggernaut? What can we learn about differentiating our business in a crowded market from Tony Stark? How might we apply Iron Man’s marketing magic to our business development efforts? I thought it might be fun to share several lessons that can help you get the business results you want from your marketing efforts. After all, if it’s not fun and quirky, it’s just another superhero movie. Continue reading
Have you ever walked into a business and it seems all the employees are just putting in their time? They look at potential customers as a distraction to the work they have to do that day? If the business has multiple locations, you wonder why some of their locations are down in the dumps and others are creating incredible customer experiences. I thought it might be helpful to share several key ideas to help you build a motivated workforce. Because your business can only grow if everyone is committed to growing it. One of the biggest challenges a high growth business faces is creating a culture of high performance.
Let’s talk about five things I’ve learned that help create a high performance culture. If you can move your people through these challenges, you’re on your way to transforming the way your business grows, increasing both value and visibility so you can be sell it. Continue reading
I’m sure you get calls every day from people you don’t know about things you don’t need. As you begin developing your own market development plans, have you included everyone on your team that will be impacted by your decisions? Your business development results are only as good as the team supporting your efforts. So how do you involve your whole team?
In the past, I ran marketing for a large specialty retailer. I used to get in trouble with my boss all the time because I made sure the cashiers and customer service people were trained on the weekly ads and special events. My boss would say he had sales people to sell and the cashiers and customer service people had other jobs to do. I knew, without a doubt, several customers a day would come in and be introduced to my business by team members who normally didn’t interact with customers but, for whatever reason, they had to deal with customer questions. Continue reading
How do you find the best organizations to partner with in your market? Do you know which other companies are working with your best clients? Where do they work in your client’s organization? Can you get your client to introduce you to the other companies? As your business grows, you might want to consider investing in building a better partnership strategy that can help both partners get better business results. Over the years, I’ve seen many organizations bought and sold because they met through a mutual client.
I’ve put together a partnership framework I use when I’m trying to identify good partnering opportunities for my clients. I thought it might be helpful to share it here and see how you could improve your partnership opportunities. As one of the critical elements when looking to sell your business, many buyers are looking to see who your partners are and how well that partnership is adding to sales and profits. I’ve seen several larger organizations buy smaller organizations based on several key partnerships in emerging technology markets. This acquisition allows them to jumpstart new practices with a blueprint they can rollout across their organization. Let’s look at how I find partnership opportunities. Continue reading
How do you create a mobile strategy that helps you leverage the unique technology it provides? The biggest challenge of mobile is how it changes the way you do business. For mobile to provide the greatest benefit it must complement your overall business strategy. Over the years I’ve worked on many projects that leverage new technology to increase business results. Mobile can help you reach your goals to grow your business, but it has already shown that if its not implemented right it can cost you not only sales, but customers, as well.
When I work with businesses to implement a new technology, I look at three key systems to make sure that it provides the edge we expect from early on in the rollout process. I’ve used these three systems in over 100 technology rollouts. I’ve seen it done right, and I’ve seen them fail. Since mobile is such a visible platform for your business, it is critical to get it right and then keep improving it. Using systems to deploy technology comes from many different sources, but I first started using it over 20 years ago after learning the concept from Michael Gerber, who had just shared The E-Myth with the world. Continue reading
We spend so much time and effort building our businesses we sometimes forget what makes our business unique. We think everyone knows our story so we fail to share it again for new clients and customers. One thing I learned from writing over the years is there are always new people hearing our stories for the first time. My operations officer use to tell me I always had a story to share with our new employees. I always shared our business’s origin story with new employees and constantly asked them to share their version of it. My sales and technical team members always knew the story and shared it with their clients and potential customers. There were subtle differences between how people interpreted the story, but they would all have several key elements that were always shared.
Let’s talk about the different parts of an origin story. The first part of the story would focus on the problem we and our clients faced. No matter what industry you’re in, there are always issues. They may not be the same issues, but there are always problems. . Some people just complain about the unfairness of the situation. Smart clients find someone to help work through those problems to a solution.
We then would share the pain that our clients experienced when looking for a solution to their problems. This required our team to understand and sympathize with a pain point our potential clients might have. This pain point would come directly from our clients’ personal experiences. In my business, the pain point is that most business owners struggle during the early stages of their businesses growth. They struggle getting the financial help they need to grow their businesses. I also share it’s hard to get the right advice from professionals when you aren’t certain what advice you need. I share that sometimes it’s important to have an individual who knows where you’re going because they’ve been down this road before.
For the next part of your story reveal how you can change their problem. What you discovered about people in this given situation. A good storyteller allows their client to understand there is something different about how you do business. The revelation you share should be something the customer can see themselves achieving. This should allow your client to focus on the results they desire. Your story lets them to see that there is another choice when deciding how to solve their problem.
Then you should share your solution to their unique problem. But first you must acknowledge that their business is unique and so is your solution. For many of my technology clients it would come down to the fact that they are experts on their business but we can provide the required information and skills to help them achieve their goals. You want to begin providing your client with a solution to their problems. Your story could include an example where you’ve done something similar in the past to achieve great results. Sharing a testimonial of a client who is a similar situation is always powerful here. This means preparing more for the call or marketing piece but increases your sales exponentially.
The final part of the story must include a client success story from working with you and your organization on their project. If you shared your story correctly the clients should be asking you what the next step in your process is. Each step of your story should connect with your potential client. It should help them understand more about you by understanding more about them.
When you’re writing the story, end with a call to action. Ask them to call you or request more information. If you are selling in person you should include check in points for the client, confirming that they have had a similar experience in dealing with others in your field. The key here is that you have prepared a story in advance and that story is well known by the many different members of your team. When working with Doctors and other professionals, it is critical that you are all working out of the same playbook. It is also critical to discuss the story in advance of working with particular clients.
Take the time to begin working on your origin story. Boiled down to its primary components, you share how you helped a client:
- Focus on the problem they faced.
- Share the pain this problem caused.
- Reveal how you can remove the problem, hence the pain.
- Share your solution to the problem.
- Include a success story from solving the problem.
Call me at 440-293-8811 or send an email to email@example.com today to see how I can help you use an origin story to build more value in your business. It might be just the thing to jumpstart your business development efforts.
Recently I’ve had several interesting meetings with former clients who are considering selling their businesses over the next several years. I’ve been involved in mergers and acquisitions for many small to mid-market businesses in my career. Many of the organizations I’ve worked with have enjoyed tremendous growth by acquiring businesses that complement their core capabilities. They have ranged in annual sales between five million and several hundred million dollars. Many of these deals have helped take their acquiring organizations to the next level.
In almost all of the deals I’ve been involved in, we were a strategic buyer of the business we were acquiring. For many of the privately held businesses I work with I find it is more attractive to sell to a strategic buyer. A strategic buyer means that the acquiring organization understands your business and pays more because the natural synergies between organizations allows them to achieve more profitable growth through cost reductions, increased marketing leverage, and increased sales and profits. For the business seller, it means you have to be better prepared than you might be for a financial buyer. Do it right and it can mean a premium of between 5-15% of the sales price to the seller of the business. In a future blog, we will discuss financial buyers and what’s right for your business.
So why should a privately held business owner look for a strategic buyer? In my opinion there are three key reasons to look for a strategic buyer for your organization. We’ll talk in future blogs about how to build an organization that strategic buyers want to buy.
You want the highest price possible. You’ve invested time, your life, and money in the business and you want the greatest return on your efforts. For many emerging technology businesses, your ideas are almost as important as your results. Knowing how to leverage your idea into cash can best be done with people who understand your industry and your strategy.
You want a high price, but have other concerns as well. You are trying to optimize your payoff while also assuring that the people in your business are taken care of. Selling a business is a negotiation and to get what you want you may need to make a fair exchange for the things you want to achieve through the sales process. To make this work successfully you must be clear about both your concerns and your expectations.
You want to cash out, but you want to remain in the organization for a few years. For many entrepreneurs they are the most visible person to key clients and partners. They need to help the acquiring organization retain their employees, key partners, and clients. Having the former owner/CEO of the business share the reasons for the acquisition goes a long way to remove all stakeholders’ fears and uncertainty. The key to using this strategy is to put definite timelines in place and begin doing what is required to make it a smooth transition for everyone involved. Do not leave the details undone. Make sure all of these agreements are written out and signed by both parties.
If you would like to know more about what buyers look for in a business you can read more at How to Make Your Business Attractive to Buyers http://shar.es/epiub at Developing Serving Leaders. This is my leadership blog for purpose driven entrepreneurs and mid-market CEOs. I think this blog will get you thinking about what makes an organization a good growth opportunity for strategic and financial buyers.
See you on Mobile Monday next week.