Finding Money Under The Seat

October 23rd, 2018

Hidden Cash

If the owners of the eponymous London nightclub, Annabel’s, can rake in upto £1.2 million selling the old property’s tired fixtures and fittings, it is a great reminder in our own businesses to look under our own seats. What historic products, services or relationships do you possess and could you quickly re-purpose using different media for both your existing and prospective clients? Such that they receive tremendous value and a dramatic impact on their immediate goals with fair and equitable compensation for you. The hunt for the “hidden cash” demands two things: (1) Aptitude, you have the volition to regularly look for it and (2) Application, you possess the wisdom to apply it your buyers’ immediate and relevant business needs. Get searching!

Assessing M&A Advice

October 22nd, 2018

How would you know your Corporate Finance Adviser is making progress or success with selling your business or raising money if you have no metrics in place? The answer of course is you won’t, it is all conjecture (cobbling together loose assumptions of interest) until you pass the winning post. Here is the counter-intuitive point, the onus is on the entrepreneur or founder to agree them BEFORE approving the Adviser’s proposal or making the initial payment.

What should they contain? Let’s keep it simple, focus on hard evidence and observed behaviour. Here is a quick primer. 

  1. Attracting buyers or capital sources. Are our target lists increasingly stocked with “ideal buyers or capital partners” or a largely undifferentiated group of candidates? That assumes you have first developed a clear and specific picture of what ideal looks like, sounds like, and acts like (traits). Are we definitively providing valuable insights, ideas, and information to them in a timely manner? Are we highly organised such that our week is increasingly filled with in-person meetings with our ideal buyers and capital partners in various environments? (one-to-one, networking events, public speaking, hosted events)   
  2. Converting interest to firm commitment. Targets must become bidders or investors bringing firm offers. Are you increasingly seeing responses that validate the tremendous return on investment, the pragmatic value you are offering, and a peer-level trusting relationship, resulting in agreements to present a proposal? Is there demonstrable momentum in the quality and quantity of those proposals leading to firm offers, in a timely manner? 
  3. Firm commitments to an agreed preferred option.  Are you able to preserve the critical and highly important points (valuation, mix and timing of proceeds, future roles etc)  while compromising on moderate or low important issues with your buyer or capital partner? Are you able to resolve conflicts over outcomes or alternatives quickly and with minimal impact on your relationships? Do your advisers have preventative and contingent actions in place for an agreed offer (failure to raise financing in a timely manner, backup plan if deal collapses at a late stage and so on)?
  4. Implementation of the deal. Are your adviser’s meeting or exceeding your expectations with clear metrics for the strategic fit, ease of implementation, benefits and cost impact on your business? Are they meeting or exceeding your personal priorities (financial, non-financial, peace of mind, time use and so on)?  
  5. Growth. During the engagement are your adviser’s creating new value for you in return for additional remuneration? For example, this might be new businesses opportunities outside of the immediate deal, where you are selling and exiting your business entirely, repeat opportunities for fresh investment at the next stage of the firm’s growth or referrals to people of mutual interest (private bankers, investors, entrepreneurs, social or philanthropic connections). 

Focus your assessment on these five areas and the ease with which you progress. Keep it simple. 

With any initiative and adviser, where is your “process” today?  

Trapped

October 22nd, 2018

There are two forms of “entrapment”, physical and virtual. “Physical”, in the sense of the car being caught up in a traffic jam with nowhere to turn on a highway or motorway. “Virtual”, in the sense of being “stuck” in a lousy investment, business or job. Too often with the latter, I meet individuals where their mind has a vice-like grip on their ability to figure out how to adapt to the prevailing conditions (de-risk, effect change, change accountabilities) or escape entirely to a safer, more positive position. The good news is they can and very often will “escape” but their refusal to seek expert help dramatically prolongs the suffering. Move on!   

Risk-Free Money

October 18th, 2018

As many global fund managers, advisers and businesses are finding out this week with their Saudi ties, there is no such thing as “risk-free” money. No risk attached to accepting money is more parlous than your reputation. Your reputation is a function of the trust you place in others and they in you about “character” (wisdom, ethics, sociability, reciprocity and so on). Here is the irony, we have made quantum leaps in our ability to sift through huge amounts of data and processes that don’t require human judgement (artificial intelligence) and baby steps in our ability to assess human character and risks that do require human judgement. “Go figure”, as my American friends say. 

Profitable Growth Seeds

October 16th, 2018

Profitable Growth Seeds

Sometimes what seems obvious to us is a “breakthrough” idea or concept when applied to another person’s condition. Our challenge is having the courage to point it out and the skill to articulate the meaningful benefits for them. Can you spot something obvious today that is immediately useful and relevant for your best clients?    

Blind Partnerships

October 15th, 2018

If you are dumb enough to refuse a replacement, the time to build trust, which has been integral to your partnership, alliance or consortium’s success, you better have something so desirable others are willing to bet “blind”. That is a luxury very few organisations ever have. Or then again perhaps you have close to zero interest in your partners’ future or in finding a replacement.

Escaping The Bubble

October 12th, 2018

Escaping The Bubble     

Are you aware of the “bubble” that you live in and the consequences of staying exclusively in it? (beliefs, attitudes, behaviours)

If you are aware, what “checks and balances” do you have in place to help you appreciate the lives that others lead and the views that they hold that don’t conform to your own? (diverse experiences, travel, sources of advice, learning)

If you are not, what are you going to do tomorrow to help yourself? (speak to peers, identify sources and opportunities for diverse learning and development).

Some of the most successful people I meet (executives, entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropists, creative types) make demands of others or hold views that defy common sense. My observation is that they have long insisted on hanging out with a crowd, who are a mirror-image of themselves (clubs, parties, events). They refuse to put themselves in other’s shoes and when they do, they end up with “warped reality” (global perspective).   

Negotiating Change

October 12th, 2018

If you insist on telling me my discretionary time, my personal interests and my enjoyment must be curtailed BEFORE we conceptually agree a plan for an improved set of conditions, you weaken not strengthen your negotiating position.    

In Good Company

October 9th, 2018

If you are an entrepreneur wanting to attract the highest quality investors,  people, business partners and so forth, think about the company you are keeping. Am I spending time with gatekeepers, window shoppers or real buyers/investors of my product, service and relationships? Does the event or platform put me in rarefied company or am I circling around with a largely undifferentiated crowd? Will my presence and affiliation with the audience dramatically build my brand or have a negligible impact?     

Where is the hard evidence or observed behaviour to validate my judgement?

It is myth that any “exposure” is a valuable use of our time. That is rubbish. If you are not in front of a high proportion of your target audience, decline the invite with a simple “No”. You don’t need to explain yourself, you do need to avoid wasting time talking to the wrong people.

Etiquette

October 8th, 2018

If you are a 50 year old man or woman and you cannot hold a knife and fork correctly, irrespective of culture, in polite company, why should you and your views be taken seriously? I don’t care about your wealth, your “past” or your approach to standard behavioural norms.