The larger than life entrepreneur Jerry Maguire, star of the eponymous 1996 film, declared boldly: ‘Show me the money!’ But how do business owners get to that happy position where trade buyers or private equity investors are willing to do just that?
The answer, according to Ashley Ward, is fairly straightforward. ”Think strategically, even from an early stage in your business journey.”
He says: “It may sound a little counter-intuitive, but it’s important to give some thought relatively early on about what your end game is. Then it’s about executing your plan.”
Three things a business owner must focus on in the countdown to a sale:
1 Ensure the team is well-oiled, co-ordinated, high performance group of people who share a common purpose
2 Focus on creating a growth trajectory for the top and bottom line by exploring new markets and enhancing margins
3 Create a compelling narrative – which captures the full imagination of where the business can go and will really excite investors
We work closely with a number of dynamic management teams across the North and Midlands, and agree that as a business owner it’s about demonstrating both a track record of success and also future potential that will excite interest in the market place. It is key to have an external view that supports and enables business owners to get themselves and their enterprise in the best-possible shape for investment, or sale.
“There’s no one size fits all – it’s about us assembling data and analysis to enable the business owner to assess potential new markets, added service-lines, or even bolt-on acquisitions."
Taking a helicopter view
One key challenge for entrepreneurial business owners can often be to separate themselves from the day- to-day operations and take on a more strategic role.
Ashley would say that: “This can be difficult, particularly when, from an early stage a founder has put their heart, soul and every waking hour into the business. We absolutely understand this mind-set and always present this process not so much as letting go, but in unlocking potential.
“Encouraging an owner to invest in building a strong management team is absolutely critical both to retain talent, and give potential investors reassurance that the business can thrive post-transaction and isn’t wholly reliant on the founder.
“If you have a high performing group of people, it’s likely you’ll have a high performing business. There are in fact, very few great companies consistently delivering spectacular results that have not focused on their greatest asset – their people.”