As a business owner you face multiple decisions every day – some routine, some forced upon you and some because you want to change or improve an aspect of your business. Sometimes alone, sometimes with your team and sometimes with external advice you make many decisions to improve your business performance so that at some point you can reap the benefits when you exit.
And that, of course, is what you want: improved results from better options and decisions.
For many the idea of ‘more advice’ isn’t appealing especially if you have to pay for it!
At Henchards how do we convince you that you need our exit advice? In short, we don’t. We will talk with you, ask you pertinent questions and refer you to others who have benefited from working with us but ultimately the only person who will decide is you.
Broadly speaking there are five situations where our clients have made the decision to engage our support. What’s your situation?
- When you are facing a new challenge that either seems different or more intractable than anything you have experienced before. For example, the resignation of a key member of the team or a significant client opportunity that is outside your usual service offering. We have recently supported three clients through a period of significant change in their ‘top team’. Losing or having to remove a key senior member of the team is a traumatic event with consequences that can run on for a considerable time. There can be periods of self-doubt where support is essential, “Am I doing the right thing?”, “Are they leaving because of me?”, “Can I be bothered going through the process of hiring and working with someone new?” Going through these challenges alone can be tough.
- A situation has gone on for longer than you want or is healthy and finally ‘something has to be done’ such as working too many hours or continuing cash flow challenges. There will always be times when things get tight. Businesses don’t run in predictable straight lines and if you are ambitious to grow your company you have to embrace change: do more, do better, do different. With all of our clients we place importance on time and financial controls including cash flow management. Even so, that doesn’t mean there won’t be squeezes – whether planned or unplanned. Having good controls in place helps minimise risk and enables good decision making for the future.
- Your business has plateaued or lost revenue with the route towards renewed growth seeming unclear, particularly when the sales and marketing activities that previously worked no longer seeming to be effective. For small to medium sized businesses the natural way to grow is through good sales and marketing activity – whether direct, online or a blend of the two. Growth doesn’t have to be limited to these activities as smaller companies can be very successful by using acquisition as a growth path. One of our clients has with our help made four acquisitions. With good targeting, a structured approach, finances to support and a clear plan for integration during the post-acquisition period they have made a success in each case.
- When you ask yourself, ‘What am I here for?’ and you don’t have a clear answer – this is often the case during a challenging period in the business or in a quiet time of reflection. There has to be a purpose to owning and running a business. It may be that personal satisfaction and doing something for those around you are important. For many, even if they have these, it isn’t sufficient. They are looking to build the business to create personal wealth for their family. We have worked with a number of clients who were more of less successfully running their business but had either forgotten or had never planned for what happens ‘at the end of the story’ i.e. when they exit. We have helped write the script and set the plan for numerous business owners so that their daily activity builds to a successful conclusion.
- You are on your own running a business, often successfully, but without a close peer level individual with whom to share experiences and generate ideas. It is perhaps overstated that it is ‘lonely at the top’ and that business owners miss someone to talk with. Of course, there are always people to talk with when you run a business be they your team, suppliers, clients, partners or local business contacts. Perhaps ‘loneliness’ is the wrong description, the gap is often more about a trusted / trusting relationship where concerns, issues, ideas, inspirations and reflections can be shared.
This quote from one of our clients is typical: “I was initially not interested in ‘advice’ because I felt comfortable using my own judgements and trusting my own experiences to ‘see me through’ major business decisions. Having met and discussed things with Ian, I realised the depth of his experience and the tremendous benefits that brings. I have undergone many business developments in the last 18 months and have felt very happy with the changes made – which I made in consultation with Ian at all stages.”
The primary reason to seek exit advice is to improve – whether that’s business performance or your own experience of owning and running your business. To start a conversation please contact us.
(Photo by Joanna Swan on Unsplash)