The business was set up by a charismatic founder and CEO to fulfil a humanitarian mission. The company was in the habit of reacting to market conditions rather than pursuing its own strategic direction. I was introduced by a Director/Shareholder and then facilitated the CEO in clarifying his goals.
We looked at sustainable business models within the market place which led to the development of a business strategy covering target markets, product development, gaps in the management team (and how they would be filled), upgrading of management information systems and financial resources.
In a short period of time, I developed cash budgeting systems, brought in and supervised a book-keeper who installed SAGE and computerised the accounting records, producing regular management accounts. For the first time in ten years, the founder was able to realistically plan ahead and take better-informed steps as events changed.
This began as a one-off consultation to address a specific “crisis” and turned into a quasi/informal finance director type role.
Soon after successfully raising capital for the company, I was asked by the founders/MDs to help develop its overall business strategy in a consultancy role and was then invited to join the board as a non-executive director, a post in which I contributed for almost ten years.
As well as being a sounding board for the founders, I was actively involved in providing input across all areas of the business, including investor relations, management, distribution, new products, new markets, HR, marketing, IT, finance, dividend policy etc. Drawing on my network of contacts, I introduced several quality suppliers/advisors to assist the company, including a non-executive director.
I was initially asked to do a very small piece of work. Very quickly, the founders saw that my interest in the company’s products and my understanding of their vision enabled me to present the commercial rationale for the R&D project much more powerfully than previous attempts by the company or its financial advisors. The resulting business plan lifted confidence, and added credibility to perceptions of the project’s viability.
As a result, I was asked to take over the fund raising efforts. This project took six intense months, against a bleak financial position for one of the merging companies. It involved negotiating with investors, coordinating over a dozen parties and needed hands-on management to keep all the “balls in the air” and to keep the momentum going. This allowed management to focus on the day-to-day business and delivered a tangible result on completion.
Client name withheld to respect confidentiality
I was introduced to this successful family business by their accountants. The company was approached by a number of interested parties, one of which made a formal offer. The main founder, however, felt ill-equipped to evaluate the offer. I reviewed and explained it in simple terms, advising the founder shareholders, that the price was well below their expectations and that other terms were also unfavourable. This enabled them to reject the offer authoritatively, and clarified key factors in their exit strategy.
Client name withheld to respect confidentiality
The chairman of an established business was under pressure by venture capital investors to bring in an outside, non-executive chairman. Given the nature of the business and its relationship with its customer base, this would not have been the right decision for this business. I mentored the existing chairman to fulfil his role more effectively and with more confidence. This, together with my introduction of an experienced entrepreneur to come on board as a non-executive director (but not chair), satisfied all parties.
I coached a business owner through her purpose, the positioning of her business, pricing, networking and creating ongoing systems for monitoring performance. After the first session alone, she had the clarity and confidence to bring forward by 3 months, the launch of a new product.
This was a very complex decision, involving many scenarios, each with its own opportunities, risk profiles and financial implications. The professionals involved also held strong preferences. I facilitated the group through this process. As a result, we had a clear matrix of factors affecting the decision. We agreed the criteria, the critical path and time lines by which the decision would be made.
This client had a very successful kinesiology training and treatment practice. They wanted to create a retreat centre, where they could bring together their unique knowledge and their care for people.
Working closely with them, I developed a spreadsheet-based financial model which enabled them to look at the financial risks and rewards of various scenarios. Together, we developed a business plan reflecting their strategy and how funding could be repaid. Ultimately, they decided not to go ahead with this project, partly because of the risks and partly because they realised it didn’t align with their intentions, but they did it from an informed place.