Did You Increase Your Business Value in 2018?
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
As we approach the end of another year, we, at Journey Consulting, have much to be thankful for. First, we have grown in the past year from 2 to 4, adding to our team Ruby Solomon, Office Administrator, and Beth Manning, Consultant. We moved into new office space in downtown Green Bay in May and served over 24 clients this year. We added to our expertise as a team by obtaining credentialing as a Certified Exit Planning Advisor and a Certified Valuation Advisor. We continue to learn and grow to meet the ever-changing needs and demands of our clients and to grow the value of our business.
What are you doing to grow, change, learn and prepare for the future?
Every business can benefit from a focus on value creation, that is, building both tangible and intangible assets to provide maximum value. Whether you plan to sell your business in the near-term or stay in the business for the next 10+ years, optimizing value creates a transferrable business that gives the owner flexibility to transition or sell at any time. It also engenders real wealth. As attractive as all of this sounds, it requires a focused effort to develop this level of value. Owners need to constantly assess their answers to the following questions:
How have you grown your revenue? What products, strategies or geographies have yielded the best results? Where should the business focus to capture more market share? What products have the highest demand and highest margin? Answering these questions will lay the foundation for strategic initiatives that focus on capturing additional revenue and a bigger share of the market in 2019.
How have you increased your gross margin? Do your products need to be re-priced or re-packaged to gain a price advantage? Where can you strip out costs without losing quality? Are there supplier or distribution changes that will generate better margins? Improving profitability increases the value of your business significantly, making it more attractive to a potential buyer and/or allowing re-investment to generate additional value.
How have you reduced your general and administrative expenses? Are there cost-savings that can be obtained through efficiencies from new software, changing vendors/suppliers, or other process changes that can be achieved? Does a remote work option offer tangible benefits? Taking a hard look at general and administrative expenses each year and making adjustments is a discipline that can catapult profitability and value creation for the business.
Building tangible assets is one part of the equation for maximizing value, while improving the intangible assets is the other. The intangibles are those parts of the business that are critical to success but difficult to measure. They are the lifeblood of your organization and the underpinnings of your success, but do not show up on an income statement or balance sheet. They include items such as human capital, organizational structure, customer relationships, repeatable processes and company culture. Owners should be assessing their intangible assets as frequently as their tangible assets and answering the following questions:
How much depth do you have with your management team? Can the business operate without you? Are team members strategic thinkers? Is the team diverse? Do members work in concert? Can they make critical decisions and positively influence others to act? The ability of the team to strategically move the business forward, without the owner, is crucial to maximizing value. If the answer to these questions are “no”, there is work to do in 2019.
Does the business have streamlined and replicable processes? Are business processes documented, trained and updated regularly? Are they housed in a standardized place, authored using a standardized format? If you want to improve the value of your business, focus must be given to creating repeatable processes that help make your business transferrable.
Who owns the customer relationships? Do they reside with the owner or are they spread among the team? What about key strategic relationships – where do those reside? Are there plans to transfer relationships to others? The stability of the organization is at risk if the owner shoulders the relationships. Value is maximized when customer relationships can be maintained by any member of the team and there is cross-contact/knowledge amongst all team members.
What type of culture do you have – honestly? Do the teams work together or undermine each other? Are they welcoming or closed? Have you dealt with performance issues or are you sending mixed messages on what is expected? Is accountability practiced or just preached? Culture is the very fabric of an organization and the cornerstone of current and future success. Your ability to create and maintain a positive culture of high-performing people is paramount to achieving the highest business value possible.
Where does your business net out with tangible and intangible assets? Are there opportunities to improve the value creation for your business? If so, you have a whole year in front of you to work toward that goal. Creating a strategic roadmap with your leadership team is a great way to start – just imagine where that will take you and your business in 2019.
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay