“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – Winston Churchill
Clients work with us on a variety of needs for many issues they face. We find that projects can start going in one direction and as we talk push towards larger underlying topics that need to be addressed. Our results-driven process is designed to making sure clients receive implementable value for their investment and reach their goals. Examples of projects and results we achieved are listed below. If you want to see quotes from some of these session participants please view our testimonials page.
1) The business client who needed financing
Clients need financing at critical points in their business. Some examples include
- When they start
- As they buy or build facilities
- As they expand staff
- As they expand to additional locations
Businesses are referred for several reasons including:
- They did not have an adequate business plan or financial statements as they needed an SBA guarantee to get funding
- They were short on the capital needed to fund the project and needed help identifying more funds
- They had not adequately considered some issues including how they would create demand and hire employees
In this specific case, a lender referred a business trying to start a business, buy land, build a large commercial building, and buy all needed assets and hire staff to get the business launched. We helped this business get the help it needed as we first worked on the core elements of what would be needed to make their business successful. This was done by utilizing the business model canvas.
Once that was understood we worked to document this information in a financial manner to create financial projections. Doing these projections showed areas where further work was needed to quantify expenses and showed the importance of having demand out of the gate. These financial projections also showed where and how much additional capital was needed, so we gave the business owners the options they had to get their funding together. Most of the time this includes their own capital, money from a bank (potentially with a government guarantee needed), and money from outside sources (community funds or revolving loan funds, or, outside investors). With a picture of how to finance the deal and further research, the second set of projections was completed.
From this point work then started on a business plan. The business plan had to both communicate the vision of the business, define assumptions that were being made, and show that all risks had been considered. With all this work in place, the lender was able to help the business get the loans they needed. Since this happened, the ground was broke, the building has been built, products are being stored, and it is full steam ahead.
2) The non-profit organization that needed to quantify demand
A non-profit organization had a project critical to the future of their organization and which they felt like needed to be funded.
The problem was they were not sure if the project could be financially viable or sustainable. There was also a lack of clarity on how successful the current operation was due to financials being hard to follow across this very large organization. With this organization the original ask was to do the following:
- Change the mindsets to a customer (participant) focus
- Teach the employees about how to quantify demand using the business model canvas and customer interviews
- After the first iteration of interviews help them analyze the data and understand how to attain the information they needed in a quantified way
As we worked through this process it became evident that the need to quantify demand was only part of what the client needed. I worked in depth with the CFO and their team to dive deeper into the numbers to create a financial projection. This financial projection showed that at current rates and even expanded rates the project was not financially viable. As part of the process, the CFO also asked me to create break-even estimates to show what demand would be necessary for this to be sustainable. Additionally, I dug into the numbers so that I could explain more about the rates being charged and the factors that would affect how seasonality and day of the week could change these. This was all put together for multiple presentations that included the leadership team and employee teams who had been part of these presentations.
The organization had been working on this project for a long time, but with detailed and specific information they could now start to have a frame of mind for how to understand it and what steps to take next. As we continued to work together I went through different versions of the project so they could see how different amounts of project costs, demand, and other factors would affect each iteration. As we did this we also helped them put into place a process to understand each area of their organization and how it could best be analyzed. This included demand estimates and financial commitments. Having this information allowed the employees and the leadership team to be able to get more comfortable that each project was within their mission and that the commitment could be understood ahead of time.
3) The business that couldn’t get ahead
A lender who was working with a business owner contacted me because they were not sure whether they should continue to lend money to the owner of a business. They had a relationship with the business owner that was over 10 years old and the business owner paid his bills most of the time. The problem was that each time an event happened for the business they would come to the lender to expand their credit and go further in debt.
In speaking with the business owner the first thing we did was to analyze their financial statements and found online industry-standard numbers. This allowed us to compile a list of questions for the business owner so we could better understand their individual situation. Once we understood the background, some questions we had were not truly issues. However, others were genuine problems that required more research and analysis.
For one of the financial categories, they were overpaying 5% of sales more than the industry average. Into the discussion with that customer, we helped them understand this and worked with them on research into this situation. Within a week they made a simple account change that resulted in them saving over $100,000 a year! With this change, they were almost instantly cashflow positive and within months they were for the first time starting to pay down debt.
At that point, we started working with this owner to speak about future goals and talk about other ways to decrease expenses that while important were not as impactful to the bottom line. Within the next few meetings helped the business owner move from a reacting stance to a planning and proactive stance. We helped them learn more about how to read the financials and where the most focus was needed. In the months since our work, this owner has been able to start to pay down debt and save money for both planned future expenses and emergencies. This was an experienced owner with over 20 years in the industry. From what they told us it was the first time in a long time they had felt in control of the business and their financial situation!
4) The non-profit client who needed innovation education for the community
A community non-profit reached out to us as they wanted to know how to best educate members in the community about how to successfully start a business. We set up a two-session class to go over concepts from the lean startup methodology including the use of the business model canvas.
With this class students from various racial, gender, and social-economic backgrounds were able to understand how they could best:
- List their key assumptions about their business
- Learn about these assumptions utilizing customer interviews
- Turn this learning into tests and MVPs (Minimum Viable Products)
- Understand and track key metrics so they could learn and adjust their business launch strategy for the best chance at success
5) The owner who wanted to sell their business
Selling a business is a confusing proposition. It is hard to know what is important, how it works, and who to work with.
A business contacted us to help them prepare for the sale of their business. For a business with one owner it is important to determine goals and timelines. This business was owned by multiple owners. This makes it even more important to get everyone on the same page so that priorities can be talked about and set.
Our first step was to have a discussion with them about their goals and what had to happen to sell their business successfully. Since they contacted us early in the process we started by first helping them understand what items could be done to ready the business for sale and to increase its value. Topics included items like what processes needed to be documented and what elements only the owners were doing. Businesses that can “run on their own” so to speak are much easier for new owners to buy and take over.
Once we felt comfortable with how to improve and ready the business we started talking more about their end goals. We spoke about items like:
- What valuation they were looking for
- What was most important in the sale
- If they were willing to be an employee post sale
- If they were willing to do seller financing to help the buyer generate the money needed to buy the business
We conducted many business sale goals sessions to get the plan ready. Once this was done we moved onto the preparation for the actual sale (some owners list their business without giving away the name). First they got their listing ready since they decided to go public with the sale. After that we worked on developing their book, which lists important aspects of their business. This acts as the main document potential owners will view and is a key marketing piece. We also worked to get all the documents ready which would be needed for due diligence.
While it took longer than they would have liked, these owners took the time to get everything in place before going public. Once they went public they used the plan we had put together to push this information out via multiple different social media and other channels. While they had great interest quickly it took several months to get a buyer that matched what they were looking for. Once this was done all the work they had put in really paid off, as they were eventually able to close on the business sale. Doing this allowed them to retire and see the business continue on successfully. Additionally, one of their goals had been to have minimal employee disruption and to date no employees have lost their job in the transition. While it took a lot of work the owners were very happy with the end result.