8 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Business


 

Maximize-the-Value-of-Your-Business

The lifecycle of most businesses from the owner's perspective is generally the same. First, you start or buy the business. Then, you grow the business. And finally, at some point, you exit the business.

During these second and third phases the differences between higher quality and lower quality entrepreneurs is really apparent. Specifically, the best entrepreneurs are able to maximize the value of their businesses and exit them at a price substantially greater than the price they paid to acquire or start the business.

So, what do these entrepreneurs do that increases the value of their businesses to themselves and potential acquirers. Here are the eight most common things they do.

1. They position their companies in a clearly-defined niche

Your business must be the best it can be at what it does, without trying to be everything to everyone. A business that knows its customer segments, their needs and language, and how to solicit a response from them is a lot more valuable than one that is a mixture of everything, or an unknown in its market.

2. They coach their teams to run the business without them

Could other people ever run your business without you? They'll have to, if you're selling! So why not make this your goal from Day One?

Make an organizational chart of how your business will look when it's time to sell it. List all the various workers in marketing, operations, and those they report to.  It's okay if it's just you or a handful of people currently filling all those roles. Doing this will help you organize who is going to do what in your business before you hire a new person.

Then, over time, you can find other people to fill those positions one by one until you're out of the picture.

3. They build relationships with customers

Goodwill, such as your reputation and brand in the minds of your current and prospective customers, is considered an asset on your company's balance sheet. You build this over time by treating people right and maintaining good relationships.

If you intend to sell your business someday, or if you just want to have the option, this is something you have to make a priority throughout the business's life. You can't just start doing it well suddenly in the final year. Relationships and recognition take time.

4. They make sure their businesses are stable

Make sure you're not overly dependent on any one customer, vendor, employee, or anything else. Diversify your strengths. If you have any "whale" customers that make up a large portion of your business, try to get at least 80% of your business from other people.

The new owner does not want to take the reins and have revenues drop in half in the event your biggest customer leaves.

5. They maximize their revenues

This one's self-evident, but deserves to be repeated. Make sure you leverage the 4 proven ways to increase your revenues: getting more customers, increasing your average order size, get customers to buy more frequently, and finding new ways to monetize your customers and visitors.

A company with higher revenues and which shows growing revenues will be more valuable and attractive to buyers.

6. They hold expenses accountable


You boost your net profit (and therefore the value) by reducing your expenses. However, no one ever shrank themselves into wealth. You're not going to grow your business by keeping expenses lower-but the numbers will increase as it grows.

Your goal is to keep the percentages the same, such as keeping advertising at 20% of your revenues whether earnings are $100,000 or $1,000,000 per year.  

Basically, you'll want to make sure that budgets are made and followed, to keep spending within projected limits and to avoid costs creeping up that don't generate more revenue in return.

7. They keep great records


Keep excellent records of everything for the new owner-your files, databases, customer communications, marketing materials, financial records, employee agreements-everything.

Committing to do this now will make your life so much easier between now and the time you sell. Keep good records for your own efficiency, protection, and to make your business look a lot more attractive to buyers than one where all the records are filed away in the old owner's head.

8. They develop a plan for when it's "done" and ready to sell


I don't want you to have plans on top of plans, but each of these will take certain actions to make them happen.  So here's what to do:  Add these end results into your existing business plan, and use your best judgment when choosing how to make each of them happen in your company.

When it's all said and done, the next few years are going to go by whether you maximize your business' value or not. At the end of, say, 5 years, would you rather have a stable, attractive, polished business ready to sell for top dollar, or be left taking what you can get for what you have?

If it seems like a lot, remember you have until the time you sell to take care of these things. You don't have to do it all now! Just add these elements I described to your vision of what you want your company to be, and keep your eye on it until the big day finally comes.

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The Ultimate Path to Wealth
as an Entrepreneur

What’s the ultimate path to wealth as an entrepreneur?

Build your company and then sell it for millions to the highest bidder.

In this video, I explain precisely how to build a sellable company.

It starts out with the 3 most dangerous trends facing entrepreneurs and business owners today (so you can avoid them).

Don't build your business the wrong way.

Click here to watch the video now and build a sellable business

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The 10 Best Performing Companies of 2017


 

Which 10 companies had the best performance in 2017? 

Why did they perform so well? 

What can your business learn from them to ensure better results in 2018?

Well, 2017 was an epic year for the stock market, with the Dow racing 25% higher, the S&P 500 up 19%, and the NASDAQ up a whopping 28%. 

Driving these great returns above all else were great business performances by great companies.    

Here are ten of the best of them, along with one key lesson from each of their 2017 successes that can be put to work in any business right away:

#10. D. R. Horton (NYSE: DHI). D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilder, benefited from new home sales reaching 10-year highs in 2017, saw its stock price rise 87.8 percent last year. 

A Key Lesson from their 2017 Success: As a business competes in a cyclical market like housing, when market conditions turn strongly in our favor as they did for homebuilders last year, be extremely aggressive and highly urgent in pursuit of as many new sales and customers as possible.  

Because when the downturn inevitably comes, outsized profits earned from go-go times like these will see us through the darker days.  

#9. Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL), saw its mobile payment business jump 54%, helping drive the company’s stock price up 87.9% for the year. 

Key Lesson: Explore and invest constantly in new technologies. Not all of these investments will pay off, but the ones that do will transform tired and slow growth businesses into fresh and fast-growing ones. 

#8. Boeing (NYSE: BA).  Boeing, with its commercial plane deliveries increasing by 7% in 2017, saw its stock rise 90.3% in 2017. Wow!   

Awesome fun fact - at the Paris Air Show last June Boeing sold 571 new planes, totaling $75 billion in new orders.  

Key Lesson: Think, act, and sell BIG.  If Boeing can sell 571 planes at one industry get together, how much business can we do at our next conference? 

#7. Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: MU). Leading semiconductor company Micron finished the year up 90.7%, driven by big anticipated growth in key new markets like artificial intelligence, online gaming, and cryptocurrency mining. 

Key Lesson: It is easy to be “snarky” and cynical about the potential of highly hyped new business models like cryptocurrency, cannabis, and the like, but there are real companies making real dollars in these fast-emerging businesses. 

Perhaps put a 2018 goal in place to explore how blockchain technologies might open up new markets, products, and services for your business? 

#6. Alcoa Corp (NYSE: AA). Alcoa, the world’s sixth largest producer of aluminum, saw its stock gain 92.8% in 2017, driven by rising commodity prices and the greatly improved prospects for domestic manufacturing.  

Also, in late 2016 Alcoa spun off a number of its non core businesses - greatly reducing its debt load and more importantly allowing the company to focus on what it does best - producing as much aluminum as possible at the lowest cost. 

Key Lesson: Identify and focus on your core assets and competencies and sell, shut down, spin off, and / or forsake everything else. 

#5. Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN). With Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, seeing double digit growth in 2017, Wynn Resorts - owner of the biggest casino in the region - saw its shares rise by 94.7 percent.

Key Lesson: 15 years ago, Steve Wynn, the King of Las Vegas, saw a huge opportunity in Macau. He put billions of dollars at risk, and suffered years of massive losses, to pursue and profit from it.  

Now that bet, and his vision, are paying off big time.   

Let’s be like him in with our BIG dreaming, thinking, and doing.

#4. Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX), with positive test data for its new cystic fibrosis drug, saw a massive 105.2 percent gain in its stock price in 2017. 

Key Lesson: Learn from big pharma and commit to long-term research and intellectual property development strategies. 

It is risky. It is hard. But when it hits it pays off bigger than anything else we can possibly do in our business. 

#3. First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR). Stabilizing solar panel prices and “America First” manufacturing policies in Washington drove a 112.9 percent gain in the company’s stock.

Key Lesson: With local, state, and federal government expenditures close to 40% of the economy, policy and regime changes have BIG impacts on wide swaths of the economy (see healthcare, manufacturing, etc.).  

Let’s be always prepared to pivot and innovate our business models in anticipation of these changes.  

#2. NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG). NRG, one of the largest energy companies in the world, saw its stock finish up an amazing 128.4% in 2017 as they executed on plans to divest much of their renewables business and focus on more core, electricity producing assets. 

Key Lesson: As with Alcoa, look long and hard at all of the business things we do, identify those that we are truly world class at, and as much as possible stop doing anything but those things.  

#1. Align Technology (NASDAQ: ALGN), Align, which makes the famed Invisalign “clear braces” orthodontic products, was the best performing stock in the S&P last year, up 135.6%.  

Its revenues increased 38.3% in the third quarter as shipments to teenage patients grew more than 50%, demonstrating a successful transition from the company’s traditional more adult-focused customer base.

Key Lesson:  Find, and exploit, your customer and market “adjacencies.”   

To do so, sometimes all that is required is a simple repackaging and /or rebranding for a new audience of our existing products and services - i.e. don’t make business harder than it is.  

Great and easy business wisdoms from these 2017 awesomely performing companies. 

Do what and as they do and maybe and hopefully your company will join this high-flying list in the New Year! 

Give Your Business a New Year’s Gift.  January is a natural time to take stock and pride in the accomplishments of the past year, while developing a steely resolve to profit from the awesome opportunities that the New Year is sure to bring.

For the past 19 years, Growthink has helped companies like yours grow more rapidly by creating comprehensive Growth Plans. We catalyzed success for clients including:

  • Arganteal (software deployment automation) secured $611K in growth capital.
  • DNT Express (logistics) secured $2.2M in debt funding for facility expansion.
  • FutureFuel (HRTech+FinTech) successful $1.6M financing round.
  • Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) acquired our client manufacturing process control company Ometric.
  • MPulse (SaaS), acquired by JDM Technology Group.
  • NativeAds (digital advertising) closed on a $4M venture financing.
  • Permacity, completed the world's largest solar rooftop project and increased revenue by over 35%.
  • PayCertify (fintech), secured $700k in seed funding.
  • ViewQwest, launched in Malaysia in Q3 2016 with Indonesia next in line.

What do all of these success stories have in common? 

The entrepreneurs and executives running these great companies understood that whether you're looking to raise capital, sell your company, expand current market share or enter new markets, having a solid growth plan and roadmap is indispensable. 

So, in the spirit of the New Year, we would like to give your business the gift of a complimentary consultation with one of our growth advisors to help you identify your most valuable growth initiatives to pursue in 2018 and beyond.

To accept, simply click here to arrange a day and time via our online call scheduler.

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A Fishy Business Plan


 

Fishy Business Plan

I recently came across this poster:

Pretty funny (although not for the fish).

While it's amusing, there is an important lesson to it.

That lesson takes shape when you consider that starting and growing your business is your "journey of a thousand miles."

And when you haven't clearly planned out where you want to be at the end of the thousand miles, and precisely how you're going to get there, it could end very, very badly.

As Yogi Berra once said, "if you don't know where you're going, you might not get there."

This is very true for your business. In developing your business plan, you need to think through your vision for your company. Where would you like to see it in one year, three years, and five years?

What will your company look like at these times? How many employees will it have? What will you be doing on a day-to-day basis? What other companies will you be working with? And so on.

Once you have that clear vision, think through what it will take to get there. What specific milestones and accomplishments will you need to achieve? What are realistic dates for achieving them? What resources (money, people, etc.) will you need to achieve them?

The last thing you want is to go the thousand miles only to have your company fail (or be eaten by the bear in the poster).

So, spend the time now formulating your vision and your action plan for achieving it. And document it in your business plan. Sure, your business plan will change over time; it is not set in stone. But you must create it (and continually modify it) if you expect your journey to end with the success you desire.

Think about the successes you've achieved in your life already. For each of them, did you previously envision success? Did you have a formal or informal game plan that led to your success?

There is tons of proof showing that the more formal your game plan (for businesses, that means your business plan), the more success you will achieve!

 

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Would you like to know the quickest and easiest way to create a winning business plan?

And how to use it to raise funding, improve your strategy, or both?

Well, we've developed the ultimate business plan template to help you do this. Simply click below to learn more.

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Do This to Maximize the Value of Your Business in 2018


 

In this recorded webinar, Five Steps to Maximize Your Valuation - I reveal the 5 steps you can take in 2018 to dramatically increase the sale price of your business, and dramatically decrease the time needed to achieve it, including:

  • How to tailor your business value and sale story specifically for the unique conditions of these extremely strong business and financial markets
  • The most likely impact of the recently passed tax reform bill on business value and sellability
  • The 3 Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs and Executives make that effectively render their businesses unsellable
  • The 5 things that all businesses that sell for high valuations have and do
  • A simple formula to determine how much your business is worth right now
  • And much, much more!

Access the webinar recording via this link

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How to Write a Business Plan for Raising Venture Capital


 


Are you looking to raise venture capital?

You need a good idea – and an excellent business plan.

Business planning and raising venture capital go hand-in-hand. A business plan is required for attracting venture capital. And the desire to raise capital (whether from an individual “angel” investor or a venture capital firm) is often the key motivator in the business planning process.

But how exactly will your business plan persuade investors to sign a check?

This article provides advice on how to position each section of the business plan for an investor audience. These tips draw on Growthink’s decades of experience consulting to start-ups in the business planning and capital raising process. You can download Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template here.


Executive Summary

Goal of the executive summary: Stimulate and motivate the investor to learn more.

  • Hook them on the first page. Most investors are inundated with business plans. Your first page must make them want to keep reading.

  • Keep it simple. After reading the first page, investors often do not understand the business. If your business is truly complex, you can dive into the details later on.

  • Be brief. The executive summary should be 2 to 4 pages in length.



Company Analysis

Goal of the company analysis section: Educate the investor about your company’s history and explain why your team is perfect to execute on the business opportunity.

  • Give some history. Provide the background on the company, including date of formation, office location, legal structure, and stage of development. 

  • Show off your track record. Detail prior accomplishments, including funding rounds, product launches, milestones reached, and partnerships secured, among others.

  • Why you? Demonstrate your team’s unique unfair competitive advantage, whether it is technology, stellar management team, or key partnerships.

Get Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template Here

Industry Analysis

Goal of the industry analysis section: Prove that there is a real market for your product or service.

  • Demonstrate the need – rather than the desire – for your product. Ideally, people are willing to pay money to satisfy this need.

  • Cite credible sources when describing the size and growth of your market.

  • Use independent research. If possible, source research through an independent research firm to enhance your credibility. For general market sizes and trends, we suggest citing at least two independent research firms.

  • Focus on the “relevant” market size. For example, if you sell a portable biofeedback stress relief device, your relevant market is not the entire health care market. In determining the relevant market size, focus on the products or services that you will directly compete against.

  • It’s not just a research report – each fact, figure, and projection should support your company’s prospects for success.

  • Don’t ignore negative trends. Be sure to explain how your company would overcome potential negative trends. Such analysis will relieve investor concern and enhance the plan’s credibility.

  • Be prepared for due diligence. It’s critical that the data you present is verifiable, since any serious investor will conduct extensive due diligence.



Customer Analysis

Goal of customer analysis section: Convey the needs of your customers and show how your company’s products/services satisfy those needs.

  • Define your customers precisely. For example, it’s not adequate to say your company is targeting small businesses, since there are several million of these.

  • Detail their demographics. How many customers fit the definition? Where are these customers located? What is their average income?

  • Identify the needs of these customers. Use data to demonstrate past actions (X% have purchased a similar product), future projections (X% said they would purchase the product), and/or implications (X% use a product/service which your product enhances).

  • Explain what drives their decisions. For example, is price more important than quality?

  • Detail the decision-making process. For example, will the customer seek multiple bids? Will the customer consult others in their organization before making a decision?



Competitive Analysis

Goal of the competitive analysis section: Define the competition and demonstrate your competitive advantage.

  • List competitors. Many companies make the mistake of conveying that they have few or no real competitors. From an investor’s standpoint, a competitor is something that fulfills the same need as your product. If you claim you have no competitors, you are seriously undermining the credibility of your plan.

  • Include direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors serve the same target market with similar products. Indirect competitors serve the same target market with different products, or different target markets with similar products.

  • List public companies (when relevant, of course). A public company implies that the market size is big. This gives the assurance that if management executes well, the company has substantial profit and liquidity potential.

  • Don’t just list competitors. Carefully describe their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the key drivers of competitive differentiation in the marketplace. And when describing competitors’ weaknesses, be sure to use objective information (e.g. market research).

  • Demonstrate barriers to entry. In describing the competitive landscape, show how your business model creates competitive advantages, and – more importantly – defensible barriers to entry.


Get Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template Here

Marketing Plan

Goal of the marketing plan: Describe how your company will penetrate the market, deliver products/services, and retain customers.

  • Focus on the 4 P’s. They are: Products, Promotions, Price, and Place.

    • Products. Detail all current and future products and services – but focus primarily on the short-to-intermediate time horizon.

    • Promotions. Explain exactly which marketing/advertising strategies will be used and why.

    • Price. Be sure to provide a clear rationale for your pricing strategy.

    • Place. Explain exactly how your products/services will be delivered to your customers.

  • Detail your customer retention plan. Explain how you will retain your customers, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) applications, building network externalities, introducing ongoing value-added services, or other means.

  • Define your partnerships. From an investor’s perspective, what partnership you have with whom is not nearly as important as the specific terms of the partnership. Be sure to document the specifics of the partnerships (e.g. how it will work, the financial terms, the types of customer leads expected from each partner, etc.).



Operations Plan

Goal of the operations plan: Present the action plan for executing on your company’s vision.

  • Concept vs. reality. The operations plan transforms the business plan from concept into reality. Investors do not invest in concepts; they invest in reality. And the operations plan proves that the management team can execute on your concept better than anybody else.

  • Everyday processes. Detail the short term processes and systems that provide your customers with your products and services.

  • Business milestones. Lay out the significant long-term business milestones for the company, and prove that the team will execute on the long-term vision. A great way to present the milestones is to organize them into a chart with key milestones on the left side and target dates on the right side.

  • Be consistent. Make sure that the milestone projections are consistent with the rest of the business plan – particularly the financial plan.

  • Be aggressive but credible. Presenting a plan in which the company grows too quickly will show the naiveté of the management team, while presenting too conservative a growth plan will often fail to excite an early stage investor (who typically looks for a 10X return on her investment).


Financial Plan

Goal of the financial plan: Explain how your business will generate returns for your investors.

  • Detail all revenue streams. Be sure to include all revenue streams. Depending on the type of business, these may include sales of products/services, referral revenues, advertising sales, licensing/royalty fees, and/or data sales.

  • Be consistent with your pro-forma statements. Pro-forma statements are projected financial statements. It is critical that these projections reflect the other sections of your business plan.

  • Validate your assumptions and projections. The financial plan must detail your key assumptions, and it is critical that these assumptions are feasible. Be sure to use competitive research to validate your projections and assumptions versus the reality in your market place. Assessing and basing financial projections on those of similar firms will greatly validate the realism and maturity of the financial projections.

  • Detail the uses of funds. Understandably, investors want to know what, specifically, you plan to do with their money. Uses of funds could include expenses involved with marketing, staffing, technology development, office space, among other uses.

  • Provide a clear exit strategy. All investors are motivated by a clear picture of your exit strategy, or the timing and method through which they can “cash in” on their investment. Be sure to provide comparable examples of firms who have successfully exited. The most common exits are IPOs or acquisitions. And while the exact method is not always crucial, the investor wants to see this planning in order to better understand the management team’s motivation and commitment to building long-term value.

Get Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template Here

Above all, the business plan is a marketing document that helps to sell the investor on the business opportunity, the management team, the strategy, and the potential for significant return on investment.

Raising venture capital is a difficult and time-intensive challenge. There is no easy shortcut or silver bullet. However, you can greatly improve your chances of raising venture capital by writing a business plan that speaks directly to the investor’s perspective.

Ready to get started? Download Growthink's business plan template and finish your business plan today.

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About Growthink

Since 1999, Growthink's professional business plan writers and investment bankers have assisted more than 2,000 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $1 billion in growth financing.

Need help with your business plan?

Speak with a professional business plan writer today.

Raising money from individual "angel" investors?

Contact our private placement memorandum experts.

Or, if you're developing our own PPM, consider using Growthink's new private placement memorandum template.

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2 Reasons Why This is the Best Holiday Season Ever


 

This holiday season is the best ever for your business for two simple reasons.

The first is that we currently have awesome economic conditions: a roaring stock market, low unemployment, and solid consumer and business confidence, all of which make right now as good a time as ever to start, grow, finance, and/or sell a business.

The second reason is the calendar, with Christmas and New Years Day falling on Mondays, sets up next week very nicely to both spend quality time with family and friends and have solid work days to...

...do business and reflect, plot and plan for a breakout 2018!

So how should the ambitious and thoughtful executive take best advantage of this happy confluence?

Starting with the bad stuff, liabilities.

There are the obvious ones - financial debts and obligations (both contractual and de facto) to lenders, lessors, employees, contractors, suppliers, vendors, and the like.

These are big and serious commitments and obligations, and in the holiday season especially we should be highly thankful and grateful to all business owners and entrepreneurs that take on and live up to them.

Then there are the kinds of insidious liabilities that don’t show up on a traditional balance sheet.

These are the liabilities of our tired thinking, our waning energy, and of our "legacy" ways, systems, and approaches.

So next week let’s give ourselves the gift of time and space to reflect upon why we have burdened ourselves with onerous psychological and philosophical liabilities like these...

...and the best path forward to shed ourselves of them.

The shedding process will be different for each of us - some of us like to read inspirational business books, or meditate, or exercise, or group brainstorm, or hire an advisor to help us work through it.

Whatever our chosen method, do know that given these hot markets, that the opportunity cost of NOT shedding has never been greater and...

...when done right will open up beautiful space for Asset Building.

Of those ultimate and most important assets, cash and marketable securities.

But to acquire more of these in 2018, first we must build the kinds of “softer” assets that power and fuel our business’ cash-generating engines.  

As reviewed last week, these soft assets include our business and strategic plan, our brand and company culture, and our Innovation Quotient, or our ability to change and grow as market and competitive conditions dictate and demand.

And next week is a GREAT time to work on them all. =

And similar to with liabilities, the actual process by which we choose to do so will differ for each of us, and range from comparative benchmarking, to team brainstorming to the outsourcing of these “builds” to outside service providers.

And with liabilities down and assets up, we are left with that most beautiful piece of our business balance sheet - equity.

Business equity is a measurement of financial accomplishment attained and retained.

And it is a measurement of our business potential and possibility.

Of our potential for greatness, and of the possibility for that greatness to happen far faster and with far less risk than ever imagined before.

So let’s have it all this holiday season - high quality time with family and friends, and high quality work as much on - as in - our business.

Let's do it for ourselves, and for everyone we love and cherish.

Give Your Business a Holiday Gift. The holiday season is a natural time to take stock and pride in the accomplishments of the past year, while developing a steely resolve to profit from the awesome opportunities that the New Year is sure to bring.For the past 18 years, Growthink has helped companies like yours grow more rapidly by creating comprehensive Growth Plans. We catalyzed success for clients including:

  • Arganteal (software deployment automation) secured $611K in growth capital.
  • DNT Express (logistics) secured $2.2M in debt funding for facility expansion.
  • FutureFuel (HRTech+FinTech) successful  $1.6M financing round.
  • Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) acquired our client manufacturing process control company Ometric.
  • MPulse (SaaS), acquired by JDM Technology Group.  
  • NativeAds (digital advertising) closed on a $4M venture financing.
  • Permacity completed the world's largest solar rooftop project and increased revenue by over 35%.
  • PayCertify (fintech), secured $700k in seed funding.
  • ViewQwest launched in Malaysia in Q3 2016 with Indonesia next in line.

What do all of these success stories have in common?

The entrepreneurs and executives running these great companies understood that whether you're looking to raise capital, sell your company, expand current market share or enter new markets, having a solid growth plan and roadmap is indispensable.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season between now and December 31st, we would like to give your business the gift of a complimentary consultation with one of our growth advisors to help you identify your most valuable growth initiatives to pursue in 2018 and beyond.

To accept, simply click here to arrange a day and time via our online call scheduler.

Categories:
 

Breakout Growth Strategies for Today’s Boom Market


 

Try on these “Boom Market” stats for size:

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed today at 24,585, up 24% since January 1st and 34% since Election Day 2016. 
  • The U.S. economy added 228,000 jobs in November, including 31,000 in the manufacturing sector, and unemployment remained at a 17-year low of 4.1%.
  • Consumer holiday spending is on track to hit its highest levels ever, with online shopping up 16% and even the woebegone “offline” retail sector showing a 3%year-over-year rise.
  • Business and Economic Confidence are holding strong and steady at their highest levels since the “Dot Com” boom of the late 1990s.

But what does all of this mean for your business?

In a word, opportunity. For faster growth, for greater profits, for an accelerated path to a business sale and exit.

But opportunity is just that - an exciting but ephemeral thing that when not properly pursued disappears into the ether as competitors rush in and take what should be ours.

So here are four simple strategies to keep this from happening and ensure that we all get our share of this big boom:

#4. Raise Prices. When widely-held assets like stocks and real estate (and now Bitcoin!) are on sustained rises, there builds in every market a class of consumers that is flush with the feeling of wealth and liquidity, and thus becomes far less price sensitive.

And so very often our lowest hanging business fruit is to just give these affluent customers what they want - VIP purchase and consumption experiences at VIP, higher prices.

#3. Raise Capital. Almost all investors now are fully playing with house money, deep-in-the black on their portfolio and itching for more.

This frothiness, when coupled with very low yields on cash instruments, makes it far easier for more speculative investment propositions, like angel, venture capital, and private equity investments, to be evaluated on their individual merits versus more of a blanket “risk anxiety” as is typical in more normal markets.

Raising money will always be a lot of work and energy, but if ever there was a moment in time where the market and investment tailwinds make it far easier to do, now is it.

#2. Build Intangible Assets. So much of our business day is spent on revenue and costs - i.e. generating the most possible sales at the least possible cost to pay the rent, meet payroll, and keep the lights on, etc.

This is all well and good, but in a world where public companies are trading at multiples of 25 times earnings and 2.25 times revenues, it pays dividends to build the kind of intangible assets that "flutter the hearts" of key business stakeholders - investors for sure but employees, contractors, partners and vendors and too.

What are these intangible assets?

Well, for starters, our moving forward business and strategic plan, i.e. our vision of what the future of our industry and market will be, and then what our role in it will be.

Then relatedly, strengthening and boosting our brand and company culture.

And finally, increasing our Innovation Quotient, our ability to change and grow in response to fast-moving markets and competitors.

These are all classic "work on our business and not in it" undertakings, and hot markets like this are the best time to get after them and get them done.

#1. Work Harder. Hard work is a value in itself and a condition for meaningful success in any market or economy.

But in boom times like this, the cost of leisure and of not working hard is particularly and extremely high.

We can rest when markets cool, but right now let's work hard, think big, and get our share of this historic boomtime market.

Give Your Business a Holiday Gift. The holiday season is a natural time to take stock and pride in the accomplishments of the past year, while developing a steely resolve to profit from the awesome opportunities that the New Year is sure to bring.

For the past 18 years, Growthink has helped companies like yours grow more rapidly by creating comprehensive Growth Plans. We catalyzed success for clients including:

  • Arganteal (software deployment automation) secured $611K in growth capital.
  • DNT Express (logistics) secured $2.2M in debt funding for facility expansion.
  • FutureFuel (HRTech+FinTech) successful $1.6M financing round.
  • Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) acquired our client manufacturing process control company Ometric.
  • MPulse (SaaS), acquired by JDM Technology Group. 
  • NativeAds (digital advertising) closed on a $4M venture financing.
  • Permacity, completed the world's largest solar rooftop project and increased revenue by over 35%.
  • PayCertify (fintech), secured $700k in seed funding.
  • ViewQwest, launched in Malaysia in Q3 2016 with Indonesia next in line.

What do all of these success stories have in common?

The entrepreneurs and executives running these great companies understood that whether you're looking to raise capital, sell your company, expand current market share or enter new markets, having a solid growth plan and roadmap is indispensable.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season between now and December 31st, we would like to give your business the gift of a complimentary consultation with one of our growth advisors to help you identify your most valuable growth initiatives to pursue in 2018 and beyond.

To accept, simply click here to arrange a day and time via our online call scheduler.

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The Most Interesting Part of CVS & Aetna


 

CVS' proposed acquisition this week of health insurance giant Aetna is a big deal.

It will combine a pharmacy retailer with more than 9,000 stores, with a health insurance giant with more than 22 million members. 

And, at a $77 billion purchase price, it is one of the largest mergers in the history of healthcare and will enrich Aetna shareholders to the tune of a 29% percent premium on their stock shares.

But that is the least interesting part of the deal.

Far more interesting is what it means for the rest of us.

How this deal is just yet another signal that all of us - no matter the size of our companies or the conservatism of our industry - are faced with a very intense "Disrupt, Innovate or Die" choice and challenge each and every business day. 

For CVS and Aetna, theirs is a bold strategic stroke to build a more efficient healthcare delivery model in sync with our information economy and technological age.

Now some will say that too strong a profit motive, per the mindset of retail and insurance executives, might have deleterious effects when placed too front and center for so many of the healthcare choices that we and our loved ones are often faced with, but...

...at a bare minimum simply having a viable alternative to the so complex, byzantine, bloated, institutionalized system that is modern healthcare has to be an unambiguously good thing.

Even more interesting will be the competitive response - from the traditional retail and insurance competitors like Walgreens, Anthem and Humana.

And from the Walmarts, the Amazons, the Apples and Googles of the world - large, deep pocketed players with the ambition and the intellectual and innovation capital to look at this $3 trillion+ industry and simply say we can do better.

A lot better.

Yes, it is this mode of thinking and feeling that we should take away from CVS buying Aetna.

That fear is a good motivator.

For CVS, the fear of Amazon coming into their market and squeezing them, as they have done to so many others, so hard that margins just evaporate.

For Aetna, the existential fear that in a world of big data, predictive analytics, and financial disintermediation of why do big insurance companies like them need to exist at all anymore.

These kinds of fears are present in the minds of every thoughtful and forward thinking business leader.

That what once worked won't do so forever.

And that it is far better to be the proactive agent of change and disruption than the victim of it.

Once we work through these fears and re-frame and channel them into determination, into fight and will and the desire to win...

...what comes out on the other side is enthusiasm to take our swings  and do things different and better than
the same old same old.

And so like those bold CVS and Aetna executives, we too have the golden opportunity to move past our fears and make of our old, tired, and threatened businesses and perspectives...

...something new, potentially beautiful, and in congruence with the tenor and flow of modern life and business.
 

Let’s do this!

Rather Innovate than Die?  Like to explore what bold strokes like CVS buying Aetna are possible for your business in 2018? 

Or simply interested in selling your business in the next few years, or growing sales and profits in the New Year?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

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Will “Rapid Demonetization” Kill Your Business?


 

Have you heard of renowned futurist Peter Diamandis?

Or what he describes as “rapid demonetization?”

If not, you need to, as we now have many examples of businesses getting killed by it, like:

  • Videoconferencing - today available for free via a wide number of mobile apps (Skype, WhatsApp, Hangouts, etc.), but was sold in 1982 by Compression Labs for $250,000 ($598,000 in today’s dollars).
  • GPS - also free today (Waze, Google and and Apple Maps, etc.), but in 1983 was sold by Navastar for $119,900 ($284,000 in today’s dollars).
  • 5 Megapixel Camera - free on your smartphone, but in 1986 was sold by Canon for $3,000 ($6,700 in today’s dollars).

Diamandis’ list goes on and on, and he presciently notes that demonetization like this is accelerating quickly in “big spend” arenas like transportation, food, healthcare, housing, energy, and education (wow).

Now, the cold hard truth is that most businesses have no idea how to serve customers in this demonetized world - how to meet their very low cost, very high value expectations.

Their leadership is just not talented nor flexible enough to execute upon the necessary pivots and re-inventions to do so.

So sadly, most of them will fail.

But a chosen few will win bigger than ever before.

Because the playing field will be cleared of so many failed and “lousy” competitors.

And because when we win digitally, we do so fast and big.

So how are these chosen few competing and winning in this de-monetized world?

Very simply, they are harvesting that most important form of capital of our modern age.

Intellectual Capital.

Our ideas.

Our ability to learn new things.

And unlearn old ones that no longer serve us.

Our imaginings of what our businesses might be.

And then our determination, fortitude, and stick-to-itiveness to will ourselves and those around us to make it so.

Our ability to inspire. To delight. To connect.

To not have technology distract us, but empower us to work more efficiently, collaboratively, sustainably and brilliantly than ever before.

All of us were born with vast troves of this kind of capital lying fertile within us.

And through years of education and life experience we have accumulated enough of it to enable any modicums of success we might have.

So to go to the next level of modern business success, we simply need to go to the next level of increasing and harvesting it to compete and win like never before.

It is not just possible, it is easy.

Everyday simply honor, protect and strengthen our minds, our creativity, our indomitable wills for the incalculably valuable assets they are.

Then watch the love, and the money, flow like manna from Heaven.

Want to Build More Intellectual Capital in Your Company? Feel like your business doesn’t have enough of the “right stuff” to compete and win in this daunting, “demonetized” world?

Interested in selling your business in the next few years, or interested now in growing sales and profits?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

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The Importance of Changing Your Company Offerings


 

 

Nearly 20 years ago, my wife came home from a routine doctor’s appointment and told me she was pregnant. Among other things, this prompted me to think about the kind of employment I wanted. To maximize time with my family, I certainly didn’t want to travel a lot. And I didn’t want to make the family sacrifices I figured were needed to climb the corporate ladder. Starting my own business seemed like the perfect choice.

 

While that moment doesn’t seem like it was too long ago, my son (with whom my wife was pregnant) is now looking at colleges, and I am running a business that’s 18 years old. While my business hasn’t changed as drastically as my son has over this time, it has clearly evolved. And it is this evolution which has kept it relevant and successful for so long.

 

When I first launched my company, it was called Best Business Plan and I purchased the domain name BestBizPlan.com. Being the savvy graphic designer (not really), I choose a unique font and changed the “s” to a dollar sign, so our logo read Be$tBizPlan. Fortunately I brought on my co-founder Jay Turo soon after, and with his guidance, changed our name to something a little more sophisticated -- Growthink.

 

Like BestBizPlan.com, Growthink’s focus was to develop business plans for startups. This is still a core service we offer today. But over the years, we have added new services, products, customer segments and lead magnets as discussed below.

 

Adding Services

 

Particularly when we started, the number one reason entrepreneurs and business owners came to us was for funding. They needed a business plan to present to banks and investors. Naturally, upon completion of client business plans, they would ask if we could help raise funding.

 

Initially, we didn’t offer this service since we didn’t have the expertise and experience nor the required licensing to do so. But, within a couple years, we developed services to help clients raise funding. We also developed M&A expertise to help our clients sell their companies or acquire others.

 

And when we found ourselves spending a lot of time, energy and money purchasing lists of prospective investors, we launched an investor research service to provide such lists to ourselves and clients.

 

Likewise we launched a market research service to conduct market research needed to properly advise our clients and to directly serve the needs of external clients.

 

So, how does this affect your business?

 

Are there any products or services your customers need or are asking for that you don’t provide?

 

Are there any products or services you purchase, but could possible perform yourselves?

 

Identifying and adding such products or services could help reinvent your company and add to your bottom line.

 

Attracting New Customers

 

Our initial focus was developing business plans for startups. This was an exciting business in that we met lots of cool entrepreneurs and heard tons of interesting ideas. On the flip side, there were some frustrations. Startup entrepreneurs don’t have a lot to spend on services. And, most of them never make it, so repeat business is low.

 

For these reasons, we started to expand our client base by attracting new customers. We reached out to mid-sized and even Fortune 500 companies since every business needs a business plan. And every business can use market research and consulting to identify and pursue new growth opportunities.

 

Adding Products

 

While adding new services and new customers proved successful, we didn’t stop there. We realized that we still weren’t serving as many entrepreneurs and companies that we could. For instance, there were many entrepreneurs who wanted us to write their business plans but couldn’t afford it.

 

So, we created a products division to offer for-profit business plan templates, non-profit business plan templates, and business plan software. And we created online training products teaching companies how to raise capital, improve their marketing, and hire better among others.

 

Adding New Lead Magnets

 

Throughout the years, we’ve also evolved our “lead magnets.” A “lead magnet” is an offer that provides enough value for a prospective client to give you their contact information. We have created and offered lead magnets ranging from free business plan guides to funding reports to webinars on company innovation to ebooks on improving company valuation.

 

Each new lead magnet has given us the opportunity to gain interest among clients who otherwise might not have found us.

 

Is it Time for Your Business to Evolve?

 

Evolving our services, products, customer segments and lead magnets over the years has kept our company relevant and allowed us to expand.

 

It hasn’t always been easy. And not every new offering has worked as planned. But, in trying numerous ideas and keeping the winners, we have been left with a more diversified and stable business. Perhaps equally importantly, our new offerings have provided excitement and personal growth. This is in stark contrast to many business owners who burn out after doing the same thing day after day, year after year.

 

So take a moment today to think about your next iteration. What can your company start offering to add value to customers? What expertise do you have internally that you haven’t yet shared with the world? Figuring these out could be just the positive change you and your company need.

 


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