How to Create Value

Create ValueCreating and building value for your business is something you want to bring up high on your agenda and at an early stage of your business! Of course, but…“generating value is one of the most misunderstood tools of innovation” according to Fast Company. Why is that?

It may well be that it’s a misunderstood concept. So how do we define value creation? It’s aiming towards best practices with an ongoing focus on continuous improvement. Value creation is something you create both internally and externally with a heavy focus on customer services.

We also know that value creation directly correlates with the future valuation of the business. The external customer focus, something that a business owner relates to, is a necessity if you want to stay ahead of competition. However, the internal focus on value creation often falls short to the detriment of the future worth of the business.
So again, why is not more emphasis put into this part of running a business? In my experience, the CEO or business owner fails to make the time to work ON the business on a regular basis. Another reason may be that you don’t have enough resources. Maybe you are managing instead of leading and are running out of time. We also know, just like with any new technology or software, you have to invest in an upfront effort to plan and execute accordingly.

Improving organizational capabilities is an intangible aspect of value building. This activity examines its own leadership, talent, accountability, collaboration, speed, mindset and learning. It is a longer term view and effort. Getting your ducks lined up just before you are ready to sell, or transfer the business over to a family member, is going to be too late. Value creation happens over time and is continuous.

Let me share with you a big picture view and a starting point in how to address the Value Creation Process and how you might begin the process. Start with these three disciplines:

1) Operational Excellence
a. Efficiency
b. Streamline Operations
c. Supply Chain Management

2) Product & Services Oriented Leadership
a. Strong marketing and innovation
b. Dynamic Markets
c. Development – short time to market with high margins

3) Customer Intimacy
a. Exceed Customer Expectations
b. Tailor Products and Services
c. Deliver on time

Behind the three disciplines listed above are no doubt a lot of details. Let’s assume you have focused on customer intimacy (3) and it is well established. If not, create a benchmark or baseline around these activities and set a new standard so you remain competitive. Operational excellence (1) and leadership (2) is where many companies fall short. The art of business is to balance both external and internal value creation over time. Planning these activities is essential and will take some time and effort, however, no matter what your next stage, it will be worth your while.

I know as the leader of your company your demands are never ending. Begin your process one step at a time, just like writing a book, one chapter at a time. Begin to identify the low hanging fruit, something that is easy to fix and has the most positive outcome. Maybe it is shortening the number of phone rings for a receptionists. Achievable with immediate positive outcome for you, the employees as well as the client or vendor.

If you find your business experiencing a reduction in market share or have difficulty in keeping costs down and you are doing it all alone, consider an outside group of advisors by establishing an Advisory Board. More private companies are investing in creating an Advisory Board to help them with their strategic intent and guidance in how to plan and implement such goals.

I hope this is a good first step for you. Begin to work ON the business for at least 4 hours a week (in one block) and things will begin to happen. I will be speaking on the topic of Value Creation and Finding the Right Advisors in the next two weeks. You are more than welcome to attend.

My next blog will be on “Working Horizontally” discussing how to aim for organizational collaboration addressing the first discipline of this blog. If you want to receive these blogs directly, please click the button on Follow Rudi’s Blog.

Make comments on this blog or get in touch with me with any ideas or thoughts. You can find my contact information on my new website Stop-Compromising.

With gratitude, Rudi

I am back with a book!

Front Cover Book

A year ago I wrote a blog on Transform, Transition and Change.

I  have missed engaging with you, and yes, it has been a busy year!  Looking back I accomplished some of the goals I set and others are still incomplete! Maybe as a reader you affiliate with this dilemma?

All three actions above have affected me in a very positive way.  I am very proud to announce my newly published book. It is available on Amazon if you would like to purchase it.

It would mean a lot to me if you would take the time and write a review.  See Sample Quotes for Rudi you may want to incorporate at the bottom. Either way, send me a line or two with your feedback and what you think.

The book is written for CEO’s as an instructive business guide that leads them through the myth of finance. Providing a fiscal navigator to embrace operational finance more positively, it’s a holistic perspective to overcome typical business challenges and to experience sustainable growth.

The book now has a dedicated website Stop-Compromising where you can find more details about the book, speaking ideas and board role qualifications, all part of my transition to Business Advisor, Thought Leader and Board Member.

Let me know about your transformations, transitions and changes. Call for getting together over a cup of coffee or send me an email at                                                            stop-compromising@nextstagesolutions.com

A-Team Outside the Box

Outsdie the boxYour ‘Outside-the-Box’ A-team

Every business has its challenges, yet most private companies do not engage a board of advisors. So let’s look at your options a little more carefully to see how you might want to set up such a board. Creating an Advisory Board (BoA) is making use of a group of outside experts, in other words, an “A-Team outside the box”! I am playing a bit with words here, but I want to emphasize that you should try to think unconventionally and gain some perspective by adopting an approach that’s essentially “outside your business.”  Have this group bring you business knowledge that you don’t currently have access to, information of the sort that will encourage profound questioning and probing.

An advisory board will provide you with non-binding strategic advice. This option gives you greater flexibility in how you might structure and manage this group than a traditional board of directors. Your selection of senior-level business leaders, experts and thought leaders to serve on your BoA will be very important. It might be easy to ask your accountant, lawyer or best friend to serve on your board, but that will be a mistake. A board with a completely outside perspective will bring you a refreshing new way to view your challenges and problem-solving, and get you out of your four walls to help you concentrate on working ON your business.

You’ll want to have high-level advisors who can advise you on all things business.  Every one of them should have an appetite for forward-looking opportunities and bring a strategic mindset to the tasks at hand. The BoA should have a good cross-section of expertise, such as talent retention and acquisition, strategic finance, sales and distribution, leadership coaching and operations/productivity, to name just a few of your BoA’s skill sets.

Starting the process, you’ll need to focus on 4 steps:

  1. Selection of Advisors

You want advisors who complement your own skill set, but also understand the need to keep the conversation strategic and “big-picture.” Look for advisors who are excited about your business and industry and see in it the potential and opportunities.

  1. Commitment and Compensation

Decide what the rate of compensation for your BoA hires should be. For a lower middle-market company, make an investment based on the frequency of meetings. An advisory board member may earn between $1,000 – $5000 per meeting.

  1. Discovery Process

At the first meeting, introduce your company to the board. Give them a good background summary of how you have built the company, where you are today and where you may want to be in the next three years.

  1. Deliverables

For the first meeting, draw up an agenda yourself.  After that, the chair should create an agenda with specific action items for each meeting. Discuss deliverables in each session, whether they were achieved or not, and if not, why not. Based on that information, make appropriate adjustments and identify additional resources and support if needed.

Advisory board work is a long-term solution for your business and your executive team. View it as a long-term strategy to help ensure the future health of your company. The benefits of such an investment are that you gain access to a group of thought leaders and business experts who will brainstorm, help you define a better solution and add to your thinking power. If they are effective, they will hold you accountable for finding solutions and applying them to your business.

Several times in my work with business owners and CEOs, I’ve heard them tell me they don’t want to pay for “thinking.” I always tell them that while they might consider themselves as being very strategic and smart risk takers, having another set of brains on hand might just get them “outside the box” in terms of ideas and problem solving that will help them advance beyond their competition.

Developing an advisory board to support the future of your company is one of the best investments you can make, as long as the goals and deliverables are clearly stated and you see yourself and your company making progress. Never under-estimate the power of outside the box thinking and advising. You have an opportunity to assemble an A-team to help you sort out your priorities and challenges, all for a relatively small investment of $30-$75,000 a year. The return on this investment is a factor of many, not excluding the fact that you are becoming a true leader for your business.

Want to know more?  Contact Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz for more details at 617-449-7728

 

Executive Leadership Series

ACCELERATED GROWTH DEMANDS CRITICAL AND INNOVATIVE SHIFTS

Logo Exec LeadA 3-part mini series on how today’s business leaders successfully grow their organizations. These programs are exclusively for CEOs and Business Owners and pre-registration is required.  REGISTER TODAY as seating is limited!

PART I: Building an Organization that can Thrive in a VUCCA* World (* Volatile, Uncertain, Changing,Chaotic, Ambiguous)

THURSDAY, 21 JANUARY, 2016 | 12NOON | HARVARD CLUB

Learn about the importance of linking strategy, leadership, learning, and     accountability to create an organization with maximum flexibility to deliver positive results in changing environments. Hear how corporate leaders built companies that have thrived in change and created lasting value, by getting the right people and getting them to do the right things at the right time.

PANELISTS:  Roger Berkowitz, CEO Legal Seafood; Pat Sullivan, CEO Game Creek Video; Dennis Slutsky, form CEO American Dryer

MODERATOR: Andy Snider, Snider Associates

Logo Exec Lead

PART II: Tomorrow is Here: Profitable Growth Requires Shifts in Critical Assessments and Strategy Execution

TUESDAY, 29 MARCH, 2016 | 12NOON | WALTHAM WOODS

Successful CEOs will share how they shifted their focus to achieve growth by implementing the right infrastructure to effectively identifying new growth opportunities.

PANELISTS: Charlie Storey, President Harpoon Brewery: Kevin Young, President Mondi Group USA; Randy Nunley, CEO Odyssey System Consulting Group

MODERATOR: Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, Next Stage Solutions, Inc

Logo Exec Lead

Part III: Addressing the Challenges of Succeeding the 21st

WEDNESDAY, 18 MAY, 2016 | 12NOON | LANAM CLUB

Approaches that worked in 2000 are not enough to succeed in 2016. Learn about the techniques that the most advanced companies are using to achieve extraordinary results to make an organization more adaptive. Panelists TBA

For Information call 617-449-7728 or to sign up click HERE!

De-Risk Your Business

Why De-Risking Your Business is a Smart Move!

By Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc.

No matter what your next stage for your business is, whether you want to grow and acquire or sell in the next year or so, de-risking your business will only bring you benefits.

Business risk

Let me share with you parts of our methodology and structure that we use with our clients. We have defined 6 areas of Enterprise Risk included in our assessment tool and implementation plan.

Enterprise Risk is generally high among midmarket, private and public businesses, yet with the proper management and forecasting tools, they can be reduced or eliminated altogether.  Doing nothing will definitely hurt the value of your business. Having a process and a plan in place is a worthwile investment.

Here are the 6 areas of Enterprise Risk for your consideration:

  1. Lack of a Formalized Strategic and Operational Plan
  2. No Alignment with Goals & Objectives
  3. Underperformance with Low Productivity and Utilization Rate
  4. Silo Mentality and Thinking
  5. Inadequate & Antiquated Procedures, Processes and Policies
  6. Overreliance on Key Employees

Over the years, NSS has found patterns of hidden risks typical in midmarkets. These issues come to surface when the company typically wants to engage in a next stage, such as acquisition financing or planning to get their company to market, then are surprised when the realistic value does not match the perceived value.

The good news is that the above six factors are all internally focused and under your control.  With the right management tools, awareness and a relatively small capital investment, they can be fairly easily mitigated. Once implemented, it becomes part of an ongoing process/policy called Enterprise Risk Management or ERM.

External risks are also to be considered and should be incorporated in your ERM plan.  To start the process, talk with your CFO to get support with the following steps:

  • Look at 2 Types of Risks – External, mostly uncontrollable and    Internal, mostly controllable
  • Create a structured process to identify risks
  • Identify patterns of hidden risks
  • Recognize, understand and develop a comprehensive plan to mitigate these risks

Companies confront different types and levels of risks over time and there are many common threads that define risks and how they impact critical decisions routinely made by organizations.  Having an ERM plan in place will position you for greater strength and increased value no matter what your next step is for your company.  This is not fluff, but a necessity, so begin the discussion today.

For more details on the 6 areas of ERM, watch our 6-minute  RudiTuesday Video!  It will provide you with additional thoughts and criteria to consider. Yes, we have done it many times over and would love to help you, but most importantly to me is that you get it started!  It’s all about value creation and choices.

Enterprise risk

Call us if you have questions or if you need our support in de-risking your business! 

617 – 449 – 7728

Increase Your Business Value

Prepare TODAY to EXPAND or SELL TOMORROW | 5 STEPS TO INCREASE YOUR VALUE

As a business owner it is difficult to find the time to think of the future. Leading and managing a business is so intense and demanding, that in our experience, when business owners are ready to sell, they are ready to move forward.

Surely you heard of needing extra time to get your business ready, but statistics show that a large number ignore that thought. When they make the decision to sell, they are faced with multiples that feel unreasonable and possibly insulting. Worst case scenario, AN ESTIMATED 60% OF BUSINESSES WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SELL AT ALL. It is also no secret that a lot of baby boomers are going to want to sell their business in the next few years and if you want to be part of the 40% group, you want to take some measures now to differentiate.

Knowing what a buyer is looking for and where they see the value is often different in how CEOs run their organizations. However you slice it, time is an important factor. Allow adequate timing and you will be in a far better position to negotiate and differentiate. Leaving money on the table is not a smart option as this may impede your retirement plans.
Over the years, we at NSS have developed a 5-step process that you can begin to work on, long before anyone in your business needs to know. Our process is also adaptable to your unique situation and is flexible in how intensely you want to focus on an exit or expansion. We provide an on-demand process where we work with you on a monthly basis to optimize your business value.

When the time is right or the opportunity presents itself, you will have all your ducks lined up, eliminating altogether time consuming hurdles or deal breakers. Should you not plan to sell, you have just increased the value of your business and are in a much stronger position to make an acquisition or form a strategic partnership. Similarly if you want to expand the business organically, you would want to consider an optimal capital structure and our 5-step process helps you get there with the right documentation. Our methodology allows you to take it forward at your own speed one step at a time.

The 5 Step Process

1) Create a good Growth Story
2) Showcase strong Operational and Financial Controls
3) Prepare for complete Financial Disclosure
4) Develop a Cash Flow Management Process
5) Evaluate and plan on your Management Strengths

Our RudiTuesday video goes into more details on each of the five steps and is complimentary. Included in our process is a comprehensive check list that looks at your business holistically. Our Go|No Go methodology also takes a look at non-financial constraints that may need to be mediated or settled, another important time factor.

Our work with you has a different purpose than that of an M&A Advisor or external advisor. We help you get your ‘house’ in order as your TRUSTED INTERNAL ADVISOR and once you are ready, the M&A Advisor helps you position and sell the business, a very important function for a successful exit. We work with you with highest confidentiality, discretion and at your own pace.

Remember, CEO distraction is real whether you are in the process of expanding or selling. Getting off course is easy and can be extremely costly. We are at your back, help you stay focused, understand the buyer’s mind and the demands of your M&A advisor. If so desired, we can support you beyond the preparation phase and represent your needs throughout negotiations.

Give me a call today! I would love to share with you more details on our 5-step process and answer any questions you may have. It’s easy, a phone call or a cup of coffee…..

617-449-7728

Tips for Faster Growth

Tips for Faster Growth

Successful Partnerships do not happen in a vacuum. Finding the right strategic partnership takes substantial upfront investment of your time and energy to identify, clarify, solidify and build. Find the opportunity, one that defines what you have to offer and how it aligns with the potential partner’s needs, then work towards a mutually beneficial partnership. Have a clear vision of what the benefits and challenges will be in forming this alliance.

  1. Understand your partner’s vision, mission and culture so you can leverage the capabilities of each party and achieve benefits greater than those of individual efforts. Recognize each others culture and differences.
  1. You may want to consider a short-term, high impact and relatively low cost project allowing you to work together before going into a longer term and more exposed form of partnership. Try it out as a test with your customers and get their feedback whether it adds value to their business. This gives you an opportunity to work together on a more informal basis and allows you to tweak areas that need improvement before launching the bigger project and solidifying a formal agreement.
  1. Clarify what the partnership will bring to each party and identify what work will be done specifically under this partnership. Coordination requires a commitment on both sides and a true understanding of what the wants are on both sides.
  1. Create a Shared Vision by identifying mutual goals and objectives. Determine key initiatives you want to achieve that will maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. Whatever the deal structure, make sure you maintain control of your company. As a general rule, stay away from granting exclusivity to a partner. This has the potential of pushing you into a corner with no other way out.
  1. Negotiate a formal agreement that includes the scope of work and how to best communicate. Monitor and evaluate the work on an ongoing basis. Include a cross functional team and determine upfront who is accountable for what pieces. Take a pragmatic approach, look for the right fit, ascertain that your incentives are aligned and the cultures are similar enough.
  1. Be aware of things going awry and act quickly. Informality does not help here, so take the negotiating beyond social acquaintances. The focus and strategy can change for either party and the loss of key people involved in the negotiations may tip the boat. Be especially diligent around Intellectual Property such as patents, customer lists and trade secrets. Determine up front of what your rights are to access IP from the partner and what IP you are agreeing to share with them.
  1. Get your attorney to formalize your partnership agreement so that you have a good foundation as a springboard.

Forming partnerships is a growth strategy to be considered as it can get you further faster in the market place. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of this potential alliance and remember that the purpose in forming a partnership is quicker access to expertise or market share that could take time and resources to develop if done internally. Invest the time and energy upfront and you will end up with a successful partner.

Get more tips and ideas from our RudiTuesday Video on Strategic Partnerships.

Are you Considering a Partnership or in Midst of a Discussion?
Contact us to Discuss further at 617-449-7728.