Breakthrough! Avoid Stagnation and Thrive
By Doug Zeisel, TCV Growth Partner-
Founders and CEO’s of companies that have achieved positive cash flow are to be congratulated on their success. After all, you are the survivors, the one in three that are on the cusp of greatness. But before you get too giddy let’s get real – in order to thrive, you must grind on and build an enterprise where you can focus on the big picture and leave the minutiae to your management team. Ideally, you want a business that runs itself, where you are the Chairman of the Board and not the owner who works 12 hour days, six to seven days each week, trying to keep up. How to get there?
First, you need a plan – a plan that encompasses your mission, your values, and the value(s) that you bring to your customers. At TCV Growth Partners we call this your Success Plan – a strategic plan specifically designed to get you to your goal of working “on your business”, not “in your business”. This plan not only includes big picture goals, but also the details on how to accomplish those goals. Your Success Plan must include the pillars of growth – Leadership and Team, Marketing and Sales, Finance, and last – Operations. The Success Plan addresses these pillars and describes how they will interact and change over time. Of course no plan is ever perfect, so you will need to update the plan on a regular basis to reflect changes in your markets and external factors. And, you should have quarterly action plans that lay out the goals and actions you will take to achieve the goals of the overall Success Plan.
Next, you need to make sure you have the resources to execute your Success Plan. These resources include money and talent. Does your Success Plan show you how much money you will need to implement the plan? More importantly, does it provide realistic sources of capital? These sources may be from internally generated cash flow or from external sources such as investors or lenders. Is your company in a position to borrow from a bank or non-traditional lender? Or, do you require an investor to get you to the point of being able to attract a lender?
Talent is another vital resource you will need to implement your plan. For many companies this is a challenge because they may not yet have enough cash flow to hire the vital executive(s) needed to implement the plan. How to overcome this hurdle? One way may be to get term loan or a revolving line of credit from a bank to finance a new hire. Another option is to work another four hours a day and wear all of the hats needed to get to enough cash to hire the next vital executive. Companies with a compelling value proposition may be able to attract a seasoned executive by offering an ownership position in the company.
But another option that works well is to hire an outsourced executive who will work on a part time basis to provide the skills needed to grow. Such executives are available to fill every need ranging from financial leadership to sales and business development leadership. Hiring such freelance executives lets you wear the hats that fit and delegates the other hats to your part time executive who can work on an “as needed” basis.
What talent resources do you need? It depends on your most immediate problems. It may be that you need better information from your accounting system. It could be that you need someone to shepherd a project to completion. It may be that you don’t have a system to measure employee accountability and success. Or, your operations may not be as profitable as your competitor’s. To pinpoint the problem(s) Consider joining a Executive Round Table or hiring a Business Coach who can help you analyze your situation and understand what kind of resource you need. Once you have identified the obstacles, then you can find a solution.
Owners and executives who want to learn more about building a strategic success plan should consider applying to the SCALEUP Maryland program hosted by bwtech@UMBC. This sixteen week program is conducted in 1.5 hour sessions every Friday starting at 11:30am. The program provides experts presenting topics ranging from Leadership and Team Building to Managing Cash Flow. The next cohort begins in late August. For more information see: SCALEUP Maryland