First, the good news: Corporate bankruptcies in 2022 have been running below average. Now, the bad: That is about to change. Big time.
Government stimulus, post-pandemic demand, and historically low interest rates combined to give companies the edge during the first half of 2022. Organizations that survived the pandemic shutdowns thrived as the world recovered.
In fact, Cornerstone Research, which tracks business bankruptcy trends in Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings by companies with assets of $100 million or more, says in its midyear 2022 update report that there were only 20 bankruptcies filed by companies with $100 million plus in asset during the first six months of the year. It’s the lowest midyear total since the second half of 2014.
But the US Federal Reserve is waging war on inflation with historically fast increases in interest rates – more than 3 percentage points in just six months. That, coupled with the threat of a global economic recession, is spelling trouble for highly leveraged companies and underperforming firms.
We asked two turnaround specialists to walk us through the highly charged bankruptcy landscape as 2023 looms.
There are some family businesses that have been around for 100 years and continued to thrive under the leadership of 5 or more generations. But they are rare – as rare as a child who loves basketball making his way to the NBA.
So notes John Messervey, an organizational behavior consultant who counsels high wealth families through very difficult conversations about their family dynamic, their family business, and their hopes for the next generation.
His years of experience working with family businesses and entrepreneurs led him to develop these 12 lessons for family business success:
Millennials and Gen Z employees might get all the press for their “Great Resignation” but they aren’t the only ones who are leaving their jobs in droves. CEOs are too. The Great CEO Turnover, which peaked in 2021 and early 2022, has leveled off a bit. But it certainly doesn’t mean that your CEO is planning to stick around for the long haul.
Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas compiles a monthly report on the CEO turnover rate. The July 2022 report shows that CEO changes at U.S. companies fell to 58 in July, down 45% from the 106 CEO exits recorded in June. It was the lowest monthly total since the early pandemic departures of April 2020.
However, departing CEOs are hardly a thing of the past.
When Deloitte and independent research firm Workplace Intelligence surveyed 2,100 employees and C-level executives in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, they found that an eye-popping 70% of top management are seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being. And 81% of the top execs say that improving their well-being is more important than advancing their career.
Way back in 2009, the Great Recession hit America. And it didn’t pass me by.
In case you don’t remember how bad things were, let me refresh your memory: Bear Stearns failed. Lehman Brothers failed. Merrill Lynch sold for next to nothing. Countrywide Mortgage sold for pennies on the dollar. AIG had to be propped up by the federal government. General Motors went bust, was put on life support thanks to the federal government. People were worried. They wondered whether they would go to the ATM one day and no cash would come out because their bank had failed.
And me? I was at a startup called PV Powered. We were developing the next generation of commercial and utility grade solar inverters. We had about 100 angel investors and we were burning $750,000 a month when the Great Recession hit despite as much bootstrapping as possible. The next thing we knew, 98 percent of the investors had backed out, equity stake be damned, announcing they would no longer support the company. And who could blame them?
For years, companies have used SaaS – Software-as-a-Service – to solve their technology problems. No more buying expensive software. No more hiring experienced managers to oversee its installation. No more worrying about updates. It’s all handled by the pros and the service lives in the cloud, ready for your people to access the minute the need arises.
Now, companies are discovering that EaaS – Executives-as-a-Service – can just as easily solve their c-level executive challenges.
What is Executive-as-a-Service?
Like SaaS, which is subscription-based on-demand access to digitals tools, EaaS is on-demand access to executive leadership, whether you need the skills of a chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief operating officer, chief technology officer, or any other type of “chief.”
EaaS allows you to pay only for the c-level expertise you need and only for as long as you need it. No pricey executive search fees. No hiring bonuses No long-term contracts. No human resources expenses. As a cost-effective alternative to onboarding any type of full-time chief executive, the EaaS model means that even small businesses can afford experienced, effective leadership.
Executive-as-a-Service leaders are interim or fractionalexecutives with a wealth of experience managing companies through big challenges such as rapid growth or decline, mergers or acquisitions, new market demands, and dried up funding.
The pandemic had one positive effect on family businesses: More of them developed formal business succession plans. That’s according to PwC’s10th Global Family Business Survey. The report says that 30 percent of the family firms it polled now have a formal plan in place, up from just 15 percent in the 2018 survey.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising that so many family-owned small businesses lack a formal plan. Creating a succession plan requires having difficult discussions around emotionally fraught family dynamics:
Should your son or daughter be groomed to take over the helm, or should it be a non-family member?
Should you just sell and split the proceeds?
What if the company you founded and devoted your life to building goes in a different direction once you retire?
Despite widely quoted statistics that say that only 30 percent of family businesses successfully transition to the second generation and only 13 percent survive through the third generation, aHarvard Business Review report says that is not true.
Omnichannel is the new retail. It means that there are no walls between brick and mortar and online, between online and social media, between social media and email and, one day very soon, between humans and the metaverse. In other words, the omnichannel customer experience creates a seamless customer journey that allows consumers to move easily among all of the channels a retailer can use to reach a purchaser.
ADigital Commerce 360 analysisof US Commerce Department data shows that consumer spending online in the US rose to $870.78 billion in 2021, up 14.2 percent from the pandemic-inflated numbers recorded in 2020. Compare the 2021 figure to pre-pandemic 2019 stats and online spending rose a whopping 50.5 percent.
Those are numbers far too big to ignore. Customer retention demands a seamless experience that allows consumers to move from in-store to online to in-app purchases with ease.
Humans are hard-wired to resist change that we don’t like or fear. Our brain interprets that sort of unwelcome change as a threat and readies us for “fight or flight.”
Given that, it’s easy to see why companies find implementing change management initiatives so challenging. When evolution is desperately needed, employees dig in their heels and cling to inefficient systems and outdated technology.
This weakens the company’s competitive edge, slows its go-to-market opportunities, and wreaks havoc internally. The end result is that these organizations remain stagnant, fueled by a lack of internal alignment and frustration among employees who are not empowered to make decisions.
As the incredible success of private equity over the past couple decades has made clear to many aspiring company owners and investors, if you can find and acquire a decent company, it’s possible to earn great returns.
This has fueled a new class of individuals seeking to launch their own search funds. What exactly is a search fund and how do you become successful at it?
When Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Adam Russell’s baseball career ended, he had to figure out a whole new career, with virtually no warning.
Today, the former big leaguer works in the insurance industry and volunteers helping other sports figures make the transition to a post-playing career.
It starts with the resume.
“A lot of guys don’t know how to relate what they learned in professional baseball to the business world,” Russell says. “I was seeing resumes that said things like, ‘I set the record for triples in the month of August in Round Rock.’ Great. It’s awesome. But a CEO doesn’t give a crap about it.”
Not understanding how to sell oneself on paper is certainly not a problem limited to former athletes. At InterimExecs, we’ve seen resumes from C-suite executives with 30 years of valuable experience leading companies, making change, and having an impact, who headed their resumes – first item up – with the degree they got from an Ivy League college many years earlier.
First-year Change Agent members have access to the Interim Institute’s 4 hour audio program on the Fundamentals of Interim Management, and a one-hour strategy session to help jumpstart their interim career.
*$200 additional charge for Accelerator Program only applies for first-year members. After the first year, membership renews at $485/year.
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