When it’s time for a private company to go public, or the board of directors determines that fundraising is needed on a large scale, an IPO is not the only option. There’s also a less well-known and, until recently, less-well-respected option: a reverse merger into a public shell. It is often called an Alternative Public Offering (APO).
This reverse takeover process, which can be faster and cheaper than a traditional Initial Public Offering, is growing in popularity.
Scott Jordan (no relation to InterimExecs’ CEO Robert Jordan), an investment banker and CFO who spent 30+ years working in biotech, engineered a reverse merger of a biopharma company in 2019. He says that while the coronavirus caused capital flow interruptions, investors in the private markets are still providing capital to companies with novel or scientifically validated biotechnology companies.
That means reverse mergers and PIPEs (Private Investment in a Public Entity) can still raise the money needed to complete their deals. He estimates that about 20 biotech firms debuted in the public markets last year as a result of reverse mergers and the number is on track to repeat in 2020, despite the virus.
Interim executives, by definition, come into difficult situations, assess them quickly, and create a plan for success. That means they have a front-row seat to the most common business mistakes companies make.
When we surveyed our RED Team interim leaders from around the world for insights into “The Big Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make,” we got an earful. While their responses varied, clear themes emerged in the areas of leadership, operations, human capital, strategy, business finances, and change initiatives.
Focusing on these fundamental business needs is a good starting point for any struggling business.
We believe talk is cheap, execution is precious and when well done, makes everything sing. Plan execution is why interim executives can be the answer for a company struggling with any sort of transition — from an unplanned vacancy in the C-Suite to unexpected market disruption to the desire to expand to new products, new types of automation, or new parts of the world.
Unlike consultants who come in, assess the situation, develop a strategic plan and leave, interim leaders understand that their job is to shine in the execution phase. Interims are experts at transforming organizations, leading companies through challenges that must be solved to survive and thrive.
Interims approach project objectives using a framework that has them Assess, Plan, and Execute (APE) repeatedly, revising approaches based on the client’s most pressing needs.
Great strategies often fail as a result of poor execution and, at the same time, great execution cannot save a truly poor business strategy.
Even great organizations can struggle due to the limitations of their thinking or approaches. The existing leadership team may fail to plan, execute, measure, and refine business goals as the company grows and faces the tough headwinds of a competitive marketplace.
Decision-making gives way to “analysis paralysis” as the team contemplates large-scale change with very high stakes. The longer this cycle continues, the harder change becomes.
Here we take a deep dive into the most common reasons business strategies fail and how to fix them with the help of interim executives who bring a unique combination of strategy and execution.
Business optimization is defined as “the process of identifying and implementing new methods that make the business more efficient and cost-effective.”
Sounds simple, right?
Wrong. The reality, as business owners and C-suite executives know, is that gaining the highest return for the lowest cost on all company expenses isn’t easy. While improving the bottom line by reducing rent is good, gaining similar savings by improving existing processes is better — much better. That’s because the more efficient process will pay back more and more as volume increases. And it can become a catalyst for reducing the operating cost of other related processes.
Experienced interim executives understand that business process optimization is the Holy Grail of cost reduction and business efficiency. They are action-oriented leaders who begin looking for ways to create value and deliver real results to the clients from Day One. They know how to find hidden value in existing products, processes, and systems, how to implement actionable strategies, and how to gain the alignment necessary to optimize the business.
As the adage goes, “Growth solves many ills.” Growing companies create more buzz, have an easier time attracting capital and talent, and overall have more opportunities than those in decline or with stalled growth. The two primary sources of top-line growth in revenue are sales to new customers and generating sales growth for existing customers. Both are most easily improved with fresh sales initiatives.
Yin to the yang of optimization efforts, maximization focuses on growing total revenue, market share, units, gross sales margins, and customers. It also focuses on maximizing the opportunities to sell products or services in properly defined and highly aligned channels, a process commonly referred to as the value chain. The value chain includes all activities from pre-sales to customer service that directly impact the customer base.
In his book, The Future of Your Company Depends on It, marketing expert Al Reis illustrates the power of focus using light energy as an analogy. The sun, emitting billions of kilowatts of energy will only give us sunburn, while a laser using a tiny fraction of that amount of light energy can cut steel. One key to optimizing organizational performance is ensuring complete strategic alignment of the business goals, creating laser focus on what matters most.
That requires looking at the alignment of human resources— from the executive team to front-line employees — as well as the alignment of products, assets, and strategic decisions.
In the big picture, ineffective organizations struggle to gain results from solid strategic planning and execution while highly aligned organizations can see benefits even from weaker plans and strategy execution. Great companies find a competitive advantage in optimizing organizational structure to drive superior results.
Interims understand the importance of strategic alignment. They view people, products, services, processes, technology, systems, methodologies, and other assets as investments that must yield a meaningful ROI and drive efficient operations and ever-increasing sales.
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:
Running a family business is no walk in the park. The family dinners or holiday gatherings could be mistaken for board room meetings, with topics of conversation jumping between family matters and minute business topics.
Discussions get further complicated when it comes time for a transition of ownership as the first generation of family businesses starts to look towards retirement and relinquishing control of day-to-day activities. Who will step in to lead the company?
A number of family business succession issues arise, from siblings quarreling about how to divide up the business and inheritance to instability within the organization as employees wonder what their future holds.
Yet, so many family owned businesses don’t have a solid succession plan.
When you peel back the layers, the emotions and history of a family are always at the center.
Ed Pendergast, a board executive who has sat on eight family boards and advised many more family businesses, often sees one or more family members feel that they are not being treated fairly by other family members. Whether it’s viewed as a grudge or just selective memory, these power dynamics among the next generation in line can cause headaches for the business.
But surprisingly, Pendergast doesn’t view the second generation as the biggest challenge: “It’s actually the third generation with the hardest road ahead,” he says. “The first generation runs the business and passes it on to the second generation. And then by the time the second is trying to figure out who to pass it on to, family member A has three kids, family member B has two, and family member C has none. Who’s going to be in the business? It becomes much more complex the more people are involved.”
The numbers show just how difficult this transition is. Approximately 12% of family-owned businesses are passed down successfully to a third generation and only 3% to a fourth or beyond.
Low price is the last refuge for marketers who don’t have the patience or guts to demonstrate value for those that need it. – Seth Godin
When it comes to buying gas for your car, fertilizer for your lawn, or for that matter the price Apple pays for the copper in your iPhone, lowest price makes sense. These are the classic definition of the word commodity – something which comes from the ground and whose price rises and falls with supply and demand.
Unfortunately, we all now use the word commodity to mean much more, applying the sense of generic-ness to just about every product and service available to us. If you are marketing soap, for example, you face over 1,000 competitors on Amazon. If however you’re the marketer behind Tesla or NetJets or the Chicago Bears football team, your job is simpler. You won’t sell as much, but your product is so highly differentiated that when your customer wants you, there’s no close substitute. You are not a commodity. You are unique.
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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