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:
It seems like every business owner dreams of achieving major traction in the marketplace. That fast track growth, however, often comes at a cost. Things get taped together. There’s no process to speak of. Systems? Ha. Things go missing, including clients and team members. Lack of resources means that even the crown jewel, the company’s ability to out-innovate, may be put on hold just to keep up.
When a company grows faster than the capabilities of the leadership team, the end result is often a splat: the company hits the wall.
Smart fast-growing companies have started looking to part-time or fractional executives to provide c-suite leadership, mentorship, and the operational upgrades needed to help a company break through the ceiling to growth.
Fractional executives bring the fresh perspective of experienced c-level executives quickly and affordably. With a focus on getting results, companies find that renting the rock star exec outweighs getting 100 percent of the time of a lesser light.
At the beginning of my career, I was involved in a lot of startups. I was starting with nothing – zero, zilch — so I’ve always had a lot of respect for entrepreneurs because you start from an idea and not much else. To be honest, in the beginning, I somewhat discounted my friends who were inheriting family businesses. When they’ve been at it for generations, I thought ‘well, how hard can this be?’
Thing is, the older I get, the more I’ve gotten to know various family offices and family run businesses and now, I’ve come to realize that running a family business is harder. Much harder. It’s a legacy that in some ways can be so overwhelming to continue to build, and not screw up, whereas with startups you have the luxury of low or no expectations.
Compare that with the legacy/obligation/burden handed to the second, third, or fourth generation, and there can be incredible pressure on the business and family to do well. And it’s even harder now, when no business – no sector – is immune to the kind of disruption, to the kind of disintermediation that technology has introduced into every industry and market. Nothing can be taken for granted, regardless of longevity.
In a merger or acquisition, discord of company cultures and disparate systems can cause the demise of a once-promising partnership. About 70% of acquisitions fail when post-acquisition results don’t meet pre-closing expectations. Many of these M&A failures are caused by poorly executed integration.
What’s surprising is that M&A failures are avoidable with careful integration planning and strategic post merger integration. Pre-acquisition, it takes a lot of forethought on how company cultures might clash and how their systems will integrate. Post-acquisition, it takes a ton of strategic elbow grease to rapidly align systems (and eliminate some), retain productive employees, keep customers, and make stakeholders happy.
Cash flow mismanagement is a common problem among small and mid-sized businesses. But many owners do not have the experience to precisely pinpoint where cash flow mismanagement has occurred, nor the background to develop plans designed to counter those cash flow issues.
Cash Flow Analysis and Financial Statements
A typical small or mid-sized business owner can spend hours examining his or her company’s financial statement, and nevertheless fail to see the underlying causes of cash flow problems, whether they be mismanagement of receivables, problems in pricing strategy, erosion of margins, escalating operational costs or other cash flow problems.
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