Business Advisor Series Article 2
Last week we discussed these key points:
- Companies exist to generate shareholder value
- The CEO sets and executes strategy that maximizes shareholder value
- The Advisor’s role is to improve strategic performance [serve the CEO]
- The process starts by analyzing business processes and the impact on value
The Trusted Advisor discusses, analyzes, and reports on the vital shareholder interest: the link between business process and enterprise value. Ultimately, you’ll be the person who helps the CEO to maximize value. It starts by shining a light on weak processes, and helping to build operational strength. Strong companies are valuable.
Why do clients hire business advisors? Our data shows that clients identify three key goals for business advisory engagements:1
- Revenue Growth
- Prepare for Transition --sell the company for maximum value
- Strengthen Operations to make the company easier to run, improve work/life balance
The underlying work for all three is the same: increase the strength of operational processes and procedures. Think about it:
- How do you help a client grow? By helping to implement better businesses processes
- How do you get max value at the M&A deal table? By demonstrating low risk… through replicable business processes
- How do you make a company easier to run? You guessed it, by improving business processes
This tells us that a single set of tools and training can serve the majority of client cases. Also, that by creating strong companies we deliver a company that is easier to run, is growing, and that has value and transferability.
This is your “in,” your opportunity to start a conversation with the business owner. Statistically, the data shows that the typical middle market company has mediocre processes. Only 11.7% of companies rate an 8 or better, and only 2.5% are a 9. There are no 10s.2 Odds are therefore over 90% that every business you see has process issues that you can help fix.
A survey of AM&AA members conducted by CoreValue highlighted two issues. 95% of business owners have an unrealistic expectation of value; further 95% of companies present with issues that slow or prevent sale. Yet business owners are unaware, as the issues may not present symptoms that rise to the level of “fires in the lobby” impacting the client’s day-to-day.
When we look at these statistics together, we can see the direct impact weak business process has lowering value and transferability. The solution is to run a health check on the business.3 Like a personal health check, the earlier the business gets a health check the better. Getting the client to understand that their company is sick, and that you can help them cure it, is the key to becoming the CEO’s go-to business advisor.
Just as better processes can improve a client’s operations and unlock growth, there is a proven process for starting the business consulting conversation with business owners and senior execs. Here’s a summary:
- Pick a client you know well, a referral, or a warm lead
- Set a meeting --at their office, your office, a restaurant, somewhere you can have a relaxed professional conversation.
- Script the conversation in advance.
- Best practice: run through the script with a colleague prior to the meeting as prep for possible objections. Practice makes perfect.
- Tip: convert members of your referral network into collaborators by including them in this process. They won’t attend the client meeting with you, but they will have salient insights and suggestions about how to best talk with, and ultimately help your mutual client
- The goal of the discovery conversation is to gain insights and talking points about the client’s company
- Leverage these insights/talking points as the basis for proposing a targeted engagement --whether strategic advisory, or tactical consulting
- Tip: use research (web, collaborators) to create a list of open questions you’ll use to get a full picture of the client’s world --personal and professional.
- Technology and training can increase the effectiveness of these conversations and help you convert them into paid engagements
- Clients report three main goals for their businesses: increasing growth, preparing for sale, and improving work/life balance
- These three goals can be achieved by improving weak business processes
- The data shows that 97.5% of businesses have operational weakness
- Advisors can create or adopt a process for giving companies a health check which identifies operational weakness
- By improving operational effectiveness, advisors and consultants can help clients meet their goals
Next time we’ll discuss advisory and consulting roles: architect, general contractor, and the trades.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the date: Growth and Exit Planning Conference February 7-9 2019 in Orlando FL. Click here to sign up for updates and for a full calendar of events.
 CoreValue ‘Discover’ intake data, © 2018 CoreValue US Patent 9,607,274
 It is impossible for a company to have a business rating of 10. Business processes impact each other like gears in an engine. Increasing effectiveness in one area creates stress in others. For example, a company presents with Sales & Marketing score of 3, and Operations score of 9. Improving the Sales & Marketing process score from a 3 to a 7 will help generate additional orders, challenging Operations to keep up, which may lower the Operations process score.
 Credit for this positioning goes to Ed Wandtke of Wandtke and Associates, CoreValue “Super User” and fellow NACVA faculty.