Compusearch (now Unison) was a visionary company with visionary goals. But, as often happens with visionary companies, focus on a long-term strategy to revolutionize a market can mean that near-term execution and operationalization can suffer, creating barriers to growth.
From its founding in 1983, the company used state-of-the-art software design and development to provide solutions that streamlined and automated key steps in government procurement, purchasing, and contract management.
In 2005, the company arrived at a strategic decision point. The company’s team of owner-operators decided to sell the company and retire. The new owner, private equity firm The Carlyle Group (Carlyle), saw immense potential in the company and its pedigree of quality innovation.
But Carlyle also saw that the change in ownership was an ideal time to assess how the organization operated and to upgrade to more effective strategy execution and operations maturity. Maturing operations turned out to be essential to achieving the goal to double revenue and increase margins to realize a 4X return on invested capital within five years.
After reviewing the draft news release announcing my latest promotion (many years back) and offering her congratulations, our press agent exclaimed with some dismay that: “…now you’ll have even LESS time than ever!”
I remember remarking smartly in reply that she was wrong,and that I still had just as much time as I’d always had. In fact, I had the same amount of time each day that both Da Vinci and Einstein had, and that my job, same as ever, was to make the most of it!Continue reading How Top CEOs Manage Their Time→
When it is time to start planning but the top team is maxed-out just keeping up with operations, outside help may be just the thing. But what kind of help is best to get? Continue reading Four Kinds of Help→
Business school students have to decide their course of study from day-1 … and the choice makes all the difference. The first decision almost always comes down to: operations vs finance:
The allure of finance is working with money to buy and sell companies. Success is when a small stake in a large transaction generates a healthy payday in a short time.
The attraction of operations is working with people to build and run something of value that is eventually realized through a sale, financing, or public offering.
Finance looks like the fast track to great wealth and has attracted top MBA students students for decades. Operations looks like a long, hard road with a massive payday only for the few with enough dedication, talent, time, and luck to pull off a successful start-up from scratch.
While the economy needs both financiers and operators, the promise of quick and large returns has left the world short of the talent it needs to drive growth and scale of quality organizations.
Selling a company is a heady experience. The wise CEO knows, though, that many things can go wrong and that it pays to study what makes some transactions go well and others fall apart. Here are ten tips consolidated from personal experience on both sides of many deals that, while they may not guarantee success, if followed increase the odds of a good result:
Know what you seek in terms of price and role. Do not be wishy-washy and do not get greedy; once you have what you want, take it!
Manage the sale like a project. Plan, staff, organize, guide, and govern it well. It takes a team of internal (CEO, CFO, CTO, etc.) and external (corporate lawyer(s), employment lawyer(s), banker(s), analyst(s), investor(s), etc.) players. Assign a leader of the inside team and a leader of the outside team to coordinate with each other. Consciously, purposefully, and thoughtfully deploy yourself and others from both inside and outside the organization to cover all the bases.