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How to Turn a Business Around for Survival

A detailed 9-step roadmap to assist business owners avert failure in times of panic and desperation.

Greg Fisher

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The packed auditorium was ominously silent as the audience hung on every word that Brandon Leigh spoke. The high flying CEO of Leaf Wireless and Ernst & Young 2005 Emerging Entrepreneur was describing how he once had to call all six employees of his fledgling company into a barren boardroom and tell them that Friday’s paycheck would be their last.

The business was bankrupt, he announced. They had run out of cash and would have to shut down. None of the team members was willing to give up that easily.

They offered to work for free and do anything to inject new life and hope into the business. Leigh convinced his parents to mortgage their house for bridging capital and everyone banded together, working hard to begin the tough road to recovery. It paid off.

Today Leaf Wireless is a R100 million turnover business recognised as a market leader in mobile technology, delivering state-of-the-art solutions to South African giants such as First National Bank and MTN, and now successfully competing in the international arena with customers like Virgin.

Leaf also distributes mobile communications products from HTC and i-mate. In 2005 Ernst & Young honoured Leigh for his tenacity and pioneering spirit by giving him the emerging entrepreneur of the year award. His business continues to grow and thrive and his story has inspired hundreds of young South Africans who have heard him speak.

Apple, Swatch, Dimension Data, Nedbank, Walt Disney and GAP are just a few of the many companies to face a crisis that has seriously threatened their long-term survival. From the small business owner who gets that dreaded call from the bank manager, telling him that his overdraft has run out to the corporate CEO who has to endure the pain of reading about his company’s tenuous position in the press, most people who choose to lead in the business environment are going to be confronted with moments of darkness, dread and self-doubt as their business faces a life-threatening crisis.

In the many different case studies of business survival in times of crisis, it is evident that there are things that a leader can and should do to increase the chances of survival. Many of these things are obvious. Some will say they are just common sense, but when you are in crisis mode, very often common sense eludes you.

A detailed and specific roadmap of steps and actions is what many yearn for in those moments of panic and desperation.

Road Map for Business Survival

Step 1: Acknowledge the problem

One of the toughest days of my entrepreneurial career was the day I called in my small team to tell them we had a real problem. We had grown our customer base too quickly and were way behind on a number of projects.

There was no way we could deal with some of the new projects on the horizon. Each and every contract we had won had been a huge victory with the associated celebration and now I was calling them together to tell them we had a real capacity problem.

I can remember every detail of that discussion, from the words I used and the table that we were sitting at in the local coffee shop, to the reactions on their faces. I had expected shock and panic but their expressions reflected relief and appreciation.

We all knew we had a problem but none of us had been courageous enough to admit and acknowledge it.

They were relieved that I was bringing it out into the open because that would give us a chance to address and hopefully resolve it. No problem can be solved if it is not first acknowledged. Pride, false hope and blind desperation often prevent us from openly admitting and accepting we have a problem.

This in turn prevents us from discussing the problem with others, asking for help and putting a plan together for recovery. Good leaders acknowledge problems early.

Step 2: Measure the damage

Admitting you have a problem gives you the opportunity to understand exactly where you stand. This may involve looking for answers to questions such as:

  • Exactly how much cash do we have? What do we realistically need?
  • How many days’ backlog do we have on the customer service desk?
  • What will this year’s income statement report?
  • What do the profit forecasts look like?
  • What would we need to get the project finished on time?
  • Measuring the damage often requires a deep dive into reality. This may involve painful phone calls to customers, investors or suppliers to find out exactly where you stand with them. It also requires that you understand the financial position of the business. You will need to draw on the expertise of your accountant to gain that understanding. Get all the facts down on paper so that you have a crystal clear picture.

Step 3: Identify the cause

Measuring the damage in step two will highlight the symptoms of a sick business but it may not highlight the root causes. Just as doctors need to look for relationships and linkages between symptoms and use their deeper understanding of the human body to diagnose illnesses, so the entrepreneur needs to delve into the detail of all aspects of the business to try and isolate the root causes of the problem.

Treating symptoms without addressing causes will result in a recurrence of the problem at some point in the future. Symptoms are often poor cash flows, losses on the income statement, missed deadlines and unhappy customers.

Causes are flaws in the business model, an inappropriate measurement system, a lack of project planning, the retention of unprofitable customers, under-charging, poor systems or an inappropriate management philosophy. Challenge yourself to explore deeply and be vigilant in looking for the causes. Dealing with superficial issues won’t solve the problem in the long-term.

Step 4: Reframe your management/business philosophy

Einstein said that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome. If you don’t want the same outcome you need to change the way you are managing the business to deal with the cause of problems.

When Brett Dawson took over as CEO of Dimension Data he had to change the organisational management philosophy from one of the growth, acquisition and world domination to managing costs, refocusing the business and striving for profitability at the expense of growth.

This was a big change for an organisation that had been South Africa’s darling IT growth stock.

The market had changed and investors were no longer tolerating growth stocks with lots of promise but no profit. If Dawson had not changed the management philosophy, it is unlikely that Dimension Data would still be around today.

Steve Jobs caused Apple to once again focus on design and Nicolas Hayek shifted SMH, the Swiss watch manufacturer, from a low volume, high cost, classic style orientation to a high volume, low cost, trendy fashion orientation when he created Swatch to save the Swiss watch industry.

In identifying what was wrong with your previous management or business philosophy, consider whether you need to adjust things at a strategic level (are you doing the right things?) or at an execution level (are you doing things right?).

At a strategic level, consider whether you are targeting the right markets at the right price levels with the right products or services? At the execution level, are you delivering on the company’s promise and do you have the right systems, controls and measures in place to cause the business to operate efficiently and effectively.

Step 5: Create a bold but realistic plan

A plan creates hope and promise by translating the changed management philosophy into actionable steps. The actionable steps can be assigned to people within the business so that the hard work of a turnaround effort is shared amongst the management team.

Tom Boardman’s five step plan for returning Nedbank to adequate levels of profitability was what was required to convince Nedbank shareholders that he was the right man for job.
That plan has been central to his turnaround effort and has enabled everyone in the large organisation to know and understand what he is trying to achieve.

If a fairly simple 5-step plan can have such a significant effect in a large organisation, it can have an even greater impact in a smaller, more closely knit enterprise. Planning is hard work and requires the planner to think and commit, something many of us avoid.

Don’t fall prey to sloppy planning. Construct a set of goals with specific tasks, assigned to specific people with specific deadlines if you want to increase your chances of getting out of a business crisis.

Step 6: Sell the plan internally and externally

Steve Jobs’ compelling, inspiring, articulate presentations to Apple employees, investors and customers are legendary. Many have argued that he would have been far less successful in reviving Apple if he had not put so much time, effort and energy into his internal and external presentations soon after reclaiming the CEO spot at Apple.

The larger the organisation the harder you need to work on making sure everyone understands where you are going and how you plan to get there. Be sure to use various different mediums and methods to reach people and let them know what is going on.

Some will pay attention to an inspiring speech, others will respond with more urgency to a written document while others will place the greatest level of reliance on the internal grapevine.
It is crucial to keep external stakeholders informed of your plans for recovery.

In many cases you will need them to buy into your plan. You may need to ask suppliers for longer payment terms or quicker deliveries, or get bankers to extend an overdraft or change a loan covenant. Go to the external stakeholders with a compelling, succinct and confident message about how you are going to turn the business around.

Be open, frank and honest with them in order to get them to support you in your effort.

Step 7: Execute ruthlessly

In the end it all comes down to what you actually do, not just what you plan to do. So you need to get down to action. Turning a business around is never a light or easy task. It requires extra effort, long hours and increased focus, so don’t expect to get away with doing things half-heartedly.

No turnaround effort should last forever so plan to put in the extra effort for a few months while you build momentum and then ease off a little so that you don’t burn out. Execution is about doing what you say you are going to do in your plan.

Make your plan the highest priority of the management team. Have regular meetings and hold people accountable for the tasks assigned to them. Execution is about ensuring everybody is doing what you planned for them to do.

Step 8: Measure progress

One of the things that Michael Eisner did in his effort to save Walt Disney in the mid-1980s was set up a system that reflected everything that was happening in the Disney Empire at almost any point in time as he led it back to profitability. He believed that what gets measured gets done.

Some would argue that it was because his compensation package was so closely linked to the financial success of Disney. But whatever it was, he kept close tabs on how the company was doing on its road to recovery, and he regularly shared that insight with his management team and the company employees.

Measure the success of all aspects of the business (financial, customer, people and process) in the recovery process so you can see if you are making progress. This will enable you to adjust your path where necessary and celebrate success where deserved.

Step 9: Celebrate and share success

People are programmed to respond to rewards. Celebrating success enables a business to build positive momentum to get out of a difficult situation. Celebrating even the smallest success can indicate to everyone involved that you have turned a corner and are on your way back.

Even if you need to try and manufacture early successes to get the business moving in the right direction, do your best to make sure success is happening and being rewarded. Celebrating big successes and a job well done is fun.

If you want to ensure that you have a business for the future, make sure that all those who have worked hard in a turnaround effort are adequately rewarded. Consider rewards that have meaning for the individuals in question – couple financial rewards with other rewards that are pertinent to them.

Some people will value a holiday while others will value public recognition or even a sincere, hand written letter.

Most of us would prefer not to experience a turnaround process – it is hard work and can be very draining and stressful. But those who choose to lead will, in all likelihood, be faced with a survival challenge at least once in their careers.

When it happens, you need to be ready to face up to the challenge. Remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Greg Fisher, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Management & Entrepreneurship Department at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He teaches courses on Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Turnaround Management. He has a PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle and an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). He is also a visiting lecturer at GIBS.

How to Guides

What To Measure To Make Sure Your Business Won’t Crash And Burn

Let your customers measure success for you and you’ll have a better idea of how to reach your goals.

Harry Welby-Cooke

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If you don’t want your business’s spurts of success to end up just a flash in the pan, you need to measure your business progress against your goals. This allows you to adjust your plans for future success accordingly. But how?

Back in the nineties, NASA designed an interplanetary weather satellite to orbit Mars. However, it deviated from its planned trajectory and was destroyed in the atmosphere, simply because of a minor miscalculation; a result of the NASA team and their contractor using different systems of measurement.

By the same token, business owners need to determine what metrics to use to measure their progress, before they can work out what still needs to be adjusted to get them to their ultimate goals. Many businesses know this, but many don’t know they’re doing it wrong.

Connect with your customers

Most organisations use the same key performance indicators such as sales, customer retention, and product quality to track their progress. What’s the problem with this picture? They’re measuring where they are now in relation to where they were before, leaving the question of where they want to be, and how to close the gap, to guesswork.

Related: Good Customer Service Is About Relating At The Same Level

Why waste time testing one strategy after another when you can find all your answers in one place: With your current and prospective customers? They’ll tell you exactly where to aim and what to do to get there. This is why customer surveys are the proverbial toolkit of business progress tracking.

A customer survey is simply a series of questions that you ask your customers, to gauge their satisfaction, so you can hold on to them and collect ideas about how to improve your business offerings.

There are a number of ways to distribute these surveys, but it’s no surprise that social media is trumping phone calls, text messages and emails as the preferred platform for customers to communicate with businesses and brands.

Engage with your customers

What you choose to ask your customers is entirely dependent on what goals you wish to outline and track. That’s the easy part, but it’s significantly harder to gauge the effectiveness of social media campaigns, because you need to know what to look for. You can measure awareness of your business using metrics including volume, reach, exposure and amplification.

Retweets, comments and replies will tell you how engaging your content is, and you can keep an eye on traffic by tracking URL shares, clicks and conversions. Plus, there is a plethora of additional plug-ins to this from ORM and sentiment tracking tools for deeper analysis of this data.

Related: Does Your Customer Service Care?

The catch is that in the past, businesses had to compete for space — on billboards, in magazines, during ad breaks on TV — but now it’s all about timing. So the first challenge is making sure your social media post questions are being seen by as many of your customers as possible.

On the flip side of the coin, people don’t have to have any previous experience with your brand to interact with you on social media, so another challenge is calculating which of your respondents are actually viable customers.

Leverage your data

You’ll need to tap into the analytics that speak to who your followers are, and then focus on finding ways of channelling them on social media, based on their geographical location and the kind of content they are most likely to consume.

Then test your social media measurements against your key performance indicators. Yes, we’re back where we started, but this time you’ll be armed with what you need to leverage this data, in order to achieve your business goals.

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How to Guides

How Do I Go About Valuing My Business?

Francois Otto, Head of Corporate Finance and Jonathan Wernick, Corporate Finance Transactor, Sasfin Capital give advice on how to value a business.

Sasfin

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Francois Otto, Head of Corporate Finance and Jonathan Wernick, Corporate Finance Transactor, Sasfin Capital give advice on how to value a business.

If you have ever thought about raising capital for, or selling, your business? Perhaps one of the most difficult questions you have had to ask yourself is “How much can I sell my business for?” Regardless of what anyone tells you, determining the value of your business is a subjective process.

The value of business in one person’s hands can be completely different to another. However, there are a variety of methods to determine the value of a business. Some methods are fairly simple and others are a bit more complex.

Perhaps the simplest method that can used to value your business is to determine its Net Asset Value (“NAV”). This simple method entails subtracting the value of the liabilities from the value of the assets.

Related: Raising Capital Through A Black Economic Empowerment Transaction

Another method that can be used to value a business is to apply a specific multiple to a financial metric. This method is referred to as a comparative valuation or “MULTIPLES” approach. For example, a company’s net profit could be multiplied by a specific number to give you a value of the business.

The number which you multiply the earnings by is referred to as a “Price Earnings” or “PE” multiple. The size of this number will depend on the business in question, for example its growth prospects, its size and the industry in which it operates, just to name a few.

The final approach that can be used to value a business is the discounted cash flow (“DCF”) method. This method adopts the philosophy of “Cash is King”.

Under this method, the business is valued using cash flows that the business is expected to generate. Cash flows can take the form of future dividend payments or, if the business pays a small or even no dividend, cash flows can take the form of profits generated by the business after adjusting for future capex, investments in working capital and taxes payable.

As this method values a business using the cash flows it is expected to generate in the future, a discount needs to be applied to these future cash flows (to reflect the uncertainty thereof), the size of which increases the further out in the future the cash flow occurs. The aggregate value or sum of these discounted cash flows represents the estimated value of the business.

Related: Here’s How To Value Your Business

The three valuation methods (NAV, MULTIPLES or DCF) mentioned above can yield different values for a business and deciding which method to use will often depend on the purpose of the valuation as well as the specific business being valued.

This exercise is normally the first step in raising capital or selling your business, to provide the owners with a sense of value. This value is theoretical until such time as a willing investor agrees to a transaction.

This is where a good adviser will assist the owners, through effectively marketing their business, to optimise the value achieved by the owners with the added benefit of ensuring the terms of a transaction are fair to the owners (e.g. reasonable earn-out conditions and warranties).

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How to Guides

How You Can Use Your Creditors To Fund Your Business Growth

Everything you need to know to keep your cash flow positive, use your creditors to fund your business, and make your numbers work for you.

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The success of a business is often judged by its rate of growth and its number of employees. The problem is that both a business’s rate of growth and its size come with their own demands and consequences, which are often ignored in the pursuit of more and more growth.

The reality is that not all growth is created equal. If your business doesn’t have scale, you can end up growing yourself into trouble — or even out of business.

Even more important is positive cash flow. Is that great new contract bringing in money, or costing you money? Shouldering an upfront cost for growth down the line is all part of the growth journey, but only if the numbers make sense and you know when your investment will turn to profit.

Here’s the secret to growth: It can be self-funded. Yes, there are venture capitalists, private equity firms, angel investors, bank funding and a host of other ways to access finance — but you can grow a large, successful organisation without any of these.

The trick is to know your numbers. Here’s how you can practically apply the rules of positive cash flow to your business.

Related: 6 Ways To Make Your Business Look Big While You’re Still Growing It

The Power of Cash

In 2012, Amazon’s share price was $173. By 2016 this had grown to $725. Walmart, arguably the biggest retailer in the world, went from $59 to $70 in the same period.

But take a look at Table 1 for the revenue growth of both companies between 2003 and 2012 (a trend that has continued).

revenue-growth

How can Walmart’s stock price have hardly increased, while Amazon experienced impressive growth over the same period, despite the fact that Walmart’s revenue growth far outstrips Amazon’s (in absolute, not percentage terms)? Is Walmart’s stock undervalued, and Amazon’s overvalued? Even accounting for growth off a low base, how can we explain this?

The share price is simply the net present value of future free cash flows generated from the efficiency of an organisation in managing cash to generate more sales.

In other words, Jeff Bezos’ focus on his cash conversion cycle has meant his business is incredibly cash-positive, which has in turn positively impacted Amazon’s stock price. Although Amazon is a highly unusual business with its negative cash conversion cycle, and its actual liquidity is somewhat contested by the investment community, it’s a great example of getting customers to fund growth.

Related: Five Keys To Unlock Massive Leaps In Profit

The Cash Conversion Cycle

We agree that it takes money to make money. A business, even one with a tight, scalable business model, will consume more cash in its growth phase than in its steady state, or execution phase.

But, you don’t want to ever spend more money than you need to — or can reasonably afford to. This is true whether you’re self-funded or spending someone else’s cash, but particularly if you’re funding your own growth. Dealing with unplanned funding can be costly, time-consuming and it hampers growth. It also bogs you down in stressful admin when you could be focused on the elements you love and that excite you.

There are two questions that you should have asked yourself as you embarked on your growth journey (note: if you’ve never asked these questions, you need to surround yourself with like-minded business people who can help you find and ask them):

  1. For what period of time is my money tied up in inventory and other current assets before customers pay for the end product or services?
  2. How much cash do I need to finance each unit of sale and what is the amount of cash generated by each unit of sale?

I guarantee you that Jeff Bezos knows the answers to these two questions. Not his accountant or financial director — Jeff himself. You can’t abdicate the numbers of your business to someone else. Understand the difference between delegation and abdication. You don’t need to be doing your business numbers but you absolutely need to know what they are. This is one of the most important metrics of your business.

Let’s go back to our example of Amazon (see Table 2): Bezos’ cash conversion cycle (measured in days), oscillates between -40 and -8 days. That’s the secret.

In other words, Amazon uses other people’s money to fund its operations. That’s an extremely valuable business model, as its share price demonstrates.

Walmart’s cash conversion cycle is also a very respectable 11 days. As a business model it’s not quite as valuable as Amazon’s, but there’s a reason why Walmart is an international leader in its industry. It takes this behemoth organisation just 11 days to convert $1 into something worth more than $1. It then recycles that original $1 a further 35 times per year. Walmart’s margins are not high, but the compound growth is very powerful, as we’ll see later.

Let’s Get Started

starting-to-fund-a-business

Step 1: Understand your business

To better understand the components of your operating cash cycle and your cash conversion cycle, take a look at Diagram 1.

cash-conversion-cycle

Operating cash cycle (OCC) is the period of time between when you start the assembly of all the required inputs into your production line, and cash comes back into the business as payment for the sale. Remember, if you’re a B2B business, there’ll be a delay between when the customer starts using your product and service, and when payment is made as well. This difference is referred to as accounts receivable days. Likewise the time between when your production starts (having received inventory) and the moment your business pays for this inventory, is the accounts payable days.

Cash conversion cycle (CCC) This is the period of time that working capital is tied up. It’s the time between when cash was converted into one of the inputs for your production line, and when the product is converted back into tangible cash, handed to you when customers pay you in real money. It’s the difference in time between your operating cash cycle and account payable days.

Self-financing growth rate (SFG)

This is the crux of this article. Your SFG rate is the rate at which growth can be sustained by cash generated by your business without any external funding.

Related: Why The Climb To The Top Is The Most Critical For Your Growth

Step 2: Working out your cash conversion cycle

Where can you access the figures you need to determine your own OCC, CCC and SFG? First, use data spanning a 12-month time period. This has two advantages: You have a better chance of sourcing accurate data if it comes from a signed off financial statement, and you can dampen the noise caused by seasonality.

Work with your balance sheet and income statement.

Working out conversion days from balance sheet

Asset ZAR amount on (000) Equivalent days Liabilities ZAR amount on (000) Equivalent days
Cash 10   Accounts payable 99 Calc A
Accounts receivable 384 Cal B Loan

repayments

50  
Inventory 263 Calc C Current liabilities 149  
Current assets 657   Retained earnings 183

 

 
Plant & equipment 25   Capital contributed 350  
Total assets 682   Total liabilities 682  

 

Working out conversion days from income statement

IS line ZAR amount on (000) Day equivalent Ratio
Line ZAR amount on (000) Day equivalent in (000) Ratios in %
Revenue / Income 2 000 = 2 000/365 = 5 479 100
Cost of sales 1   200 = 1 200/365 = 3 288 60
Profit 800   40
Operating expenses 700 = 700/365 = 1 918 35
NPBT – net profit before tax 100   5

income-statement-valuation

Based on the above example and figures, we have determined the following information:

  • This business generates R5 479 of income per day at a cost of R3 288 per day.
  • Calculation A: We owe a total of R99 000 to our suppliers, which at
    R3 288 per day is ~ 30 days from
    99 000 / 3 288
  • Calculation B: We are owed R384 000 from our customers, which at
    R5 479 per day is ~70 days from 384 000 / 5 479
  • Calculation C: The amount of inventory we have paid for and need to turn into a sold product in equivalent days is ~ 80 days from 263 000 / 3 288.

Our original ‘as-is’ timing diagram now looks like this:

cash-cycle-advice

We still need to account for operating expenses, including salaries, utilities, rent, marketing costs and so on, and we can safely assume (but check this for your business) that bills arrive uniformly over the 150 day OCC period, meaning some will be paid immediately (day 1) or have to wait (day 150). On average this is 75 days.

You should now interpret the information as follows;

  • The OCC is 150 days, but because the business has 30 days to pay its suppliers, the CCC is 120 days. In other words, cash is tied up for 120 out of 150 days (80% of the time).
  • In terms of operating expenses, we assumed a uniform distribution over the period whereby some creditors would be paid immediately and some would have to wait for the 150-day cycle to finish. On average, this leaves us with 75 days or 50% of the OCC.

Related: Mobility, Security And Your Business

Step 3: Unlock capital in your business

We now know for how long our cash is tied up, but we still need to determine how much is tied up. Using the ratios in the original income statement, we can now answer the following: What amount of cash is needed to finance each unit of sale, and what is the amount of cash generated by each unit of sale?

Cash conversion at work on your IS

Income statement line Per ZAR with CCC factoring effective per ZAR
Revenue/Income 1,00    
Cost of sales 0,60 80% (120/150) 0,48
Operating expense 0,35 50% (75/150) 0,18
Total costs 0,95 Cash tied up per 1 ZAR of Sales Revenue 0,66
Profit before tax 0,05
Free cash generated per ZAR of Sales 0,05 Cash needed for each OCC 0,66

Putting it all together

Let’s look at what you now know about your business:

Self-funded growth rate

The cash generated from 1 ZAR of sales By looking at the income statement ratio 0.05
The time in days of your OCC Calculated from holdings inventory days + accounts rec days 80 + 70 w= 150
The CCC time to cycle cash used in the OCC Calculated from OCC – accounts payable days 150 — 30 = 120
The cash tied up in each OCC for a 1 ZAR sales income Restated IS with CCC factored in for OpEx and inventory 0,18 + 0,48 = 0,66
Your per cycle growth rate Free cash that can be added to the OCC cash requirement 0,05 of 0,66 -7,57%
How many cycles can be completed in a year? Days in year available divided by OCC 365/150 = 2,43
Assume a productivity factor for safety 90% as a reasonable contingency for strikes etc 2,43 x 0.9 = 2,19
Compounded annual self-funded growth rate (1 + SFG) OCC cycles – 1) = (1 + 0,0757) 2.19 – 1 = 17,3%

Driving growth in your business

So, how can you use this information to drive growth in your business?

First, your debtors book must exceed your creditors book. Then, if we just shorten our accounts receivable days from 70 to 30 days, the following would happen:

  1. The OCC is now 150 — 40 = 110 days
  2. CCC is 110 — 30 = 80 days
  3. Cash needed for cost of sales is 0,60 X 80/110 = 43 cents
  4. We have not targeted operating costs yet, which remain at 18 cents
  5. Round everything up and we now need 62 cents instead of 66 cents (6% improvement)
  6. Your per cycle growth rate is 5 cents/62 cents = 8% growth rate
  7. How many cycles can you do in a year now? 365/110 = 3,3 cycles; up from 2,43!
  8. This is a 36% improvement
  9. Add a contingency of 95%, which gives us 3,13 cycles
  10. Compound this over a year: (1+ SFG) nbr of cycles — 1) = (1 +0,08) 3,1 -1) = 26% from 17% originally.

That’s 9% growth and nobody noticed a thing!

Related: Jason Goldberg Asks Are You (Realistically) Ready To Scale Your Business?


Key takeaways

  • That large corporate account that you cherish and that one of your sales executives is overly proud of landing may well be destroying value in your business. Why? Because large corporate accounts tend to get over-serviced (and I doubt you allocate those costs properly) and tend to pay you late.
  • Growing with a greater number of smaller customers, steadily over time, within your means and without being bullied delivers more value and less stress.
  • There are easy and clever ways to add lots of value to your business, that cost very little to implement, but you do require an understanding of how cash gets tied up.
  • Delegate, don’t abdicate. No entrepreneur is ever great at sales, production, operations and cash management, so get people who can complement your skill set, and allow you to do what you enjoy. That said, you can never hand the numbers over to someone else. Receive assistance if you need it, but know your numbers!

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