Have you ever had the sense you are playing checkers with your business in a chess world? If so read on…
Do you have a Corporate Development Officer? If not, you should ask yourself why. Organic growth is not enough; you need a strategic growth plan in today’s tepid growth rate economy.
As Sun Tzu said in his ancient book The Art of War, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Don’t get me wrong, organic growth is very important to your business’s health, but it’s not enough any longer to remain viable. Businesses today face the triple vice of rapid technological advancement, talent wars and increasing competition. It’s true that we must “grow or die” – there is forward or backward, but no standing still for your business.
What should you do if your industry is mature and the demand for your product or service has stagnated? Or if you are suffering from the law of large numbers, where revenue base is substantial and generating percentage growth is difficult? Psychological self-protection can also take hold as a company gets larger, creating more pressure to preserve the core business and less willingness to innovate and take risks. Each of these conditions can pose a threat to the long-term health of your business.
Have you ever been blind-sided by the news of a competitors’ actions? You may have found yourself realizing that they implemented a product or service idea that you had three years ago. A business may have sold to a competitor when you would have been eager to make an offer if you’d known it was available. How did they beat you to the chase and win that marquee client? Maybe you feel that your business has tremendous latent potential, but you just don’t have the correct numbers in the tumbler to unlock it.
Maybe you are facing the 3B dilemma – Build – Buy – Borrow? Yes, you have thought about this often and even discussed it at an offsite strategy meeting with your leadership team. Then you went back to work and got engulfed by the URGENT rather than the IMPORTANT issues at hand. You know what you have to do, but it’s still not getting done. Maybe you can allow addressing the 3B dilemma to slip for six months or even a year, but what if you haven’t assessed, strategized and executed on it for years? What is the impact on your growth, profit margin and long term viability?
Maybe it’s not your fault. You’ve got a strong running game so you rinse and repeat every day and it’s worked so far. Despite the short-term successes, you know that your business is much like a football team that will never make it to the Super Bowl without a well-rounded game plan and long-term growth strategy that doesn’t leave you on the wrong end of “check-mate.”
The smartest and best organizations often have a Corporate Development function. This is not your sales, marketing or finance departments – they are there to execute on organic growth. Sometimes the titles are different, and a Corporate Development Officer is known as the Chief Growth Officer, Corporate Business Development Officer or some derivative of the above. This function/position usually reports to the CEO and leads strategic growth including: M&A, Joint Ventures, Key Talent, and Licensing/Franchising to exponentially grow business sales beyond traditional organic growth.
The fruits of this role and function can be incredible.
Sometimes this function is part of the CEO’s job, but often the leadership is already spread too thin or doesn’t have the full skill sets required. You might say that this sounds good, but your company isn’t big enough to afford it yet. You may never become “big enough” to truly thrive if you don’t find a way to address the Build – Buy – Borrow dilemma. One of the “secret ingredients” that private equity firms deploy is adding this function to triple or quadruple the value of the companies they acquire. Why leave all the upside on the table for the investors that may acquire your business one day?
If the issues touched on in this article affect your company, you know in your gut that failing to address these situations won’t end well. I encourage you to do something about it. Whether you choose to build a department, co-source or outsource, you have viable options. The first action step would be a Strategic Assessment to launch your game of chess.
Note: The CDO role in a university is different, but has parallels with many of the same elements of strategic growth in a for profit environment including exploiting intellectual property.
Edward Valaitis, CBI, CMAP, CVB – Managing Partner of Edison Avenue. Providing Merger, Acquisition, Valuation and Growth Strategy consulting. Our specialty is increasing the value of your business so you have the options necessary to live and exit your business as you choose. 800.975.2114 Info@EdisonAvenue.com www.EdisonAvenue.com