Realising a Dream

My client John had created a successful software and consulting business. Now he had a dream. That was to sell his business in central London and retire early, moving to the south coast to enjoy a life of leisure pursuits. Of course I didn’t know that at the time.

Unfortunately there were insufficient new business opportunities to achieve the revenue and profit targets John needed. This was threatening John’s dream, as he needed to maximise sales performance in order to maximise the value of the business when he sold it.

To make matters worse, the Sales and Marketing Director had recently left and there was friction within the sales team and between the sales team and their colleagues elsewhere in the company .

John needed to reinvigorate his business, get his sales team performing again and bring harmony back to his team, so he appointed me as an Interim Sales and Marketing Director, working 3 days per week.

I developed a new marketing strategy to build up brand awareness, company differentiation and create fresh interest in the company’s products.

I developed and implemented a new partner management approach, which elevated my client’s business to preferred partner status with key partners and helped increase the number of new sales opportunities.

I then established two new business units offering new software and consulting services. This boosted revenues and also resolved the internal frictions within the sales team. The champagne I served to everyone in the company each time a new sales order was won also helped improved relationships between the sales team and the rest of the company!

The result of all this was a significant upturn in John’s fortunes. Revenues increased, profits increased and interest from prospective buyers for John’s business increased.

After just nine months John sold his company and he was able to realise his dream of enjoying his leisure pursuits on the south coast.

From near bankruptcy to profit injust 12 months – protecting stakeholder investment

This software company had got into severe financial difficulties. The company had been through a previous Corporate Voluntary Arrangement and its management had clearly not learned from previous mistakes.

With turnover of approximately £800,000 it had made a loss of £750,000. It had trade debts in excess of £100,000 and several creditors had written threatening to issue winding-up orders. Despite this the management team ignored the letters and the board of directors seemed unaware of the mounting debts. The company also owed HMRC £350,000 in unpaid income tax and NIC deductions. The future looked bleak.

I was initially asked by the major shareholder to evaluate the business to see if it could be saved and create a turn-around plan. Taking the company through a Phoenix approach to lose debt and reform was not an option as the major investor would lose several hundred thousand dollars it had provided by way of loans and the company would also lose the Intellectual Property to its software due to a poorly negotiated contract.

I flew to the US and met all the senior managers of its principal business partner to understand the market in which my client operated, gain their perception of my client and understand the legal ramifications of different potential courses of action. In ten days I analysed the business, its products and its market. I concluded the business could be saved but time was of the essence.

The major shareholder agreed to put my plan into practice and contracted me to work as a part-time interim CEO together with another independent management practitioner as Chairman.

Costs needed to be slashed – and quickly. The only major cost that could be addressed quickly was headcount, so we immediately made redundant 50% of its workforce of 20. This was not a decision made lightly and was not without its own risks but without it the whole business would have collapsed within weeks.

I introduced stricter sales planning for sales opportunities to maximise the chances of winning those sales and increasing revenues.

I contacted and met all the trade creditors and persuaded them all to give me time to turn the company around, so that they could be repaid in full.

I made contact with HMRC to explain what was happening, to negotiate a removal of accrued interest rates and to agree a sensible timeframe during which the outstanding taxes could be paid. These negotiations were complex and lengthy. But finally a plan was agreed.

The results of my actions were that turnover grew in the first 12 months from £800,000 to £1.2 million with losses of £750,000 turned into profits of £200,000. All trade creditors were repaid in full and the HMRC debt was repaid on time over the agreed period. The company was also able to repay all verifiable investor’s loans, so it could continue to trade without the need for loans or other external finance.