Seven Questions Every Business Owner Should Consider

A company with strong value drivers can demand (and receive) a higher multiple on the same amount of EBITDA than can a company with average value drivers.  — John Brown, The Business Enterprise Institute (BEI)

Almost all of us consider the future and invest in the stock market either directly or through retirement plans to position ourselves and our families for the inevitable future.  While the above quote refers to investing in the stock market, the principle applies to your small business.  As you look ahead to the future, every small business owner should pay careful attention to the value drivers behind the business – ensuring the business portfolio increases over time.

In their book Execution, Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy speak about successful execution as “exposing reality and acting on that reality”.  So, as you consider your business investment, ask yourself the following “Value Driver questions:

 1.         Do I have a healthy management team?   It's often been said that people are our most valuable resource. Experienced leadership, that understands the business, as well as the culture of the organization, are critical to the ongoing success of the business. This is also one of the key factors behind developing business value when it comes down to selling your business.   Cultivating these employees, and ensuring that they remain even after you sell the business is significant to the events or buyer/owner of the business

2.         How effective are my operating systems?  Human resources, personnel recruitment and training, asset control, production control, and performance reports are all the key ingredients of healthy operations within any organization. If these internal mechanics are not running well, this could have significant negative consequences on the value of the organization.

3.         Are my margins equal to or better than the industry average?  If not, what actions can will it take to get them there?

4.         How diverse is my customer base?  Having one's eggs in one basket is always a risk. Having a key single customer that has more than 10% of total sales obviously is a downside for a business. Long before being ready to sell it is helpful to take a look at this and pursue diversification.

5.         Is my facility in “ship-shape”?  - keeping our home reflects our values, and our priorities. Similarly, keeping our business facility in sharp condition reflecting professionalism and effectiveness is critical to establishing business value. It was so into an outside third party, first impressions are significant. They were plucked attention to the small details.

6.         What is my growth strategy?   The roadmap for growth needs to clearly laid out, risks identified, and goals established.  Future cash flow, value and well-being of your employees is dependent on a vision for the future codified into actionable steps.  The plan alone will not get you there, but no plan will get you no-where.

7.         Do I have control of my numbers?  At the end of the day, you need to understand the financial health of your business.

Exit planning should begin the day you start your business.  And, at the core, or center of exit planning is maximizing the value of your business.  Just as you manage the value of your 401k or investment portfolio, investing time, energy and thought into building the value of your business will position you to exit in the manner you desire.  Get started today by exposing reality and assessing your business value drivers.

Corby Megorden

Corby Megorden has decades of executive experience helping organizations identify and successfully navigate the challenges of growth, risk, and change.  His expertise covers operations, program management, and financial development and has been tested in a variety of contexts including non-profits, industry, and the military.  As the VP of Operations for TeleCommunication Systems, he created corporate financial management, contracting, budgeting, and corporate merger processes, helping guide the company from startup to a publicly traded company.  As Administrator of a 4,000 member church, he developed structures, processes and procedures to manage finances and operations through periods of rapid growth, economic challenges, and radical organizational change, bringing stability and maintaining the fiscal health of the church.  He is a retired Captain with the Naval Reserves, serving the last 11 years of his 22-year tenure as an Executive or Commanding Officer.  With a Masters in Engineering Administration and 14 years as a licensed pastor, he brings a unique combination of knowledge of the processes and interpersonal dynamics in which organization function.  He is a Certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (ICEAA).

Corby has served on numerous non-profit boards including Covenant Life School, Christ Church of Mt. Airy, and ONE-U Campus Ministries. He and his wife Vilma live in Gaithersburg, MD.  They have two married daughters.