A company’s financial track record is one of the fundamental drivers of value. The stronger (and longer) the history of tangible growth, profitability and cash flow, the easier it is to make the case for a higher valuation. What’s more, the extent to which companies can demonstrate smart growth, where results improve without injecting an abundance of investment, the better it reflects on the business leader (and the more cash and equity that are left in the bank!).
Believe it or not, growth does not always have to involve adding significantly to a company’s expense line. The potential of this idea is compelling. In situations where revenues increase and expenses decrease, profits can multiply in ways that might not have been viewed as possible. This includes generating growth by getting the most out of what a company already has and is likely still paying for — which is a wise investment, no matter how you look at it. Getting started can be as simple as taking just one of the following approaches and running with it.
Ensure That the Workforce Is Working
Hiring staff members is a long-term commitment, so ensure that it is not being used to resolve a short-term problem. Every staff member should be fully utilized with a meaningful workload, so identify inefficiencies and work smarter. Applying strategies such as cross-training and reassignment of tasks across departments, as well as hiring contract staff during peak periods, can be helpful.
Standardized procedures, templates and documents can be easily utilized and the low value time associated with starting from “square one” can be eliminated. Ensuring that staff members have access to the right technologies can increase productivity (remember, more is not always better).
Consider reorganizing work schedules, adding shifts or servicing customer markets that can be accessed during slower periods. Ensuring that online and social media presences are well developed and are being regularly utilized creates opportunities to generate growth, perhaps even in a new marketplace.
Explore Managed Growth
Speedy growth can be risky, challenging to manage and difficult to maintain. Success over the long-term can be better achieved by taking a more gradual approach, raising the likelihood of growth that is profitable and cash flow positive. Consider this approach as strategic, creating the basis for the next level of growth.
Find and Fill the Gaps
Partners who have products and services that extend a company’s offering or would be of interest to their customers can be a great way to grow. Each partner can work within their own resources, but benefit by offering products and services to each others’ customers. Parties who work well together can also be more productive.
Think About Today
Consider long-term growth as merely a series of small steps. Resist the temptation of jumping into long-term facility commitments and equipment loans, as these represent expenditures that extend well into the future. Instead, find ways to generate growth that will be sustainable over at least a couple of years before committing into the long-term. This approach can be repeated over time, resulting in a managed level of growth that mitigates risk and minimizes cash outlays.
Take a good, long look at what the company has and focus on making the absolute most of it. Monitor and measure results carefully, and take action to make improvements where needed. The benefit: That strong track record of growth, profitability and cash flow that can be a winning combination in the valuation realm. The good news is that it’s equally powerful, whatever the reason, be it investment, sale of business or succession.
This article was modified with permission from the writing and expertise of Jenifer Bartman, CPA, CA, CMC, founder & principal of Jenifer Bartman Business Advisory Services. An executive in the venture capital industry for more than nine years, she now advises companies in transition, including growth, financing, succession and performance improvement. You can contact her at jeniferbartman.com.