Start-up companies on the verge of greatness often find themselves in the shadows. They’re confident in their ability to succeed at the next level if only they had growth capital. If only they knew how to navigate challenging cash flow scenarios, if only they had more access to the venture capital universe. These businesses are full of potential, but find themselves stuck in the shadows.
Conversely, a strongly performing business can slip into the shadows in a number of ways. For some businesses, the wrong CEO or CPO, with the wrong vision, will shift the business from its core competency into areas that the business is not well equipped to serve. Business growth dissolves, “A” players leave in flocks, and profitability melts away.
Other businesses will establish a sales culture that promotes dollar above all else, setting up their operations teams to underdeliver to impossible expectations. These businesses lose the trust of their customers, and then their employees. And then their bottom line slips into the shadows.
Another common scenario is that owners have a good run with a business over a decade or more, but as they transition into a more passive management role, they entrust the business to others, and those others fail through mismanagement, hiding key information from the owners, or outright embezzling from the business.
Other businesses are stuck in the deep mud of a quagmire, they can’t create enough energy to inspire top-line growth, and they can’t affect any real internal change to do things differently. These zombies of the business world muddle through the shadows, never able to provide their owners peace of mind (or profit), and never able to inspire outside buyers to fix the problem.
Sometimes it’s a cash cow product reaching a point of obsolescence, followed by a series of failed new products that leads a business into the shadows. Other times, it’s a dysfunctional culture that seems stuck in the past promoting the wrong behaviors and wrong outcomes. And all too common is the crushing heap of technical debt on a flagship product that shifts productive engineers and developers into firefighters, draining the company of expensive capital, but essentially getting nothing in return.
There are many routes into the shadows for any business, and very few routes out. One of these routes is bankruptcy, replete with the sting of failure. Once a business slips into the shadows, it’s highly likely that that business will stay there until financial losses force ownership to take the final death knell step of filing for Chapter 11. In fact, the seminal Harvard Business Review case study “Why Good Companies Go Bad”, illustrates the concept of destructive business inertia -- once a company turns towards the shadows, there is a significantly higher probability that the company will decline at an accelerating rate than re-emerge as a profitable entity.
There is a path out of the shadows back into growth and profitability. We’ve led businesses from the brink of bankruptcy back to industry-leading performance. We’ve unlocked the potential of stagnant businesses, catalyzing their performance back into revenue growth. And we’ve led stressed out and burned out owners to very favorable exits that both eliminated the stress of owning a failing business and preserved a long-lasting legacy for their businesses.
If your business is in the shadows, we can help. If you’re experiencing any of the following challenges, and need a trusted guide and partner to help turn things around, we’re here for you. Our firm specializes in:
Fractional Chief Product Officer (CPO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Information Officer (CIO)
We offer seasoned executives with over 100 years of General Management/C-level experience to work with your teams to provide strategic insight and management insight
Business Incubation and Growth Finance
Attaining “next level” financing
Strategic alternatives, assessing the M&A landscape
Devise an exit strategy
Overcoming glaring business challenges in the financing/sale process
Formulate a Confidential Information Memorandum (CIM)
Integrations, Mergers and Acquisitions
Enhancing business valuation prior to M&A
Assessing strategic alternatives for business exit
Preparing CIM to market business to buyers/investors
Guidance throughout the M&A due diligence process
Business turnaround to exit (emergency scenarios)
Business integration - milestone based integration plans and execution
Technology assessment and how to work around pitfalls
Product line evaluation and how to optimize presentation
Distressed Business Strategies
Assessing strategic alternatives
Layoffs and personnel termination events
Cash flow preservation
Exit strategies, succession planning
Assess outsourcing as an option
Augment current teams with near-shore providers or create/replace teams through outsourcing
Cost-based outsourcing (reducing costs/boosting EBITDA through outsourcing)
Near-shore/Off-shore/hybrid outsourcing model
Rural sourcing (US)