C-Suite Support: Driving Strategic Growth with the Right Executive Team


    C-Suite Support: Driving Strategic Growth with the Right Executive Team

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    Founders and entrepreneurs can be very successful starting their businesses, but scaling them often requires the support of other professionals. Why would a company need support with their C-Suite? Are business owners and CEOs not capable of making decisions and leading the business on their own? What does engaging a professional CEO, COO, CFO, or other C-Suite executive (CXO) really do? While many business owners and CEOs can make the tactical decisions about the business today, they often need to engage outside professionals to drive future growth and take their companies to the next level.

    Professional CXOs bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, training, and education that current company leaders may not have. The job of these executives is to strategically partner with the founder, owner, or other business leader to accelerate the growth of the business and increase enterprise value.

    CXOs may get involved in all aspects of the business as they analyze a company’s core processes, identify any weaknesses or potential areas of improvement, define key performance indicators, create detailed forecasts, manage cash flow and possible funding needs, and so on. CXOs can also monitor employee performance and morale as they consider different organization designs and overall business models for a company to maximize its longer-term growth potential. Most importantly, good CXOs work with business owners to develop strategic plans that drive operational and financial strength and accelerate a company’s growth. The CXO’s role is as both guardian and champion of business value.

    Let’s look at two common – and critical – executive positions you may need to consider: Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

    Chief Financial Officer
    The Chief Financial Officer is much more than an accountant, bookkeeper, or controller. CFOs are strategic partners for their owners/CEOs. CFOs sit at the highest level of the financial management pyramid and oversee all the company’s financial functions. They regularly get involved in other aspects of the business too.

    Good CFOs are strategically focused on the big picture and the future, with the short and long-term goals of the company in mind. They analyze the company’s processes, define and monitor critical KPIs, identify weaknesses and potential areas of improvement, create detailed forecasts, manage cash flow, and manage any funding needs. Good CFOs also assess the company’s business model to maximize growth potential. CFOs work with their business owners and CEOs to develop overall financial strategies for their companies. They develop comprehensive strategic plans to accelerate and effectively manage growth based on the company’s goals as well.

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    Unlocking the Wealth Trapped Inside Your Business

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    Did you know only about 20% of all privately held companies offered for sale each year actually sell? And only around 30% of all family businesses in the U.S. successfully transition from their first to second generation. Maybe worse, 75% of all business owners who do sell their companies “profoundly regret” the decision one year after selling.

    Throughout my career, I have worked around the world with organizations big and small – ranging from multi-billion-dollar Fortune 500s to government agencies to privately held family businesses and startups. Of all my experiences, I cherish the most those projects that have had the greatest impact on the people I worked with. So, when I learned these statistics on privately held businesses completing a sale, I knew I wanted to help business owners maximize the value of their businesses and ultimately exit on their terms. This is especially true for the countless Baby Boomers who will transition out of their businesses over the next 10 years – a movement that represents roughly 4.5 million businesses and $10 trillion of wealth being transferred!

    Many business exits fail because of a lack of knowledge and planning. Two-thirds of business owners are not familiar with their options for exiting. Almost 80% have no written transition plan or advisory team in place to help them. Nearly half of all business owners have not done any planning, and 93% have no formal “life after” plan. Compound that with the fact that 50% of all business exits are involuntary, forced by dramatic external factors such as death, disability, divorce, disagreement, and distress.

    Owners need to plan for how they will walk away from their businesses, not only in a perfect scenario but also in a worst-case situation. A properly planned and executed exit can handsomely reward the business owner for the time, effort, headaches, and heartaches that come from building a business. It also benefits the many employees who work in the business and all the customers they serve. The following, then, is a proven three-phase approach for unlocking the wealth trapped inside your business.

    1. Discovery – When discussing future plans with owners, I like to ask one particular question. “When it comes time for you to step away from the business, what do you want your legacy to be?” This gives us direction, especially for owners nearer to their exits. It becomes the driving factor behind the actions they will take in the months/years ahead and serves as the “lighthouse” to accomplish their true goals.

      Other critical areas to explore include the owner’s readiness to exit. “What are you going to do when you exit the business?” and “Do you have enough money to do what you want to do?” are two more great questions to consider in this process. With the support of their financial planners, owners often realize they do not have enough savings to reach their goals with so much of their wealth tied up in their businesses. For this reason, we clearly need to consider the value of the business and identify specific areas that can be improved to increase business value and enhance the business’ readiness for the exit.

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