Due to many concerns, primarily surrounding the poor reputation of some long-serving old style Non Execs working with larger companies, the perceptions of many owners of Mid-Sized Businesses of such Non Execs are understandably vague, and often negative – And, are maybe based also on the perception of the said Large Company Non Execs abilities to just make useful connections in business or political or financial circles, and / or to be advising on regulatory responsibilities such as corporate governance issues.
Whilst these latter aspects can sometimes be a minor part of the role for an Non Exec working with a Mid-Sized Business (MSB), they are most definitely not the primary essence of the role, with the essentially key focus for an Non Exec, working in the MSB environment, being always on the maximising of the (safe and secure) medium and long term commercial and financial development and success of the client business.
- Let’s look at a typical scenario and take a company about fifteen years old with a turnover of around £8 million as an example. The owner and his or her family are living well out of the business, but the company is not making any really significant Net Profits and is always constrained by a limit on the availability of working capital. The owner wants to increase turnover significantly and to make real and substantial net profits year on year. Let’s say they are aiming for £12/15 million sales, and then at least £1.2m to £1.5m minimum pre-tax net profit per annum - and to achieve this specific objective within three to five years. There may also be an aim to exit the business, at that point or later, with a target of realising say £6m to £8m - or more - for self and family.
Stage One of the OXNED Non Exec work is dedicated to the assessment with the business owners of all of the relevant problems and opportunities, and on agreement with them of the primary strategic objectives - then devising with them - and with a very powerful emphasis on the “with” element - the strategies and tactics required to achieve those objectives with timescales and resource implications indicated. These will be incorporated into a brief two to four page strategy change business plan, plus financial modelling exercises and projections in various scenarios.
This type of work is sometimes carried out (and usually extremely expensively so) by Accountants and or Management Consultants. The difference is that when an OXNED Non Exec is involved and driving the process, the resultant plan is one that costs vastly less, does not rely on pre-conceived financial judgements, nor on pre-prescribed solutions, nor on pre-prescribed management theory, but on the real down-to-earth and hands-on business-life experience and expertise of the said OXNED Non Exec who will have actually run Mid-Sized Businesses, and who will have helped other such Mid-Sized Businesses to achieve similar objectives.
It may take up to three or four months, but usually far less, to be fair, of the OXNED Non Exec working closely with Directors, maybe also shareholders, and maybe also senior management to build together - and with a massive emphasis on the “together” element - and to complete such a brief strategic plan. This timescale leaves time for thoughtful and careful joint discussion research and reflection, testing of financial models, marketplace reviews and consultations with others inside and outside the business.
“The most common reason for lack of success in implementing business plans successfully is due to management failing to analyse problems accurately and rigorously, or by not facing up fully to the many and varied implications of changes, or by not making the brave but well-considered decisions.” Comments: Peter Gray, Managing Partner at OXNED Non Execs.
The professionally-effective OXNED non Exec challenges and validates, pointing out any potential pitfalls and analytical errors, or any missed options and opportunities. In our case study as above, the business may perhaps for example have rejected totally any thought of possible acquisition as a route to growth, or have been maybe far too modest about what could be achieved organically by assuming no strategic or tactical change in product or service offerings.
Crucially, the OXNED Non Exec will not let critical issues remain un-addressed or be fudged and he or she will ensure that plans are down to earth, realistic and achievable. He or she will also gather data and information, question assumptions, investigate options, generate ideas, challenge perceptions, develop and propose strategies until a mutually-entirely-agreed plan is generated - and with a huge emphasis on the “mutually-entirely-agreed” element - and only when all parties are confident and committed and when they are determined to make that particular plan happen.
The next step is to turn the strategic plan into an Action Plan with realistic annual objectives and activities. A strategic plan without the Action Plan will almost inevitably stay on the shelf, and half-implemented strategies are doomed to failure. The OXNED Non Exec becomes the key driver and owner of the Action Plans, reviewing them and updating them assiduously and rigorously with senior management, and doing so on at least a Quarterly or (more commonly) Monthly basis at specifically-scheduled Business Review & Business Planning Meetings.
An OXNED Non Exec is engaged typically for two to four days per month, of task-based time and expertise, and spends most commonly about 50% of that time face-to- face in board or other meetings on site - and the other approx. 50% working off site writing Monthly or Quarterly Business Reviews & Business Planning Assessments, exploring options, updating Action Plans, undertaking various tasks as agreed, working on and updating financial modelling scenarios
Yes they do, but a professional OXNED Non Exec would not ever be allowed to take on more than an absolute maximum of three or four clients at any one time. This as the said Non Execs need essentially the extra time within the twenty-two days available to them each month for the said careful background thinking plotting and planning, in order to be able to deliver the full quality of the professional OXNED Non Exec service, s which the client has every right to expect.
OXNED Non Execs are the catalyst for change and progress. They prevent pitfalls and knocks down barriers to progress at every stage, ensuring that nothing is overlooked and that all opportunities are recognised and exploited appropriately and safely and securely, and professionally.
OXNED Non Execs are often referred to by client Business Owners as ‘An Eagle on my Shoulder”, sometimes a key Sounding Board, sometimes a Wise Counsel, sometimes a monster Progress Chaser, but it is the professionalism, objectivity, detachedness and prior experience and expertise of the said OXNED Non Execs which will time and time again, guide business owners to good decisions and to the effective implementation of Action Plans, which will ensure successful and speedy and safe achievement of their Strategy Change commercial and financial objectives.
The only true measure of value is the achievement of the commercial and financial objectives set out in the agreed strategic plans. In the vast majority of instances, the ISIS Business Counsel would be measured on increases year on year on the (critically-important) (and usually vastly-increased) Shareholder Value of the business.