Tag Archives: Acquisition

How Do You Make the Most of Changing Your BHAG? Eight Points

Situation: A company recently changed their BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) to focus on premium customer acquisition, but as a small-to-medium sized company has a 3-year focus instead of the typical 10-20 year focus of a larger company. They want to make this a company-wide effort. How do you make the most of changing your BHAG?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • First, it is measurable and specific – grow to 10 times your premium current customer base in 3 years. Your marketplace is changing quickly, so a shorter-term BHAG makes sense. Call it your 10/3 Program or 10/3 Challenge.
  • Is it too shallow? No – this is something that people can rally around. It represents significant company growth.
  • What happens when you achieve the goal? Celebrate in a big way, and then set the next BHAG.
  • How do you create excitement? Every time you hit a milestone, bring in pizza, or conduct a special event. Celebrate.
  • Success = Change. What does that next milestone mean for the company and your capabilities? This isn’t just about new clients, but also includes scaling your delivery systems and customer service. Rally your non-sales staff around these important tasks.
  • Create milestones not just around sales numbers but also around timelines. Tie incentives to achievement of BHAG milestones.
  • Conduct a company meeting to announce the BHAG, and announce progress in future company meetings.
    • Progress against milestones.
    • Share pipeline data to maintain excitement.
    • Develop scale-up programs and share progress of non-sales departments as they ramp up services.
  • Think about building a competition around the goal. As long as this fits your culture it can add excitement to achieving both milestones and the BHAG itself.

Note: The term ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ was proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.

How Do You Integrate a New Team Into Your Culture? Six Ideas

Situation: A West Coast company has recently acquired an East Coast company. The two companies serve similar customers with different but complimentary services. The acquired team has a history and mode of operating. The CEO seeks advice on how much they should require the new team to operate as they do at the home office. How do you integrate a new team into your culture?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Have patience. The transition and transfer of culture will take time. Your priority is for both offices to operate smoothly and profitably. Business practices differ by geography to suit their regional cultures. The remote office need not function just like the home office.
  • If you want a manager from your home office in the new office, take care who you select. Since you have history with the new company and office, select a manager who already has a good relationship with key senior managers in the new office. This will ease the transition, and will keep you updated on what is happening there.
  • Organize a dinner with your new manager and the senior managers in the new office. At dinner you will want to communicate your expectations and accelerate the transition.
  • Involve the senior managers from the new office in mentoring the new manager. This will give them an important role and will show respect for their knowledge and expertise.
  • Do all that you can to reinforce the link between the offices – in a constructive way.
  • Set benchmarks and plans of action, and manage to these.

How Do You Communicate Benefits Changes Following an Acquisition? Four Thoughts

Situation:  A company was recently acquired. The acquirer wants to merge benefit structures between the two entities. Both contribute a similar amount toward benefits; however the distribution of benefits between retirement and health plans, and other benefits varies considerably. How do you approach the staff to communicate changes in benefits following an acquisition?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Ideally, you want to gather employee input on what benefits are important to them before the overall package is finalized. This will help you to negotiate in your employees’ interest.
  • Make sure that the acquiring entity is aware of state regulatory requirements that may force them to retain state-specific benefits.
  • National companies often employ a cafeteria benefit strategy that allows the employees to make choices among benefit options, and fund these choices either at a company-paid base level or allow employees to supplement their choices through pre- or post-tax payroll deductions. There are numerous providers who offer cafeteria plans.
  • What’s the best way to have a conversation with employees once the new benefit package has been finalized?
    • Emphasize that the company is offering and funding this benefit and specify the amount that the company is funding as a percent of salary.
    • Create a grid mapping the full program:
      • Amount of company contribution
      • Old Program and benefits
      • New Program and benefits
      • Changes in allocation and changes in the total value of benefits offered.
    • If you have access to industry or regional comparisons for like-sized companies, and those comparisons put your company in a favorable light, share these as part of the communications package.
    • If you know that a highly valued benefit is being reduced, consider a short-term subsidy to ease the shift.
    • Be sure that you are clear and concise in your communications of the new plan and changes to the employees. You may want to have an outside consultant on hand to cover specific questions.
    • Be sure that any decisions your employees must make in the new program are fully and clearly explained.

How Do You Target and Prospect Acquisition Candidates? Three Guidelines

Situation: A company wants to grow by acquiring companies in similar verticals that have different but complimentary offerings. The targets will most likely be boutique operations. How should they target and prospect candidates?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Before you think about either targeting or prospecting an acquisition do your internal homework. Establish your strategic plan, including strategic capabilities that you want to develop. Look for synergies within your plan, and assure that any new capabilities complement these synergies.
    • Will current customers be interested in the new strategic capabilities, or will you have to build or buy access to new customer segments?
    • Determine the leveraging factors. How much incremental business can you expect to gain compared to current business? Look at both top and bottom line impact.
    • Do a build/buy analysis to determine whether the capability is more effectively built using your own resources or purchased.
  • Leverage both internal and external resources to develop a target list. Ask what current employees may be knowledgeable of potential candidates.
    • Use your industry network to identify and gather information about candidates.
    • Retain a firm to assist you in identifying candidates. They can approach candidates from a neutral position to assess interest in acquisition.
  • It is critical to negotiate a deal that retains key talent. Founders and key staff of the acquired company must see the combination as a means to facilitate and expand their own vision. In many successful acquisitions you will see the following traits.
    • The acquiring company did not change management, accounting methods, or operational procedures of the acquired company.
    • They acted as a bank to facilitate pursuit of the acquired company’s dreams and already successful strategies.
    • They took a “hands-off” approach with the acquired company and did not try to force cultural change.

Key Words: Acquisition, Candidate, Plan, Capability, Market, Customers, Leverage, Build-Buy Analysis, Target List, Talent, Retain, Culture, Compatible, Due Diligence

How Do You Land Your Next Big Customer? Six Suggestions

Situation: A small company wants to land one additional large account per quarter. They utilize an array of marketing activities but aren’t sure where to concentrate their efforts. From your experience, how do you identify and land your next big customer?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Landing large accounts is more of a relationship game than a marketing game. Develop a list of targets. Determine who you want to approach as the key decision maker, and work your own network and those of friends to gain a personal introduction.
  • If you and your principal target customers have operations overseas try to develop relationships between your and their overseas managers. Social networks abroad can be more accessible than in the US.
  • If you plan to introduce a new product or service, ask current customers whether they know of anyone who might be interested. This can prompt their interest or get you a significant lead.
  • Once you identify potential targets, conduct third party surveys of their industries. These can yield valuable insights into your targets’ organization and needs and help you better position your offering.
  • If a target customer has multiple divisions, initiate a relationship with a single division first and then leverage this relationship to develop additional business across the company. A number of small companies have figured out how to do business with multiple divisions of a single large company.
  • Trade shows are underutilized by many companies. Schedule meetings with target contacts In advance of the show. Even a simple visit to their booth can lead to a significant meeting. If you have limited resources, simply register as an attendee and use the show to network with potential customers.

Key Words: SMB, Customer, Acquisition, Networking, Social, Relationship, Overseas, Operations, Survey, Trade Show

How Do You Communicate Benefits Changes After Being Acquired? Seven Suggestions

Situation: A company was recently acquired. The acquirer wants to merge benefit structures between the two entities. While company contributions are similar, distribution of benefits between retirement plans, health plans, and other benefits between the entities varies considerably. How do you approach the staff about the changes in a positive manner?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Ideally, you want to survey employees on what is and is not important to them about their benefits before the package is finalized. This will help you negotiate on your employees’ behalf.
  • Ask the acquirer whether a “cafeteria” benefit program is feasible. This would allow your employees to make choices among benefit options, and to fund these choices either at a company-paid base level or to supplement their choices through payroll deductions.
  • Inform the acquiring company of your state’s regulatory policies on state-specific benefits.
  • Once the new benefit package is finalized, ask for assistance communicating the new package to your staff. Create a simple and concise grid for the program:
    • Amount of company contribution,
    • Old program and benefits,
    • New program and benefits,
    • Use the grid to demonstrate that while the allocation may be different, the company contribution remains the same and the total value of benefits offered is unchanged.
  • If you know that a highly valued benefit is being reduced, consider a short-term subsidy to ease the shift.
  • Be clear about decisions that your employees must make in the new program.
  • If you have access to industry or regional comparisons for like-sized companies, you may wish to share these.

Key Words: Acquisition, Benefit Structure, Change, Employee Input, Cafeteria Plan, Options, State Requirements, Short-term Subsidy, Comparison

What Are The Key Factors to Negotiating an IP Acquisition? Six Considerations

Situation:  The Company is interested in acquiring either the intellectual property (IP) of another company or the company itself. The target is a minor division of a larger parent company. The CEO contacted the parent and confirmed their interest in a deal. What are the key factors to negotiating an IP acquisition?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • You need to assure your rights to both current IP and future enhancements. This applies whether you or the parent is the final holder of the IP.
    • Look for clear language as to what constitutes base IP, derivative IP and extensions of the IP. You want to preserve your interest in future derivatives and extensions that you create.
  • There is a material difference between your position and the parent’s.
    • If the parent retains the IP, they also gain certain rights to IP extensions based on the current IP. If you own the IP, their potential rights to future IP are lost.
    • If the parent feels that the IP has strategic value – whether or not they are currently taking advantage of it – this will be one of the more difficult aspects to the negotiation.
  • What options are there besides acquiring the company?
    • The parent can grant a fully paid license to the technology, with access to the people and assets, waiving residual rights to future IP extensions, and no restrictions on transfer.
    • Another option could be a one-time royalty fee that is a perpetual license.
  • Within your due diligence, try to get a sense of the parent’s motivations and concerns for entertaining your interest in the acquisition. This will help you to frame a deal that works for both parties.
  • If the parent has been an active licensor or seller of IP, look for lawyers who know the company. Try to secure one of these as counsel for your negotiation.
  • From a liability standpoint, it is better to buy or license the IP and technology than the company. Liability travels with the company. Part of your negotiation will be who inherits any carry-over liability.

Key Words: Intellectual Property, IP, Acquisition, Rights, Enhancement, Derivative, Negotiation, License, Royalty, Legal Counsel, Liability