Your business questions answered

I’m very proud of the company I’ve painstakingly built up over the years, but I want to retire in about five years’ time. I’d hate to see the business deteriorate after I’ve gone. How can I ensure that it carries on growing and thriving?

You need to select and prepare a capable successor – but the best choice may not be the most obvious one. You may have family members champing at the bit to take over. Or there may be a partner, shareholder or senior manager who would like their turn in the hot seat. Your choice should be based on two critical criteria: who you want the business to go to, and who is best qualified to run it after you leave. Often, these two are not the same, so identifying a successor can be the most difficult step in the entire process.

The key is to start the succession planning process now, and keep it current. If you do it properly, you will be able to

  • plan for an orderly transition of your business
  • identify and prepare a capable successor
  • build, protect and transfer your net worth.

Click here for more detailed guidance on succession planning.

If yours is a small or medium-sized business, you may wish to consider our specialist succession planning service.

The following articles will give you additional insights:

Exit planning
Moving on – the “dos and don’ts” of exiting

For further advice, email us or call us on 020 7099 2621.

I’m keen to grow my company and I do quite a lot of networking. I do make new contacts, but I don’t seem to get much new business as a result. Am I wasting my time? Would I be better off focusing my efforts elsewhere?

Networking can be a very effective promotional tool, but only if you have a clear networking strategy and implementation plan. If you don’t have these, your networking will be a bit haphazard and the results will be disappointing.

You need to identify the most appropriate networking opportunities for your business, and exploit them in the most effective way. This page contains a list of the things you need to consider when developing your networking strategy.

A couple of guest articles on our site may also give you some useful insights:

Networking and relationships leading to success by David Adams

Networking – why it matters for those in larger companies too by Joanna Gaudoin

For further advice, email us or call us on 020 7099 2621.

Because my company is growing, some employees are complaining that they are having to spend too much time on tasks that aren’t part of their job description. I don’t want to invest in hiring more staff just yet, but I want to keep my people happy. What can I do?

It sounds as though you’re not making best use of your most valuable resources – your employees and their real competencies. You may find that outsourcing will provide the solution to your problem.

Companies of all sizes are improving profitability and powering growth by outsourcing tasks that are less strategically critical, and for which there are no special capabilities within the business.

The benefits that outsourcing could bring you include:

  • maximising the returns on your internal resources
  • being free to develop your company’s core competencies to a level where they provide formidable barriers against present and future competitors
  • making full use of external suppliers’ investments, innovations and specialised professional capabilities.

For more information on this topic, see our outsourcing guidance and tips.

You may also find it useful to carry out an assessment of your company’s core competencies.

For further advice, email us or call us on 020 7099 2621.

My business is doing well, but I’m keen to see further growth. Would buying another company be a good route to take?

While acquisitions are a legitimate growth strategy, they do carry a high degree of risk. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and maximise your chances of success.

First, you need to evaluate all your growth opportunities, including those for organic growth. Then, if you choose the acquisition route, you need to select a target company that will bring you the benefits and synergies you are looking for, and carry out due diligence before making an approach.

Once the deal is complete, careful post-acquisition integration must be your priority: without it, you won’t see the full benefits you envisaged.

For more information on this tricky subject, see our guidance on:

Smaller businesses that don’t have enough internal resource to handle the crucial processes mentioned above often find that our Commercial Due Diligence and Post-acquisition Integration package meets all their needs.

For further advice, email us or call us on 020 7099 2621.

I’m thinking about setting up a partnership with another company in order to extend the geographic range of my business. Are there any potential snares I should be aware of?

The type of partnership you describe can indeed bring the benefit you want – and many more, including access to advanced technology, faster product development, better quality control, cost savings and a stronger negotiating position. But you have to choose your partner carefully, as such an alliance requires deep, organisation-wide commitment from all involved. If your partner’s goals or cultures differ radically from your own, the alliance will most likely fail.

You must also make sure that a relationship with your business is seen as an attractive proposition. So you need to articulate the competitive values that will make you a good strategic partner, and show your prospective partners how your own core competencies could solve an existing business problem. Have a look at this information on strategic alliances.

Here are some more tips that may help you with your expansion plans, particularly if you want to target overseas markets:

For further advice, email us or call us on 020 7099 2621.

I’ve just been appointed to my first CEO post. What are the biggest pitfalls I should look out for?

As there are so many variables, we can’t give you an answer that will cover your particular situation. But don’t let the fear of getting things wrong hold you back. Mistakes can be productive – so long as you are willing to admit them and learn from them. For more information on this, see our recent Snapshot A leader’s guide to being wrong.

Here are some more insights that will help you develop your leadership abilities:

For further advice, email us or call us on 020 7099 2621.