Business Turnaround Tip for a Successful MBO Turned Awry

When you acquire a company through an MBO, your hopes are always high. You know the business more than anyone else and you’ve got too much at stake to do a sloppy job. So how could things go wrong? Well sometimes they do. And if you don’t make a quick business turnaround, you could end up losing more than just your company.

If that management buyout was financed by a bank, then chances are you were required to invest a sizeable amount from your own pockets. I won’t be surprised if you even remortgaged your house for it.

Regardless of your source of funding, whether it was a bank, a venture capitalist or through a deferred consideration, the mere thought of losing your job and getting buried in enormous debt at the same time might be too much to bear. If you get too overwhelmed by your emotions and can’t think clearly, you’ll have to step out of the driver?s seat and have someone take over.

That someone can’t be a member of the management team that took part in the management buyout. Like you, he/she might be in panic mode as well. You need someone from the outside who has no emotional attachments to the company and hence can view the crisis from a clear perspective.

Here’s what’s needed:

Review and Plan

Take a closer look at all factors affecting your business: governance and organisational structures, employees, suppliers, systems and procedures, roles and responsibilities, etc. Identify potential risks and assess the likelihood of them affecting your business.

This will give a clearer picture of cause-and-effect relationships as well as the specific tasks on hand.

Thus, when it is time to draft a plan, you can do so from a well-informed standpoint. This will enable you to target specific areas of improvement and avoid pointless activities.

Assure all stakeholders

Once a watertight plan has been formulated, you will have to approach your stakeholders. They?ll need to know what your directions are. Once they’re all sold on the plan, you could implement our strategies unimpeded.

This is a very crucial part because a sceptical stakeholder can serve as a major stumbling block in our efforts to improve the situation. You need to convince your banks, sponsors, and investors in order to avoid additional financial obstacles. You need to convince your suppliers too. If they cut off or limit supply, you won’t be able to continue doing business.

Most of all, you need to persuade your staff and employees that the proposed major changes have to be carried out in order for the company to survive. You can’t run your operations without them on board.

Redesign and set up new systems and procedures

Any company requiring a turnaround will certainly have systems and procedures that are no longer working well in the current conditions and hence would require either major changes in key areas or a total revamp. You need to study personnel roles and responsibilities as well as systems and processes, including financial and IT systems, and supervise the implementation of necessary changes.

You will need to evaluate your existing IT architecture and determine how you can best maximise what you already have and propose what you think will work more efficiently for our proposed systems and procedures. Every piece of hardware or software recommended will take into consideration your present resources. There are many solutions out there, you just need to find the best fit.

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Making Click-and-Collect click

In my previous post, I introduced you to integrated e-commerce and explained why it is the right way to extend your business online. If you already have a brick-and-mortar retailing business and you’re looking to improve your online presence, you could start offering a click-and-collect service.

With click-and-collect, customers order online and then collect their merchandise from one of the retailer?s local branches. Why would they want to do that?

Apparently, there are buyers who now prefer a click-and-collect service over the delivery service of a purely online retailer. With the latter, they sometimes have to wait forever for the delivery van to arrive or contend with a missed-delivery card.

Basically, customers who want both the convenience of placing orders online and better control of their time find click-and-collect a better option.

Last December 2011, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) reported a ?significant rise in the percentage of click-and-collect e-retail sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011?. This accounted for 10.4% of all e-retail sales in that quarter. More specifically, the gain was 7.4%, which was also the strongest quarterly gain since IMRG started collecting this data.

Clearly, this particular service is gaining popularity. But how do you meet the rising demand in this area?

A click-and-collect service requires a highly synchronised ecosystem. You don’t want to have a customer order items from your online store, drive a couple of minutes from his house to your nearest outlet, only to find out that one of the items is no longer available.

This can only work if all systems involved are interconnected. Changes in the inventory in your individual outlets should reflect on your database in real time. In turn, these changes have to be reflected instantly on your online store. Conversely, once a buyer has picked items online and is already directed to a local outlet, those items have to be reserved there.

But that’s not all. Your system has to be seamless enough to support fast and reliable service. You don’t want your buyer to have to wait a long time before the items are ready for pick-up. It also has to be capable of tracking the status of ordered products, handling uncollected orders, and monitoring inventory.

By implementing an integrated e-commerce system, these won’t be the only things you?d be able to do. You can even add more value to your service. For example, you can connect to your CRM and learn more about your customers? purchase history, buying habits, and preferences.

That way, it would be easier for you to provide a faster and more convenient buying experience for them in the future.

Click-and-collect is a very promising way to increase your sales and improve customer loyalty.

Renewable energy – Is it a common man’s cup of tea?
I came across an article on a young graduate in renewable energy engineering. The fellow was doing technical sales and marketing jobs for renewable energy products though he felt that as a graduate, he ought to be doing more than just sales. His, sentiments, I can relate with but again thinking about the field of renewable energy, how many people understand what it is, its importance/ benefits, how to acquire it, its installation, costs etc.?Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources. The renewable energy sources include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, geothermal heat and various forms of biomass. These sources are renewable naturally and continuously replenished, therefore this energy cannot be exhausted. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity/micro hydro, biomass and bio-fuels for transportation.Back to the aspiring young professional who felt that his place in the renewable energy sector lies in doing strategies and coming up with new products-the advice fronted to him was that doing technical sales is the best job for engineers, as it helps them impact on users of their products. Sales entail interacting with customers and knowing their needs so that the product features can be enhanced to suit the customer?s needs. Now, that is brilliant and accurate advice. It is however important to take into consideration that renewable energy is not a common man?s cup of tea and right now the focus all over the world is to build green economies.To me the need for more and more people to understand the benefits, savings and cost of renewable energy cannot be overemphasised. Effort should be made to keep marketing of renewable energy products/ services simple and conversational by avoiding use of acronyms or jargon explaining about operational details. More impact can be made if a marketing rather than technical sales approach is used. Technical sales have been described as boring (can be used as a sleeping aid), tends to use extensive vocabulary, jargon and acronyms that product users cannot relate with and tends to discuss the products technical aspects as opposed to the benefits to the customer. Fun should be created out of all this by making things simple and demonstrating cost savings and benefits of renewable energy.
Computer Forensics

So you had a customer data security breach last weekend? Do you know you could be held liable in court for failing to implement required security procedures? That’s right. Due to the overwhelming surge in identity theft wherein nearly 20 million Americans have already been affected, most states have enacted laws to curtail this fast rising crime. Therefore, it is important to redefine how your company deals with customer data security.

  • First, you’ll want to know what your obligations are as dictated by law. Some places, for example, require the destruction or deletion of personal data through shredding, erasing, or by rendering them undecipherable.
  • Second, not only do you need to comply with the said requirements, you’ll also have to prove in court that you actually complied if ever a security breach does happen.
  • Third, you need to be aware of your post-breach duties to avoid being dealt additional penalties.

Obviously, such situations now call for individuals who are experts in both the legal and technical aspects regarding data security. Such individuals are practitioners of a relatively new discipline known as computer forensics.

Armed with our computer forensics specialists, we’ll be able to help you deal with the above concerns. As a result, you can be prevented from having to pay fines that can go up to hundreds of thousands of euros.

There are other equally important reasons why you would want to avail of computer forensics services. For example, you’ll need computer forensics specialists because you want to:

  • Catch a person involved in criminal activities such as child porn, stealing of personal data, and destroying intellectual property.
  • Investigate a computer, network, or even a mobile device for clues that may lead to the culprit.
  • Determine the extent and possible causes when you discover your digital data has been damaged.
  • Find and recover damaged, deleted or encrypted data regardless of whether the cause was intentional or not. If the data in question will be used as evidence in a legal action, there are certain procedures that need to be followed during recovery operations to retain the integrity of the data. Computer forensic specialists are highly qualified for such operations.
  • Implement security policies in your organisation. Such policies have to operate within legal bounds if you want to avoid possible sanctions in the future. These policies should also be designed such that future forensic operations can be conducted with a high likelihood of success.

That said, a company that integrates computer forensics into its IT security policies and practices will be better equipped to remedy the situation once data security has already been compromised than a company that doesn’t.

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