Every engagement, every project within an engagement, is different. There are, however, certain themes that repeat themselves over and over.
First — in all strategic planning processes — the key players must be completely clear and in harmony on the desired “end state” — what a “home run” would be. That sounds very simple, but often it’s not. There is surprising subtlety and nuance in this undertaking. For example, will an ultimate exit be financial, strategic or a combination — it makes a BIG difference. And, similarly, do the principals of a firm want to be involved after a liquidity event, or do they want to move on. Often the process of reducing these thoughts to writing — in and of itself — forces a crystallization that cannot be created any other way.
Next, the parties need to get clear on the time-line for achieving the desired outcome. The strategy involved in getting a business ready for sale in 18 months will be entirely different than the strategy involved in getting that same business ready for sale in 36 months.
Then, but only after the goals and the “horizon” are entirely clear, everyone needs to developing an unflinching understanding of the issues, challenges and environment. In our work that usually means meeting with all the principals, studying all the resources that relate to the firm — marketing materials, financial statements, product documentation, etc. — and analyzing the competitive landscape in which the firm operates.
And, finally, comes the deliverables which may be in the form of a business plan, a private placement memorandum, new or improved marketing campaigns or materials, or fund raising materials such as a presentation “deck.”
This definitely an example of “kids don’t try this at home.”