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As a business owner, you’re all too familiar with the hustle of generating leads. You pour your heart, soul, and resources into capturing the attention of potential clients. But what happens next? Are those leads blossoming into paying customers, or are they withering on the vine? The truth is, the journey from lead to client is where the real magic happens or should happen. Let’s dive into transforming those prospects into profits!

First, let’s focus on revenue leakage. It’s the consequence of leads slipping through your fingers. It results in wasted marketing efforts and stunted business growth. But fear not! By honing your conversion strategies, you can enjoy increased sales, optimized customer acquisition costs, and steady business growth.

Here’s a story that might resonate with you: I recently spoke with an entrepreneur who confessed, “I’m just not good at sales.” This got me thinking. While some people naturally excel at sales, the rest of us can significantly improve with a bit of focus and effort. That’s our mission— to work on it.

The first secret weapon in your arsenal should be a documented sales process. This is non-negotiable. Imagine a roadmap that guides every prospect through a meticulously crafted journey tailored to close the deal. This roadmap eliminates guesswork and ensures consistency, which is vital for pinpointing where leads drop off. You can zoom in and troubleshoot if you notice a pattern, such as leads vanishing at step four.

Remember, when making adjustments, change one element at a time to accurately measure its impact. If you haven’t got a sales process yet, no problem. Grab a pen and paper, brainstorm, and sketch out a flowchart. Follow it, refine it, and soon you’ll have a winning formula.

The second tactic is to engage with your leads by uncovering their pain points. How? Ask the right questions. Whether through a questionnaire or a live conversation (guided by a questionnaire), your goal is to discover their needs and obstacles. Once you have that insight, you can demonstrate how your product or service will tear down those barriers and help them achieve their desired results.

The third strategy is to offer a guarantee, but think beyond the typical money-back promise. Consider what irks customers about your industry and flip that into your guarantee. For example, if you run a plumbing business, and common complaints are tardiness and messiness, your guarantee could cover punctuality and cleanliness. Get creative, and don’t shy away from adding a touch of humor if it fits your brand.

Now, here’s a bonus tip, and it’s a game-changer: ask for the sale. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but if you believe in your product or service, you owe it to your potential clients to offer them the solution they need. Approach each interaction with the mindset of improving their lives.

By investing time and energy into these strategies, you’ll witness a swift uptick in sales. You’ll fine-tune your customer acquisition process and lay the groundwork for predictable, sustainable business growth. That’s the dream, right?

If you’re a business owner eager to convert more leads into loyal customers, let’s chat! Schedule a free 30-minute conversation with me. We’ll explore your current strategies and develop a tailored solution to elevate your conversion rate. Because when your leads turn into revenue, that’s when your business truly thrives!

Starting an entrepreneurial journey is often driven by the pursuit of financial freedom. Yet, ironically, many business owners find themselves shackled by the very thing they sought to control: their finances. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to view their financials as a Pandora’s box—intimidating and better left unopened.

But let’s be candid, merely peeking at your bank balance and hoping for the best is like driving blindfolded. You might be cruising, wind in your hair, favorite tune blasting, but what if there’s a financial cliff just around the bend?

Understanding your finances is not just about avoiding disaster; it’s about steering your business with confidence and clarity. It’s the difference between surviving and thriving. I’ve seen it firsthand with clients who once subscribed to the ‘bank account balancing act’—if there’s money, spend it; if not, panic. This method is a recipe for fiscal disaster that often leads to a desperate financial juggling act that can cripple your cash flow.

So, how do you break free from this cycle? Let’s dive into three transformative strategies that can shift you from financial fog to financial finesse.

Budgeting and Forecasting: Your Financial Roadmap

Think of budgeting and forecasting as your GPS. Without them, you’re just guessing which turn to take. Start by reviewing last year’s numbers. What was your average monthly revenue? What did you typically spend? Use these figures as a baseline for the upcoming year. Remember, your business has its rhythms—seasons of ebb and flow. Adjust your budget to reflect anticipated projects or sales peaks.

Don’t fret if your initial forecast isn’t spot-on. Budgeting is an art as much as a science, and with practice, your predictions will sharpen.

Reporting: Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

Once your budget is in place, regular reporting keeps you accountable. Are you hitting your targets, or do you need to course-correct? Depending on your industry, you might need to review your financials daily, weekly, or at the very minimum monthly. Tools like a simple ‘master tracker’ spreadsheet can be invaluable, allowing you to compare actuals against projections, and ensuring that you stay aligned with your financial goals.

The PURE Method: Streamlining for Profitability

The PURE method is a powerful lens through which to view your financial activities. Each letter represents a crucial question to ask about your expenses and revenue streams:

– Profitable: Which services or products have the potential to boost your bottom line?

– Unnecessary: Are there expenses you’re incurring for no current benefit?

– Reduce or Replace: What costs can you cut or swap for more economical options?

– Even: Which expenses are fixed and unlikely to change?

By systematically applying the PURE method, you can refine your financial strategy, enhance profitability, and eliminate waste.

Embracing these strategies not only elevates your decision-making ability, it also paves the way for a more profitable, sustainable business. And don’t forget the peace of mind that comes with financial control—it’s the bedrock of true entrepreneurial freedom.

If you’re a business owner grappling with the nuances of financial tracking, I’m here to help. Let’s chat about your challenges and chart a course towards financial clarity. Schedule a complimentary 30-minute call with me, and together, we’ll tailor a solution that aligns with your unique business needs.

In Conclusion

Ignoring your finances doesn’t just hold you back—it risks the very freedom you’re working so hard to achieve. It’s time to take the wheel with confidence, knowing that every financial decision propels you closer to your goals.

To financial clarity and beyond,

Eric Knam

For any small business proprietor, the mantra of operational efficiency rings true as a cornerstone of success. It’s not merely an aspiration; it’s a requisite for navigating the competitive terrain and ensuring sustained growth in today’s market. At its core, achieving peak performance through streamlined operations delineates the frontier between industry leaders and stragglers.

Understanding Operational Excellence

Operational excellence delineates the pursuit of a sustainable competitive edge by fine-tuning processes, allocating resources judiciously, and nurturing talent. It’s the art of accomplishing more with less, all while enhancing quality. Rather than sporadic overhauls, it hinges on a culture of perpetual refinement, where incremental advancements cumulate into substantial gains over time.

The Pillars of Operational Excellence

To actualize operational excellence, these foundational pillars serve as guiding beacons:

1. Process Optimization

Every facet of operations, spanning from order processing to client servicing, warrants relentless optimization. Regular audits and adjustments are imperative to curtail waste, minimize errors, and expedite operations.

2. Employee Engagement

Acknowledge your workforce as the nucleus of productivity. Cultivate an environment of engagement through transparent communication, avenues for professional growth, and acknowledgment of achievements.

3. Customer Centricity

Ultimately, operational excellence reverberates in the delivery of unparalleled value to patrons. Grasping their needs and surpassing expectations fosters loyalty and heralds organic growth.

4. Technological Integration

Harness the power of technology to automate tasks, fortify data analytics, and bolster communication channels. Technological infusion paves the path for efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness.

5. Quality Assurance

Never compromise on quality. Instituting robust quality management systems ensures consistency, fortifies trust with clients, and averts costly lapses.

Streamlining Operational Efficiency

Here are actionable steps to streamline operations and catalyze peak performance:

1. Conduct a Process Audit

Scrutinize existing operations to unearth bottlenecks, redundancies, and non-value-adding activities. External perspectives via consultants can offer fresh insights.

2. Implement Lean Methodologies

Embrace lean principles to pare down waste without compromising productivity, whether by optimizing inventory levels or simplifying workflows.

3. Invest in Training

Equip your team with requisite skills and knowledge through comprehensive training programs. A proficient workforce is pivotal for operational efficacy and superior customer service.

4. Leverage Technology

Embrace business management software to automate tasks, monitor performance, and fortify customer relationships.

5. Establish Clear Goals and Metrics

Define operational excellence benchmarks and track progress methodically. Metrics serve as compass points for improvement initiatives and ensure accountability.

6. Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Encourage staff to contribute ideas for optimization, fostering an ethos of perpetual enhancement.

The Advantages of Operational Excellence

The pursuit of operational excellence yields manifold benefits:

  • Heightened Efficiency: Streamlined processes yield optimal resource utilization and diminished
    waste.
  • Enhanced Quality: Consistent delivery of high-quality products and services bolsters brand
    credibility.
  • Elevated Customer Satisfaction: Smooth operations translate to superior customer experiences.
  • Augmented Employee Morale: Transparent processes and defined goals foster a conducive work
    environment.
  • Improved Financial Performance: Ultimately, these benefits coalesce into a robust bottom line.

Concluding Thoughts on Operational Efficiency Excellence

Operational efficiency excellence is an ongoing voyage underscored by commitment and continuous refinement. It’s the linchpin for small business proprietors endeavoring to carve a niche and secure enduring success. By working smarter, not harder, one can erect a resilient, agile, and efficient enterprise poised for sustained growth.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just spinning up your new venture, staying ahead of the curve in your industry is imperative for success. In the dynamic landscape of business, understanding and leveraging industry trends, adapting to changes, and maintaining a competitive edge in your niche are non-negotiables.

Let’s delve into how you can unlock the potential of the upcoming year through effective business strategy development.

Industry Trends Analysis: Your Strategic Crystal Ball

Think of industry trends analysis as your business’s strategic crystal ball. It involves examining the patterns, technologies, and consumer behaviors shaping your sector. How do you harness this insight effectively?

1. Data Dive: Start with data. Utilize market reports, consumer surveys, and analytics tools to build the foundation of your trend analysis.
2. Expert Insights: Tap into the wisdom of thought leaders and industry experts through webinars, podcasts, and conferences to gain cutting-edge insights.
3. Competitors: Keep a close eye on your competitors. Understand what they are doing well and where they fall short. Use this intelligence to inform your strategies.
4. Customer Feedback: Never underestimate the power of customer feedback. It provides a direct line to understanding market needs and gaps.

Staying Agile in a Changing Landscape

The only constant in business is change. Staying updated with industry shifts is crucial for survival and success.

1. Continuous Learning: Commit to ongoing education by reading industry publications, subscribing to newsletters, and joining professional groups.
2. Technology Adoption: Embrace technology that can keep you ahead of the curve, whether it’s AI, blockchain, or the next big innovation. Be an early adopter.
3. Network Nurturing: Build a robust network. Relationships with peers can provide insider information on upcoming changes before they hit the mainstream.
4. Scenario Planning: Prepare for multiple futures with scenario planning. This helps you stay flexible and ready to pivot when necessary.

Standing Out in the Crowded Marketplace

Differentiation is critical in the crowded marketplace of 2024. Ensure your business strategy development stands out.

1. Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Clarify your UVP. Hone this message until it’s razor-sharp. What makes your business unique?

2. Customer Experience: Offer an unparalleled customer experience. Go beyond expectations to create memorable interactions.
3. Innovation: Foster a culture of innovation. Encourage your team to think outside the box and reward creative problem-solving.
4. Brand Storytelling: Tell a compelling brand story. People connect with stories, so make yours one they’ll want to follow.

Actionable Steps to Market Mastery Through Business Strategy Development

1. Set Up Google Alerts: Stay informed about industry news by setting up Google Alerts for key terms related to your business.
2. Schedule Regular Reviews: Block out time monthly to review industry reports and analyze your business’s performance in these trends.
3. Engage with Your Audience: Use social media and surveys to engage with your audience, gaining insights and feedback regularly.
4. Invest in Training: Allocate budget and time for you and your team to undergo training in new technologies and methodologies.
5. Review Your UVP Quarterly: As the market evolves, so should your UVP. Make it a point to review and adjust it quarterly.

Final Thoughts

Mastering your market in 2024 is about being informed, agile, and distinctive. It’s a blend of art and science, intuition, and data. By committing to thorough industry trends analysis, staying abreast of industry changes, and carving out a competitive niche, you won’t just survive, you’ll thrive.

If you’re seeking a strategic partner to navigate this journey, consider The Business Acceleration Team as your co-pilot. We’re here to provide the insights, support, and guidance you need to make 2024 your most successful year yet. Reach out, and let’s conquer your market together.

Within the fiercely competitive realm of third-party logistics (3PL), Sauceda Industries emerged as a standout success story. They achieved a remarkable $14 million in sales before being acquired by Cart.com.

The architect behind this triumph was Jay B. Sauceda, whose secret weapon was not a high-tech innovation or a groundbreaking strategy, but a set of core values that transformed his business into a powerhouse.

Talent Recruitment: The Foundation of Success

Sauceda’s journey began with a pivotal opportunity at Howler Brothers, a digitally native brand known for its stylish and rugged outdoor gear. The leadership at Howler Brothers loved Sauceda’s core values – “Yes, And,” “Explore More,” and “Give a Sh!t.”

These were not mere slogans adorning the office walls; they were intricately woven into the fabric of the company, even influencing job descriptions to ensure that new hires embraced the ethos. The values served as a magnetic force in the competitive talent landscape, attracting individuals who were not just seeking a job but were eager to contribute to a dynamic culture.

In the cutthroat competition for hourly workers, Sauceda ingeniously used job ads as both magnets and filters. His distinctive postings sought individuals who cared deeply about their work, craved personal growth, and valued long-term commitment. This approach set Sauceda Industries apart from competitors, drawing talent that resonated with the company’s dynamic culture.

Employee Training and Metrics: Nurturing Excellence

The integration of core values didn’t end with recruitment; it was the cornerstone of Sauceda’s approach to employee training and performance metrics. New hires underwent dedicated training programs to instill the principles of “Yes, And,” “Explore More,” and “Give a Sh!t.”

Performance evaluations went beyond traditional revenue metrics, recognizing individuals who embodied these core values. The company’s Slack channel buzzed with commendations for team members living out these principles in their daily work.

Distinctive Culture: The Key to Growth

Creating a distinctive culture was pivotal for Sauceda, who emphasized that their values weren’t just words on paper but lived in every interaction, whether it was an employee going above and beyond for a client or collaborative efforts within the team.

Client Relationships: Values as the Bedrock

The influence of core values extended beyond internal operations to client interactions, resulting in the forging of long-term partnerships. A perfect example was the collaboration with Howler Brothers, where shared values laid the foundation for mutual success. According to Sauceda, collaborations aligned with their core values were more likely to bear fruit.

A Valuable Company: From Bootstrapping to Acquisition

Through a values-centric model, Sauceda Industries experienced phenomenal growth, expanding from a modest 3,000-square-foot office in 2013 to a sprawling 126,000-square-foot facility with 150 employees by 2020.

The company’s fast, self-funded ascent to the top of the 3PL landscape was attributed to its value-driven framework, which didn’t just serve clients but built enduring relationships based on shared values.

In 2021, Sauceda Industries reached a pinnacle in its journey when it was acquired by Cart.com. The $14 million success story stands as a testament to the transformative power of core values in shaping not just a business, but a thriving and impactful enterprise.

In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is undeniable. While tech giants were quick to adopt this revolutionary technology, small businesses too should acknowledge the invaluable benefits that AI can bring to their operations.

This comprehensive guide will demonstrate how Artificial Intelligence for Small Businesses can elevate your business in various ways:

1. Streamline Your Processes

Automate Recurring Tasks: AI is a game-changer when it comes to handling repetitive tasks. This not only saves time but also frees up your team to focus on more strategic initiatives. Innovative solutions like UiPath offer Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tailored specifically for businesses.

Predictive Analysis: AI has the power to anticipate operational hiccups or demand surges, enabling your business to be proactive instead of reactive. Platforms like DataRobot provide predictive insights, helping you stay one step ahead in your operations.

2. Enhance Your Customer Service

AI-Powered Customer Service: The introduction of chatbots and virtual assistants has revolutionized customer service. These AI-driven systems can efficiently handle customer queries, enhancing customer experience. Platforms like Chatfuel can assist you in setting up such AI-driven chat systems.

Personalized User Experience: AI can tailor the user experience based on past interactions, ensuring that each customer feels valued. For instance, recommendation engines on e-commerce websites suggest products based on browsing history, thereby increasing user engagement and satisfaction.

3. Optimize Your Marketing Efforts

Targeted Marketing: AI’s ability to analyze customer data allows for the creation of more effective and targeted marketing campaigns. Tools like HubSpot leverage AI to segment and target audiences effectively, resulting in a higher return on investment.

Content Optimization: AI can assess which content resonates most with your audience, providing valuable insights into content performance. Platforms like Crayon offer this service, helping you fine-tune your content strategy for maximum impact.

Tips for Implementing Artificial Intelligence in Your Small Business

Start Small:  You don’t need to revolutionize your entire business system all at once. Begin by identifying one area where AI can make a significant impact and start there. Gradual implementation ensures a smooth transition and allows you to measure the impact more effectively.

Educate Your Team: To harness the power of AI effectively, it’s essential that your team understands the basics of this technology. Platforms like Coursera offer courses on AI for business, providing an excellent starting point for team education.

Incorporating AI into your business strategy can offer a significant competitive edge, streamline operations, and enhance the overall customer experience. It’s about working smarter, not harder.

At The Business Acceleration Team, we are committed to helping businesses harness the power of technology for growth. Reach out to explore how we can support your AI journey and pave the way for your small business to thrive in the AI-driven world of business.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your clients specifically requested your personal involvement in their accounts? If this rings a bell, you might want to explore effective ways to replicate your dedication and expertise through your employees.

This challenge may seem daunting, but the inspiring journey of Ian Fraser offers valuable insights into achieving just that. Ian Fraser, a former professional golfer, began his business career as a master fitter at TaylorMade Europe, assisting elite golfers in finding the perfect clubs.

However, when he ventured into his own club-fitting business, he soon recognized the critical need to impart his
club-fitting expertise to his team so he could elevate his company beyond a mere lifestyle venture. Fraser’s five-step approach to cloning himself is a remarkable testament to his success:

1. Master Your Craft on Someone Else’s Dime

Before founding TXG, Fraser had already devoted a significant portion of his life to the game of golf. His journey began at the age of 15, and within just three years, he achieved the status of a scratch golfer.

Subsequently, he spent eight years at TaylorMade Europe, occupying various club-fitting roles where he collaborated with some of the biggest names in the European PGA, including Colin Montgomerie, Gary Woodland, Eduardo Molinari, and Chris Wood.

In his final role with the company, Fraser designed and managed the TaylorMade Performance Lab at Scotland’s renowned Turnberry golf resort.

Fraser acknowledges that he was “underpaid” during his time at TaylorMade, but he willingly accepted this for the sake of his vision for TXG, knowing that the insights he was gaining would be instrumental in building his own business.

2. Think Like Nobu

Fraser drew inspiration from the world of fine dining, particularly from the example set by Nobu, the acclaimed five-star restaurant chain partially owned by Robert De Niro. He pointed out that when you dine at any of the 50 Nobu locations worldwide, you never question who the chef is on that particular night.

Nobu has set an unparalleled standard for five-star dining, assuring patrons of a top-notch culinary experience, regardless of the chef or location. Fraser effectively used the Nobu model to communicate his vision to his team of club fitters.

3. Hire for EQ, Not IQ

Fraser’s aim was to establish a customer experience-centered company that just happened to specialize in golf club fitting, as opposed to a golf-fitting business with good customer service.

Hence, he prioritized Emotional Intelligence (EQ) over raw Intelligence Quotient (IQ) when hiring TXG staff. In his words, “I can teach you to fit a golf club, but I can’t teach you to be a good person.”

Fraser introduced a behavioral interview question designed to identify the right candidates. He presented interviewees with a scenario that presented two choices: one that benefited the client and another that yielded short-term gains for the company at the client’s expense.

Those who favored short-term profits over doing what was right for the customer were eliminated from consideration.

4. Teach Your Employees Through Osmosis

In most golf-fitting studios, interactions occur privately between the fitter and the player. Fraser, on the other hand, sought to closely observe his apprentices at work and have them learn from his interactions with clients. To facilitate this, he designed his facility with three open-concept bays.

Fraser himself worked from the middle bay, allowing his apprentices to overhear his client interactions, and he could also listen in on their client conversations. Fraser contended that physical proximity to his employees accelerated their learning curve more effectively than any other method he had tried.

5. Broadcast Your Expertise

Fraser established a YouTube channel where he freely shared club-fitting advice. Remarkably, the channel amassed an impressive 216,000 subscribers. Fraser was fully aware that only a small fraction of his subscribers would ever set foot in a TXG store.

However, the channel served as a powerful tool to bolster TXG’s reputation as the world’s premier club fitter. Additionally, it transformed his marketing strategy from a cost center into a profit generator, with the channel generating over $300,000 annually in advertising revenue, which Fraser reinvested in further growth.

When asked whether he was concerned about revealing his “secret sauce” in the YouTube videos, Fraser made an apt comparison to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who freely shares his recipes in cookbooks without diminishing the allure of his restaurants.

By implementing innovative hiring practices and adopting a creative approach to employee training, Fraser successfully expanded Tour Experience Golf (TXG) into a team of 14 employees.

Simultaneously, he cultivated a dedicated YouTube following of over 200,000 subscribers and achieved revenue exceeding $3 million.

In a noteworthy development in 2022, TXG was acquired by Club Champion, the largest club-fitting company in the United States, boasting more than 100 locations. This acquisition marked a significant milestone in Fraser’s remarkable entrepreneurial journey.

How many people can one person manage? Harvard Business Review estimates the ideal range for an experienced manager is between five and nine direct reports. Inc. pegs the sweet spot at seven.

The ratio of managers to direct reports matters because it explains why some companies grow and others plateau. Every business is different, but you can loosely think of a company’s evolution as a series of stages with an invisible gate holding most owners from progressing to the next stage:

Stage 1: Doers (up to 9 employees)

In stage 1, you direct a handful of doers. You need people who can follow your standard operating procedures and execute them. Your best employees will often be generalists who can do a lot of things reasonably well. They thrive on variety and like the feeling of getting things done.

Many owners get stuck in stage 1 because they fear delegation. Owners don’t trust employees enough to do the work without their direct oversight. However, those owners courageous enough to hire some managers will graduate to stage 2.

Stage 2: Managers (10–40 employees)

In a Stage 2 company, the owner hires a small number of managers (usually less than five), who are paid to ensure their direct reports execute. The emphasis is on managing against the plan the owner gives them. Good managers understand the process they are being asked to manage. They are detail-oriented and stick to the plan.

While managers may contribute to the plan, they are not usually responsible for creating it. Managers typically need their leader(s) to supply their plan, which is why many companies stall out at stage 2.

Stage 3: Leaders (40 + employees)

For our purposes here, let’s define a leader as a person who can lead a team through more than one layer of management.

Let’s imagine you have a sales leader who oversees two sales managers, each with five salespeople reporting to them. The leader’s job is to set direction and to provide a vision and plan for their managers to execute. They lead a team of twelve (two managers plus ten salespeople) while managing two direct reports.

While most leaders can manage, the opposite is not necessarily true. Leadership requires managers to learn a new set of skills. Leaders need to be able to communicate clearly, delegate effectively, and create strategy.

If you’re stuck at stage 2, you have two options: either you need to hire leaders to parachute into your organization, which risks alienating your managers, or train managers to become leaders. Both strategies are hard and time-consuming, which is why many companies get stuck at stage 2.

Half Your People, Half Your Processes

For an example of a company that successfully managed the transition to stage 3, take a look at Acceleration Partners. Started by Robert Glazer in 2007, Acceleration Partners is an agency specializing in partner marketing. Acceleration Partners is a people-centric business that helps brands reach and manage their influencer relationships.

In the beginning, Glazer began hiring people to help him manage clients and their projects. As he described on a recent episode of Built to Sell Radio, Acceleration Partners’ needs evolved as the company expanded: “Every time your company doubles in size, you outgrow half your people and half your processes.”

Glazer grew Acceleration Partners for 14 years, and by the time he sold it in 2021, Glazer had an entire team of leaders overseeing a group of managers who were managing the people doing the work.

If you’re stuck, it’s worth asking if you have the right people in place to take your business to the next stage. In the beginning, you will need managers you can trust.

And to graduate to stage 3, you’ll need people who can manage and lead. Some managers may need training, while other areas of your business may need an entirely new leader to make the transition successful.

When David Perry started his video game company, Gaikai, he did something very few of us would ever consider doing with a fledgling business. He filled a dartboard in his office with the names of companies he thought would want to buy his company someday.

Why would the owner of a startup business with no revenue or employees be thinking about potential acquirers so early?

For Perry, it comes down to something he refers to as “down-the-track thinking.”Perry was recently interviewed about Sony’s $380 million acquisition of Gaikai, and he described his philosophy by using a moving train as an analogy.

All industries are like a train full of people. Most of them sit comfortably inside watching the countryside go by. There are likely a couple of people scrambling behind the train, hoping to jump on before it gets going too fast.

Then there are a select few who obsess over where the train is going and are constantly thinking about each upcoming stop along the way.

Perry described himself as one of the people thinking about where the train is going next, so it only made sense to him to have a list of companies that would one day want to buy his business.

The company that occupied the “bullseye” on Perry’s dartboard was Sony. When his partner suggested they name their company Gaikai, a Japanese word that roughly translates to “open sea”, Perry agreed.

The word gaikai is hard for the average English speaker to pronounce, but Perry knew the name would be irresistible to Sony.

He and his partners even decided to name other parts of their product line using Japanese words. They also designed the company for the global gaming market, not just American customers. This was a total break from the way other video game makers were thinking at the time.

Years later, when Perry was ready to sell Gaikai, he approached the biggest players in the market to let them know his company was available. Sony was by far the most enthusiastic. They were thrilled to see the extent to which Perry and his partners had gone to make Gaikai fit Sony’s culture.

Visualizing a shortlist of potential acquirers when you make key decisions is a good way to vet your next move. Imagining how your potential buyers will react to hearing about your plan to evolve your company can create a more strategic lens for you to peer through prior to making big bets.

Whether you are looking to sell soon or are still years away, the process of developing a shortlist of tomorrow’s potential acquirers will help you make better decisions today.

Last month, Darden, the company behind the Olive Garden restaurant chain, made headlines with its acquisition of Ruth’s Chris, the renowned American steakhouse, for a staggering $715 million.

This purchase implied a valuation of approximately one times Ruth’s Chris’ annual revenue from the previous year or around ten times their adjusted EBITDA for 2022. While this was a significant achievement for a large corporation, it also highlighted how Ruth’s Chris’ lack of recurring revenue had potentially hindered its value.

Breaking the Myth: Recurring Revenue Beyond Software

Recurring revenue is often thought to be exclusive to software companies. However, it is crucial to recognize that traditional businesses can also tap into the advantages of creating recurring income streams.

A prime example is Gamal Codner, the visionary founder of Fresh Heritage, a brand specializing in men’s grooming products that initially centered around beard oil for pre-shave softening.

Codner faced a challenge when he realized that acquiring customers through Facebook ads, at a cost of roughly $15 per customer, left little room for profitability with an average order value of $30.

Understanding the need for a change, Codner decided to diversify his product line and introduce the VIP Club – a subscription program that offered automatic shipments of Fresh Heritage products.

Going Beyond Discounts: A Subscription Program with a Purpose

Codner conducted an extensive survey involving approximately 500 customers, leading to a remarkable discovery. He found that his target customers were less enticed by discounts and more drawn to the idea of becoming alpha males in their respective fields.

This aligns perfectly with Fresh Heritage’s goal of building a unique brand that specifically appeals to growth-oriented men, those who prioritize boosting their self-confidence.

To incentivize men to join the VIP program, Codner moved beyond conventional financial incentives. He strategically fostered a sense of community and belonging by emphasizing membership in a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to personal excellence.

Quarterly local meetups were established, offering valuable opportunities for members to network and share experiences. These empowering gatherings swiftly became a driving force, attracting new customers to the remarkable experience provided by Fresh Heritage’s VIP program.

Converting Customers into Loyal Subscribers

Continuing his customer acquisition efforts through Facebook advertising, Codner successfully converted them into loyal subscribers, significantly increasing their lifetime value. The average order value skyrocketed to over $60, and with the subscription program attracting 3,000 members, Fresh Heritage’s EBITDA margin soared to an impressive 40%.

This exceptional achievement caught the attention of BRANDED, an aggregator of digitally native direct-to-consumer brands, who presented Codner with an irresistible acquisition offer in 2022.

Unlocking the Value of Recurring Revenue

The story of Fresh Heritage exemplifies how incorporating recurring revenue streams can greatly enhance the value of a business. As demonstrated, one does not need to operate in the software industry to create a steady income stream.

By understanding what your customers desire on an ongoing basis, you can uncover the foundation for a compelling subscription offering that fuels the growth and profitability of your enterprise.