Gordon Matthew publishes “How can a Growth Plan help to break through the Glass Ceiling”

The challenge
Getting management teams to understand a Growth Plan is the starting point. The plan needs to be challenging, ambitious and most importantly, realistic, deliverable & achievable all at the same time.
The NED ideally needs to work with the exec team to constructively challenge the current business model and the various growth options. Bringing valuable independent & objective views to the table will help management to assess, consider & select the best growth options. For this to be effective, the NED must work hard to build strong relationships with senior management to gain their confidence and trust which will, in turn, lead to more effective engagement in both the growth planning and execution “to grow” phases.
Building the Growth Plan
“The plan is a living everyday working document – the business needs to live & breath it; too many see it as a one-off exercise – do the plan, tick the box & go back to the day job focused on the here & now”
A Growth Plan is the framework & platform that gives everyone in the business a focus, clear objectives; and expected outcomes. At the same time, a Growth Plan needs to drive sustained growth.
First, the business needs to have a clear focus:
• What is it going to deliver and to whom?
• Why/how will it be better than its competition?
• Which specific products & solutions will be provided?
• What is the target market/customers?
• What is going to make it unique?

“Where are we now?”
To develop an effective plan, the business needs to honestly assess its current position This provides the start point and will include current strengths and, also, weaknesses that will need to be addressed if growth is to be achieved
“Where do we want to be?”
Next, it is critical to establish the targets and goals for say 1-3 years. By setting targets for each year, the business can progressively evolve, develop & grow incrementally.
“How we are going to get there?”
Actions with clear measures of success then need to be established and implemented across the business.
“Just do it!”
Finally, it’s all about relentlessly measuring progress against the agreed actions ensuring the plan stays on track monthly, quarterly and annually.
This sounds incredibly simple and it is. Having a clear plan and measuring progress against it ensures the business stays on track, takes early corrective action and makes real progress.
Leadership to execute the plan
The CEO and his team
The role of the CEO and his team is critical to a successful Growth Plan implementation. Any identified shortcomings with the plan need to be proactively and constructively challenged at the earliest opportunity – this allows corrective actions to be taken but, more importantly, demonstrates to the whole organization that the plan will be achieved; this, in turn, will breed a positive culture of success.
The NED role
The primary role of the NED is to help the management team to be more effective and allow them to run the business with increased focus and direction; this facilitates accelerated business improvement and provides strategic options for all stakeholders.
It is often difficult to directly measure the impact and success of the NED – this can only really be seen in the context of the overall business performance. If the management team are performing better and the results show growth, it is a sure sign that the NED has made a difference.
As an NED, constant coaching, cajoling, challenging and inspiration is essential – the CEO and his team need to live and breathe the plan. Bringing the plan to life will be tough but it will ultimately deliver the just rewards.
In my experience, the difference between success & failure is, in most cases, down to leadership. Most, if not all, businesses have a decent proposition, solid customer base & good staff; whether these assets are leveraged to drive success is down to how the business is led, driven, goaled, measured & rewarded. A change in leadership approach can have an immediate impact on performance as proven recently by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.

Achieving the Glass Ceiling break through
For a business to be sustainable, it is important the execution of plan builds ultimate value for all the stakeholders.
This can be measured in several ways and in my experience of Technology businesses, there are always a few key factors that drive value. These are Value Drivers:
• revenue & margin growth,
• levels of recurring revenue,
• customer retention & development,
• customer cross-sell & upsell operating profit,
• operating cash generation,
• value of sales opportunities
• size of order book.
Whatever the Value Drivers for the business, the growth plan needs to identify these and measure progress against them; once these are moving in the right direction the business will be on a growth path which will accelerate over time.
In a recent assignment, a successful acquisition and subsequent integration resulted in rapid cross-sell to the enlarged client base which led to significant growth in sales, margins and profits allowing the stakeholders to achieve an exit within 18 months.
Businesses can transform to growth in a matter of months, the growth is sustainable, and the management team gains the confidence both in the plan, and the NED advice. This inspires the business leaders to push on, again, to the next level.
In summary, sustainable business growth is, without doubt, a highly satisfying achievement. The overall effect on all stakeholders – management, staff, customers, suppliers and, of course, shareholders & investors – is a positive one.
Growth is not easy. However, having a plan with clear actions, measurable targets & outcomes and, most importantly, clear ownership will provide a platform that makes growth deliverable.
It is crucial this growth mindset is instilled into executive management in a constructive and supportive way, as ultimately it is they who are responsible for delivering their plan.

Gordon Matthew March 2019

TMS Complete Transformation and Sale of Arden Communications Group to Babble Cloud

The TMS Team started a buy and build transformation at Arden Communications Group in 2015. This focussed project increased revenues by over 50% to just under £10m, and drove trading EBITDA to circa £1.6m (16%). The resulting significant growth led to a managed trade sale to Babble Cloud in October 2018.

TMS founder completes another new challenge

Cycling enthusiast, Gordon Matthew, has completed the magnificent Mallorca Lighthouse Tour. 450km in 4 days with 3000m uphill….its tough at the top!

Mallorca 2018 - 6

From the Balearics to business, TMS are working with innovative software company, Adventoris, to drive growth primarily into SwiftCloud, their B2B mobile App which will be the next generation of customer relationship management.

TMS lead successful sale of Science Warehouse Ltd to Advanced

After 18 months in his role as non-executive Chairman, TMS founder Gordon Matthew has successfully driven growth into this cloud-based procurement platform business by reviewing and updating the strategic business plan. As a result, Science Warehouse was sold for £17m to Advanced Business Software & Solutions Ltd in February 2018.

Summertime success leads to Autumn assignments for TMS

Summer 2017: Trend Management Services supported RJD Partners in the successful sale of Intrinsic Technology to Maintel Holdings PLC, a leading AIM-listed unified communications business.

Autumn 2017: TMS have been appointed by a South-coast WIFI communications company to deliver consultancy support following a change of ownership. Mercia Ventures and Enterprise Ventures have engaged TMS in a new assignment to help accelerate growth of a Northern software business, focused on connecting customers to their suppliers via a mobile app.

TMS Business Portfolio continues to grow in Spring 2017

Trend Management Services has developed three projects within the first quarter of 2017: a company senior debt re-finance; the provision of acquisition funding for a growing business; and consultancy on a new strategic business plan for a fast developing Cloud company. TMS has certainly sprung into action this Spring!

Head Turna headlines Intrinsic Winter Conference 2017

Head Turna liveTeam Intrinsic 2017

Trend Management Services main man, Gordon Matthew aka Head Turna, headlined the Intrinsic Winter Conference 2017. Staff were presented with the 2017 Business Strategy which focuses on company growth via partnerships and customer sales management. The multi-talented Head Turna then demonstrated his skills on the decks and the dancefloor…

TMS support successful sale of ITC Security to C5 Capital

C5 Capital has announced the expansion of its cyber-security portfolio with the acquisition of ITC Security for £24m. London-based ITC offer a range of cyber security and network consultancy/implementation services, from risk and vulnerability management to CISO as a service, network optimisation and data centre system design. Its new Netsure 360 product can monitor and manage a company’s network and security systems from its operations centre. TMS has worked closely with ITC since 2012 providing business value consultancy and operational guidance. Ian Evans, FD ITC, said ‘TMS were instrumental in helping ITC to develop our value drives in preparation for presentation to potential acquirers and in the creation of our Information Memorandum. Their knowledge of the managed security services market and their understanding of our business was key in the provision of meaningful management data. The TMS team were always available to discuss issues, their advice and professionalism throughout the process has been a major contributor to our success’.

One year on

TMS Car Storage celebrated the one year anniversary on 22nd October 2016. The Car storage facility is now almost full to capacity with the NEC Classic Car Show just weeks away.

Head Turna turns up the heat…

In the driving seat, Head Turna can manoeuvre a business from a static position into sales and operational growth within 6 months…but in order to drive such an increase in value back into the business, staff performance is key. Hard work, focussed objectives, long hours, precise time management; there is no place for those who start to flag in the heat…

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