2. Getting the Debt Down
Tom now looks after investor relations and protects the interests of the nearly 300 investors who have put money into the company.
“I raised about a million a year, putting in about €12 million in all, including my own money, so I kept the company alive on a day to day basis. It’s my pension, so it has to work. We have to sell this company over the next couple of years to get a return for the investors.”
Tom accepts now that much of that money was raised at too high a valuation, a valuation based on the original CEO’s unrealistic projections. The other issue was the high cost of much of that finance, a cost which sky rocketed when the credit crunch hit in 2009.
“No one would give you money, so we actually offered 1.5% a month just to keep the show on the road.”
By last year, the company was paying an average interest rate of 22%. Following Berry’s intervention, Tom went out and negotiated reduced coupons on almost all of the debt finance.
“I didn’t have the money to pay them back,” says Tom, “so I got them to leave the loan note there, but with a lower coupon. We’re still paying them 8% per annum, which is way better than they’d be getting in the bank.”
By the summer, Tom had managed to reduce the average interest rate to 10%, and plans to get it down to 8% within the next six months. As a result, the cash situation is now much better than at any other time in the company’s history.
3. Increasing Company Sales
CEO John doubled Company X sales numbers after he arrived, but, as he mentions himself, that growth simply was not fast enough: “We doubled from small money to small money.”
The company now began to deploy Padraig’s signature tools, the Hedgehog and One Thing Plan, to address the underlying conflicts and misalignments, as well as the poor sales performance these issues engendered.
Determining your personal hedgehog is all about working out where you add maximum value, the one thing that lies at the nexus of passion, talent and career. Once that exercise is completed, once you know why you exist, once you know why your business exists, once you know your values and how you interact with the world, you arrive at a vision of what you want.
Having established these criteria, the One Thing Plan can then take over. This is the means by which that vision becomes real, and as the name suggests, it centres on answering this question: What is the one thing I can do today such that it would make all other things easier or unnecessary?
“We got all the managers together in January,” John explains, “and we had a two-day event where we went through the One Thing Plan. It was very positive. We talked about the mission of the company, who we were and what we represent to clients. Then we talked about the individual strategic thrusts that would help us to deliver on a strategy that would allow us to grow the company.”
Those strategic thrusts were drawn up, and from these, each individual manager created their own departmental One Thing Plans. These in turn fed down into the individual One Thing Plans.
Asked, since the initiative started, seven months ago and with five One Thing Plans left to run, John gave feedback on how the company have fared with these changes.