Six Reasons You Have to Join a Mastermind

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How can you get a fresh perspective and new ideas for your business with confidentiality assured?

The Answer: Join a Mastermind Group

 

This week I had the great pleasure and privilege to spend a day on the company of a diverse and stimulating group of business people led by Chris Ducker.

If you don’t know Chris, visit ChrisDucker.com and then go an subscribe to his podcast on iTunes.  Chris is a successful entrepreneur, blogger and Podcaster and, I am sure, by this time next year, New York Times best selling author (no pressure, Chris!).  Before we start, take a look at this short video in which Chris explains why he finds Mastermind Group so valuable.

 

I want to share with you my experience of the day and why I learned so much and am now hugely enthusiastic about Mastermind Groups.  Here are Six Reasons YOU have to join a Mastermind. [Read more…]

How to Identify A Small M&A Deal in the UK Technology Sector

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I have been doing some thinking about how to screen for small M&A deals in the UK technology sector and have been working on creating a short list of potential targets.  I thought I would share some of this work with you to help you with your own acquisition searches.

My starting point was to create a database of the market I wanted to address and for this I turned to Companies House Data and have identified 1570 companies which are covered by the SIC code relating to Computer Services (including Software Development, Retail, Maintenance, Repairs, Training and Consultancy).  I restricted the companies to those with Revenues of £5m or less.

[Read more…]

What does the UK Technology Mid Market look like?

What does the UK Technology Mid Market Look Like?

I have been working in the UK Technology Sector since 1998 and have spent hours and hours analysing the sector.  While my research is far from complete, I have identified over 1,300+ companies in the UK mid-market, which I define as companies with revenues of £5m to £100m.  This is fertile ground for Private Equity companies as well as Corporates seeking to make acquisitions in the UK market.

I thought it would be interesting to share a little of my research results to give you and idea of what the UK Mid-Market sector looks like.  (Please note: The data in this piece of analysis has been sourced from Companies House returns which only cover England and Wales.)

Many of my clients have sought acquisitions based on very limited criteria including revenues and geography and I will use these two variables to illustrate the composition of  the market.

Turnover

The stratification of these business by turnover tells an interesting story;

  • £5m-£10m – 453 companies (34.6%)
  • £10m-£15m – 263 companies (20.1%)
  • £15m-£20m – 152 companies (11.6%)
  • £20m-£30m – 186 companies (14.2%)
  • £30m-£40m – 81 companies (6.2%)
  • £40m-£50m – 54 companies (4.1%)
  • £50m-£100m – 119 companies (9.1%)

Notice, that 80% of the companies have £30m revenues or less.  The distribution of these companies by revenues is shown in the graph below.

 

Graph showing the distribution of UK Mid Market Technology companies by revenues

Geographical Distribution

When addressing a market, the geographical location of a company is a key factor in evaluating its suitability to whatever strategic purpose is being considered.  I have always found it helpful therefore to be able to analyse the geographical location of company data sets.

In the image below you can see the geographical distribution of the 1300+ companies in the data set.

Map of the UK Mid Market Technology Companies

In the image below, I have drilled down to examine the companies which are in the South East of England, showing how more detailed analysis can be achieved.

South East England UK Mid Market Technology Companies

 

 

 

What next?

This work leaves many questions unanswered. Here are a few…

  • What sectors and subsectors are they working in?
  • What strategies are these companies adopting?
  • How profitable are they?
  • What does their 5 year track record looks like?
  • Who owns these companies?
  • Are they independent?  Subsidiaries of international companies? Part owned by Private Equity firms?
  • Are they acquisitive?
  • Are they struggling, surviving or soaring in this market?
  • Are they in need of external capital?
  • Are the owners/directors looking to sell their businesses and retire?
There is still much work to do.  
If you are interested in raising capital or doing M&A deals in the UK Technology Mid-Market sector, why not give me a call or drop me an email to discuss your strategic objectives.  You can reach me at jbdcolley[at]aol[dot]com.  
Thank you for joining the Conversation.

Has Linkedin Missed A Trick? An Open Letter to Linkedin…

Has Linkedin missed a Trick?

I am a firm supporter of Linkedin and find the platform an excellent way to work with my business connections but I do have one gripe?

Let me tell you my story…

Over the 20+ years I have been in business, I have met literally thousands of business contacts and I still have 99% of their cards.

I met many of these people before Linkedin was even thought of and had to rely on a filing system and then software packages like Outlook and Address Book on my Mac.  How quaint I hear you say 🙂  !!!

I am now systematically reviewing my contacts and I am keen to connect with as many of them as I can on Linkedin to make the most of the platform.

The Problem is that many of them have moved jobs – and continue to do so regularly.  If I have their card from their previous job and the email has been disabled (understandably) by their previous employer, then I cannot reconnect with them on Linkedin

Now I have to ask you – Am I missing a Trick?

Is there something I am not doing right?

It would be immensely helpful, in my view, if Linkedin gave us the option of adding our old business email addresses as a means for older contacts to reestablish contact with us.  I know that these email addresses could not be verified by Linkedin but do they really need to be?

As my Primary address has already been verified, Linkedin knows who I am and that these other addresses are useful for contacts trying to find me.

This would of course be an option for me making it easier to be found and would not be obligatory.  I would not have to add these addresses if I did not want to.

From the perspective of someone seeking to reconnect with a former contact, I would be able to legitimately use the address on the business card I was orginally given to make the approach, proving that I had prior contact with the person I am approaching.

I do not believe this is spam nor can I see any reason why the recipient would not want to hear from me.  Indeed, if he does he need only decline the request.

The velocity with which people move jobs will not change but keeping up with them remains a challenge.  I believe that if Linkedin would enable this change it would make it much easier to keep in touch with the business contacts in our network without affecting the overall quality of the Linkedin Platform.

What do you think?

Has Linkedin Missed a Trick? Is there a simple work around to this problem – if there is I would love to hear it? or am I misguided in wanting to make the most of an extremely useful business tool and should not be following up with contacts who have moved on to a new job?

You can find me at  www.uk.linkedin.com/in/jbdcolley

Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below, especially if you work for Linkedin! 🙂

Thank you for joining the Conversation!

Is there such a thing as Acquisition Rationale? Part 3

 

Are Acquisitions Rational?  

How can you make sense of Acquisitions and where can you start if you want to devise an M&A Strategy?

In the first part of this series which you can find here, I introduced the idea that there are Six Key Factors which can be identified in rationalising Acquisition Strategy.

We looked at Ability to Execute and Financial Resources from the perspective of both the Acquiror and the Target companies.

In Part 2 of the Series which you can find here, I discussed the four factors of Intent from the perspective of the Acquiror.

In this Part 3, I shall look at these four factors from the perspective of the Target Company.

[Read more…]

Is there such a thing as Acquisition Rationale? Part 2

 

Are Acquisitions Rational?  

How can you make sense of Acquisitions and where can you start if you want to devise an M&A Strategy?

In the first part of this series which you can find here, I introduced the idea that there are Six key factors which can be identified in rationalising Acquisition Strategy.  We looked at Ability to Execute and Financial Resources from the perspective of both the Acquiror and the Target companies.

[Read more…]

Is there such a thing as Acquisition Rationale? Part 1

Are Acquisitions Rational?  

How can you make sense of Acquisitions and where can you start if you want to devise an M&A Strategy?

In this blog post I will suggest that it is possible to set out a framework which you can use to establish and explain an acquisition rationale.

In this discussion we must start with the two protagonists – the Acquirors and the Target Companies.  These are shown in the diagram below.

[Read more…]

The Financial Times Asks an Expert!

 

I am very grateful to Jonathan Moules, the Enterprise Correspondent of the Financial Times, for asking me to contribute to the Entrepreneurship Section in the Money Supplement of the Saturday Edition of the paper.

 

Jonathan has written a piece on MixPixie – an online service which enables you to customise a CD which they then produce and send to the recipient of your choice. Jonathan explains how the business was set up by Buffie du Pon, Adam Goodyer and James Perkins as a result of a misdirected valentines present – a CD which was posted through Buffie’s letter box by mistake.  You can find MixPixie’s site here.

The company’s challenge is how to scale its business in a market where sales of CDs are declining and today’s conventional wisdom is that music delivery is only competitive online. In my view one of the USPs of this is the Social aspect of the business – the concept that you choose some tracks and design a bespoke CD cover for someone important to you and share that music with MixPixie’s product.

I felt that MixPixie really needs to reinforce this aspect of their business as well as working hard to find scalable opportunities. Using my Six Minute Strategist Methodology, I have set out Six Suggestions which MixPixie might consider to help Scale their business, five of which made it into the Financial Times article.

A Free Smart Phone App– customers can log in, mix and order their CDs from their Smart Phone or Tablet.  In order to make their product easier to access, MixPixie needs to have a “mobile” solution – an App optimised for both smart phone and tablet which would enable their customers to access their site and create a CD without having to go back to their desktop or laptop computer. This needs to be on all the main platforms: Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft.   The App itself should be simple to use but should also incorporate some of the Social Media integration discussed below.

Work Directly with Musicians and Bands – a Service to promote back catalogues or “Special Mixes” for Festivals; the Bands own the rights already.  While Bands are always promoting their latest recordings, MixPixie would enable Bands to produce limited edition releases of their back catalogue which could be sold at special events, such as Gigs or Festivals. If the Bands produced these in limited numbers and signed some of them, they would make great collectibles for their fans and offer MixPixie an entry to a new market.  As the Bands already own the rights to the tracks, the project could be cost effective for both sides.

Corporate Customers – Companies are always looking for original ways to promote themselves to their clients and, in my view, a carefully selected mix of tracks at specific events could provide a very unique and appreciated gift.  This could be volume business for MixPixie and once the relationship was initiated, the CD could either be remixed for each event or the order simply repeated.

Digital Download Bonus – While I appreciate the USP of MixPixie is the CD, the real value in my view is the personalisation of the gift.  For a small additional fee, the customer could enable a digital download so that he/she could get a copy of the tracks.  It may be that this counts as two licences and may therefore only be available to the person to whom the CD is being sent.

Social Sharing on MixPixie – Social Media was made for this. Music and Sharing.  I would suggest that MixPixie have a one click enabling button so that you can share your music selection and occasion category on their site.  When new customers come seeking music for their gift occasion, they will be able to see what other people have chosen in the past.  This could be sortable by artist, songs and most popular selections to make it more useful.  This should encourage other to use the service.

Pinterest – This new and highly visual network would be the perfect place to encourage customers to post their CD designs on Occasion based Boards on Pinterest.com.  This does not necessarily need to include the personal messages but would encourage sharing and give customers ideas for gifts and designs.  Pinterest is a highly viral site and this would also increase awareness of the service as each cover pinned can be linked back to MixPixie and encourage new customers to come over and find the site.

At present there is also a great SEO advantage to Pinterest.  If you put a link in the description this gets full Google Juice back link benefit for the site.  Pinterest is currently Page Rank 6. This is entirely white hat and as Pinterest becomes an increasingly important site in Google’s eyes, this benefit will only improve over time.

They have first mover advantage and need to capitalise on it.

Vinyl next please, Miss Pixie?

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Thank you for joining the Conversation!

What are the Benefits of the Six Simple Strategic Steps?

You’re a very busy person, why bother with all this continuous learning palava?

Work Smarter = Get Richer

The purpose of the programme is to provide you with management tools and strategies to improve the management of your business and ultimately to help you generate more revenue, more profits and greater wealth.  This is the origin of my tag line – Work Smarter to Get Richer.  Simple.

[Read more…]

6MS Six Simple Strategic Steps to SME Success – An Introduction

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