By Akira Hirai
We can measure success in many ways. In business, one important measure is the value of the company. That’s because a company’s value is a composite of all of the quantitative and qualitative factors that comprise a company: revenues, expenses, risks, growth prospects, quality of the management team, competitive advantages, strength of the intellectual property, and so forth.
In general, we want to do the things that increase the value of the business, and we want to avoid doing the things that reduce it. The problem is that we often lose sight of the big picture, and get mired in everyday distractions.
One useful technique for keeping your eyes focused on what really matters is Cayenne Consulting’s Venture Value Scorecard™. It’s human nature to prioritize the metrics that get measured, so the simple act of keeping track is often enough to have a significant positive impact.
The Venture Value Scorecard is a one-page summary of your company’s achievements and assets: the factors that contribute to the value of your organization. It should be updated monthly so that you have a regular reminder of where you’re making progress, and where you may have become complacent.
You can structure your Venture Value Scorecard any way you like (you can download our free Venture Value Scorecard Template here), but I suggest organizing it around the following key elements of value:
- People: A strong team is obviously central to value creation. Your Venture Value Scorecard should highlight your recent successes in recruiting highly qualified team members to fill the most important gaps in your organizational structure. You can also use this space to keep track of innovators (R&D personnel) and rainmakers (sales & marketing personnel).
- Products: You obviously can’t create value without a viable product (or service) to sell. This section of your Venture Value Scorecard should summarize the important advances you have made recently in research and product development.
- Customers: A company’s only sustainable source of cash is sales, so you need to keep track of your business development efforts. You should inventory your best accounts and prospects, as well as the status of any pending major sales.
- Partnerships: Relationships with larger firms not only confer legitimacy to your business; they can be an important source of intellectual property, distribution channels, and marketing clout. You should document the status of your partnership negotiations so that you can easily gauge progress.
- Competitive Advantages: Your ability to create value depends on your ability to grow and protect your market share. This requires the continuous development of competitive advantages, whether through intellectual property, new innovation, exclusive distribution partnerships, key endorsements, brand building, corporate culture, or other factors. Keep track of what you’re doing to develop and enhance your sustainable competitive advantages.
- Net Income: The five factors listed above all contribute to something that is directly measurable: net income. Part of your Venture Value Scorecard should be devoted to summarizing your income statement. Detail isn’t important; tracking your progress is. Items that paint a big picture include revenue by major product area, cost of goods, and operating expenses by category. If you have a lot of non-cash items such as amortization or depreciation, or if you have unusually long receivables cycles, you should also include adjustments to reconcile net income to cash flow.
- Assets: Your assets add to your venture’s value, so any recent or pending changes in your assets should be recorded in your Venture Value Scorecard. These assets include things like cash (say, from a pending investment), facilities, inventory, and other property.
- Liabilities: Your liabilities detract from your venture’s value. Any recent or expected reductions in your liabilities should also be recorded in your Venture Value Scorecard.
- Risks: Unexpected events can kill a firm (of any size), and can therefore detract from its value. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that you recognize the greatest sources of risk facing your company, and that you’re taking prudent steps to mitigate the greatest hazards. Use your Venture Value Scorecard to summarize your major risk management initiatives.
- Other: Every company is different, so you’ll need to customize the Venture Value Scorecard for your own circumstances. I suggest you try to figure out the 3-5 key metrics that are used to judge the health of companies in your industry, and keep track of these somewhere in your scorecard.
As noted earlier, your Venture Value Scorecard should be updated monthly. Keep an archive of your old scorecards. That way, you can go back and review the progress you’ve made. I think you’ll be pleased by the momentum you maintain by keeping score.
Today's guest blog is by Akira Hirai, founder of Cayenne Consulting, a firm that helps entrepreneurs prepare for the fund raising process by developing strategies, business plans, financial forecasts, and presentation materials. His website is http://www.caycon.com.