Sector: Online Gaming
The business had reached a strategic point and the owner recognised the need to decide if he should continue to run the company as a life-style business, or embark on a scaling-up project in order to build the business, and possibly prepare for an exit over the next 4-5 years. He had already reviewed some of the current ideas around scaling and understood the effort this would require. He wanted to maintain a sensible work-life balance, preserve the culture and values of the business, but wanted to drive the business forwards.
Established since 2008, the business had been successful in building its revenue base to support a sustained level of investment. However, as is often the case the owner was so busy working “in” the business that he had not taken time to work “on the business” and its full potential was only slowly being realised. Following the recent hire of a COO and the absence of a plan or strategy, he sought practical advice to move the business forwards and to adopt a more strategic role.
The challenge was to help the owner to step back from the business in order to be able to plan more strategically, and to effectively execute those plans. He had already studied some of the management techniques around business scaling and had adopted some of the “Rockefeller Habits” in his business. Against this background, we reviewed what would be most appropriate for the business and how to apply some of these ideas to best practical effect. These challenges were coupled with the desire to communicate the direction of the business to the remote workforce and to ensure that staff embraced the process and that the culture and values were preserved.
Following an initial diagnostic and some preliminary “housekeeping”, the process began by reviewing the owners envisioned future for the business as described by his “BHAG” – Big Hairy Audacious Goal. We used this to create a “look back” perspective on the business to identify the key steps that would have needed to have been taken for the business to have reached its envisioned state from the current position. These steps included the development of additional software platforms and digital marketing strategies to improve acquisition rates, increase user retention and spend, and to improve the overall user experience. These activities were brought together through a 3-year Operating Plan, and the strategy articulated through a Balanced Scorecard that could be shared with all staff.
One of the key benefits of the planning process was that it enabled the managers to understand more about the business drivers and to formulate the best strategy. In this way the business was able to focus on each assumption, to test and challenge these, and to create a feedback loop for continuous improvement.
The resulting Operating plan and Balanced Scorecard were used to articulate the plans and strategy to all staff, to ensure alignment and engagement throughout the organisation, and to set departmental plans and individual objectives to move the business on its forward trajectory towards the BHAG.
Steve has been a driving force for change within the business. Before he joined us, we were struggling to think outside of the short-term. Through his hands-on advice and experience, we’ve managed to change our perspective totally. More than just a part-time CFO, Steve has been a mentor to me; and I feel extremely fortunate to have him on the team. I’d recommend his pragmatic, get it done approach to any business owner. He’s a thoughtful listener but knows when to push and has helped to get me out of my comfort zone, so I can really start to fulfil the potential the business has to offer.
Paul Gould, CEO
Case Study: Steve Smith