Are you Investor-Ready?

Are you investor-ready?It is one thing to have a suitable investment opportunity and quite another to be Investor-Ready.

What do investors look for?

In simple terms, being Investor-Ready means understanding the key points that investors want to know about your business opportunity so they can decide whether they are interested in making an investment.

It means putting yourself into the mind of an investor and presenting from their point of view. It means knowing how to position your opportunity so that it has as much chance for success as possible to attract investors. It means doing a lot of homework and a lot of rehearsing and mostly, at the end of the day, having a real-world viable and fundable business opportunity.

  • Start by defining your business objectives and strategies.
  • Identify all the costs involved in your business growth plans, including working capital requirements as well as the impact of budget over-runs and product development delays.
  • Then look long and hard at the feasibility of your proposition. The capital plan will need to be revisited once the business plan is completed as this is likely to find more issues.
  • Determine what resources you need to grow your business, when they are needed and how to get them and whether these can be sourced from within the business.
  • If external capital is needed then consider what you are willing to give/offer to meet your business goals and what will be the value of your equity in the business after the introduction of new capital.
  • If you were a dispassionate investor with a range of choices, what would make your business expansion or idea irresistible?
  • Check if your plan is practical, sound and realistic by seeking professional financial advice from someone familiar with the size and type of your business.

Pre-seed and seed stage

The venture is as the idea stage and needs finance for research and development.

1. Start-up stage

Product development has been completed and funding is needed to develop production capacity and sales activities.

2. Growth stage
The business is established and requires capital to fund growth and expansion. The business may or may not be profitable but is facing a period of rapid growth. Capital may be needed over a several stages and involve a combination of debt and equity.

3. Maturity stage
The business is experiencing stable sales and strong profits and is well established in the market.

4. Decline stage
Sales begin to decline and profitability decreases as competition levels increase and consumers move to alternative products. The business needs to reposition or reinvent itself to survive.

Business_PlanThe cost of capital

The cost of capital is largely related to the risk associated with the proposal. A risk free investment still has a cost and is normally calculated as the return available from government securities. This is the starting point for the cost of capital.

It is unusual for a business investment to be risk free. The risk profile of any business investment is made up of a number of components of which need to be understood and
managed. The types of risk a business will face include:

·        Political

·        Economics

·        Industry

·        Market

·        Business

·        Financial

·        Product

·        Execution (project)

Risk and Cost of Capital

The more a business can manage risk levels the lower the cost of capital. Consideration should also be given to when external capital will be sought. The use of internal funds at an early stage and/or staging capital raising activities can significantly reduce risk levels and result in cost saving. These  savings can be in the form of interest costs or the amount of equity given up.

Attracting equity or debt investment is not an easy process. Businesses need to be well prepared and investment ready to maximise the potential for success. A failure to be investment ready is the most common barrier to accessing equity investment. Second chances are rare, so it is important to become investment ready before establishing relationships with potential investors, regardless of your company’s stage of development or capital needs. Investors may be found among friends and family, venture capitalists, financial institutions and business angels.

Remember there are more good ideas than there are management teams with the capacity to deliver on these ideas. Investors are investing in the capacity of the people and the business, not just a product or service.

Becoming investment ready requires the business to discuss a range of issues including:

·        management capacity and systems

·        suitable business structure (usually a company)

·        a realistic business valuation

·        management commitment and ability to stick with it

·        the business model

·        investment structure, terms sheet and exit plan

·        a business and/or commercialisation plan

·        an investment proposal (information memorandum) and pitch.

Are you investor-ready? If you have question, please contact me.

The value of mentors: what can we learn from them?

mentoringI was recently having dinner with a very good friend of mine who is an aspiring lawyer discussing the subject of;  is a mentor really necessary for children, teenagers, post-grads and adults. It was a fascinating discussion that caused much debate for hours.

We examined the current world we live in, which is a world that is focused on the things that are new, fast and most innovative — but there was also something to be said about looking back in time and how life has changed through the generations.

We discussed that in society the older generation rarely used coaching or mentorship as a succession plan to their careers, mentors provided newer employees with information and support they really needed to succeed and move up the ranks in an organisation. But the employees who did engage with mentorship saw the benefits of the mentor-employee relationship, thus, the benefits were not just for the employees; generally the company saw some significant engagement benefits as well.

At its most basic, the mentor-protégé relationship is one of information sharing. When the mentor works at the same workplace as the protégé, that means he or she will be able to share details about the way the workplace functions that may have taken the protégé years to figure out. This can enrich the protégé’s understanding of a subject in ways that may not have been possible in the classroom, or help the protégé understand a topic in a way she may not have considered. In short, the additional knowledge helps employees become more well-rounded and think more critically about problems and solutions.

At one point, the mentor was probably in a similar job or a similar position as the protégé, and thus has intimate knowledge of what it takes to move up the ranks. Mentors can be great sources of information on what steps the protégé needs to take to move up in the company and the dynamics of making one decision over another. And since the mentor will also have an understanding of the protégé’s skill set and ambitions, the mentor relationship makes it easier for companies to identify future leaders, or match employees with the right job within the company.

Often, all it takes for an employee to succeed is the knowledge that someone believes in his or her abilities. The mentor-protégé relationship helps to foster that. Managers should be responsible for motivating employees through positive reinforcement, but in the midst of looming deadlines or an excess of work, that can get thrown by the wayside. That is where the mentor relationship — which is often fostered outside of regular work hours — can come in handy, to boost morale when it needs boosting. Another positive thing about mentoring: it’s contagious. When a protégé has a positive mentor relationship, he or she may find ways to mentor others.

In some cases mentorship can often mean more than one person, both internal within the organisation and external and for very difference reason of mentorship, balancing technical and emotional stability.

When employees have a mentor to whom they can turn when they have a question or concern, they do not need to spend a lot of time seeking out the answers to their questions. Mentors may not have all the answers, but they can help you find them. When there’s less confusion about the work at hand or managers have to spend less time explaining a job, a business’ productivity can increase. And since mentoring can improve employee retention, your productivity will further increase because you won’t be constantly re-training employees.

An employee benefits from a mentoring relationship because he has someone with greater knowledge and experience to turn to for advice. While a mentor will not do the employee’s job for him or her, the mentor may demonstrate a task, guide the employee through solving a problem, or critique the employee’s work. A mentorship may help an employee feel less isolated at work, too, and encourage him to interact more with others. A mentor can offer an employee with tips on career growth and introduce the employee to other professionals. As the employee matures in his career, a mentor may remain a valued adviser to the employee.

The employer of a mentored employee gains from greater productivity in the workplace. As employees turn to their mentors for advice, they make fewer mistakes on the job, cutting losses to the employer. Employees in mentoring relationships tend to have greater job satisfaction as well, which can mean a more positive work environment. Employers might also notice less turnover of employees as workers feel a greater loyalty to the company. A company might even use its mentoring program to attract new employees.

Jeff Myers,, has a great quotation “Mentoring is the cultivation of young adults, the tender caring for and nurturing of them so that they will grow, flourish, and be fruitful.”​

Who are your mentors and most importantly, are you a mentor to our next generation?

Middle Management or Strong Managers?

Fast RelayIs middle management still necessary or do we just need a few strong managers to guide a company?

I have been engaged with some very interesting debates over the last few weeks on the subject of leadership and the shift in the leadership models within business today.

I think it is clear: a company needs leaders—not managers. From the top down, every employee has the opportunity to lead, starting with the organisation of one within the larger organisation that we call “Mr Me, Ltd.” Every person is responsible for shaping and creating their own future with collaboration and some help in the making.

What does that look like? We trust and then we empower. You know how leaders will typically say “I empower my people”—and then they do not? The tendency is all too common. The minute there is a mistake it’s like a rope around your neck that rebounds back—you either get your head taken off, or you get pulled back so hard the natural reaction is to buckle down and become “less engaged” instead of growing to “maturing growth.”

At this point, your entire company is flat.  With no hierarchy, everyone leads within their areas of stewardship and responsibility.  Many will have excess capacity and offer to help another teammate or even go to another department to ask how they can help.

Then there is the temptation to micromanage, which makes people so fearful of making a mistake, they do not dare create something courageous.

Top-management greed is corrosive but in some important sense the greed is not systematic. There are certainly many firms, doubtlessly a majority, where those at the top are sensitive to these issues and believe in shared pain and some measure of equity. There has, however, been a structural shift in the circumstances of middle managers, which leads them to feel more distant from their leaders.

This is the disruption of career paths and the increased difficulty in making a move from the middle to the top. Middle managers today have less reason to believe that they are on a trajectory that will take them to the top and, therefore, they have less reason to identify with their bosses.

Just who are middle managers? It is important to note that though middle managers make many decisions, and many important ones, the context in which they make those decisions is not of their own making. Middle managers do not set the organisation’s strategy, nor do they decide which markets to enter, with whom to merge, how much to invest, and what technology to use.

Senior managers, in the words of Harvard Business School professor John Kotter, “set agendas,” and in doing so shape the direction of the organisation.  Do middle managers do anything similar? In fact, it turns out that the answer is “Yes.” They make decisions about resource allocation that are central and strategic, albeit at a lower level and with much less visibility than decisions made by senior managers.

change managementWe live in an era in which CEOs are glorified. It would be foolish to argue that the CEO is not relevant to organisational performance and it would be equally foolish to claim that no firm should ever reduce its managerial ranks. But the fundamental spirit of the times is wrong. As a group, middle managers are central, indeed crucial, to an organisation’s success.

Most sizable organisations have a management hierarchy that includes several if not dozens of managers, below the executive team or owners. As organisations have found ways to recover from the global recession and remain competitive, the costs of a significant management structure becomes questionable. Some would argue that middle management is no longer necessary and should be abolished.

A number of significant organisations are downsizing or removing middle management structures. For example, the digital-security giant Symantec has completed a restructuring process that saw middle management reduced by as much as 40%. The world’s biggest appliance making company, Haier, in China, has reorganised the company’s workforce into 2,000 self-managed teams that are responsible for not only production but for profit and loss and they are paid on performance. Online retailer Zappos, a company obsessed with customer service has moved to eliminate traditional managers, done away with the typical corporate hierarchy and job titles, and now has an approach that has been termed “holacracy.” This move gives employees more of a voice in the way the company is run.

It may be an ideal time to re-examine the purpose and structure of management for organisations, one that better suits the times and needs of modern organisations and their customers and employees.

I like Jack Welch quote that states “Leaders are generally not judged on their personal output. What would be the point of evaluating them like individual contributors? Rather, most leaders are judged on how well they’ve hired, coached, and motivated their people, individually and collectively—all of which shows up in the results.”

And the winners are …

Book Launch The five winners from the book competition have been contacted by email and they were all given instructions how to get their signed copy.

The correct answer? There were five books in the stack.

I hope you will all enjoy reading it and maybe later you could tell me your thoughts about the book. I would appreciate that.

My publishing company Troubador has posted about the book signing on their website. You can find it here.

On 22nd September, a large group of guests gathered at Waterstones in Charing Cross to join Geoff Hudson-Searle as he signed copies of his new autobiography Freedom After The Sharks.

After the event, Geoff and the guests moved to The Cinnamon Club in Westminster for a speech and further signing.

I am very grateful for the many reactions, the positive feedback, the great reviews, and discussions that resulted from the book.

Thank you all!

My interview on Entrepreneurs Library

I am thankful for the great reviews like this one:

5.0 out of 5 stars Great entrepreneurial resource! October 7, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
We had Geoff on our podcast, The Entrepreneurs Library, to give a deep dive of Freedom After The Sharks. Geoff is very intelligent and has loads of advice coming from all his years of experience.
I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking a great entrepreneurial resource!
If you would like to hear a review from the author himself be sure to check out episode 63 on the EL podcast.
Thank you all!

Interview with Geoff Hudson-Searle

Author Geoff Hudson-Searle
Author Geoff Hudson-Searle

I love to read and crawl into people’s minds. Why did the author write the book in this style? Why that example? I am also curious about the writing process authors go through from the moment that their idea for a book to the published book.

Reflecting back after your début book comes out is very insightful to find what you did right and where you needed help.

I sat down with Geoff Hudson-Searle, the author of Freedom after the Sharks, to ask him about his experiences as a writer. His book was released in September by Troubador Books.

Below are my questions and Geoff’s answers. Your thoughts on these issues are very welcome so leave them in the comment box below this post.


1: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Interesting enough, my writer’s block came to me in chapter 16 of the original manuscript, which is now epilogue. I was in full flow and then suddenly my heart could not write any further. Potentially this was the hardest challenge that I had ever experienced in writing to date.

I took a step back from the book, from what I was writing at the time and examined my emotions. Where was I in life and I asked myself certain questions. Whilst this had been a very hard set of questions for me to answer, the truth was examined. It was the very reason the story got hard for me to write.

I examined the particular chapter and after a while felt it was not worth writing. After contemplation I was ready to move forward again. I reaffirmed my purpose and the epilogue was born again which made a perfect completion to the book.

2: What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Always, in every place across the world, people have written. Writing has not changed since the Roman days. Writing affords me a chance each and every day to just sit with my thoughts and be still. I live in a very busy city with people everywhere on mobile devices, and I love that. But I also think it’s important to sit and be quiet, to reflect and to use creativity with yourself and your thoughts. Writing for me is very meditative and calming, and helps to keep me peaceful in a very frantic world.

Every writer is influenced by everything they’ve ever read or seen. All the books and news articles that have passed through your hands have also somehow made their way into your thoughts, whether you are aware of it or not. I love that idea. I love to think that when I write, I am in some ways sitting down with all the books I have ever read, and in some ways, sitting down with the writers who wrote those books. I like to think that I’m connected to a long line of people just like me, people who also loved to write with the ability to leave a legacy of my work that someday will be read and hopefully inspired upon by others.

3: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Trust yourself and never, never give up. Be determined right to the end. You should always write about what you know and love. This is not just a matter of principle but solid writing advice. Editors and readers have a good understanding whether a book has a purpose, it is their intuitive know-how. You have a story to tell that cannot be told by anyone else, in any other way, and if you’re talented and lucky and work hard, you will find the right way to tell it. In other words, be truthful to yourself and you can communicate the truth to others through writing. This is not to say that you cannot be creative, but rather that your voice, your true voice, is what will draw people in to your manuscript.

On another note it is quite possible that one publisher will reject your book for a number of reasons while another loves it for those very same reasons. The trick is to secure a great editor and find a publisher whose interests align with yours.

4: What are you working on now?

As my good friends and colleagues constantly remind me on a daily basis, I must write version 2.0 Life after the Sharks. This is in my thoughts and it will come. I need to be in a creative space with my netbook and some great coffee. It will happen soon, I promise guys! Outside of 2.0, I am enjoying my weekly blog writing, spending time with fellow authors, sharing experiences, PR, interviews, and of course my day job which is always challenging and interesting to life.

5: How do you get inspired to write?

Inspiration was never a concern for my time with Freedom After The Sharks. The obvious inspiration was the honour, respect, and love for my Grandmother and Grandfather. This was the main driver for my book. Secondly, I was in a very special destination in the US called Sedona, Arizona. The Red Rock formations surrounded me and my work daily and it was a channel for the words that came from within me. I felt that my heart and soul truly were providing the words that delivered the manuscript.

I had moments where maybe this was not going to be a book. Then I realised that these moments in my life were coming with their own memory of the realisation. They have the incentive to create a grand moment about themselves, to share with others the lessons of adversity. If you are more deeply connected with yourself in these moments it is very easy to write in the flow of your words even for someone like me.

It was a sheer miracle to sit down and sprint through my life as it happened, visual-by-visual, word-by-word, I did have notes. The emotions have overwhelmed at times and this has simmered in my mind for a while. As much as we might hope that we can sit down and write that easily, it’s not always possible. Fortunately with Freedom After The Sharks the words flowed freely and through me to the manuscript.

6: Where did you get the idea for your book?

The idea for the name Freedom after the Sharks came to me because to some extent or other all of us carry a reflection of the experiences of our lives. However, whether and how we succeed is determined at least in part by how we cope with those experiences and what we learn from them. The only exception is that nobody has ever written transparency about the journey that takes us from hardship to happiness and love.

Freedom after the Sharks is a non-fiction and I have not held back on the truth, the events or adversities that took place in my life or across my successes. Once I committed to writing the first chapter the words just flowed through my body, an amazing experience, and a life changing experience – one that I will never forget, a complete stimulus.