Stories

The mentors of WealthBeing have extensive experience of guiding people to create wealth and maintain their well-being.

Here are some case studies which demonstrate how this was done, whether it be setting a business up developing it or expanding and exiting it.

A recent client success for WealthBeing

Niall Mason has worked in trade finance for over 10 years. So when he re-connected with me saying that he had a plan to create an innovative business in this market and needed a steer, I was interested, excited even. One of the key steps to creating wealth, in my view is “to bring something new to what you know” and Slate Logistics Finance does this: it’s a new way of tracking all the paperwork required to move goods around the world and borrow money secured, partly, on them. Traditional accounting systems don’t work and spreadsheets have been the only viable alternative: useful but as we know they require a lot of cogitation to match the entries on the PC to the paperwork and messages streaming in. New technology, in this case Microsoft Azure, enabled Niall to build an entirely different process that can deal with the “non-linear” supply chains that are international trade: it doesn’t matter what happens when, there’s always a place to record and view it.

We met in March and I reviewed the business plan and the numbers. A second meeting got us to a clear understanding of what was different and why it would work: the process halves the overhead and so means that Slate can either undercut competitors or earn premium returns. We all prefer the latter but I find the former more realistic.

But even good ideas are hard to get off the ground and Slate was no exception. Being a finance business it needs funds for its customers as well as its operations. But three months after our first meeting Niall signed a Term sheet for vital initial capital, creating a multi-million dollar business in the process. We achieved this in three ways:

  1. Patent protection. A weak patent in strong hands is better than a strong patent in weak hands, and a start-up is not a strong patent holder. But by filing an application Niall demonstrated that there is real Intellectual Property in the company, around which a business can be built.
  2. Playing the percentages. As WealthBeing says, rejection of your product or company is not a rejection of you. And if it doesn’t appeal to A, even if A is your preferred investor, the smart thing to do is to approach B, and C… In a few weeks Niall had found the perfect match, not just initial investment but follow-on funding from related sources
  3. Proof not prayer. Through our discussions Niall had reference points on which he could rely – validation of his concept, numbers and business model. This intangible element influences our demeanour and sub-consciously communicates our confidence in what we are doing. So the funder feels as if he is backing a winner. And I’ve no doubt that they are.

Niall was kind enough to say: Definitely wouldn’t have got there without your guidance in the initial stages!…You can definitely mark that off as a success in your mentoring book!”

Creating and launching – MODO Solutions

Introduction

Ian Rae runs MODO which installs the highest quality audio & visual entertainment technology to homes and businesses across the UK. He had noted that a number of installations of AV, lighting and smart technology in new build homes and renovations had disappointed the end-user and cost the design and construction team money or reputation (sometimes both!). These disappointments were usually caused by a poor understanding of the true requirements and a lack of coordination of all those involved in the project.

Ian had a vision to create a business to solve this problem but wasn’t sure how to turn it into reality. He approached David Eaton, whom he knew David to be well connected in the London/East Anglian SME construction sector and was also experienced in business mentoring. Together they created a strategy, marketed the service and have launched the business.

Strategy

The key elements of a business – vision and purpose, marketing sales operations fiannce and people were summarised on one sheet of A4 (‘Strategy on a page’). The discipline of reducing its complexities to one page clarified thinking of the steps required and to see their inter-relationships.

Marketing

The marketing plan had 5 steps:

  1. Test the market. Meetings were held with potential users to develop the customer profile. An analysis of the competition was undertaken.
  2. Clarify the offering. The name of the new consultancy was agreed as MODO Solutions. And had four elements: Pre-planning, Design, Project Management, Commissioning & Operational use.
  3. A financial plan was drafted ensuring that pricing and costs would result in a profit at realistic volumes and that start–up costs were affordable.
  4. A brand statement encapsulated the Why, How and What of the business. The ‘How’ containing the USP and the ‘What’ containing the key messages to be projected through the website.
  5. A draft website was prepared in full. This was tested and feedback obtained from potential users. Specialist colour advice was taken on the colour palette of the site and stationery. Both needed to be attractive and to link to Ian’s existing AV contracting website.  Jay Downing of ProWP https://prowp.co.uk/wordpress-services/ was chosen to build the website. He was known to be able to build a site that can be updated by MODO (in WordPress on time and at an economic cost).

Launching the business

The launch started with a social media campaign to the target audience primarily focussed around LinkedIn but also using Twitter. It comprised two aspects:

  1. Demonstrating expertise. Ian started writing a regular blog and news posts to demonstrate his expertise. They appeared on the website and his LinkedIn page. Key contacts were invited to forward the LinkedIn posts to their network.. Testimonials from Ian’s previous clients were obtained and some case studies written.
  2. Active marketing. The target audience of the business is architects, M&E consultants, developers, main contractors, electrical contractors as well as private/commercial clients. Key contacts that Ian and David have were approached directly and a meeting with each was set up. In order to capture new contacts visitors to the site are offered a guide (TO WHAT) in return for their email address.

The outcome

MODO Solutions is now up and running as a new AV, lighting and smart technology consultancy. Ian is linked into networking opportunities to promote his skills. Strategic alliances are being made which provides ‘win win’ to both parties. A high quality but relatively inexpensive website supports the new business. https://modo.solutions/ The next phase of the project is the ‘time rich cash poor’ part when the business will grow through a few opportunities, which will take an indefinite time to materialise, until it is sufficiently well known to have a steady stream of leads that will take it to breakeven and beyond.

Expanding and exiting – Gordon Durham & Co.

Malcolm Durham became chairman of Gordon Durham & Co. in 1989 on the sudden death of his father. He guided it to its eventual disposal some 19 years later.

When he assumed its leadership the business was heavily indebted and defending a claim for loss of profit by a developer. Its directors were happy to continue managing the business as they always had done, until their retirement in 5 or so years’ time. Malcolm maintained his wellbeing by realising that building a valuable business would take time, although even he didn’t realise quite how long!

Sometimes in business you just have to keep going. This was one of those times. Some astute land buying kept the company profitable, just, and Malcolm maintained the confidence of the bank and made the appropriate payment into court to minimise the damages that may be payable for loss of profit.

Once the case was concluded the existing directors arranged their retirements and Malcolm replaced them with an outsider who had run a contractor many times bigger than Gordon Durhams. His skill set wasn’t suited to the business and he was replaced by a site foreman within the company whom Malcolm had identified as leadership material: he completed his contracts profitably and on time and was widely respected. Malcolm mentored him, ensuring that he could learn what went on in the office and discussing tenders that were submitted for work. On one occasion he suggested rounding down a tender for £3m, by £900 which was won by £500!

In 1999, when the construction market improved, there was an opportunity for the company to maximise the value of its client focussed culture to establish partnerships with several local authorities and housing associations in its region. One of these partnerships was judged more innovative than Autonomy plc whom it beat into second place in a competition judged by Cranfield School of Management.

The business was no longer dependent on one-off jobs and could plan. So Malcolm helped the new team to design its strategy, and ensure that it had enough people to support its expansion in income and profitability. This document was set out on four pages and so was easily referenced when opportunities poured in and the company became time poor. By 2006 it had strong reserves and an excellent reputation for building schools and refurbishing homes. It caught the eye of Vinci plc, the largest building contractor outside of Japan, which needed a presence in the region. The offer was substantial and fair, but no-one had discussed how it might affect staff, management and family shareholders. So negotiations were long (10 months) and challenging. By listening to all parties Malcolm ensured that the sale of the business was concluded satisfactorily in February 2008.