Despite this, countercyclical regulations would not be popular with the bankers.
Over a full cycle, such rules would probably require banks to have more capital
than under the existing system (and given the rescue of Bear Stearns, the rules
would need to apply to investment as well as commercial banks). Because money
tied up in capital earns lower returns, that would mean lower profits.
Many people feel that the bankers get fat and then want a bale out - what about the middle class folk? Banks are going to have do a great deal of public relations about this paradox which makes them seem greedy. But it is hard to feel much sympathy for bankers who rake in fortunes during the boom and require taxpayers to help them out in the bust (or make central banks jump through hoops for them, as the Bank of England has done this week—see article). An efficient financial sector is vital for a modern economy but trading securities has arguably achieved too much importance in the Anglo-Saxon world. Winston Churchill once said that he would rather see finance less proud and industry more content. That is not a bad motto for those devising a new set of banking regulations. Agreed about getting these mononolithic sized banks to have to cover themselves more and certainly they could afford it. There is one issue though. We are now in a global economy and Dubai is open for business to attract the financial trading away from London, NY, HK, stock exchanges, etc. Do keep that in mind when adding regulations. If the focus of a country and its people should be more on the meat and potatoes of running a good business that can compete in the global world, then capitalism, mercantilism, entrepreneuralism and the creation of small business should be given a better position in the education system and the publically owned media such as the BBC or CBC which, at times, appears to group all business under the same evil, greedy capitalist category. More venture capital TV shows like Dragons Den!
One Hot Topic: Your first meeting, therefore, like all your Advisory Board meetings, needs to be planned around a question or problem. You might find it easiest to state the problem as a goal. For instance, "We want to increase our sales by 25% this next quarter. How might we do this?" Or you might state the topic for discussion more generally: "Should we try to break into the export market?" or "Theft has been increasing. What can we do to cut down on theft at our stores?"
Professional Package: Once you've got the topic, put together a package with information that your Advisory Board members will need. You could include a business plan and any other documents such as charts, graphs and fact sheets illustrating the background of the discussion topic. If possible, you should send a copy of these documents to all Advisory Board members two weeks in advance, along with a copy of the agenda.
Time Limit: Notice that each agenda item should be timed; building a time schedule into your meeting and sticking to it ensures that your meeting doesn't get bogged down and stimulates on-topic discussion.
Take Minutes: You will also want to make some arrangements for recording the minutes of the meeting. Don't try to do this yourself; you need to be able to participate fully, and listening and contributing well is a full-time job. If you don't have someone who can attend and serve as a secretary, ask permission of your Advisory Board members to tape the meeting.
It's All About the Food: Here's the most important part - the food! Do organize tasty snacks as people bond over food - an odd comment but one you know to be true. Don't do order in pizza or soggy sandwiches. Head over to Pusitarri's or even Loblaw's where you can purchase pre-made snack food which is delicious and fresh. Plenty of web sites like the passionate gourmet can give you ideas of unique and interesting platters of finger foods.
Keep it Simple: Above all, don't fret about your presentation. You are there to share your vision and hopes for your company and seek advice, not to impress anyone with multimedia presentation effects. Your long-range goal is to establish a working relationship of trust with your Advisory Board members, so focus instead on ensuring that your Advisory Board members walk away feeling that they've been heard and that they've contributed to the management of your company - and looking forward to the next meeting of the Board.
My upcoming book, Money Magnet, has a chapter on how to get going once you get capital from Venture Capital or private equity but you will be having many more board meetings and now is the time to get started.
I ran an article on my CEO Newsletter which goes out to owner managed businesses and family businesses with the lead story headline:
Why 90% of Businesses in the USA are Still "All in the Family"
I got back many repsones asking about this number and whether Canada has that many owner managed companies. I tried contacting Family Business research centres and CAFE to get figures but Canada also comes in pretty high at about 75% of business owned by a family. I got an interesting reply from a finance expert in South Africa who said:
Because the returns are generally too low to cover a true imputed cost of capital (currently some 9% (3.5% risk free rate plus 5.5% equity risk premium) for an ungeared company) - markets would not stomach such underperformance....
So, do family businesses understand EVA or cost of capital? Is this why they benefit so much by partnering with the private equity teams who bring their market expertise to their business? My book, Money Magnet, will cover these points for owners and founders. Tom Deans, author of Every Family's Business, says that family businesses need to run their companies as if they did not belong to the family. This could also be a factor in why family businesses are not as efficient as they could be. Money Magnet will cover this controversial topic.
Every Family's Business by Tom Deans is an entertaining, useful read if you own, have partial ownership or wish to have ownership in a family business.
The Digerati Life has a great article on how to make 10 ordinary things last longer.
Consumerism Commentary has a detailed article on 10 steps to break the credit card habit. Lazy Man and Money gives his thoughts on the middle class.
Quest for Four Pillars questions hedge funds - are we missing out?
Generation X Finance does a book review on Rich by Thirty.
Money Magnet is teaching family business owners how to find investors and get them to value their business at a high level.
What is the current bleak business landscape and downward fall of the markets doing to business? It does seem that the bottom of the market is being reached as the Times of London reported that Blackstone and CVC have put in a joint proposal to acquire 29.9 per cent of Mitchells & Butlers, the UK pub group whose shares have slide down after a property deal went sour.
Leveraged buyouts have been put aside with the growth of the credit crunch as financing has ground to a halt while banks are forced to work through a backlog of committed but unsyndicated loans.
However, buyout groups are carrying billions of dollars of funds and need to put their money to work, despite the lack of debt funding. Apollo, TPG and Blackstone also signed on to buy $12B of discounted leveraged loans from Citigroup, or 24% of the bank's $43 billion backlog of unsyndicated loans. This has probably set the price for other banks to begin to reduce their backlog. As the Time of London reports, "It calls the bottom globally, although it's a terrible deal for Citi. By calling the bottom, they create the bottom and if it works they unblock the system and the market starts to recover.”Blackstone, KKR and Carlyle have recently all closed new distressed debt funds and in Europe both Permira and CVC Capital have small debt businesses that are also starting to invest in underperforming leveraged loans.
In the meantime, private equity funds, including Apollo, Oaktree, Och-Ziff and Silverpoint are also digging through the market for attractive deals.
Here is Canada, with the closing of Jefferson and other funds, there is concern about private equity deals. This type of financial partnership is not the same as banking. It is high risk money.
I got a phone call from a fund manager today. I was a bit surprised to get his attention as he normally only deals in public market companies but he tells me he has a new private equity fund and he needs to invest. This is good news for those family owned businesses or owner managed companies because it means they are more and more attactive to this unique type of capital. I wrote about private equity in my new book, Money Magnet which will help owners understand how to attrat and work with private equity.
With the big companies taking a hammering on the stock market, there is a diversion of money happening. The new direction seems to be private equity. I've had phone calls from companies setting up private equity funds as they have heard this is where the high returns lie.
In the USA, Private equity funds closed on a whopping $44.3 billion across 68 funds. While not nearly as huge, the venture capital markets also brought in new money beyond 2007’s totals by $1 billion to $4.9 billion. The data is based on information compiled by Private Equity Analyst, which is part of Dow Jones.
What's going on?
"The thinking in the USA is that if you are in private equity or venture capital, you are not tied up in the credit crunch," says John Loewen, Loewen & Partners, Toronto.
You are entering Venture Capital country when you run a business with some revenue but still need to get a large sum of money to build a plant for that new client. The VCs (Venture Capitalists) are like the pioneers. They would take the big risks and maybe get to develop a ranch and farm, bring up a family and create a booming town serving farms and the stage coach passing through to the big city. Too often though, as Dennis Tobin said to me (he's a venture capitalist lawyer), the pioneer gets the arrows in the back.
It used to be thought that the first business in would get the big rewards but it is becoming clear that the people who come in after the pioneer actually get more reward. The moral of the story is try to be a settler, coming in after the pioneers have staked out the territory. But if you are an entrepreneur, I know you enjoy the thrill of the adventure so never mind – carry on - and watch out for those arrows.
Prices are quoted in US dollars per gallon for regular unleaded. March 1, 2008
Oslo, Norway $6.82
Hong Kong $6.25
Brussels, Belgium $6.16
London, UK $5.96
Rome, Italy $5.80
Tokyo, Japan $5.25
Sao Paulo, Brazil $4.42
New Delhi, India $3.71
Sidney , Australia $3.42
Johannesburg, South Africa $3.39
Mexico City $2.22
Buenos Aires , Argentina $2.09
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia $0.09
Caracas , Venezuela$0.12
Unfortunately, that fairy tale does not always end happily. You are probably aware of the statistics on just how many companies fail before reaching their five year mark. It is just not true that owners take home the big bucks. Too often they are paying everyone else first and when it’s time to pay themselves, they find the cupboard bare.
Business entrepreneurs are crucial for the future wealth of our country but are often given little thought (look at the last Ontario provincial election – need I say more?). Now with the alarming question of “Is this a recession?” even the news headlines have turned away from Hollywood celebrities and toward the economy” – although CNN did still make Heath Ledger’s death their top story the same night that every stock market on the globe was falling off a cliff. But what the heck, I enjoyed looking at Anderson Cooper’s blue eyes and his combination of Wall Street pinstripe suit with purple and gray striped tie!
With this incoming tsunami of trouble, our provincial governments are turning their attention to SMEs and pondering how to help them. If you buy the life-boat theory - you cannot save everyone from drowning - you need to answer the question of just who does get to climb into the life boat. Rather than encouraging any and every start up, government can focus on assisting industries with high growth potential. If you start a computer industry-based company, your chances of growing far exceed those of starting a hotel, a clothing store or a consulting company.
What is missing in the economy are those growing companies finding a financial investment of $1M to $10M. Supporting those investors ploughing money into growth companies would be a smart move. Venture capitalists and private equity funds investing amounts under $10M tend to excel in filtering out which businesses and owners are most likely to grow our Canadian economy.
As an entrepreneur, you know economic change is upon us. You no longer have time to point the finger at China, India or our government policies. Right now, you need to make decisions to get ahead of the global crowd. Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University and author of The Illusions of Entrepreneurship, says, “the typical entrepreneur makes decisions that lower the chances for success. Part of it is that they're in a hurry and don't have time. So to give you a good example -- a business plan. We have lots of evidence that all kinds of performance measures of startups are enhanced if you write a business plan” [www.businessweek.com, 1/7/08]. Why doesn’t the average owner write a plan? Besides being busy, owners just don’t see the benefit.
If you want your business to be more than a lifestyle, write that plan. Take this weekend to break out your laptop, Google “business plan” and you will find a plethora of templates to use. Then share it. If your only employee is your dog, tell your mother. “Tell everyone,” says Tony Griffiths, one of Canada’s top investors in growing entrepreneurial companies. Tony, who invests in growing companies, recalls how years ago, while he was watching his wife play tennis, a young man sitting next to him struck up a conversation. The subject moved to business and the young man shared his business plan with such enthusiasm. Tony made the decision there and then to become an investor.
Marketers who support the new reality that girl power is here - and it’s not just Scary Spice being cheeky - will be ahead of the pack. I just spent my weekend holed up with high testosterone Bay Street money men judging the Ivey Business Plan competition. Once again, the $20,000 top prize went to a female-led team and as I sat with the Venture Capitalists, they recalled the previous year’s female winner saying, “What a fire cracker!” I have no doubt these fellows would hand over twenty thousand cool ones to any woman who demonstrated she could bring in a sustained revenue stream of $5M. If women want to get ahead in Canada, they need to make the decision from a very young age to live, breath, and die for business.
This blog also appears in The Women's Post.