Avoid falling flat on your Facebook. The fall and fall of Facebook’s stock has been the stuff of investors’ nightmares. Starting with a stock price of $38, by 31st August the stock had lost approximately 52% value with no sign of a bounce. The real issue isn’t just Facebook’s shares so much as a lack of probity in investments these days and many businesses who choose to ‘float’ may find there’s a leak in their boat.
The average duration for a shareholding in the USA currently stands at an almost instantaneous 22 seconds!
Compared with an average holding of 8 years in the 1940’s, the stock market has become the ‘get rich quick’ scheme (substitute ‘dream’ for a more apt description) of the 00’s. Shareholders just aren’t in it for the long game any more and this creates a multitude of problems for businesses great and small.
The demand to create shareholder value overnight keeps many an Executive Suite buzzing into the ridiculous hours of the night; sees downsizing and corporate initiatives bluntly delivered across departments to deliver savings and greater profit margins and dissatisfaction in the stock market quickly translates into a knee jerk reaction kicking the HR department into action, moving from co-production to consultation as the company’s most “valuable assets” become “deadweight” creating drag merely as a result of bottom line cost.
Shareholder value, as a concept, is fine but it’s become very one directional in recent years and creates little benefit for the business, less a short term cash injection and longer term drain on your profits and profitability.
Before you launch your business into the choppy stock market seas, consider a few alternatives:
- Raise additional funds through other means:
Investment pots and pensions aren’t delivering growth in low interest economies just now.
Money in the bank is more of a tax liability than a cushion. Get family; friends and acquaintances to consider becoming a minority investor in your venture with the prospect (but no guarantee) of long-term returns;
Ask – “Do I really need to grow?” Many businesses chase growth like a dog chases it’s own tail. It’s the perpetual motion that creates the illusion of progress when, in reality, you’re just expending energy chasing an elusive, moving and often undesirable target. Growth’s not a bad thing; it’s just not the be all and end all of business. Sustainability and longevity are much more important.
Grow from within: Re-invest your profits. It’s the simplest and most economical way of growing any business; it doesn’t sell off any part of your holding and doesn’t expose it to the jitter of shareholders demanding short-term results.
Or consider selling shares to the employees and give them a stake in their own sweat and toil.
Consider the 3 C’s:
You don’t need to do it all on your own. Find other businesses or individuals that are either doing something similar and work together to increase market share or find complimentary products and services and share the costs of increasing your joint offer to the market. Cross selling could help you both.
All these options allow you to retain control of your business and keep your long-term goals in focus.
If you decide that you do want shareholders, make sure major shareholders you bring in possess more than just the financial wherewithal to invest.
Get investors that are passionate about what you’re trying to achieve; who have experience and expertise in an area that’s relevant for your business and that can actually add something to the business and the Boardroom (other than banging fists; a scary glare and the demand you make them rich instantly or they’ll withdraw their investment).
That way, when the storm hits the good ship (insert your company’s name) you can call all hands to deck rather than your shareholders racing to the lifeboats as the rest are left to bail out.
Bio: Colin Millar is an entrepreneur and Founding Director of Cloud Management Systems [Link: CloudManagementSystems (.) co( .)uk ], a consultancy with a difference. Colin is also the Chairman of a Scottish based charity. Colin blogs on leadership, management; business and enterprise. In 2011, he won the Chartered Management Institute’s ‘Top Blog” award.