This month, I have asked some successful entrepreneurs to share their knowledge to help SME start ups and people considering starting their own business .
Each week I will publish a different perspective from some valuable contributors .
I hope you find this useful and thanks to all contributors for taking time to share their intellectual property online .
This link might be useful to you ( http://cpa.newsweaver.ie/conferences/1gwgawc5kbn – a link to the CPA Ireland Budget Bulletin )
Cormac Fitzgerald FCPA is Managing Partner of Fitzgerald & Partners Accountancy Firm and Vice President of CPA Ireland .
Guest speaker at this year’s Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland’s Annual President’s Dinner was John Herlihy, Vice President of International SMB Sales and Operations and Head of Google in Ireland (L), pictured here with Eamonn Siggins, CEO CPA Ireland and Joe Aherne, CPA Ireland President.
John’s address was very insightful and gave those in attendance much ‘pause for thought’ in terms of the accountant’s role as strategic business advisor in helping our client companies take advantage of the digital opportunity. As the National Digital Strategy for Ireland reveals, digital currently contributes 4.4% to Ireland’s GDP. The digital part of the economy in Ireland is growing at 16% per year – that is more than 10 times the rate of growth of the economy as a whole. This growth is reflected across Europe – The EU Commission Digital Agenda for Europe claims the digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy.
A Global Engineering firms perspective ……Case study in success
Jorge is the Founder, President and CEO of PACIV, a control system engineering firm. PACIV has offices in Puerto Rico, United States and Europe. PACIV provides operational efficiencies for manufacturing processes utilizing instrumentation and control systems to provide process automation. PACIV clients include the largest Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device companies in the world and other multinational clients in related industries. PACIV has over 80 associates world-wide and has sold over $135 Million over the past 14 years. www.paciv.com for details .
SME Tips – “First things first”
Twelve years after founding PACIV, a specialized service firm in the area of industrial automation, instrumentation and regulatory compliance, I went back to the university to do an Executive MBA, this after already having done an MBA 12 years before. For some reason, I felt that the business practices of today where outgrowing my knowledge on them, I felt behind. I was not only correct, something I confirmed during my first year of courses BUT I was surprised as how little did I know.
In this column and hopefully future ones, I will share with you some of the major learnings of this new renaissance. Our classes included leadership, strategy, innovation, global markets, controls (accounting), finance, and marketing. I draw at least three critical learnings from each topic and most importantly, I drew one main learning from the fact that the “alignment” about each of these topics to the others. The glue, called “alignment” that holds them together independently is critical to be able to derive the most value through their synergies.
On this edition I will start with Strategy.
The three (3) main lessons for me were
(a) you cannot delegate strategy. Strategy is the #1 responsibility of the CEO, owner, principal partner,
(b) strategy is as much about what you decide to do than about you decide not to do,
(c) strategy is about defining where you are going to play, how you are going to play and with whom you will play. These are extremely complex matters for any business leader. At the core of these subjects resides without a doubt the most important learning of the entire course for me, that “who you are” must be very clear to you before you start addressing any of these questions
Defining “who you are” as a company, probably as with us as individuals, has been the most difficult and painful activity to define in the process. There are many Fortune 500 companies that as of this day do not have clearly stated who they are. As such, the clients are confused. Great examples of knowing who they are very obvious to you. Companies such as IKEA, Coca-Cola, Doctors without Borders, and others are known to many not necessarily because they are international brands but because they are so clear in knowing who they are that they can sustainably and clearly communicate it to their stakeholders.
I encourage you to spend the needed time defining “who you are”. I caution you that if you are an existing business, who you are is probably established already in the minds of your customers so prepare a survey and make sure you listen to who they believe you are. Without reading the surveys from the client, do your own internal exercise defining who you think you are as a company and then compare. If there are significant gaps you have a long road ahead – but at least you have identified the root cause of many of your problems. If the gaps are close, congratulations, you have been sending a clear message even when not knowing it.
The definition of “who you are” was presented by my strategy professor; Cynthia Montgomery (read her new book “The Strategist”) in our class as follows. Imagine you are in the funeral of your company, it is being “buried” and you go there and ask those present to describe to you what do they think they will miss the most. Whatever they tell you they will miss, that is who you are. Plain vanilla.
The best tool to come up with a clear definition of who you are is what I call the “OAS Statement” (Objective-Advantage-Scope). In an OAS statement, define the following:
- What our goal is (specific objective bounded by time) and Goals (inspiration, open-ended, motivational)
- Who we serve (customers and segments, where you will serve channel and geography)
- What sort of products and/or services
- Why they should buy from you (the drivers of the corporate advantages, the firm’s unique configuration of activities and resources that enable it to realize its competitive advantage)
- How we do things differently in delivering that product or service (what the firm does uniquely, differently, and better than competitors)
PACIV OAS statement is as follows:
- Be a value-driven company by being a one source provider of instrumentation, control systems and regulatory compliance services for our global clients’ manufacturing sites in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industry by applying our unique combination of technical expertise, turnkey services and commitment culture.
- We achieve customer trust through honesty, integrity, and accurate responses to clients’ needs with cost-effective and reliable solutions while being a great company in which to work and a valuable corporate citizen to our communities.
I hope this first task provides you with the needed clarity of mind to tackle the many challenges of the organization (processes, structure and systems), its resources and its clients. Upon completing it, you will embark with better tools to tackle other complex issues in the journey to achieve the needed alignment and exploit to its maximum the limited resources that we have.
For more information on this subject or any comments or questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Jorge L. Rodriguez | President & CEO
“A Harvard Business School Case Study”
CPA Ireland – Supporting Entrepreneurs .
Finally, CPA Ireland launched its new look website this summer and it has lots of helpful, freely available resources aimed at the Irish business community. You may be familiar with the CPA Ireland’s excellent report on entrepreneurship, released late last year .
It makes for very interesting reading with some proactive recommendations for much needed support in this area. The CPA Ireland Business App , the CPA Business Tracker is worth checking out and available to download for free directly from the website. It allows businesses to input key finances and automatically calculates financial ratios to measure their company’s performance.
The app is accompanied by some background information on ratio analysis and a brief tutorial clip. Also accessible via the site is a free series of webinars called Taking Charge of Your Business . This initiative involves a series of short twenty minute presentations covering a variety of topics including Cash Flow Management, Recruitment, Marketing, HR and Risk. Similarly, the Institute’s long running initiative the Simple Facts of Accounting Bulletins, help business owners understand complex accountancy and regulatory issues and how these impact day-to-day business.
The site has a host of articles providing advice in the areas of marketing, social media, technology, business planning and more. Finally, for job seekers, CPA Ireland JobSearch, lists jobs for qualified and part qualified accountants in companies around Ireland. The CPA Ireland JobSeekers function allows employers to browse CVs of potential employees for any vacancies they may have. Lots to see and learn so take a look around.
Next week we have the perspective of Joe Aherne President CPA Ireland and Chairman of Leading Edge Group