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Only when the tide goes out, do you discover who’s been swimming naked


Only when the tide goes out, do you discover who’s been swimming naked

By , December 23, 2020

2020 has certainly been an unusual year – but like many other years in history, there are themes and learnings we can apply to what might happen going forward. For example, for several years after the Financial Crisis (of 2007/2008), there was a heavy concentration of activity for mid market mergers and acquisition – some companies which had survived, and even prospered, during that period had cash reserves and an appetite for growth through acquisition. Others who had done less well and perhaps been caught out by the severe shock were forced to take more drastic action – either restructuring or even selling at a reduced price.

COVID-19, like the Financial Crisis, has forced business owners to act – they have had to take action to either ensure survival, pivot to a different way of delivery or even a different product. Others have had to decide to exit, sell or close their business.

We have also seen a substantially increased focus on employee engagement, for people who had teams working from home “unsupervised” they were keen to make sure those employees were connected, engaged, and motivated. The strategy to introduce employee ownership works well in most businesses, with the owners seeking to engage employees and encourage them to think and act like business owners, with all parties benefiting from the improved performance. In difficult times, employees need to fell part of the team.

2021 will also be an interesting year – some countries have managed COVID very well and are already in recovery and growth mode. Others are struggling with COVID still increasing and lockdowns in place – they are only waiting for a vaccine before they can enter growth mode again.

The key lesson here is to think strategically, plan for the long term and ensure your business and your finances are well-managed, strategically planned, risks are mitigated, and you are well-placed to take advantage of whatever opportunities arise in the next 12 to 24 months.

For those who have taken the hard steps in 2020 and prepared well – this is often the best of times to set up for the next ten years.

“Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arks does.” – Warren Buffett

Craig West

Craig West

Executive Chairman | Succession Plus

Craig West is a strategic accountant with over 20 years of experience advising business owners. His background as a CPA in public practice has provided invaluable experience in the key issues of concern to business owners.

In March 2014, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of the SME Association of Australia, Australia’s largest small business organisation representing over 300,000 business owners.

In October 2014, he was awarded the Exit Planner of the Year at the Exit Planning Institute Annual Conference in Texas, USA, due to his innovative development of an exit planning process to help business owners maximise business value and achieve a successful exit.

Craig’s proprietary structure - a Peak Performance Trust - has won the Australia-wide award for the Employee Share Ownership Plan of the year twice in four years.

In November 2018, Craig launched SME Experts in partnership with Mark Bouris’ Mentored on Podcast One and quickly grew the monthly podcast audience to over 26,500 downloads; in October 2019, he released a new podcast focused on medium-sized businesses - Mid-Market Matters.

In July 2021, Craig joined the NSW Committee for STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners) – focusing on advising families across generations.

Craig has also launched a SaaS platform, Capitaliz (which captures the 21-step process), to assist other advisers internationally deliver advisory services at scale.

In November 2021, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of NSW Leaders, a business mentoring group for leading NSW businesses.

In July 2022, Craig West received the award of Doctor of Business Administration for his research thesis titled “Examination of the key factors driving business exit options in Australian Small and Medium Enterprises.”

Craig is passionate about encouraging business owners to think strategically, maximise the value of their business and achieve a successful exit.