Views from the valuation coalface: Edition 1

Views from the valuation coalface bizval

Once a month, we will be sharing some of the on-the-ground insights that we glean from our numerous discussions with founders and their advisors. Sometimes serious, sometimes funny, these insights are always real and are brought to you by Graham Stephen (CEO and co-founder of bizval) and The Finance Ghost (co-founder of bizval).

Passion: not always infectious

Anyone who has owned a business knows this already: nobody is as passionate about your business as you are. This can make the journey terribly lonely, as you don’t want to be overbearing with friends and family, but you also crave peers to share stories and ideas with.

A sense of community is clearly visible, which is precisely why we showcase entrepreneurs with interesting stories to tell. For example, you could listen to the father-son duo of Howard and Justin Blake talk about their journey, Craig Herbst and Graham Jones share their story in being ahead of the solar curve or Jonathan Kropf tell us about his experience in buying and selling tech companies. If you think your story is interesting enough for a podcast, let us know!

Just get to the point, now

Founders love honest, straightforward advice. There’s just no time for fluffy nonsense. Time is literally money, or the opportunity to recharge headspace by doing something away from the business. There just isn’t enough of it to waste on anything.

Founders who have learnt to scale their time are ready to pay for the right services. It’s definitely not about finding the cheapest service provider. As most people have experienced in their lives, “cheap” services can turn out to be very expensive in unexpected ways.

Sometimes, this journey can be horrific

There’s not much glitz and glamour here. If you’re looking for the red carpet, watch the reruns of the Oscars. Business is a battlefield, especially in tough operating environments like South Africa that seem to dish up an endless and dynamic cocktail of challenges.

For this reason, founders love partnering with like-minded souls. It’s common to see founders choose a service provider of a similar size and with shared values, often putting these attributes above the cost of the service. That’s worth keeping in mind while you strategise about how to resonate with your desired client base.

From being the only customer to feeling like the only customer

Especially in the beginning, founders tend to over-service customers in pursuit of great reviews and the holy grail of startup land: a word-of-mouth referral. Avoiding this isn’t easy, but it can bite further down the line when the customer expects a level of service that isn’t sustainable or profitable at the planned pricing.

Every situation is different. If you’re dealing with this issue, you aren’t alone.

Not always sexy

Some of the most valuable businesses we’ve looked at would not result in the correct direction of swiping on Tinder. That’s a pity, as they generate excellent dividends and capital growth for shareholders, proving that judging a book by its cover isn’t smart in life or in business.

Remember, the most exciting industries also attract the highest level of competition. In rugby, some positions are destined for TV replays of intense tries being scored, whilst others are in for an 80-minute grind away from the limelight. There’s nothing wrong with either approach and the same is true for business.

Take it from us: that huffing-and-puffing front row behemoth is sometimes a lot more valuable than the show pony playing on the wing. Importantly, we are capable of valuing either type of business and sharing insights with the founders about the key value drivers.

For a wealth of insights into valuations, due diligence processes, the drivers of value and many more topics, visit our knowledge library on the bizval website.