Leadership & Business Wisdom

To succeed in business presently, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills, experts say. Starting a business requires analytical thinking, determined organization, and detailed record-keeping. It’s significant to be aware of your competition and either appropriate or enhance upon their successful tactics. You’ll almost certainly end up working harder for yourself than you would for someone else, so prepare to make sacrifices in your personal life when organizing your business. Providing good service to your customers is crucial to gaining their loyalty and retaining their business.

Business Not Financial Strategy

Successful acquisitions are based upon business plans, not financial analyses. Acquisition targets must fit the business strategies of the acquiring company; other wise, the acquisition is likely to fail. The worst acquisition record of the last decades of the twentieth century was that of Peter Grace, the longtime CEP of W. R. Grace. He was a brilliant man. He set out in the 1950s to build a world-class multinational through financially-based acquisitions. He assembled the ablest group of financial analysts and had them scout all over the world for industries and companies with a low price/earnings ratio. He bought these companies at what he thought were bargain prices. The financial analysis of each Grace purchase was impeccable. But there was absolutely no business strategy.

By contrast, one of the most successful examples of company growth based on acquisitions was the one that underlined the stellar performance of General Electric during the tenure of Jack Welch as CEO from 1981 to 2001. The largest single cause of the company’s growth in sales and earning – and the resulting rise in the company’s market value – was the acquisition-based expansion of GE Capital. Of course, not all of them panned out. In fact, there was one major failure, the acquisitions seem to have worked out magnificently underlying practically all of them was a sound business strategy.

What the Acquirer Contributes

An acquisition will succeed only if the acquiring company thinks through what it can contribute to the business it is buying, not what the acquired company will contribute to the acquirer, no matter how attractive the expected “synergy” may look. What the acquiring company contributes may vary. It may be management, technology, or strength in distribution. This contribution has to be something besides money. Money by itself is never enough.

The acquisition of Citibank by Travelers was successful because the acquiring company, Travelers, thought through and planned what it could contribute to Citibank that would make a major difference. Citibank had established itself successfully in practically every county of the world and had, at the same time, built a transnational management. But in its products and services Citibank was still primarily a traditional bank, and its distributive and management capacity way exceeded the products and services commercial banking can produce and deliver. And Travelers had a good many of these products and services. What it saw itself as being able to contribute was greatly to increase the volume of business the superb Citibank worldwide distribution system and management could sell, and at little or no extra cost.

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Leadership & Business Wisdom

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