Think aggressive

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Q. My banker asked me to update my strategic plan. Any suggestions on how I can make the most effective presentation?

A. The first thing this question brings to mind is Mark Twain’s description of a banker: a person who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it rains. With this in mind, there are several things you can do to hold onto that umbrella as long as possible.

First and foremost, remember you are dealing with bankers. They care more about getting their loan repaid than they do about how much money you’ll make with their loan. You will scare them with talk of your next 10 acquisitions. Focus instead on your plan for steady profitable growth, cost synergies, economies of scale and, most importantly, your expectations for cash flow and debt pay-down.

Second, the most effective strategic presentations are fact-driven, concise and exhibit a firm knowledge of your industry. Spend your time expanding on these subjects and you’ll have a winning presentation:

History. Tell your story. How long have you been in the community? Talk about your management team and its experience.

Market position. Define your market and your position. What is your competitive advantage?

Future expectations. Think aggressive conservatism. What is your plan for taking your business to the next level?

Financials. Summarize key information on one page. How have you performed over the last two to three years?  Provide mildly aggressive projections for two additional years.

And finally, follow Mark Twain’s advice: “Whatever you say, say it with conviction, and when in doubt, tell the truth.” 

Don Davis is an industry consultant. Reach him at 412-805-0662 or