Foundation: working as ONE TEAM.
The foundation to our approach is the creation of one team. The Next Step takes time. Seldomly it is something that is achieved within a few weeks. Therefore we always start with the basics: a complete and agreed upon understanding where the company is. It is impossible to achieve the goals one has in mind if the departure poins are different. TD Shepherd has developed its D&D (Discovery & Departure) process in which it takes accurate measure of the Company’s position in the process of preparing for "The Next Step". Based on the initial discovery results, TD Shepherd will identify the steps required to ready the company for The Next Step. This might be a financing round or and Management Buy-Out or the acquisition of a company. These steps, the Departure process, will be paced based on the Company’s financial requirements, product development and on-going business requirements. Most importantly, the Departure process is paced to allow the Management Team to focus on the continued growth of the Company, avoiding the disruptive “dropping everything to get things done”.
An Ambition Process typically lasts a number of weeks, preparation, execution and evaluation, specifically useful for early stage startups and/or startusp which have not yet set a clear set of goals over a period of 3-5 years. However, as part of our strategic consulting we also use an Ambition Process although somewhat more extensive and comprehensive. TD Shepherd has developed a process supported by a set of tools that will help the Management Team to explore, simulate and finally, set clear goals (ambitions) for 3-5 years out. These goals are not only realistic, they are supported by a set of clear intermediate KPIs and KRIs that help the Management Team to track the company's performance and where necessary adjust tactics and/or strategy to improve tracking and/or adjust the goals. The purpose of the Ambition Process is to create a COMPASS for the Management Team to ensure directions are defined and agreed upon. Where necessary the compass can be adjusted through strategic discussion, evaluation and decision.
The purpose of the Discovery meeting is to determine, as accurately as possible, where the company and its management team are with respect to the clear definition and implementation of the company’s strategy, ambition, product(s), target customers, sales strategy and the financials that are the result of this. TD Shepherd takes the Management Team through a 14 step programme that is customized based on the materials the Company has made available. The outcome of the Discovery is first of all a preparedness mark that gives a generic indication as to how far the company is away from running a successful financing round. Of course there is never a 100% guarantee on success as there are too many inside and outside factors that can influence the road towards a successful round. If there is any doubt on a successful completion of the venture round, TD Shepherd will provide the Company and its Management Team with a clear description of the hurdle(s) to solve before restarting the process. This is typically the case if the Discovery mark ends up below a 4.0 (on a range of 0 to 10, 10 being the highest). In general though, Management Teams have a reasonable accurate feeling about their preparedness level and it is rare that the outcome of the Discovery meeting generates a significant mismatch between expectations and actuality. The more important result of the Discovery process is the detailed stepping plan that creates a fundable proposal that is ready to be presented to relevant VCs. This stepping plan serves as the input for the Departure process.
The shape and form of the Departure process will vary from company to company. As no company is identical, TD Shepherd believes that the Discovery process is tailored to the state of the company, the needs and loading of the Management Team and the market it operates in. Due to the fact that the Departure process is specific to each company and Management Team, we’ll cover the basics here which is basically a sliding variation between a full throttle all hands on-board drive to get the Company ready in the shortest possible period all the way to a monthly check-and-verify process where the company and Management Team tick off the key tasks on a monthly basis after which a meeting takes place to review the results and discuss the next milestones and deliverables. It should be noted however that even though the latter approach is more relaxed with a reduced loading on the management team, there should still be a clear deadline to this process as the market in which the company operates, no matter how “static” it seems, never stands still. In general our experience has companies getting to their first engagements anywhere between 3 months and a year with some stretching out to 18 months. It is also necessary to remark that the time between start and first engagement is no way an indication of the strength of the company, Management Team or product(s). Often a longer path indicates the Company has reserved sufficient time for potential revisions of its key components as well as to minimize impact on the daily business.