On May 25th, we were pleased to be in Memphis, Tennessee to co-present, with HORNE LLP, the Capital Strategies for Growing Companies program. In our nearly 30 years of working with middle market companies, we have met many owners and managers of strong and growing middle market companies who, though expert in their products, services and markets, may be unfamiliar with capital-related matters. Whether it is planning for a generational or partner transition, a full or partial recapitalization, an acquisition, organic growth or any other need for external capital, management may be unaware of the many options available, both in terms of the forms and sources of capital. To address this need, Ironwood has developed the Capital Strategies program to educate business owners and managers about this critical element to more effectively grow their companies and meet their goals.
The Memphis event was the second joint Capital Strategies program with HORNE. The first was in Jackson, Mississippi last November. Thanks to the entire HORNE team for producing another first-class event. They did a seamless job with all details of the Memphis event, so that attention was focused on our panelists and the stories they shared.
The importance of being comfortable with your partners was emphasized in the Capital panel, which I moderated it. Panelists Charles Cox of LongueVue Capital, Mathew Malone of Stonehenge Growth Capital, Bill Fay of MB Business Capital and Josh Edwards of HORNE LLP, discussed the various forms of junior capital available, how to prepare a company to access it and how to employ it.
Josh, senior manager at HORNE, spoke for all the Capital panelists when he stated that candor is critical between the business owner/manager and investors. “You are building a relationship and the bedrock of that relationship should be trust and candor. Companies that are interested in going to market should feel free to ask questions of investors. It works both ways, as candor from all parties will build and sustain the relationship.” Josh emphasized that business owners need “a narrative and the numbers.” Know your story and back it up with solid data and you will establish credibility with investors.
The Management panel, chaired by Adam Dotson, Ironwood Capital senior associate, explored the benefits that selling your business can provide and the potential pitfalls that await the unwary. Panelists Mark Layne, Layne Capital Management and Consulting, Dr. Bill Rayburn, Mortgage Trade and Brian Waldrop, C3 Design, shared their experiences of building a business and selling it. Their stories of how their goals and expectations at the beginning of the transaction changed as the process evolved and their insight on what they would have done differently were invaluable to those in the audience considering a sale. The how-to’s, including straightforward tips on how to prepare your business to seek capital (systems, accounting, audits, etc.) provided a checklist of do’s and don’ts.
To close the event, HORNE provided a special presentation on the unique cybersecurity risks created by business growth and what can be done to mitigate them before they occur. Given the increasing frequency of cyber breaches across businesses of all sizes, the audience was highly receptive to suggestions on how to expose and prioritize system vulnerabilities.
The Capital Strategies program, now in its third year, has proven to be a popular and practical event for both co-sponsors and participants. Ironwood is in the process of scheduling additional events over the next several months.