Add then Multiply
It was only after David Horne set up several businesses at the midpoint in his career that he realised his skillset wasn’t necessarily in launching new businesses, but helping existing ones to scale – and fast.
At that point, he had already founded a wine business and a television media company alongside his main consultancy firm. He’d also spent ten years working for international corporates and blue-chip companies.
Fast growth consultancy Add Then Multiply took him in a new direction, working directly with founders and business owners of mainly established businesses on growth strategies as well as when necessary, transforming the finance function to generate better productivity.
“I’m not the guy who says, ‘let’s create something really new that no one has ever done before,” David explains. “I’m the guy who comes into established businesses and says ‘OK, now you’ve reached this level, let’s scale it up.”
David’s approach is focused on clarity of business strategy and a robust financial model in which to support fast growth. Business growth may involve overseas expansion, diversifying to new markets or simply growing the team.
He uses the FACE acronym to support businesses with their growth plans:
Fund: What funding options are available to the business? How else can they raise funds? Do they have existing equipment which can be sold and leased? Have they looked at external investment options? Would they consider selling an equity stake in the business?
Acquire: This involves procuring assets. Whether it’s equipment, people or another company, so anything that creates value.
Consolidate: When a merger has taken place, how do you streamline business functions? Are there specific crossovers between the businesses involved? This stage may also involve an element of restructuring or if necessary, redundancies.
Exit: This could be at the point of retirement for the founder or when the founder feels it’s time to move on and sell their business. David’s role is helping founders prepare and plan for this exit.
David, whose book Add Then Multiply: How small businesses can think like big businesses and achieve exponential growth which demonstrates the how-to of fast growth using the FACE methodology, explains that it’s not always necessary or relevant to go through the whole cycle. Sometimes, companies may require support with the funding or consolidation aspect.
His main premise though, is the idea that while every business is different, fundamentally, they’re also the same.
“Every business has to go to market, every business has to deliver operations and every business has to collect money from their customers to pay staff, rent, overheads and so on,” David explains.
“So as a company scales, you need to invest in all three of these areas. It’s like a three-legged stool. If you’ve got two legs which are really strong and one which isn’t, it’s going to be lopsided.”
In David’s experience, this is where founders and business owners tend to go wrong – either during start-up stage or when looking to scale. There’s a tendency to invest in sales and marketing to bring in more business, yet there’s often failure to invest in the finance and operations side, resulting in a sales backlog and uncollected payments.
Since Add Then Multiply was set up nearly twenty years ago, David has worked closely with a huge range of businesses across many different industries, including technology, education, media and healthcare sectors. And he would have continued in this vein had it not been for a chance meeting at a networking event in 2019 which he says, opened his eyes to an unlevel playing field across the business funding sector.
“I was speaking at an event in Reading in April 2019 about fundraising for small businesses and a woman asked me why so little venture capital went to female founders,” David recalls. “As a middle-aged white man the issue just wasn’t on my radar. I told her I’d find out, but what I found out later really shocked me.”
David subsequently came across research by British Business Bank which revealed that less than 1% of venture capital funding went to all female teams during 2017 in comparison to 89% for all-male teams. Mixed gender teams made up just 10% of funding. Since then, not much has changed.
“Two key things came out of my research and all the different people I spoke to about this. Firstly, it’s not just a UK problem but a global one. Secondly, it’s not just a women versus men issue. Men from underrepresented groups face exactly the same challenges. The issue is literally white guys versus everyone else.”
Appalled by what he had discovered, David began running a series of awareness raising events designed to provide education, hope and inspiration to entrepreneurs across underrepresented groups: Funding Focus was born.
As David explains, Funding Focus is about showcasing women and men from diverse backgrounds who have successfully raised money for their businesses while raising awareness not just across the entrepreneurial community but the business venture community as well as politically, too.
“More money than ever is piling into venture capital and more people than ever are launching new businesses. That throws up both challenges and opportunities”
David says. “But there is still a long way to go and where we are now just isn’t good enough. My mission now is about levelling the playing field around investment opportunities and I’m committed to spending the rest of my life doing this.”
Chris is the founder and MD of GenerationCFO.com and creator of the Digital Finance Function Model and a contributor to many articles on our platform. Chris focuses on the shift toward digital transformation in accounting and finance, shows you what good looks like, then helps to get you there!
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