What comes after the ‘aha’ moment?

Successful businesspeople sitting at conference or seminar during lecture

The “aha” moment is always the most rewarding part of engaging with a client. It’s like the client finally sees what everyone else was looking at.

EverEdge has a great case study about one of these amazing moments.

A handful of years ago, we were engaged to consult with a business that hoped to package its assets and sell them to a willing buyer. The company had already asked a global investment bank to supply it with a valuation. Predictably, the investment bank returned an indicative value of 4x EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation).

The company vaguely knew it had significant intangible assets but couldn’t articulate what those might be. After digging around, we quickly discovered 30 years’ worth of accurate and comprehensive weather data that was gathered incidentally as part of its larger operations.

Unfortunately, no one had thought to include this valuable intangible asset in the sales process at all.

Once we described the potential worth of this data, EverEdge was asked to take over the sales process. We immediately began targeting a new set of potential buyers that would be interested in purchasing the data since those buyers tended to have much larger chequebooks.

The client realised it had been so focused on delivering excellent services that it had completely missed the value of the data it was generating. By putting the data assets front and centre in the sales pitch, a buyer soon appeared, and the company was sold for 32x EBITDA.

The client needed an “aha” moment to see the full value of its intangible assets. When this happened, it completely rearranged their thinking process which turned out to be a highly lucrative decision.

In his book “The E-Myth Revisited,” author Michael Gerber asked a simple question: When was the last time you paused to work on your business, rather than in your business?

It’s a subtle word shift, but it makes all the difference to the “aha” moment. Gerber was warning against getting so caught up in everyday operations that we fail to see the value that is no doubt lurking just below the surface.

In the above case study, the owners were working in the business, not on the business. Once they knew the importance of working “on” the business, that was a powerful “aha” moment. But they still had to translate the insight into real action. Doing so was the difference between a nice payday and generational wealth for the owners.

Translating insight into real action is not easy. We’ve all been there. I’m sure you’ve had plenty of good intentions that came to nothing. The same thing happened to me a few years ago when I signed up for a gym just before Christmas.

Guess what happened a month later?

Yup, as January rolled around, I had used the bench press perhaps twice. Joining the gym was a good idea (it is still a good idea) at the time, but I let life get in the way. I didn’t have a “why” for my gym membership, just a vague “what.”

This year, I’ve managed to attend the gym each week – without fail. How did I achieve this? I realised that the “what” wasn’t enough. My “what” was a desire to drop a few shirt sizes. But I wasn’t becoming the kind of person who gets fit and loses weight. There’s a big difference.

My “why” is now a desire to be the kind of person who is healthy. This was an important “aha” moment for my success at the gym.

Companies can translate their “aha” moment about intangible assets into real action by asking the following questions:

  • What is the most important thing you should be discussing today?
  • What have you already done to try and solve this problem?
  • What would “better” look like for your company?
  • What would you like to accomplish a year from now?
  • How would you measure success?

In our experience, the companies that generate the best results from our advice are usually those that choose to inhabit a world where success is not an option, it is inevitable.

They see how the value of their intangible assets interacts with everything they do, and the entire philosophy of the company changes to align with that insight.

So, here’s a question for you: did you take time this week to work on your business? If not, schedule an hour or so before the week is out. Chances are there’s a lot of hidden value in your company – and there may be some risks as well.

Said differently, you may spot a hidden Rembrandt in the attic – or a ticking time bomb in the basement. But you do need to look.

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