Dan Freed, Partner

The past three months have forced us to re-think and change many aspects of our personal lives, from commuting and schooling to socialising. Many businesses have had to hit ‘pause’ and swiftly assess how best to adapt to the fast-changing situation thrust upon them, consider what the future holds and pull together a strategy to ensure they are well placed for future growth.

While it may sound like a cliché, people really are key for nearly all businesses, and this has become even more apparent during the recent health crisis when clear leadership has been vital. When investing in SMEs across the UK, the overriding common theme is the need for a strong management team that we can support to deliver their growth plans. Often, scale-up investment is used to build out the team and MBOs are looking to add capability and bandwidth following a change of ownership.

Now, as much as ever, leadership skills are needed to guide businesses through a challenging period. From issues arising from managing a remote workforce to disruption in the supply chain and changes to the customer base, the impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching. However, rather than battening down the hatches and scaling back plans for growth, businesses need to build out their teams and ensure they have the necessary skills to prosper. Lockdown, in itself, should not inhibit adding good people with a strong track record of planning and execution to the management team.

For example, a new CFO joined one of our portfolio businesses at the height of the lockdown in early May. The use of video conferencing was critical to meeting colleagues and, although not face to face, the process of starting to build relationships with people across different offices and external stakeholders was perhaps more efficient than under normal circumstances. As we have found with new joiners to our team here at YFM, induction was actually more structured with a full diary of video calls covering all areas of the business. The use of business grade collaboration tools has accelerated, and we have all adapted to new ways of working.

Having invested in businesses throughout the UK and across a diverse range of sectors since 1982, at YFM our starting point is always to look at the management board, identify any gaps and then recruit the right people to enable the company to unlock its potential. With a strong track record in growth and development capital deals, bringing in senior talent and growing the team is a priority for us. We are committed to working in partnership with management teams looking to deliver stakeholder value – our ethos is to be challenging, but supportive.

We believe that great teams build great businesses and the current situation has brought this into even sharper focus. Now, more than ever, sound leadership and planning is vital – so, in order to maintain your growth trajectory, adding to the team right now may just make the difference.

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