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The perfect company director & making acquisitions

Interview with...

Xenia Walters

Chartered accountant for Price Waterhouse for six years; senior finance positions across countries, industries & sectors; former FD of Regus & master of Business Administration; still mentor on ICAEW Women in Leadership Programme & supports women-led start-ups
Business name:
Provides board-level expertise to small- to medium-size businesses
Trading for:
One year


Xenia Walters on Inxenity...

"Inxenity is all about offering director-level expertise to small-medium sized companies on a flexible basis. So it's pay-as-you-go, switch on and off, no commitment, and no contract."

On growing SMEs...

"My sweet spot in terms of the ideal customer is about £6-10m in turnover. What you'll find is that you'll have the founder or managing director, they are the board, and they don't have any other directors or advisors.

"They're struggling - they want to grow but they don't know how to grow, so they need that financial advice to fund the company, restructure the company, and if they're looking for a sale, how to do it tax efficiently.

"On the HR side, putting things in place like employment contracts, recruiting the right people and motivating them. So really it's about bringing in the right people at the right time."

On the ideal attributes in a director...

"Candid - they haven't got a vested interest and will say what they think, and be objective. They can deal with boardroom dynamics and different personalities, and have the ability to multitask, along with the strength of personality and gravitas to make things happen."

On preparation for making acquisitions...

"It's all about doing the right due diligence upfront, so investing time in learning about the company, looking at the financial numbers and looking at the opportunities. The first 90 days of any acquisition are really important - that's where you're going to make your cost savings and your synergies.

"It's all about delivering cost synergies, revenue synergies and integration, because although something looks like a good acquisition, it's all about integrating the two, while the cultures can be quite different. It's all about the people, as well. So once you've integrated the people it's quite easy to deliver the cost benefits.

"When you make an acquisition you do have to adhere to people's terms and conditions and ways of working. I think it's all about getting people's buy-in and doing things slowly. Don't try and change things from day one - it's about having a plan and doing it over time, and getting people's buy-in, almost making it their idea. Once you've made it their idea, you get their buy-in, and they're quite keen to move on and be part of the group."

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