Going Public: Austin’s Cycle Shop
It had been two years since Austin acquired a competitor and opened a new store. He had developed growing brand recognition for his excellent products and services. He focused more and more on expanding his customer base and on the continued growth of his business.
The various stores excelled in different ways, but he wanted all of his employees to be focused on his vision for the company: a new type of bicycle shop, focused on the highest levels of service, that could grow locally, regionally, and even nationally. He began having regular all-staff meetings with his employees to share how the company was doing overall and what types of challenges each store was facing. The meetings were also intended to get employees involved in discovering solutions to those challenges and in finding opportunities to grow the business.
After the first few meetings, the employees seemed to catch on to Austin’s vision and offered up interesting ideas for increasing growth and profitability, including a dynamic cross-store inventory-management system that would help any store meet any customer’s needs quickly.
This process helped Austin discover his new overall vision for the company: to create a national brand and one day take the company public. How? Take the company online, selling bikes and parts to a broad range of customers – customers whose needs he better understood through the development of his various shops. But he knew he would need to go even further to offer unique products and services to bicycle enthusiasts.
Austin sought out another investor who could offer the capital he needed to hire an online retail-consulting firm. The consultants helped him hire the right Web developers, assess marketing approaches and possible partnerships, and anticipate capital and asset needs. He developed relationships with custom bicycle manufacturers as well as local retailers in key geographic areas, which helped him offer a level of service unlike anything the other online retailers could match. He was even able to develop his own line of branded bicycles by working with the major manufacturers.
It took a couple of years to really achieve success through his online venture. Once he had, he decided to take his privately held company public. He needed increased access to both equity and debt capital from public markets to grow his earnings.
Austin would have a lot of expenses as his company went through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). There would be added overhead costs, plus the time he would have to devote to complying with SEC regulations and reporting requirements. He would have to focus on delivering consistently increasing quarterly earnings so that investors would see his company as a growth stock and push the price higher.
However, he felt that the benefits outweighed the costs. As he looked at the competitive landscape, he felt that by becoming a public company he would have a significant advantage over locally owned cycle shops and small online retailers – he could grow more rapidly and profitably. He wanted to become the Amazon of bikes – and steal bike business away from Amazon!
He began working on the IPO with a securities broker-dealer and attorneys.
From personal lessons learned, Austin knew that despite becoming a public company, he would have to continue his focus on the 5 Business Drivers – the foundation of his future success. The big picture of Austin’s Cycle Shop was expanding, but the fundamentals would never change.