Wednesday, 12 November 2008

How "recession-proof" is your business?

recession The most popular boast now from entrepreneurs seeking funding is that their business is, to some degree, "recession proof". Whilst it will be some time before we know the magnitude and implications of the economic situation, we can attempt to help our portfolio companies understand how vulnerable they may be. Fred Wilson had an excellent post on the strength of his portfolio using something he dubbed The Survival Matrix. I thought I'd extend this a little by putting together a kind of recession-proofness-test that draws in some of the other issues. Please take the precise numbers with a big "pinch of salt": I am not planning on defending any of the weightings or rankings. I'd welcome any debate about what's included, but my purpose is to highlight issues and help give people a feel for where they stand. When I tried this test on a few portfolio companies it certainly showed a wide disparity. At the lowest 45 points and the highest 109 points out of a theoretical maximum of around 220. My view is that companies upto perhaps 50/60 points really need to think hard and urgently about making what might be quite big departures from plan. Whereas around "100 points" perhaps a slightly more considered view makes more sense even if the actions taken are still pretty firm. I can't imagine many VC-backed companies will get anywhere close to 200! I hope this test helps a little for companies to focus on just how much and how urgently their plans need to adapt. I'm doing a presentation around this stuff at our portfolio seminar this morning which I'll post up too. You can find the calculator here.