The MIRACLES acronym represents 8 key factors we aim to understand in any business at an early stage. We know that fast growing entrepreneurial businesses may not formalise their approach to these issues and we don’t expect long written answers to all the questions we pose. We do expect that leaders of businesses we want to invest in will have ready answers to most of our questions.
What need is satisfied or created?
What makes this offering better than anything else out there?
Is the advantage defendable?
Who buys it? How? Why? How much?
How big could this be? Where else could it be sold?
What are the key numbers and ratios in the business model?
Price, production costs, distribution costs, operating costs?
What opportunities are there for improving these?
Scenarios – central, best, worst.
Are plans flexible enough to cope with events?
What are the key risks and how are they addressed?
Is there an appreciation of potential risks and contingency plans for dealing with them?
What is the balance between risk and reward?
How do things get done in this business?
What has the business achieved to date?
What is the track record of implementing plans and changes?
What lessons have been learned from past mistakes?
What’s new here?
What breakthrough thinking is at work?
Is there a creative process/energy that can be extended?
Is there a leader and management team able to agree on a clear strategy, allocation of resources and doing the right thing?
Will this leadership still be fit for purpose if the business trebles in size?
Is the business dependent on a single key person?
We use this term to mean all aspects of dealing with people – customers, suppliers, distributors, employees, investors.
Is this an honest and decent business able to build and defend a respected brand?
Do we get honest answers to our questions?
There are some things for which we have zero tolerance:
- Lying to, cheating or misleading customers or suppliers.
- Bribery, price-fixing, tax evasion and other illegal, dishonest or corrupt practices.
- Disregard for health and safety issues.
- Bullying, discrimination or mistreatment of employees.
How do all the components of the business hang together – physical locations, key resources and processes, contractual arrangements, expectations and obligations?
Does it work?
Will it still work if planned growth is realised?
How can it be improved?