#BestPractices Posts

The Toptal Finance Blog is a hub for in-depth studies and analysis on all facets of finance, ranging from innovative strategies on raising capital to detailed coverage of new finance trends and technologies.
Natasha Ketabchi
How to Craft a Successful Go to Market Strategy

As a venture investor, Natasha Ketabchi spends most of her day evaluating tech startups as potential investments. In early-stage investments, Natasha finds that the three things that matter most are team, product, and sales and marketing approach—including their go to market strategy. In this article, Natasha lifts the veil on what venture investors look for in a solid GTM plan.

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Elizabeth J. Howell Hanano, CFA
How to Get Consulting Clients – An Interview with Steve Blank

Consultants often struggle to find new, solid clients. We asked Steve Blank, the founder of the Lean Startup movement (and someone who has helped hundreds of companies get a better product to market faster and worked with dozens of consultants along the way) how consultants can attract clients.

Steve’s advice is a bit counter-intuitive. But it’s something that Toptal’s best consultants have already been doing for years.

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Kresimir Profaca
The Rules of Motivation: A Story About Correcting Failed Sales Incentive Schemes

Rewards programs and sales incentive schemes are necessary for any business that operates outbound customer acquisition channels. They encourage certain behavior and that, if poorly constructed, can lead to perverse results and conflicting interests. Creating a holistic plan that stimulates positive company-wide behavior is an art that has huge benefits.

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Ted Bartlett
Making Your Software Work For You: an ERP Implementation Tutorial

In the life of almost any growing enterprise, there comes a point in time when the existing systems and processes become insufficient. Early-stage businesses tend to grow up with basic and low-cost software systems as well as a heavy reliance upon a few key administrative employees. Eventually, however, the software can’t keep up with the business, and the trusted employees become overtaxed.

For most enterprises at this key inflection point, implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which integrates all areas of the business, can help to overcome this issue. It’s a hugely consequential decision for the business and must be approached with an uninterrupted focus on risk management. While ERP may not be sexy, it is of utmost importance for growing businesses and should not be ignored. This article provides enterprise leaders with the benefits and risks of ERP, as well as a detailed step-by-step implementation guide.

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Raphael Rottgen
Biotech Valuation Idiosyncrasies and Best Practices

Biotech companies with little to no revenue can still be worth billions. Consider the most prominent 2017 biotech M&A deal when Gilead bought Kite Pharma for almost $12 billion. At the time of the deal, Kite had over $600 million in accumulated deficit, but it also had a pipeline of CAR-T cell therapies, which treat cancer. This article examines how to value such pipelines. It also focuses on the risk-adjusted NPV valuation methodology, portfolios of multiple drug candidates, and how value is impacted by the characteristics of the investor or acquirer.

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Javier Enrile
M&A Negotiation Tactics and Strategies: Tips from a Pro

Mergers and acquisitions are headline-grabbing events that are often the pinnacle of a CEO’s career. But they also often fail to generate value, as numerous studies over the years have shown.

With over 15 years of experience doing M&A deals, Toptal Finance Expert Javier Enrile shows that the main reason for disappointing results is simple: Most people think M&A is merely an exercise of agreeing on a price for the deal. What they fail to understand is that there is a science to doing M&A that often makes the difference between a deal being successful or not.

In this article, Enrile runs through three key tactics for ensuring your company can get the most value out of an M&A transaction.

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Orinola Gbadebo-Smith
Mission Statements: How Effectively Used Intangible Assets Create Corporate Value

Of the three functional categories that drive value in business—i.e., the “hard,” the “soft,” and the “intangible”—mission statements comfortably reside in the third, alongside such concepts as brand and culture.

But despite the skepticism that is often associated with this category, and having uncovered some of the greatest gems in the corporate arena, this article argues that mission statements, when crafted and utilized effectively, are capable of driving billions of dollars in value.

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William B. Doyle, Jr.
Selling a Business for Maximum Value in a Challenging M&A Market

With $936 billion of uninvested private equity capital inching down market, why do 46% to 80% of lower middle market sell-side transactions fail to close? The usual answer is that companies are not ready for buyers’ examination and owners can be overly optimistic or even greedy.

Business owners can do much more to put themselves in the driver’s seat. Success boils down to the following: (1) take the time and do the work to prepare for an exit transaction and (2) apply “intelligent greed” to close your best deal.

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Alberto Mihelcic Bazzana
Advanced Financial Modeling Best Practices: Hacks for Intelligent, Error-Free Modeling

From abstract spreadsheets to real-world application, financial models have become an inextricable part of business life and an indispensable part of every company’s toolkit. But irrespective of its ubiquitousness as a productivity and decision-making tool, many out there still have a love-hate relationship with it.

Finance expert Alberto Bazzana authors a comprehensive “how-to guide”, for both the novices and experts among us, detailing Wall Street’s best practices for intelligent, effective, and error-free financial modeling.

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Melissa Lin
Private Equity Succession Planning Do’s and Don’ts

While growing investor enthusiasm has contributed to a historic $3 trillion of fundraising over the last five years, the PE industry faces increasing competition amongst firms, record-high multiples and other factors making it difficult to generate attractive returns. One aspect for consideration is succession planning, especially since CEO turnover at portfolio companies occurs at a rate of 73% and can increase hold times and decrease returns.

This article defines succession planning, and examines the best practices and mistakes to avoid in succession planning for PE portfolio companies. It also explores succession planning within private equity firms themselves, something PE firms have been uncharacteristically proactive about confronting recently.

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Emilio Labrador
Latin America M&A Best Practices

Latin America boasts great investment opportunities with attractive risk levels, higher returns than home markets, and access to a large population base with growing income. However, Latin American acquisitions require special attention and include a number of difficulties unique to the region.

This article provides insights gleaned from Finance Expert Emilio Labrador’s 15 years of experience in Latin American oil and gas M&A. It provides practical tips for foreign acquirers considering investments in Latin America, on topics ranging from risk premiums in valuation, accounting due diligence, and legal considerations.

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Patrick E. Donohue
How to Build and Utilize a High-Impact Advisory Board

Advisory boards are undoubtedly controversial. While many articles sing their praises, others condemn them as mere headshots in pitch decks. The truth is that advisory boards are usually not silver bullets. Still, they can be powerful tools and yield strong ROI—if executed properly.

This article includes an overview of advisory boards, their economics, when they can and should be used, and a step-by-step guide to building one.

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Alex Graham, CFA
Great Recent Examples of Competitive Strategy Successes

Competitive strategy frameworks are widely known and mainstays of university curricula, despite being almost 40 years old. We often hear the stories of Walmart and Southwest Airlines, but what modern examples are there? In this article we use Michael Porter’s activity positioning framework to show successful applications of competitive strategy from modern digital companies.

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Melissa Lin
Cybersecurity: What Every CEO and CFO Should Know

$7.35 million. That’s the average cost of a data breach is. Sure, cybersecurity isn’t sexy. However, in today’s digital age, it is undeniably critical for large corporations and small startups alike. This is compounded by the fact that hacks are becoming commonplace.

Read on to arm yourself with awareness to these invisible threats, and tangible steps you can take to protect yourself and your company.

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Melissa Lin
Experts’ Corner: Pitch Deck Tips for Fundraising Success

Fundraising, for companies at any stage, is undoubtedly a challenging process. Even for seasoned entrepreneurs and startups already experiencing market traction, a compelling pitch and accompanying pitch deck are still necessary. While there is variance around stylistic delivery of the pitch and aesthetic of the deck itself, you might be relieved to hear that the infamous pitch deck boils down to a formula.

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Melissa Lin
Advanced PowerPoint Presentation Tips & Hacks

Many have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft’s PowerPoint. While super flexible, the tool can also be manual, tedious, and all-consuming, especially for the uninitiated. Authored by a former management consultant and finance expert, this article will help every user—from the beginner to the advanced operator—smooth out some of their points of friction and become an expert-level user of the application.

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