Balancing the company behind the code

Ben Williamson
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How to balance your public and operational business.

In the world of publicly listed companies, it's crucial to remember that you're essentially running two separate (but interconnected) businesses.

The company, and the code

You have the operational business - be it a mature technology company, a budding exploration company, or a Regtech scale-up. That's what most people think of as 'The Company'. 

And then you have 'The Code' - represented by that little three-character ticker where you start running an entirely different kind of business. 

The two faces of your public company.

Your operational business is what you're known for. It's your company, your legacy, your baby. 

You have a product, customers, a marketing strategy, and hopefully, enough capital to cover your expenses.

But then there's 'The Code'. This is where your product becomes your shares, your customers become investors, and your competitors are the other ~2,000 listed companies vying for the same investment dollars.

Understanding this duality is crucial, and it requires a bespoke strategy for each facet of your business.

When investors log into their broker, they see the price, the chart, and perhaps a Morningstar rating. Your job is to help them see beyond 'The Code' and understand the real company and mission behind it. 

Five tips for mastering 'The Code.'

  1. Take internal responsibility
    While external Investor Relations (IR) are valuable, the ultimate responsibility lies within the company. There should be a CEO of 'The Code,' whether it's an internal IR/marketing team or a C-level executive focused solely on this aspect.

  2. Allocate a budget
    You're competing with thousands of other companies for the same investment dollars. Visibility, engagement, and approachability require both time and money. Align your budget with your share price and measure its effectiveness based on market cap or capital raised.
  3. Know your buyers and sellers 
    While it's easy to focus on your top 20 investors, don't neglect the long tail. These are the people who are actively buying and selling your shares, influencing both your share price and your ability to raise capital.
  4. Scale your communication
    You can engage with your top 20 investors on a one-to-one basis, but what about the rest? Build a community around your company. Collect email addresses, record videos, and find other scalable ways to engage with your investor base.
  5. Understand the self-fulfilling prophecy 
    Engagement drives share price, which in turn affects your ability to raise capital at a favourable rate. The more capital you raise, the more 'shots on goal' you have, leading to a higher chance of success and, ultimately, a higher share price.

The cycle of success.

The relationship between your operational business and 'The Code' is symbiotic. Success in one area fuels success in the other. By understanding this relationship and implementing a tailored strategy for each, you set the stage for a self-fulfilling cycle of success.

So, as you navigate the complexities of being a publicly listed company, remember: you're not just managing a business; you're managing two. And each requires its own set of rules, strategies, and dedicated attention.

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