You’re the new owner of a recently purchased business - congrats! Be advised that the fun isn’t over yet. One of the most critical phases in purchasing a business comes shortly after closing the deal. Done right, the transition period will inject the business with a new sense of life and take it to new heights. If done wrong, however, you will be paying the price for a long time.
While rewarding, navigating the initial phase of the ownership transition can be tricky. On one hand, you are excited to implement all of the new ideas you have conjured up whilst performing your due diligence. On the other hand, you also begin to think about of all of the things that could potentially go wrong after you’ve arrived in the driver’s seat.
In this article we address five key steps that must be done post-closing in order to set the business up for sustained success moving forward.
1. Communicate With Your New Employees
In the minds of many employees, acquisitions mean potential layoffs. For this reason, it’s important to hold an ‘all-hands meeting’ as soon as possible. Use this meeting as an opportunity to put people’s minds at ease and calm their perceived anxieties. Let them know who you are and what your grand vision is for the company. Be prepared, be transparent, be realistic, and be sensitive to their feelings. Your team will truly appreciate your compassion - and whether or not they instantly agree with your proposed plans, they will respect you for your honesty and leadership. Be sure to use this opportunity to begin to learn about your new team as well!
2. Learn the Business
The most critical thing you can do early on in your tenure is to truly learn the business. Up to this point, you have probably studied the company’s financial statements and customer list six ways to Sunday. However, there are several intangible items that aren’t necessarily noticeable on paper.
Make it your goal to speak with customers, suppliers, competitors, and anyone else associated with the business’ ecosystem to truly see the big picture. Learn about the business, the industry, and how you fit in to it all. Generally speaking, business owners do not talk to their clients as much as they should - be sure to take this perfect opportunity to do so. Many times, taking the time to understand your customers’ wants and needs can unlock new ideas and inspiration for future improvements. A little tip for when you are doing this: listen more than you talk.
3. Plan, Execute, Measure, and Repeat
Based upon what you learn, you’ll have a much more intricate understanding of the in’s and out’s of the business. From here, it is a good idea to prepare a comprehensive (and highly detailed) list of everything you want to do for the business moving forward. Remember, you can’t do everything overnight. However, by getting these items on paper, your plans will be documented and will begin to steep. Work at organizing your list by the function within the business (sales, marketing, operations, etc.) and by priority (urgent, medium, low). Develop a 30/60/90-day plan for each specific area of the business. Stay on top of things to ensure that goals are met. Keep in mind that these changes/goals do not have to be monumental or immediate. Robert Collier puts it best: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.”
A way to compliment your planning is by gathering feedback and ideas from your new team. Make no mistake, this can be an invaluable component of your onboarding process. An added perk to doing this is that your staff will be far more motivated and effective in carrying out plans they have helped develop, compared to simply executing tasks that have been dumped upon them.
4. Make the Place Your Own
And now for the part that we’ve all been waiting for! There are many ways to add your own personalized touches to your new business: add a fresh coat of paint, ask all staff members to tidy their workspaces, remove any unnecessary furniture, etc. Set the standard by keeping your work area spotless. If your intention is to run a well-oiled, organized, and efficient operation, it all starts with you!
Not only will doing this make you feel like the business is officially yours, it will signal an exciting, new frontier for all.
5. Sell Off Useless Assets
If the business has any useless inventory, equipment, or assets, then get rid of them. There’s no need to keep any deadweight lying around that takes up space and does not produce any return. Ask yourself “Why it is here?” If nothing comes to mind, you have your answer.
You understand the business, you know what your customers want, your employees are sold on you, and you have a solid plan to deliver. You are ready to conquer!
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to build your vision; and in this time, you are going to experience highs and lows. However, consistent, day over day improvement will continue to push the needle forward. Even as little as a 1% improvement every day can make an enormous difference with time.
Hopefully the points laid out in this article can help get you on the right path to building your new business to be bigger, better, and more efficient.