It’s your business and at some point you know you will move on. There are areas to consider that aren’t just about the financials. In a workshop with 20 small business owners from the Dover Chamber of Commerce, we explored some of these areas and emerged with several key tips for business owners to consider.
Define Your Mindset for Change
It is important as the owner to have the right mindset for any transition within your company. The most important mindset shift that needs to happen is knowing that you will never find another you! It’s hard to admit, but it’s true. This will challenge your values and it will alter your approach to the business transition. Whether it is your family-like atmosphere, customized service style or community focus, these won’t be the same to the next owners. No one can do what you do like you do it. Consider what you need in place to feel good about core areas of your business either continuing on as they are or morphing into something different. Be ready to hold on to or let go of different areas based on what makes sense for you, your company and the overall definition of success for this transition.
Take an Inventory of Development Needs
Define opportunities and challenges in regards to the company transitioning. Break it down to 3 key areas: you, individuals within the company and the overall company culture. Be honest and as forward thinking as possible as you go through each aspect. Identifying a solid inventory of these items will give you a place to begin to best utilize your strengths for the transition and address the areas that need development.
Move to Action
Now that you have the transition mindset and your opportunities and your challenges defined, you can start moving to action. Begin preparing at least 5 years ahead of time. As several people in our workshop mentioned, waiting until 2 years out is too late!
Here are some action steps to consider:
Design & Implement Development Plans – for you, the individuals on your team and the culture. Bring in others to help as needed. This will help you address the fears you have about customer service, what’s next for you professionally, personally and employees’ welfare. Have those difficult conversations with employees so that they are not left blindsided or just plain left out after the transition. Consider what the best structures are for your company and put them into action now. Make sure to address fears and help plant a vision for the future so that the change will go as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate – Help build those around you by delegating now. They will never learn how if you keep doing it. Take parts of what you are holding onto and slowly give them to others. This will help build their confidence and your confidence in them. By helping them grow you are helping yourself let go.
Utilize Your Advisers – If you don’t have a solid team of advisers, start building them now. Financial, legal, leadership, community and personal are all important areas to cover. Engage people, including subject matter experts, other business owners and those closest to you. Listen to their advice, ask questions and move forward listening to them, as well as your intuition.
Develop a Communication Plan – Figure out the best way to roll information about the change out to others. Be as transparent as possible so you can address key issues. If people don’t know the answers, they will start to make them up. Change is hard for people and it is important to have a plan that reaches them at different stages of the process. Even if you say something once, it may not sink in right away. This plan is important, not only internally, but also for your external customers and partners as well.
Burn the Ships– Don’t start and stop the process. Move forward and keep moving forward. If you go back and forth it will confuse, de-motivate and frustrate all around you. You don’t have to do it all at once, but keep moving one step at a time!
We wish you well in your journey of transferring your business. If you found the above tips helpful we encourage you to check out our latest book – The Future of Everything. Click here for more informati0n.