I have worked with a number of businesses through business succession in the last few years. It has been a rocky road in most cases. The business succession I am talking about is the succession where a business owner is selling on passing the business on to an employee or is passing it down to one of his family.
Why the rocky road?? Probably the biggest problem is the expectations of each side of the succession process. What do I mean? Typically the current owner has the expectation that he/she will sell their business and it will be exactly the same as before they sold it. They think it will stay the same especially if they are going to continiue to work in the business. They think they will still be making the decisions or be involved in the decision making. In most cases, this will NOT be the case!!! This needs to be understood by the selling owner. He/She will see mistakes that they think are being made and want to just “take over”. GET OVER IT!!! You have sold the business.
Take it from one who has been there. I co-owned a software company at one time. A company came in and offered an amount of money that we could not turn down. I was to work for the company for 2 years. I only lasted a year BECAUSE I COULD NOT GET OVER IT! You are going to see errors – live with it UNLESS asked.
The other issue is that the NEW owners feel they KNOW EVERYTHING and WANT TO DO IT THEIR WAY IN THEIR TIME FRAME. Many times they were not trained in all areas of the business by the previous owner. The owner did not share EVERYTHING as they went through the Succession process.
In all of the situations that I have worked with, we ended up with good to GREAT outcomes. But it took a lot of work on all of our parts to get good outcomes. Most of these outcomes were NOT where we initially set out to go- but nevertheless it ended up being good.
Bottom line – get some outside help as you go through the Succession process. Many times a cool outside head and mediator can be of great help through this Rocky Road to Succession.