"Everyone arrives somewhere, but very few people arrive somewhere on purpose."
I am not sure why it is a bus, but it is always a bus. I mean, they could be hit by a train, or a car, or something else. And there are a lot of other ways to die. In Groundhog Day alone, Bill Murray tried to kill himself by jumping off a building, driving off a cliff, stepping in front of a truck, and taking a bath with a toaster.
But whenever leaders talk about the key person on their team (and sometimes it is them) that would end the team if their life somehow ended, it is almost always by being hit by a bus.
This is, of course, a pretty strong hypothetical, but it makes the point well…
Small businesses are people and not position driven.
They are people and not process driven.
They exist largely inside of one or a few leaders.
They are not sustainable beyond those leaders.
That’s a serious problem.
In the next decade or so, baby boomers will transition 12 million businesses to other holders in this country alone. Many of them will fail in the next generation of ownership. And it doesn’t really matter if you are…
- selling it outright
- handing off to the next generation in a family (those stats are horrible!)
- or going through an owner to team conversion
There are a few things that must happen in order for this to be a successful transition to other owners:
- team - create a leadership team of key individuals that represent all corners and facets of the organization
- values/purpose - those underlying things that anchored the business and made it what it is have to be articulated, shared, & celebrated…and transition to the next owners
- vision - there needs to be a clear picture of where an organization is headed, regardless of future ownership
- strategic plan - what are the key things we need to solve that are keeping us from our intended future
- organizational design - what does "right" look like from an organizational standpoint
- position agreements - positions, not individuals, are the path to sustainability - an agreed set of results, standards, and clear expectations for every team member
- operations manuals - clearly documenting what each position does and how they do it
We’re honored to be helping dozens of business owners walk this “roadmap” to a more sustainable future. And it doesn’t matter if they are selling, transitioning it to the next generation, or handing it over to a leadership team to run, they all need to walk the same journey. They all need the same key things in place to make that happen successfully.
We take this work pretty seriously. The high integrity leaders we work with deserve to have the businesses they founded and worked so hard to sustain, continue. We’re pretty passionate about this work. We actually consider it a calling.
And it is starting to look like a whole generation of business ownership hangs in the balance.
- Are you hoping to sell your business, transition it to the next generation, or hand it over to a team to lead?
- How much of the required things noted above do you have clarified and operational?
- What is the timing for your exit? (the line for people wanting to transition their business is getting pretty long!)