When selling your business, make sure your team is your greatest asset.
If you’re selling your business, odds are you have some concerns. The inevitable questions can make the weeks and months leading up to a sale stressful for anyone closely connected to the company.
But you can take steps to alleviate the anxiety. You can ensure your team is a proven asset to the business rather than just a line item on a list of operating expenses reviewed by a prospective buyer. Here’s how:
Train your staff
A well-trained employee is an engaged employee. They’re confident in their own knowledge and abilities, and they’re far more likely to identify inefficiencies and possible improvements if they’re proficient at the current processes.
Training shouldn’t just be a “necessary evil” during the orientation period. Instead, it should be an ongoing part of working for your company. Every employee should have the opportunity – and the expectation – to learn new skills and improve the skills they already have on a regular basis throughout their time with the company.
Doing so consistently will improve employee morale, retention and value in the eyes of a prospective business buyer.
Promote from within
With the need to emphasize continual training and education comes a commitment to opening up opportunities for growth for employees who prove themselves invaluable to the business.
No one wants to feel that they’ve hit their personal ceiling and can never expect to grow or improve themselves or their current circumstances. By encouraging employees to reach out for greater responsibility and rewarding that effort with promotions, appropriate wage increases, and other incentives, you ensure that your best and most promising employees remain engaged over the long term and continue adding value to the business.
Promoting from within also naturally enhances the opportunity for continual training since your most skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced employees will be in the position necessary to facilitate training of newer team members who need further development.
For a prospective buyer evaluating your business, a management team and/or a stable of highly skilled employees who are willing and able to train new hires consistently can be a force multiplier worth a significant investment.
Encourage feedback and open communication
A business owner who does not solicit honest feedback from employees is bound to develop a dangerous level of tunnel vision. This condition can rapidly devolve into a downward spiral of “fighting fires” rather than allowing for continual growth, and it’s far more apparent to an outside observer – such as a prospective buyer – than it may be to the owner themselves.
On the other hand, a business owner who encourages honest feedback and proves through their actions that feedback is both valued and acted on is sure to have a well-rounded, realistic understanding of every aspect of the company. This clear vision is powerful in a practical, everyday sense and from a long-term, strategic standpoint.
Most importantly during the period leading up to a sale of the business, the condition is readily apparent to a potential buyer as well. If they’re a smart businessperson, they’ll see the value of the culture you’ve established and the honest feedback you’ve received, and they’ll want to continue that trend.
Keep your team informed
Finally, from the moment you decide to move forward with putting the company on the market to the day the deal closes, do everything in your power to keep your team informed and up-to-date on the progress of the situation.
You can’t necessarily control what decisions the new owner makes after you sign the paperwork, but you can at least give your employees the best opportunity to prepare for potential changes. Keeping them informed helps to relieve the stress and anxiety that comes with not knowing, which in turn allows them to focus more effectively on doing their jobs and proving their intrinsic value to a new owner.
If you’re considering selling your business, think about your team of employees with these tips in mind and take some time early in the process to make sure all of them have the best opportunity to prove themselves an asset to the company rather than a liability.
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