Opinion: Are you ready to sell your business?

Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

At the recent Business Transitions Forum, I kept hearing that for anyone seeking a buyer for their company, having staff on-board is crucial

In his monthly column for BCBusiness, Richmond-based employee engagement and internal brand communications expert Ben Baker shares his insights into how to communicate value effectively, so people want to listen and engage. In the end, it’s about creating influence through trust.

I was recently invited to spend an evening and a day at the Business Transitions Forum in Vancouver. What I learned will help you maximize the return on years of investment in your business, if you make the effort to implement a well-thought-out strategy, engage your employees and communicate effectively.

The Business Transitions conference covered many topics, but one that came up again and again is how important your employees are to selling a business or transitioning it to the next generation. If you don’t have a passionate and engaged workforce that understands the company’s true value, believes in your brand and advocates for your success, the process becomes so much harder.

Yes, profit is important, as are systems and contracts, but people make or break a business. It is the people who form relationships within the organization, and with vendors and clients; without them, a business, no matter what it sells, is nothing more than a commodity. It is the people who enable differentiation in the marketplace. Their creativity, personalities and passionate advocacy draw customers to the brand and help build trust, relationships and profitability.

But many companies don’t take this into account when they’re selling or transitioning a business. By keeping staff in the dark, they create a culture of mistrust, fear and panic.

Employees who don’t know why changes are taking place assume the worst. They think their jobs might be in jeopardy because of layoffs or outright closure of the company. This fear prompts them to start rumours or to seek other employment. Either way, it fosters chaos. Rumours lead to dissent, disengagement, bad customer experiences and unprofitability. Employee abandonment can lead to key customers leaving with them, vendors questioning whether lines of credit should be maintained and staff left behind struggling to keep pace.

The solution is effective communication from start to finish. Let employees know where you are, what you’re thinking and why. Let them know that their jobs will be safe and how vital they are to the successful transition of the company. 

Giving regular updates on how things are proceeding is also key. Employees don’t need to know every detail, but you should keep them up-to-date on high-level changes. For example, if auditors are coming in to assess the profitability of the business, making staff aware of this ahead of time and giving them tasks to aid the process helps everyone. Taking this step lets employees know who these people are and why they are there, helps the auditors do their jobs better, and keeps rumours and anxiety to a minimum.

Your employees are the lifeblood of your company. They are your link to your clients and your suppliers. They can be your allies through this period of transition, or they can be chaotic and disengaged. If they’re the latter, they will drive down the price of your sale and drive potential purchasers away, and what is the ROI in that?

Ben Baker wants to help you engage, retain, and grow your most valuable asset…your employees. He provides workshops and consulting to enable staff to understand, codify and communicate their value effectively internally and externally and Lead at Any LevelThe author of Powerful Personal Brands: A Hands-On Guide to Understanding Yours and the host of the iHeart Radio syndicated YourLIVINGBrand.live show, he writes extensively on brand and communication strategy. 

To schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to establish how Ben can help you engage, retain and grow your teams, click here.