You know you need to modernize your business, but do you know that also means modernizing your team? Technology only does what people use it to do—and putting the right people around you is crucial to enable your exit.
Technology and humanity evolve in tandem. As you upgrade your technology, think of the implications for your team. Organizations operate differently today than they did a few years ago—and they’ll operate differently a few years from now than they do today. Business is always evolving. Yours should be, too. Not just by equipping people, but by assembling, unifying, inspiring and empowering them. Here are a few tips to build a winning team in the present, and for the future.
The prerequisite step to exit planning is to break out of the owner-operator mindset. A lifestyle business can’t succeed without its owner. In turn, an owner can’t realistically sell a lifestyle business to a buyer. In our Exit Engineering® process for small to mid-sized businesses, much of our work upfront centers on professionalizing a lifestyle business so the entity can stand on its own two feet and the owner can eventually exit. A business owner needs to bring in seasoned business professionals (not just tradespeople) to develop a senior leadership team.
When you’re in the thick of running your business, you’re focused on selling, delivering, and simply surviving. It might not seem mission-critical for a manufacturer to build a marketing department, or for a wholesaler to grow its IT team. You might not even know or understand what people in those professions do—and that’s exactly why you should hire them. Modern businesses have robust operations, with experts at every position continuously identifying and implementing new solutions. Your next hire isn’t always going to be a salesperson.
As an owner-operator, your personal values shine through in the way you run your business. Your company is inherently tied to your own integrity and commitment. When you transition from owner-operator to CEO, it’s important to be deliberate about establishing and communicating the ethos of your organization. Visibly and audibly reiterate your company values so the people you hire connect with and contribute to your mission.
Keeping a team happy, connected and motivated requires emotional intelligence and intellectual agility. What do employees want in a work environment? What does the workplace of the future look like? Emerging from the pandemic, employers are striving to find the right balance of flexibility and productivity. Health, wellness, communication, collaboration, team building, rest and recovery are all part of the big picture that is company culture in 2022 and beyond.
Reward Hard Work
Modernizing your team isn’t just a matter of bringing in younger generations to take over. Your tenured employees will benefit, too. You’re not replacing them; you’re promoting them. When your business becomes a growth machine, the people who were there from the start can become mentors and managers instead of being lifelong doers. Meanwhile, you can map the path to your ideal exit knowing your business is built to Win and you’ll eventually reap the reward.
By Andrea Steinbrenner, Chief Operations Officer, Exit Consulting Group