8. Transition Time
Most sellers will help you during the transition time, when they will train you how to operate the business. This period may range from a few weeks to a few months. After the training period, many sellers will agree to be available for phone consultation for another period of time. Make sure that the seller agrees on how this training will happen and that this is stipulated in the contract with the seller.
A new ownership is a big change for small businesses’ employees. To ensure a smooth transition, start the transition process before the sale ends. Make sure the owner is relaxed about what will happen with the business after he or she leaves. Spend some time talking to key employees, clients, and suppliers before taking over. Tell them about your plans and ideas for the business’ future. Getting these key factors involved makes your new business much easier to manage.
Many new business owners have unrealistic expectations and hope they can immediately make a business more profitable. Of course, there is a need for a positive attitude to lead a successful business, but if the attitude is “I am better than you”, they will soon face a resentment from the employees they just acquired.
Instead, look at employees as valuable assets. Initially, they’ll know a lot more about the business than you do. Use this knowledge to familiarize yourself with the business, and treat them with respect and appreciation. Employees will inevitably be worried about job security when a new owner is taking over. Uncertainty is multiplied if you do not tell them what plans you have. Many new bosses are so eager to start being the “conductor” of the new business that they change prices or make other radical changes without giving any warning to employees. Involve the staff in your planning, and keep open communication so they know what’s going on at any time.
Taking over an existing business is not always easy, but with a bit of patience, honesty, and hard work, you will soon lead it as a professional.