Being acquired is a big deal. It can be scary for the entrepreneur, for employees, and for clients. A plan for navigating this critical transition should be part of any acquisition strategy.
Start by doing your homework. Spend the time up front to really understand the joint value proposition moving forward. Why is this transaction good for your clients? What will they get now that they couldn’t get before? What’s the upside for an employee? (Not just the owner and top management—but every employee within the organization.)
Once you figure out the answers to these questions, get out and communicate them. Spend time with clients and with your employees. Don’t just do the post-acquisition tour. As a small business owner, you have to be more visible than ever because you’re a part of what clients and employees buy. Over the years, they’ve come to trust you. And when you make a strategic change of this magnitude, they want to hear it straight from you. More important, they want to look into your eyes and see how much you believe in what you’ve done.
Selling your company is an enormous accomplishment. But real long-term success lies in integrating your company into a larger organization while maintaining, even growing, the loyalty of your clients and employees.
Sherri Leopard Owner/Founder Leopard Broomfield, Colo.