Understanding The Other Generation

My son and I got into a conversation about Trump the other day. And of course the inevitable what do we do here in Canada about our own leadership.

As we talked I realized that our discussion was less about the specifics and more about our own generational concerns and how the implications would affect us personally.

So with that clarity I understood we likely would never agree on everything and we both need to work hard to appreciate the impact the upcoming changes will have on each other.

There is a parallel between this conversation and a generational or transitional discussion about a business, regardless of it being family based or not. Most, if not all companies are being run by 2 or possibly 3 generations.

The thought I offer to you is this.

Get The Best Out Of Everyone
Excerpt from ‘Moving Forward’.

​When you sell or transition you need to make sure your successor understands the value of getting the best from everyone and you need to help them. They might be a family member, a long time employee or an outside acquirer. In any case you want the new Owners to have as much success as possible. Particularly if part of your compensation is tied into the future financial achievement of the company.

The new management may have been groomed to run the family business, in some cases, for their entire adult lives. Or you may decide to offer a loyal employee or management team member that opportunity. The originators of the business often try for years to educate, share their experiences, impart their wisdom, and mould their successors. Some succeed others don’t. Family isn’t always the best choice. In fact it’s more rare than you might think.

Share what made you successful and make sure that goes for everyone involved with the company as well. Give the new Owners complete and unfettered access to you and the senior management team. An immediate and never ending inside edge to the key goings on of the organization.

Some of the same benefits (experience, familiarity, and loyalty) can be gained from non-family, non-management employees and business associates who offer expertise and experiences that are different from yours. They may not be an Owner but what they offer is invaluable. Make sure you pass this insight and access on to the new management.

In some cases the new generation will continue to operate the business as it had been run in the past, a safe short-term measure.

This strategy may have worked for the previous generation, but circumstances are changing at a dramatic pace. We are living in a time of new technology, new needs, and new ways of approaching problems. E-commerce, database marketing, social media, big box and online stores, branding, and many other new terms have not only entered our small business vocabulary, they have taken business over.

As part of the older management you may be set in your ways, a little tired, and perhaps a little too comfortable with a particular style of conducting business that has provided you with years of triumph (usually tempered by a few bumps in the road).

The younger management may be full of energy and have new ideas for reinventing the business. But working together, you both need to blend the best of both generations. Preserve the successes from the past, incorporate the new opportunities, and build for the future.

A reminder to the older generation: not everything old is good nor is everything new bad.

To the younger generation remember: not everything old is bad nor is everything new good.

​As always, I am available for a telephone conversation or a coffee.

Cheers, Eric

Selling Businesses and Buying Businesses

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