Selling a business can be a challenging and emotional process for owners. Letting go of something that has been a very significant portion of their life for years is daunting. What compounds the anxiety is determining how and when to tell employees that the company is going to be sold. While individual situations vary drastically, here are some important points to consider:
Make a Plan
Now that you’ve decided to sell your business, it is important to make a plan. You know your employees and likely how many would react if you told them what was happening.
First off, analyzing your employees can give you a better understanding of who is likely to support or oppose the upcoming changes. This allows you to make the process of management change go much more smoothly. For buyers, it is important to take the initiative to communicate the changes in the company regarding the sale. This gives them faith in your plan and makes them feel comfortable with new leadership in place.
Develop an Interior Group
There’s typically always going to be a group of people who know about the acquisition earlier than others. Who this group includes depends on a number of different factors regarding the company being sold. This group is important because they will be able to assist in the sale through management presentations and buyer due diligence. Ensuring that this small group of people are the only ones with knowledge of the acquisition before due diligence is important. This is because the process of due diligence is lengthy and if told, workers may become much less productive. Revealing the plan to sell before actually doing so could potentially jeopardize the deal. But most importantly, it gives your top managers time to adjust to the coming change, to buy in and be supportive, which will be key when the rest of the staff knows.
Think Ahead for Employees
One thing that is important to do when selling a business is to think ahead about how the acquirer plans on utilizing employees. Oftentimes, a strategic acquirer wishes to integrate the operations of the two companies. This may lead to headcount reductions
Understand the Change in Culture
One of the aspects of the business that is bound to change post-acquisition is culture. Even if the business brand remains intact and the only change is ownership, there will likely still be a new culture that employees must adapt to. The most important thing that owners who decide to sell can do regarding this change in culture is to map out a plan to nurture acceptance for the change. You may consider putting together a team to handle this and to encourage acceptance and enthusiasm for the new management. This overall makes the process much smoother and results in more successful outcomes.
Telling Your Employees
The best time to actually inform your employees about the sale is after all contingencies have been met and