Buying a business comes with a unique set of challenges. You have to learn operating procedures, you have to become acquainted with clients and vendors, you have to navigate the licensing and permitting process, you have to develop relationships with your new employees – the list is long.
Sometimes the previous owner was burned out and unpleasant, and as such the employees and clients might be happy to see them go in favor of a fresh face and attitude.
What if the opposite is true? What if you are replacing a highly respected and beloved owner? How do you successfully fill those seemingly enormous shoes?
First, don’t try to emulate the previous owner. Attempting to change who you are will always come across as inauthentic. The best thing you can do is be yourself, even if you are a vastly different person than the seller. Sure, some of the seller’s success came from their personality and the way they interacted with everyone related to the business – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also be successful. Be authentically yourself, upfront and honest with with those around you and you will show the staff and clientele that you are someone who can be trusted.
Second, hit the ground running. Use the training period with the old owner to learn absolutely everything you can about both how the business runs and why that methodology is successful. Look for ways to grow the business from day one, but implement new growth strategies and marketing ideas while maintaining the operating procedures that have served the business well so far. If you come in motivated and willing to listen and learn (instead of rushing changes and forcing new policies right out of the gate) your staff will feel like their contributions to the business are respected and you can earn their respect in return.
Third, be nice. A truly beloved and respected boss is never an angry jerk, so although you might be very different from the previous owner – as long as you are kind to your new staff that thread of the positive owner relationship will continue.
While it might initially seem intimidating to take over from an owner that everyone is really going to miss – if you can be yourself, be willing to learn and be nice your new business and those in it can learn to embrace you too.
Are you considering a business with a well respected owner and have questions about what the training period will be like? Would you like to know more about how you can successfully navigate the transition to new owner? Ask us! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.
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