Designing the future ownership of your business

Designing the future ownership of your business

tBeen having a lot of discussions lately about future business ownership and what that will look like for the next generation. Who will run it, who will work in it, what kind of work we’ll be doing, and how we’re going to adapt to stay current. Wondering if you have any recommendations on what to consider, and how to go about planning for the future.

Thoughts of the Day: Thinking about future business ownership is critical to ensuring success. Do a critical needs analysis. Plan where the business goes next, and how it gets there. What problems are people trying to solve? How can you make things easier? Deal with the reality of limited workforce availability. Consider ESOP as a model for future ownership, if your company is strong enough.

Many times, small business owners get stuck with their heads down, focused on making things inside the business work well.

Long-term success comes from learning how to play the Owners Game well. That includes designing the future of the business and implementing the design. It can be tempting to say let the next generation worry about the future. The opportunity exists for you, the company owner, to set the course and lead their way into future business ownership.

Ask your team to assess where the company is and what needs to change. Get curious, not defensive.

Ask for recommendations on how best to tackle challenges. Future includes everything from who does the company does business with, to governance, intellectual capital, and structure for executing work. Get employees to think about how they create value by turning problems into opportunities. Be unique.

Teach people to respect differences and support each other as they tackle the unknown.

Take a look at the company’s most profitable work. You may find it comes from getting ahead of customer issues, providing solutions easy to implement. Get your team thinking about what tomorrow’s customers need today. Then meet or exceed their future expectations.

With a declining birthrate, the retirement of baby boomers, and political conflict over immigration, the small business workforce is shrinking.

Small businesses are often the first, therefore last, employers. Consequently, we lose talent to larger companies in their middle years, because as they gain skills they get wooed away with promises of higher earnings and opportunities for greater growth. Customize your work environment to the needs of an empowered workforce. Appeal to employee groups who want growth opportunities who often find themselves left out, minimalized, or overlooked.

Figure out what your employees want and then design ways to give them exactly that. Ask your employees to explore their networks; be on the lookout for good candidates who are interested in your company’s mission.

  • Offer flexible hours,
  • work from home,
  • shared office space.
Develop a reputation as a great employer, use that to bring in and retain the best and the brightest.

You don’t want to try to govern the company past the time you’re no longer involved.

Set up a structure for governance that ensures balance and encourages teamwork. Avoid the temptation to build future governance on the model you’re probably familiar with – one person at the top making all the decisions – the weakest governance model.

Get people involved on teams, looking at problems and solutions from multiple points of view. Encourage employees to respect and appreciate different points of view, debate with respect. They’ll learn governance skills that will serve them well in the future. At the same time, they get to practice future business ownership.

Learn about ESOPs. Employ Stock Ownership Plans. They take work and planning to build. They are a tool to keep ownership inside the company and provide retirement value. With 40% higher productivity vs. non-ESOP companies, they’re a great tool to reward and motivate.