If a firm’s founder experiences turmoil on exit, the same could be said for the team they’re leaving behind. Many employees have given no thought to the ultimate exit of their boss; some may be resentful.
When William Chase sold his Tyrrells crisp company, he fought for the best possible terms and conditions for staff under new owners Langhom Private Equity.
“It was a huge culture shock for the staff – many felt that I had deserted them and the company,” says Chase. “In a small business like that, there’s more team spirit and everybody sees themselves as working for the owner, not the company.”
The solution is good communication with employees over the reason for a sale, he adds. “When I sold Tyrrells, I was doing everything – production director, sales director, and more. You need people to understand this level of commitment is unsustainable, and that the business has to move on if it’s to grow.”
Similarly, when fellow E2Exchange member Munir Samji sold Blitz Communications, he was careful to ensure his staff would reap some reward. “I made sure all of the management team had some shares,” Samji says. “Just before the sale, every single member of staff also received shares, so they all benefited.”
Arranging advice sessions on basic issues such as savings, trusts and wills can support colleagues in handling their windfalls – and help to earn goodwill and smooth relationships during the difficult exit process.
So don’t assume you’ll simply ride off into the sunset once you have signed on the dotted line. Forming a clear view of your life post-exit should be a major part of your long-term business planning.