So You Bought a Business.
Congratulations! You bought it. It's yours. The paperwork has been signed, the deal has been done, the arrangements have been made, and you are now the shiny new owner of [insert business here.] You just put in a helluva lot of time, sweat, and energy into making this happen, so take a moment to lift a glass of something bubbly in honor of yourself. Salute! Santé! Prost! Sláinte! Salud! Skål!
So now what.
Now we turn our focus to some of the nitty-gritty details. Not to add any pressure to the situation, but the first 90 days are critical to setting the foundation for your long-term success. As you begin to settle into your new role as owner, your top priorities over the next three months may include:
It's OK to take your time with it. If you've done your due diligence, the business is already profitable as-is, and you can afford to spend these first weeks getting to know it from an insider's perspective.
Here are five areas we believe you should focus on in the early days of the acquisition.
Operator: To Hire or Not to Hire, that is the question.
Actually, the first question is do you have enough room in your budget to hire an operator. This is hopefully something you already took into account during the exhaustive research phases of the acquisition, but it bears repeating. Once you account for all expenses and costs, is there enough left over in the budget to hire an operator that can run the day-to-day? (If you weren't prepared to handle operations yourself, we hope the answer is a resounding yes.)
If this is already something you've accounted for, here's a gold star and a few tips to help you find and hire one.
Meet the Team
The transition of ownership can already be a perilous tightrope, and most experts agree that going in guns blazing on day one and implementing huge, sweeping changes isn't necessarily the best tactic. (Unless you've got some real spoiled apples, then go ahead and toss those suckers out.) Instead, approach it from a place of learning. Use this time to understand them and the business better. Ask them questions. What do they think the business does well? What suggestions do they have to improve the company? Give them an opportunity for buy-in. Layout your vision and ask for their feedback. You may discover some underutilized talent…or realize a few more rotten apples need to be chucked.
Learn the Systems
What is the day-to-day flow like? Who are the vendors? Can you meet them? Do they have a playbook or standards of operations? If you can keep the original owner on as a consultant as part of the agreement, your operator (or you) should be spending all their time with them, learning and absorbing as much as possible. This kind of training is gold and can show you where the business shines and where improvements can be made.
Understand the Finances
Just as you would review your personal budget and finances regularly (at least, we hope you are), you should plan to review your new business budget and finances routinely. You should know exactly what's coming in and what's going out. Knowledge is power, after all. If you know what you have to work with, you know how many people you can hire, you know if you can afford the expansion, or you know if you can buy new equipment. There's no forward movement without it. Make it a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly check-in…just make it consistent and stick to it!
This is no time to become complacent. Get out a sheet of paper and list your one-month, three-month, and 12-month goals. What do you want to focus on? Where do you want to see the business grow? Remember to make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. From there, it's taking a look at each of them individually and deciding what you need to prioritize to meet those goals.