You have spent some time, maybe a long time, working in the family business...weekends, summers. You imagine taking over the business one day. You are thinking about it seriously.
Or are you a company executive? And you know the owner-manager is thinking about moving on. And no family member is interested in taking over, or those who are interested are not ready to take it over on their own. Even more, this is why nothing has been done yet. You have already spoken with the other company executives. You could form a group of executives interested in ensuring the continuation of the company.
Or perhaps you have an entrepreneurial spirit and you really want to head up an SME. Perhaps your family has a business, but you have not had the opportunity to take it over. Why start at zero when there are a lot of companies to take over? You feel you are able to breathe new life into an existing SME and to take it to new heights.
Regardless of you personal circumstances, taking over a company means deciding to enter a transfer process where the objective is to ensure the company’s future.
The time and focus you devote to planning the process will maximize your
chances of success.
The transfer is a process: it is not a one-time event; rather the process is spread out over a long period. The theoretical model used here is inspired by research by Pierre Hugron , which itself is based on American writings, and proposes two dimensions that are each divided into steps: the transfer of management and the transfer of ownership.
The goal of the transfer of management dimension is to put the next management team in place, particularly the president and chief executive office. The purpose is to answer the following questions:
DO I HAVE THE MANAGEMENT SKILLS?
WHO WILL BE PART OF THE OF MANAGEMENT TEAM AND WHO WILL BE THE LEADER?
DO I UNDERSTAND THE GOALS, VALUES AND THE “RAISON D’ETRE” OF THE COMPANY?
HOW DO I PREPARE MYSELF?
WHEN AND HOW WILL THE TRANSFER OF POWER TAKE PLACE?
UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS?
The goal of the transfer of ownership dimension is to put in place the next team of owners and shareholders. You must be certain that, among other things, you pay a fair price and obtain the financing necessary for the tranfer. The purpose is to answer the following questions:
HOW MUCH IS THE COMPANY WORTH?
HOW MUCH AM I PREPARED TO PAY?
WILL THERE BE JOINT-OWNERSHIP?
UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS?
WHAT WILL THE PURCHASE TERMS BE?
The two dimensions of the business transfer model progress more or less at the same time. The process is neither linear nor limited by time, and the two elements do not necessarily begin and end at the same time. Depending on your personal scenario, some steps will be completed quickly while others will take much more time. Before taking action, it is strongly suggested to giver yourself time to think.
The process is complex, but achievable.
Make time your greatest ally.
A model is not a recipe. Be creative! The “made-to-measure” is a much better fit than the “ready-to-wear.”
1) Hugron, Pierre. « L'entreprise familiale. Modèle de réussite du processus successoral », Institut des recherches politiques et Presses HEC, Montréal, 1991, XVII, 155 p.