Architect Firm Overcomes Burnout to Find Growth & Successful Transition for the FounderWalking away was not an option.
Our client had deep entrepreneurial drive and a passion to be his own boss. He started his business thirty-six years prior, with very little experience running or managing a business. While he had his ups and downs and challenges to overcome, he still managed to build a reputation and have a highly profitable business by playing in a niche market. However, as much as he loved his business, the time had come to think of life beyond business.
Everyone reaches a burnout at some point. He had to evaluate all options for his exit. For him, this business was his legacy, income and retirement. Should he sell outright? How much would he get for the business? What would happen to his most loyal and dedicated employees? What about his name and legacy? And what about his own daughters?
He knew for sure one of his daughters was definitely not interested in joining the family business. As for the other daughter, he was not sure if she would be interested in or capable of running the business as she was still in college. He had technical people quite competent to do the production work, but they were task-oriented doers. Additionally, the company was small and there was not much bench strength to speak of. Although the company was highly profitable and reputable, it was his own reputation and connection that kept the business together and steady.
We found he was willing to take the long view of the situation and take the time, if needed, to create value for the business and create options for himself. The first part was to evaluate key employees. Were there any employees who could step up to the plate and lead the organization? Where were the gaps? Who should he hire to fill those gaps? Was his daughter interested in coming into business? Did she have the potential and aptitude to lead it? Were the individuals coachable? It was apparent that building a leadership team and bench strength was the first step in planning.
Profit was not an issue, but the cash flow situation had to be fixed. Business was too dependent on two specific market segments, making the company susceptible to risk. Diversification was necessary to increase business value and mitigate risk, but the business development process was nonexistent.
Our goal was for the business to run smoothly without much need for intervention or guidance. Could he stay away from the business for at least for six weeks at a time without being connected by email, phone or otherwise?
Three years into the process, business had grown by about sixty percent, diversifying into two new markets. New employees were hired in leadership roles, and a pipeline for bench strength was established. Ultimately, three of his employees and his daughter joined together to buy him out, and his legacy continues. Continuity, sustainability and growth were the key objectives. He achieved them all and received good value for his business.
He liked to travel and see the world. He could still remain engaged in business to the extent he wanted to be engaged by doing creative work and mentoring next generation employees without the daily pressure of financial management and client engagement.