You know how business sometimes comes in spurts? As of late, I've had quite a few conversations with business owners that are either about to retire, ready to retire tomorrow, or should have retired already. It was eerie the similarities between them all.
- Each of them have been part of their business for more years than I have been alive.
- They have substantial revenues in the millions and support dozens of employees.
- Their website has not been updated in at least 5 years
- Social Media presence is poor or nonexistent
- Growth is flat or slightly down
- They need growth in 2015
One owner I spoke with had a son working in the business and I got the sense that he wanted to hand over the business to his son. The son was hands-on with the process on the floor, but wasn't interested/wasn't qualified to run the business end. The owner felt stuck because there was no one to take over the business, and since recent sales were trending downwards, selling the business at this point would not yield as much as it should. It was mind-boggling to me that this business could be successful for over 50 years, survive three generations of owners, and now be faced with this dilemma.
These problems didn't start recently. This is a culmination of activities over the past several years and the effect is just being realized now. The thing is, while they had their head down running their company, the growth rate of the internet and the way people buy eclipsed the pace of adapting their marketing strategy and sales strategy. Henry Ford once said, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." In the context of the ever-evolving internet, I would argue that it will become harder and harder to "always get what you always got."
So what do we do now? As Carole Mahoney commented on my previous post, - "I often find that if one person asks you a question, it is usually one that other people have as well." If you have recently retired or sold your business, please comment below if you wish you had done something differently. Also, please "subscribe to follow-up comments" so you can participate in the conversation with future comments.
If you know of someone who just retired or sold their business, and you think they would be willing to share their expertise, please send them this email.