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Build confidence when buying your company

Clive Hamilton, Owner and Managing Director, Pinnacle Complete Office Solutions

Clive Hamilton rose through the ranks of Pinnacle over 20 years; eventually taking on the role of MD before buying the company in 2015. Here, he outlines some key factors that have helped him successfully transition from employee to owner.

Step up your game

Ownership. You’re finally in the driving seat. But you’re also ultimately accountable for everything. You’ll find yourself taking on responsibility for things that probably weren’t on your radar as an employee -- from selling and managing, to setting the business strategy; even keeping the office clean (!) - but it’s a great opportunity take stock of how things are done and plan out what happens next.

Empower others

 As a new owner you’ll no doubt have new ideas and goals to focus on. And while the buck may stop with you, your company’s success is still driven by the people who work there. You will have new responsibilities so you’ll need others to take on the role you held previously. This is the time to promote committed and capable members of staff; giving them the chance to prove their mettle.

Be honest with everyone

Change makes people feel nervous, so clear communication is vital. Be open about why you acquired the business and what you want for the future. When I took over at Pinnacle I gave staff, suppliers, and clients clear guidance on what the changes meant for all of us. In my experience, if you have solid ideas and a strong vision then people will want to work with you to make the business successful. However, don’t be shocked if not everyone’s on board immediately. If they want to get off the ride, then let them. Don’t waste time on stragglers.

Get an outside perspective

If you’ve been in a business for some time, you’ll have an individual perspective on what works and what doesn’t. But don’t let bias cloud your judgement. Sometimes working with a mentor, business coach, or a trusted professional with a fresh take on things can be invaluable. They can give you impartial guidance which can help you make stronger decisions from the very start.

Plan ahead

Make sure you’re well prepared for the short, mid, and long term. Formalise plans as much as possible -- even if things change further down the line.

  • Short-term -- Calmness, clarity, and confidence are crucial, for everyone’s sake, during the first few months. Maintain an even keel and minimise disruption as much as possible.
  • Mid-term -- Assess how the buyout will affect revenues, operations, and existing practices. When addressing any potential challenges, keep communication positive and practical.
  • Long-term -- Never lose sight of your ultimate goal, and consistently reinforce your vision as a positive step in making the business more successful for everyone.

Overall, while a smooth transition is critical, be mindful that things can change quickly, so factor in some degree of flexibility. And always remember: while your company’s success is driven by employees, it’s determined by your customers, so be prepared to change how things are done in line with their expectations.