To some of you, this title might sound like an oxymoron. Maybe you’ve seen a merger go awry or you’ve helped clean up the pieces in the aftermath.
I know where you’re coming from. As someone who has walked alongside high-level leaders for years, helping them recalibrate and navigate the transition, I can safely say that merging two businesses can be a challenge. However, as someone who has also walked in the shoes of a business leader – developing, growing, merging, and exiting the business – I can relate to businessmen and businesswomen who are contemplating their next move.
Because merging two businesses is a challenge and can often be compared to the success rate of new products, it is a tough sell! Here are 10 keys to successfully approaching a merger:
- Own a clear reason for merging (e.g., complementary merger of resources, greater bandwidth, a path to retirement)
- Build a team of advisors you trust (e.g., tax accountant, attorney, business broker, banker, business advisor)
- Require transparency between parties. This includes the financials of an organization as well as the temperament of the leaders, the retention of customers and whatever else is a driver to success.
- Take time to dot your I’s and cross your T’s. Do not leave it to your team of advisors. This is about you and your future – not theirs. You do not want something to come back and bite you because you did not take time to thoroughly read an agreement.
- Be clear with the structure of the new organization (e.g., roles and responsibilities of employees at all levels)
- Achieve alignment around vision, mission, values, and culture of the merged organization. Agree on what that means to the principles and others.
- Develop a communications plan for the employees, customers, and anyone who is supporting the business. You want to engage your community as early as you can to encourage them to embrace the change. The truth is that silence breeds suspicion. The more you can communicate, the better.
- Create a launch strategy that includes the introduction of the power of the merger.
- Develop a technology plan that will effectively integrate the two organizations, taking the best from both worlds. If done correctly, a merger can mean 1+1=3.
- Be mindful of your needs and others involved. Understand that change is hard and that there are real human beings working in both businesses.
A merger done right breathes new life into any organization, renews energy and passion, and can vault a business into greater success. A merger done poorly can, well, do the opposite. Consider these 10 keys to success and then let me know how I can help you move forward!
Susan K Spaulding is an Author, Facilitator, Researcher, Strategist, Consultant, and Coach.
I work with businesses and leaders to take inventory, uncover the possibilities and navigate a path forward.