Posts

Get your business fit for retirement

How we helped this business owner double his revenue and retire with confidence

It is possible to exit or sell your business and gain a strong retirement income. For so many businesses, succession planning is an overlooked “nice to have” element of business management; an activity to “get to” when the more pressing matters of day to day management, sales, and business execution are in play.

But, without addressing succession, you can put yourself under too much pressure when things are “down to the wire” with retirement in sight. Your team can be left feeling uncertain about the longevity of their roles and the future success of the business.

As a business owner, keen to retire, sell or otherwise leave the business in a good condition, succession planning is crucial.

One of the key services offered by Gibsons is helping businesses to do just this, and we have many case studies to share. Our experienced consultants can support you throughout implementation and ensure increased business value and success,  helping you exit on the best possible terms.

Over a 4-year succession planning program, we did exactly this. We supported one of our manufacturing sector clients move from an $8m to $18m turnover business, with the transition to a new management structure and clear succession of key management and the owner. This business has since doubled that size, and with a great General Manager and team in place, continues to provide its owner a very healthy income in retirement.

Succession planning can take many pathways and raise many different issues and this business was no different.

The issues were weighing so heavily on the owner, he had begun to doubt he could ever retire and extract the value that his family had spent three generations building.

Working closely with him, we created a business plan to identify key strategies to revitalise the business and introduce succession preparedness activities, like management team structures and formalisation of processes. Mentoring of key management staff commenced. Operations were reviewed and rationalised, and transition plans implemented. Human resource processes and an accountability structure was set in motion.

A future for the business was mapped out, with career paths for younger members of the team and exit strategies for the older members of the team.  A Customer Relationship Management and sales management process were also established, and key management roles were transitioned.

3 years into the plan, the owner/Chief Executive Officer was in a position to semi-retire.

The final year of our succession planning saw a marketing program enacted, to grow attractive markets and position the company as the leading Australian manufacturer in those sectors.

A much larger and more profitable business was created, and Gibsons are still relied on to this day by the owner, to ensure the business remains on track with growth and success into the future. Placing Gibsons in this kind of role can bridge the gap between business owner vision and new management, allowing them to retire with peace of mind.

 

Plan Your Way to Business Success

Why plan at all?

Almost anything we do will be more successful if we have thought about the outcome we want to achieve before we start. The old axiom that any road will do if we don’t know where we are going is true. However, if we do know where we would like to go, it is best to have an idea about which road to take. Assuming that one of your goals is to be successful, it would make sense to choose a road that will lead to success.

What is involved?

Any planning process has three elements to it:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How are we going to get there?

The most difficult part of the planning process for many people is to be able to clearly articulate where they would like to be. From a business perspective it often calls for a change of mindset away from “where is the business going to take us” to “what do we need to do to the business to take us where we would like to be”. Part of that mindset change is to then believe that it is possible to achieve. It usually also means that we cannot keep all our options open and hope for the best – we need to choose a direction and then make it happen.

Once we have chosen the destination, it is a relatively straight forward process to clearly define where we currently are and then work out what we need to do to get to where we want to go.

Strategic Plans and Business Plans – what is the difference?

A Strategic Plan provides an overall view of where we would like to be in the future – the Vision; and what business we are actually in – the Mission. It also defines the operational philosophy – the Values; and sets the high level goals. It will then set high level strategic objectives for each of the key functional areas: marketing, operations, human resources and financial resources. This is sometimes called the strategic intent.

The Business Plan takes the strategic objectives and defines the detailed strategies and actions required to achieve them. It is effectively a list of things to do. It can also be changed if circumstances change. Our overall destination or strategic intent doesn’t change, but we can detour via the business plan if we need to.

How do we do it?

The planning process can appear daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Like most things it is easier if you have done it before and if you have the right tools. Engage a business planning expert in the process to lead you through it. There is also added value to be gained from having an objective outsider (a business consultant) involved in the process who is not emotionally attached to any of the existing sacred cows in your business.

Success in business is rarely achieved by accident. It usually involves careful planning backed up by skilful execution. It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “If you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail”, which is another way of saying that you can plan your way to business success.