Developing your employees before you sell

How to sell a business

If you’re considering selling your small business and are looking for ways to maximise its value before you list it, you’re probably already making mental notes to spruce up your premises, shape up your accounts and beef up your sale pipeline.

But what about boosting the value of your most important asset – your workforce? A happy, motivated workforce will not only help to create a more successful company in the short term, it will also attract the interest of buyers who will soon spot the potential of your loyal employees.

So what can you do to give your staff the ‘X’ factor and build your company into a more valuable proposition?

1. Empower them

A self-sufficient workplace is much more likely to attract serious buyers who fear that owner-run businesses may become too reliant on their founders. Every business should have a clearly defined management structure with written job descriptions and role responsibilities. Be clear about your goals, expectations and outcomes. Make sure you provide constructive feedback – reward successes and engage in a process of honest evaluation if there’s room for improvement. Leverage your employees’ skills by inviting them to contribute to discussions on how to make the business better – if you empower people to help shape your business, you’ll make it more attractive to buyers.

2. Reward them

It’s a good idea to incentivise staff with a scheme that will impact your bottom line – and offer a tempting proposition to buyers. It could be in the form of a cash bonus or time off. Explore what motivates your staff to perform to the best of their abilities and reward them accordingly. It may be worth considering building in longer-term incentives – such as equity ownership – that will provide a good reason for staying with the company going forward and will assure new owners of a loyal workforce from day one.

3. Be flexible

If you adopt an ‘us and them’ approach to management, you’re less likely to win the trust and loyalty of your staff which, in turn, will impact your performance. Consider offering staff the opportunity to adopt a more flexible approach to working hours and you may be surprised at the results. If employees know they can take time here and there to visit the dentist or attend the school concert, and make it up elsewhere, you’ll create a greater sense of well-being, engagement and retention. Naturally, it’s an approach that works better in some businesses than in others but it’s a successful strategy that could deliver tangible business rewards.

4. Offer a career path

Give your employees something to aim for and they’ll help you move your business forward. Support their personal and professional growth by providing everyone with a development plan that moves them closer to their goals over time. There’s no downside to this: if you enable employees to upskill, they’ll automatically benefit your business with their new-found expertise and you’ll make your company an even more attractive proposition for future buyers.

Building a motivated team will help create a healthier, more profitable business and should be an essential component of any company’s growth strategy – and sales pitch!

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