The process requires digging deep and venturing into some perceived no-go areas including people and leadership styles before executing and sustaining a cultural change strategy.
Asking yourself why you went into business is a revealing starting point. Were you seeking a 9am -5pm lifestyle business that enabled you to spend more time with family and friends – or were you looking to build an empire?
Knowing when you want to retire and setting in place a succession and future life plan will focus your attention on the seismic changes ahead.
Achieving the financial results needed to sell your company and fulfil your future plans entails setting business goals. A good starting point is to consider how your business looks to a prospective buyer – and how your customers would describe it. If the company lacks a competitive advantage, there is much work to be done.
Effectively managing your financial information is a priority. Ditch the traditional management accounts – they merely highlight the value of invoices raised and fail to spell out what is happening in the present and in the future. Key figures should always be presented in a format that is instantly understood and acted upon by decision makers.
Undergoing this transition also entails putting the spotlight on your FD and senior management team. Would you want them running A&E? If not, then they have no role in this culture change.
Having a strong top team with clear goals, total alignment and 100 per cent buy in is vital – so set in place a plan for those worth saving – and ensure you and your senior team going forward are equipped with the mental toughness to jettison underperformers.
In this brave new business world the adage ‘It’s lonely at the top’ will become more prevalent when swapping a cosy culture where some employees may be your friends – for a more accountable and clinical environment.
Being singularly focused on the end goals of achieving your life plan will require some brutal changes – particularly if you are currently in the affable ‘Mr/Mrs Nice Guy’ camps.
Selling your business is the biggest deal you will ever do – it also entails ‘letting go’ so your robust management team can drive the company and culture change (without your interfering) to free you up to work ‘on’ the business.
Business leaders seeking to live the life they always wanted are advised to act now to make this major culture change a reality.
It’s important to stress that this journey is not for the faint hearted or for those who care too much. Once embarked on, there is no turning back.