Who Owns Who?

Linda LaitalaBusiness, ManagementLeave a Comment

“How would you like to own this business?” 

It wasn’t a new thought for Phil; he had managed operations for several years and now the owner wanted to sell.  Phil had lots of ideas and often offered suggestions for new products that would increase sales, but the owner disagreed and nothing had been done.  This was his opportunity.  He said “Yes!” on the spot.  He could hardly wait to get home and share the news.   

Phil loved his family and his busy life.  He was 42 years old, his wife was a dedicated teacher and his two teen-age children were deeply involved in school and sports.  He enjoyed being involved in their many activities.

That evening Phil excitedly told his family about his decision to buy the company.  His wife was less than thrilled.  “Why didn’t you talk to us first?” she asked, “Did you even consider the impact this would have on our lives?”  Of course he had, but didn’t they understand that this was what he had been working toward his whole career?

In the end, his family supported his decision and were happy for him.  On the signing day, Phil was thrilled to finally become an “owner.”  What changes he would make!

Then reality set in.

First there was the learning curve: Phil’s involvement in the financial aspects of the company had been minimal; the owner’s crash course left his head spinning.  He’d have to spend many hours getting up to speed.

Next, two key people gave notice.  One for early retirement, the other to follow his own entrepreneurship dream. (A possible new competitor?)  Suddenly Phil had more challenges.

Family conversation at the dinner table became markedly different as well because more often than not Phil was still at work.  He was spending all his time on things he had to do and no time on the things he loved to do.  Something had to change.

He called a family meeting.  He confessed he’d gotten overwhelmed with everything that had to be done at work and committed to spending more time with them in the future.

The next day he called his accountant.  He needed help understanding his financial statements.  Together they put together a dashboard of key indicators for his business – the numbers he needed to know to measure success.  The accountant also told Phil he was being “penny wise but pound foolish” by not hiring someone to do his old job.  By trying to save a few dollars, he was jeopardizing the future of his company.

It took time, but Phil eventually grew to the place where his business didn’t “own” him, he owned his business and his life was back on track.

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