I know a lot of the posts here are aimed at start-ups and self-built companies but has anyone inherited/taken over an ageing and inefficient business?

In the next 10 years or so I’m going to be taking over my family business. I was just wondering if anyone on here had experience of gaining control of a business that needed modernising and slim-lining? What did you do right? More importantly, what did you do wrong? What were the unforeseen problems you ran into? Did it turn out to be a success?

Thanks in advance for any replies.

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  1. I didn’t take over the business, but as an employee operating like a partner, I led business dev and digital marketing for our (mostly) family business, and by far the owner’s biggest issues were lack of **vision**, lack of established company **culture**, lack of **speed** at which things got done and a lack of adequate **compensation** structure.

    **Culture** is the foundation of an organization – set non negotiable standards early. Next to 0 tolerance for violation. If you allow employees to violate your standards they WILL ruin your organization.

    As the leader, you must have a clear and compelling **vision.** Someone’s got to know where the boat is going…

    If you don’t pay good employees good money, they will go somewhere that does…

    hope this helps.

    /end rant

  2. Try try try to get some sway before you take over. Go to lunch monthly at least with the current owners and just chat about their experience and why they did certain things and why they didn’t do others. What they like for the future, what they don’t. Are they running this business because it was where they landed, or was it a passionate decision to provide value in the marketplace? How much has their vision changed? What would they change? Which employees do they expect will weather change, which might leave. Is there debt in the business? Overdue AR? Etc.

  3. Would love to do something like this! If the cash flow is good and there is equity to invest in different ways of doing things, you could make a big difference. Your difficulty will be existing culture – in many ways. Like someone said – you need to set standards, but also balance people’s feelings of entitlement (justified or not) and institutional knowledge. I would think you’d lay a lot of groundwork now, rather than just jump in at takeover time and shake things up.

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