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  • Jim McManaman

When Should You Tell Your Staff About Selling?


You might be wondering at what point in the process do you talk to your staff and say, “Hey, guys, we’re putting the business on the market. We’re going to be selling.” Should you be open and honest and transparent with them and tell them what you are doing?

The answer is really contingent on how you run your business. If you happen to be an open book management type business, then the chances are that is exactly what you are going to do. You most likely had this discussion before, and your staff and partners had a good idea that you would sell one day. But like most, you are probably not.

Generally speaking, it’s information you’re going to keep close to your chest for quite a while. It depends on the relationship that you do have with the staff. I didn’t tell my staff until the last minute because there was a lot at stake.

I think that’s going to be the majority of small business owners or business owners in particular. They probably will keep it pretty much close to their chest and do that.

Keep in mind that the key staff, in particular, are going to be the most affected by the sale of the business. Understanding how it’s going to be from their side is important. And one of the decisions you need to make is how you’re going to look after them, what you plan to do, what in fact you are going to say to them, to look after them.

A lot of staff will be quite happy if there’s an exit and there’s a little bit of a bonus that goes in their pocket, even if they weren’t told about it. But key staff, staff who would care for you and for the business in the future, should be told when you have a serious buyer. Explain how they can help in the process and what's in it for them.


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