Business Exit Strategy Guide for Owners: Intro

When you were growing your business, filled with an overriding sense of potential, did you also start thinking about your exit plan?

Likely not. And with good reason. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and boards of directors are enthusiastic about their potential for success. They aren’t thinking about that moment when they are ready to retire. Or move on to a different business challenge. Or want to while away the days on a desert isle, sipping margaritas and reflecting upon their many successes.

But that day has come for you, which is why you’re in need of an exit strategy for your business.

We’re here to help.

Our six-part Business Exit Guide for Business Owners is the place to start your journey to the next chapter of your life and business.

Here’s what we will cover:

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3 Things Companies Can Learn from How Private Equity Firms Work to Maximize Value

Private equity firms have a simple recipe for making money: They identify companies they believe are undervalued, improve those companies, then sell them for far more than they paid to buy them in the first place.

Knowing how private equity firms work can serve as a roadmap for any company looking to improve operations and maximize value.

Start with these 3 things PE firms do following an acquisition in the lower middle market ($2-$15 million in EBITDA) to improve your own bottom line, whether you plan to continue operating your business or want to ready the company for a future PE investment.

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Business Exit Strategy Guide for Owners: The Importance of Succession Planning

The Roy family of “Succession,” the critically acclaimed series about which of the Roy family offspring would take the reins of the family-owned media conglomerate Waystar RoyCo., should serve as a cautionary tale for any business owner considering retirement. Business succession planning cannot be left to underlings to duke it out for control.

Succession planning is important for any business — family-owned or not. It’s critical for business continuity, preserving the legacy, and a smooth transition.

When it’s time to step away from the helm and choose a successor, there are three options available:

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Business Exit Strategy Guide for Owners: Identifying Potential Successors

Actually choosing the person who will be your successor is the second step in this process. The first step is identifying where the company will be when it’s time for the successor to step into a leadership role. Do you expect the company to be sailing along at an even keel, continuing to do what it already does so well? Or are there rougher waters ahead that will require more creative leadership?

Having a keen idea of where your company will be when you plan to step away from daily leadership is critical to understanding what competencies and skills the new leader will need – and to maximizing the worth of the organization as you convert your ownership interests into cash.

Once you have a good idea of that, it’s time to begin searching for just the right person to lead your company into the future.

And, a side note: Even if your exit strategy is to sell the company, you cannot skip this step! The buyer will want to know that you have made plans for a smooth transfer of leadership.

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The Value of Business Coaching: Do You Need an Outsider’s Perspective?

By Robert Jordan

When your company is stalled or facing transition, there are two ways to get help: adding a new leader to the team or helping the leaders you have be the best they can be. When you need a new leader, an interim, part-time or fractional executive can be on site quickly, leading the change. When you have the leadership your company needs, bringing in a business coach can help him or her rise to the new challenge.

Yes, our InterimExecs RED Team executives sometimes play a mentoring role at companies where they serve. But that is a specific use case to mentor someone who is being trained into higher responsibility. Most interim and fractional executives do not consider their operational roles, even if including mentoring, to be the same activity as a dedicated business coach.

Business or executive coaches are an external resource. They work with the executive on leadership skills and personal development.

As entrepreneurs and small business owners, my partner, Olivia Wagner, and I have long understood the benefits of business coaching. We have met with a business coach and used his services to help us refine our business strategy and cement our professional partnership.

Business coaching offers a distinct form of leadership development. So, I wondered, how do business coaching services do what they do so well?

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Top Executives Share Best Change Management Practices at 2019 Roundtable

May 6 and 7 marked the fourth InterimExecs’ RED Roundtable (Rapid Executive Deployment), a gathering of top interim executives in Chicago. Executives across a range of specialties from CEO to CFO, COO, CIO, CMO, and CRO met for a mix of speakers, discussion, and sharing best practices on creating high performing companies.

The event kicked off Monday morning at William Blair’s headquarters where innovation expert, Jeff Leitner, drew on extensive research and 20 years’ experience improving operations to share why most change initiatives fail and what we can do about it. Interim executives discussed how Jeff’s findings applied to assignments they jump into where they often are called on to drive disruption, innovation, and powerful change.

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Warfare at the Top: CEO vs Chairperson Battle Royale

We just experienced possibly the largest wave of CEO departures in recent history. Was it due to falling profits? Poor succession planning? Or is there more drama behind the scenes? Think firings, hurt egos, politics, and personal infighting. Author Isabelle Nüssli uncovers one of the big reasons for turmoil at the top ― the fractious relationships between egos at the executive level, particularly between CEO and chairperson. Hence the brilliant title of her new book, Cockfighting: Solving the Mystery of Unconscious Sabotage at the Top of the Corporate Pyramid.

“When you read the news, usually the reason [given for the CEO leaving] was strategy misalignment or different leadership style or different chemistry, etc. But the story that is not put out to the public is that there was a relational conflict, which apparently is the case most of the time,” says Nüssli.

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Interim Tackles Challenges When CEO and CFO Fired for Stealing From Public Company

Everything seemed to be going well for a public software company. Growing at a rate of 50-100% for three years straight, the company was gaining momentum until one day it all came to a screeching halt. Just weeks before the annual 10-k report was due the board uncovered that the CEO and CFO had been taking a few too many creative liberties with expense reports and were stealing money from the company…yes, they were embezzling funds – a nightmare scenario for a public company.

The board went to work, firing both of the full-time executives for cause. They immediately appointed an Interim CEO and reached out to us at InterimExecs to bring in an Interim CFO to help them navigate through murky waters.

“It was a full-fledged crisis that included issues with culture, staff, investors, analysts, debt holders, Board members, auditors, the SEC and activist shareholders,” said a board member.

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You are Only as Good as Your Team

Basketball legend Magic Johnson has made a success of his career as a business owner and investor. But it didn’t come easy or naturally. One of the mentors he credits with imparting priceless lessons is Creative Artists Agency co-founder Michael Ovitz. When Magic was just about to embark on a career in business, the legendary Hollywood agent told Magic that he’d never become any better than the people around him.

This made sense to Magic, and the next day he fired his entire staff. Magic detailed this recently at a speech delivered to the Association for Corporate Growth in Las Vegas, showing the audience by placing his hand at chest height and saying “my team could take me here” and then raising his hand to head level and saying “but they couldn’t take me to here.”

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2015 has been an amazing year here at the Association of Interim Executives. We parachuted executives into companies worldwide and saw powerful collaboration taking place among the RED Team, an elite group of interims.

As we reflect on the past year, we are more confident than ever that together we can better the world by deploying great leadership. Please enjoy these 5 highlights from 2015.

We wish you a prosperous and peaceful 2016.

Happy Holidays!

-The Association Team