Transition Requires Change


Everything changes. Are you proactive or reactive to change?

Suppose you are ready to change. You’re prepared to begin the process of transitioning your your business, roles and obligations. You’re ready to commit to a process that will enable you to exit your business in a thoughtful, planned way. How do you make it happen?

John Kotter, one of the foremost authorities on change, suggests that there are eight steps to successful negotiation of the change process. Let’s use those as a guide for gearing up to prepare your business for sale.

  • Create a sense of urgency.

A sense of urgency is required to break the inertia. When you announce you’re going to make changes get started right away. Set short term deadlines and outline actions that need to take place immediately. You, as leader, must be seen to set the pace and the expectations.

  • Pull together a guiding team.

You’re going to need people who will support you through the process and execute the actions required to make change happen. You’ll need your internal management or support team, as well as a group of advisors who will help you to set the strategy for moving forward. This is too big a job to try to do alone. You need to free up your time if you are to focus on this major project. 

  • Develop the change vision and strategy. 

Look at this from two perspectives – your personal view and that of the company. Create your vision for what you will be doing next, what you want to do and have earned the right to do. This appealing image will help propel you forward. Your vision for the business provides the essential end point to share with your team. It allows you to work backward, determining the strategy and tactics that will move the process along. 

  • Communicate for understanding.

Kotter suggests keeping it simple. Tell a story. Talk about how the change will take place, how it will affect the listeners and their positions, and how they can contribute in a positive way to the end goal. Make it memorable so that when the story is repeated, all the salient facts remain. 

  • Empower others to act.

One of the challenges facing entrepreneurs is the pressure of priorities and time. It’s a rare business owner who has time left at the end of the day to work on the business versus in the business. But that’s what you have to do. And the only way to free up your time to work on those priorities is to give away more of your current duties. Let others make mistakes – a necessary part of learning to carry more responsibility. Remove barriers.

  • Produce short term wins. 

Rather than celebrating when the job is done, celebrate initial wins as quickly as possible. If one of your first steps is a leadership training program to increase the bench strength of the team, get someone to find a resource that can help you and then make the announcement that celebrates that initial accomplishment. Congratulate the person who got it done. Only add more tasks as you complete the first ones.

  • Don’t let up.

If you’ve decided to move forward and make changes, be single-minded in your pursuit of that change. If obstacles get in the way, get around them. If the energy seems to drain out of the idea, pump it back up. If people lose interest, tell the story again and again until everyone understands that this is a non-negotiable destiny. 

  • Create a new culture.

Old habits and traditions die hard. You have to create new traditions, new ways of seeing the world, new approaches and a new culture. 

It’s interesting to look at Kotter’s model and consider it against the backdrop of the economy of the past twelve months. The economy is broken, it had to change. Just for fun, review the stages and reflect upon what our country’s leaders have done to facilitate changes that will lead to the improvement of society. Did they miss any steps?

Now look at your plan for transitioning your business from what it is today to what you want it to be. Are you missing any steps?


Published by Wayne Vanwyck

I am a semi-retired trainer, public speaker, coach, author and entrepreneur. Now I spend most of my time writing and coaching business owners to prepare themselves and their business for when they transition and sell the company.

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