To transition or sell your business requires you to make significant changes. And if you don’t control and manage the necessary changes, someone else will – with or without you.
John Kotter, one of the foremost authorities on change, suggests that there are eight steps to successfully negotiate through the change process. Consider these in the context of a change strategy to transition your business:
- Create a sense of urgency. Complacency is your enemy. Be prepared to act before you announce that you’re going to make changes so you can start right away. Set short-term deadlines and actions that need to take place immediately. A sense of urgency is required to break through the inertia.
- Pull together a guiding team. You need others to support you through the process and execute the actions required to make change happen. You’ll need your internal management and a group of advisors who will help you set and execute the strategy for moving forward.
- Develop the change vision and strategy. Envision your personal direction 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.
- Communicate for understanding. Kotter suggests keeping it simple. Tell a story. Tell team members how the change will unfold, how it will affect them and their positions, and how they can contribute in a positive way to the goal. Tell your story often.
- Empower others to act. Entrepreneurs who wish to prepare their business for sale or transition are under pressure of priorities and time. The only way to free up your time to work on these priorities is to delegate more of your current duties.
- Produce short-term wins. Rather than trying to change the world and celebrating only when the job is done, celebrate your initial wins as quickly as possible. Add more tasks only as you complete the first ones. Set up a visible score-keeping system or chart so your team can see small wins adding up to big ones.
- Don’t let up. Remain single-minded in your pursuit of that change. The dogged determination that made you successful in your business needs to be re-engaged at this stage.
- Create a new culture. Old habits die hard and so do traditions. You have to create new traditions, new ways of seeing the world, new approaches, and a new culture.
Change isn’t optional. It will happen with or without our permission. When you implement it, you are taking control. And that’s what responsible entrepreneurs do.
 Kotter, John. Leading Change. Boston, Harvard Business School Press, 1996 p. 21.