For Bill Wiseacre, his word is his bond. So when the unthinkable happened and his best friend Marty suddenly passed away, Bill knew what he had to do.
Marty and Bill had a gentleman’s agreement. Ever since they started their companies at the same time in the same industry, they had each agreed to buy each other’s business in the event of the other’s death.
A “Romeo & Juliet Clause” was a romantic notion
It would be an honor to steward Marty’s built-from-the-ground-up enterprise — and let’s face it, it was good for business. Twice the contracts meant big ups for the bottom line.
But Bill had absolutely no idea where to start. All of the institutional knowledge died along with Marty. Almost immediately, the operations side was falling apart.
Even key staff who worked for Marty for years could not tell Bill what to do next. Most of them worked remotely, so the culture of the company could not carry Bill through tough decision-making and there was no institutional knowledge to speak of.
For even the most tenured staff with Marty, things always got done the same way. The most important client on the roster? Ask Marty. The deal we’ve been nurturing for the last three years – what are the next steps? Ask Marty. Who is that banker that we like to deal with, the one who understands our unique situation? Ask Marty.
Frustrated with his own ineffectiveness running both businesses, Bill started to feel frustrated and burnt out.
He wasn’t delivering on key promises.
In order to make the most of the acquisition, what Bill had really needed was a roadmap for operational continuity, but he had nothing to go on.
The Momentum Law Group Perspective
Creating an Operations Will™ for Operational Continuity is the key to building a business that you can move to someone else, via a sale, or as a result of the death of a key person.
- If Bill’s lawyer had been a part of the process from the beginning (i.e., drafting the succession documents), s/he could have assisted him (and Marty) in thinking through the elements of the plan before it became official.
- To adequately prepare for whenever his number was up, Marty needed to plot a course for the business’s future.
- Bill could have worked with his outside counsel to put a comprehensive action plan together, one that could simply be passed on to the next leader. S/he could have helped him navigate the intricacies and importance of all the jumbled information trapped in his head.
Merely having a plan for what to do when the unthinkable happens does not mean that your successors will have a shred of what they need to run things effectively (or keep your vision alive). Tapping into estate planning, succession documents, and strategic planning can ease the transition from the old guard to the new.
If you need help with a succession (operations or ownership) plan, reach out to us for support. We’ve got your back.
Blog Posts from Uh-Oh Enterprises are cautionary tales from Momentum Law Group. Bill Wiseacre and his family are fictional characters representing real life situations that keep entrepreneurs like Bill from reaching full potential. #donotbelikeBill