Tag Archives: management

How Much Does that Gorilla Weigh?

How much does that (fill in your preferred number here) pound gorilla weigh? I always refer to an 800 pound gorilla, but I’ve heard others use everything from a 400 pound gorilla (which is pretty close to their real size) to … Continue reading

Posted in Customer Relations, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing, Marketing and Sales, Sales, Strategy and Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to How Much Does that Gorilla Weigh?

  1. Eric Taylor says:

    This is a great post John.

    I think it’s fair to say that most of us in the small business community have had to deal with gorillas in our respective industries. They are usually customers, but can also be competitors or vendors.

    In the past year, we have dealt with many issues in which we have been dictated to by gorilla customers. One very large pharma company changed their terms to Net 90, another required us to pay a $2000 fee to order to do business with them, and another required us to pay for a system that they implemented that tracks their/our safety program.

    In all three cases, the outcome could have hurt us as a small business. Net 90 terms could crush us on large projects, the $2000 fee was more than the profit we would have made on the project, and the safety program requires considerable time and effort on our part in order to maintain compliance.

    In all three examples, we prevailed. Our relationship with the customers in all three cases was so strong, that all it took was a conversation with the local decision makers. They were sympathetic to our situation, and worked with us to come up with solution. In one case, they agreed to allow us to invoice them for all of the parts at the start of the project, giving us an extra 30 days, ultimately reducing the net 90 terms to net 45. In the other two cases, our local contacts allowed us to add the costs we incurred to the project.

    In my experience, when you explain the hardship the gorillas policies place on our business; reason prevails and an acceptable solution is the result.

    Happy Holidays,
    Eric

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Protecting Your Best Asset

If you are planning your exit from the business, what is the best asset that you have to sell? Unless you have patented product, exclusive rights, or long-term customer contracts, you answer was likely “Our people.” Even if you have … Continue reading

Posted in Building Value, Entrepreneurship, Exit Planning, Leadership, Selling a business, Strategy and Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Protecting Your Best Asset

  1. David Cunningham says:

    John, You are spot on about the importance of being able to get your staff to support the transition. The process starts by finding out as much as you can about the buyer’s intentions for your employees. With that information you can plan for incentives that give employees who you believe are likely to be retained, a reason to make the transition work,and offer reasonable compensation to those who are likely to be terminated. The retained employees have a better attitude if they believe that the seller cared about those who did not fit the new owner’s plans. In one acquisition situation we debated how much money was appropriate and how it should be distributed. Our decision was that the employees had exceeded normal commitments to the company, particularly in the early stages and they deserved financial reward. We voted and arrived at 5% of the capital gain on the sale. These funds were allocated on a pro-rata basis of the employee’s accumulated base salary without allowance for bonuses. On this basis a secretary who had worked for 5 years at $30,000 per year and earned a total of $150,000 received the same amount as a VP of Sales who had worked 1 year and earned $150,000. Those employees who were retained in the transition were subject to vesting requirements. Those who were released were paid a month after termination. We considered a longer delay after termination to discourage defection to get a quick cash bonus, but the conditions offered by the buyer made it unlikely that retained employees would quit. This arrangement resulted in a smooth transition.

  2. Larry Amon says:

    The easiest thing to do is to share the profits of the company with your employees and to give them ownership before the sale. I was not planning to sell my company, but when the right offer came in I sold and my employees shared over a half a million dollars among 35 employees. 25 years later most still remain with the company..

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Exit Timing and the Global Economy

How much will your exit timing be affected by the global economy? Most small businesses serve local markets. Their owners, if they have thought about it, plan to sell to a local individual. If the local market is healthy, why … Continue reading

Posted in Economic Trends, Entrepreneurship, Exit Planning, Exit Strategies, Politics and Regulation, Strategy and Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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History Begets Attitudes

History begets attitudes. I’m back from my biannual depressurization trip. This time it was to Central Europe. As always, I assess new and different things through a business owner’s eye. We visited five countries (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary), … Continue reading

Posted in John's Opinions, Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to History Begets Attitudes

  1. Doug Roof says:

    Using the analogy between a handful of European countries and the population of small businesses is a great vehicle for driving home your argument for the importance of history in forming the attitude of a business, John. In so doing, you’ve offered a real thought-provoker to business owners/leaders. You’ve also given them an approach to open a conversation about company history and attitude with their employees. Thank you.

  2. Kelly Hall says:

    John:
    As usual – the master at work with your observations! Happy you are scheduling some depressurization time! Will use this nugget of wisdom on a client today!
    Kelly H.

  3. Kelly Hall says:

    Nice article!

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Business Buyers: The “Buy Now, Pay Later” Generation

If you are preparing to sell your business, your buyers will likely be members of the “buy now, pay later” generation. Generation X is the first demographic group to be raised in a culture that put little emphasis on savings. … Continue reading

Posted in Economic Trends, Exit Options, Exit Planning, Exit Strategies, Selling a business, Strategy and Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to Business Buyers: The “Buy Now, Pay Later” Generation

  1. This is one of the most realistic articles I’ve read on the topic. Sellers would be wise to listen to their advisors, and be advised earlier than they think they should.

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