Thirteen lessons that will bite you if ignored when merging your business with another!
The path to overall well-being in your business can be through partnerships, collaborations, mergers or associations with other organizations which can exponentially accelerate your business footprint. Whether your intentions are altruistic or financially motivated, integrating sides (B2B, B2C, P2P, I2I and combined strengths) is a dance that must be choreographed throughout the onboarding process to ensure mutual success.
Here are twelve lessons you never learned in Business School. Use these lessons from my personal work with Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, and private companies as a checklist before entering into your next merger or alliance:
- Lesson – Do âyouâ and the âother partiesâ involved in the envisioned new alliance have similar standards of values, mission and vision? Otherwise, it should be a red flag for conversation, or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Do you or any party want the new covenant After than the others ? If yes, why? Be sure to discuss this with all Parties. If someone is reluctant to commit, it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Before entering into a new alliance, determine if all parties are equally invested in future success. Does the move serve the long-term professional and / or personal goals of both parties? If at any point something seems one-sided, it should be a red flag for the conversation or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Have you checked out the parties involved, or are you doing this emotion-based alliance fusion? If you haven’t carefully examined them, it should be a red flag for conversation, or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Just like you should provide to everyone else your credentials, you also need to get the credentials of any key players, equity owners, executives, management team, or other key stakeholders to make sure they are who they say they are. It will also help you understand their human capital capabilities which can be used to be successful. Search the internet or consider hiring a third party to do a background check. If someone’s credentials aren’t verified, or if someone has lied about their work history, it should be a red flag for the conversation, or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Request a copy of âcertifiedâ financial statements from all Parties (daily AP / AR, monthly AP / AR, year-to-date comparisons) for the past several years. Find out where their money is going, how people are paid and what their financial trends have been. Speak one-on-one with the other organization’s CFO (or equivalent) and have their external CPA firm provide forensic validation of all documents provided. Get everything in writing. If you don’t have them or can’t get them, it should be a red flag for conversation, or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Request a copy of âcertifiedâ financial audits from all Parties over the past several years. If you don’t have them or can’t get them, it should be a big red flag to the conversation, or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Search government and county public records online to see if there are any pending or past disputes with the other party (s). Do this for:
– The county (postal code) where the other party operates
– The county (postal code) where they were incorporated
– The county (postcode) where the other party’s accounting firm operates (if different from previous locations).
Make sure you cross all the possibilities. âTrust but verify,â as former President Ronald Regan once said, and a working measure beforehand can save countless problems down the road. Everything you find should be a red flag for conversation, or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Review the list of HR employees to determine what the hourly and salaried staff turnover rates have been in recent years. Evaluate how owners treat their longest-serving and loyal employees and how they leave retired members. This is an accurate barometer of what you can expect from their existing culture. Perform an HR audit to determine the talent level of HR Capital. Remember that a merger is more than physical and inventory; it’s intellectual capital and connectivity. This should be a red flag for conversation, or it might just come back and bite you!
- Lesson – Warning: this one is very non PC. If a key stakeholder, person / party in the context of the business-workplace alliance (the exception would be if the merger or partnership involves religious entities) carries their religion or religious views as a dominant public sign, RUN! For thirty years I have found it to be a mask for very troubled and deceptive individuals. I want to be wrong, but it hasn’t happened yet. I am not saying that people of honor are not spiritual or religious. People may have personal, private religious beliefs that motivate their integrity and actions. However, in the business market, if people are starting out with religion as a GPS and want you to take ownership of their belief system, then be careful. It may come back to bite you!
- Lesson – If the other party claims to have business transactions that dictate they would pay sales / use tax, payroll tax, IRS taxes, check with all associated legal entities, government agencies. Make sure the other party has done it and is in good standing. Remember that if you forge an alliance, the story of the other Party will become your reality, and it will be your future obligation and your reputation. This should be a red flag for conversation, or it could very well come back and bite you!
- Lesson – If at any point in the courtship or in the infancy of the alliance merger, a key stakeholder is keeping secrets from other key stakeholders, they are dishonest people and you are will always be the one who gets bitten in the end. It’s time for an important conversation or an immediate deployment of the CYA and exit strategy!
- BONUS LESSON – Think about how key stakeholders treat their veteran employees and their own spouses and families. This is how you will be seen and treated in your new business relationship or joint venture – guaranteed. History always repeats itself! Just as over 50 percent of Americans in this global community are unmarried today, over 50 percent of marriages today end in divorce (according to the American Catholic Archdiocese). More than 80 percent of start-ups do not survive their fifth birthday (according to the United States Chamber of Commerce). Finally, 75% of M&A transactions implode within three to five years (according to Deloitte). You don’t want the best intentions in an alliance partnership to end in an ugly parting.
Always make sure that you have a (pre-marital) exit strategy to a business alliance, that you carefully review the agreements, and that the alliance is legally binding. If you started with the end in mind, the exit solution clearly mapped out, then integrating YOU, Inc. for the well-being of global businesses would be healthy, and then these twelve lessons won’t bite you!
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