Selling your business? You Need Your Staff  More Than They Need You cover image
29 Aug 2019

Selling your business? You Need Your Staff More Than They Need You


The job market is not like it used to be. The people on both sides of the table know that business owners need their staff more than the staff need their employer, and if they plan to sell up, they need the loyalty, reliability and efficiency of their staff more than ever.

The power game is up for the boss. We are in a seeker’s market.

I spoke with a business owner recently who is passionately invested into the goal of building his very successful creative design business into a cookie cutter franchise model. He says he plans to duplicate that model across multiple stores to create a saleable asset. He’s in the early stages of his journey, and on this day he was lamenting the frustrations of recruiting his first hire.

“They come into the interview and ask what I will offer them! As if I owe them something!”

The stats around employee motivation and expectation act as a challenging mandate for business owners. A 2018 study by Axonify showed that over 85% of employees not only want training to advance their own career, but they want it to be fun, personalised, easy to understand, delivered on paid time, at a time they choose.

As real human beings with feelings and pride, employees also want acknowledgement, recognition and reward. Octanner tells us that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. 69% of the participants in that particular study reported not having been recognised even once that year.

No wonder 85% of employees are disengaged at work! In a 2016 Reventure study on the Australian Workplace, half of workers admitted that “some days of work don’t really get my maximum effort.” Guthrie Jensen tells us that 74% of employees feel they aren’t reaching their potential at work.

This is an expensive problem. 40% of workers say they will leave their employer in the first twelve months if they do not receive adequate training to do their work, which costs Australian businesses $33 billion annually. Workplace disengagement across the board costs over $500 billion each year.

The last thing you want if you are working a plan to sell your business is to have unpredictable, disengaged staff manning the fort. Long-time business mentor and exit strategist Denise Hall, affectionately known as “The Entrepreneurial Mother”, says most business owners leave their run too late when it comes to adequately preparing for the sale of their business.

“The actual sale process should take anywhere between 3-9 months. But you’ve got work to do first to get the asking price up. From a salability perspective, your staff need to have the expertise to transition the business from your ownership to the next party. They need to be able to replace you entirely.”

Business owners who break the statistical mould prepare their business for sale well in advance on the strength of their staff training and development programs. This is about more than boasting the competence and productivity of your current workers. Building a saleable asset relies on the creation of robust staffing processes. Effective systems for training, management and promotion attract high quality candidates, empower them to perform well when they’re hired, and make them reluctant to leave. Furthermore, a business asset is only truly ready for sale if it can be demonstrated that even in the face of staff departure, it is guaranteed that the business show can and will go on.

Benjamin Franklin once said “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest” yet gaping holes in workplace training abound. Axonify’s study shows that one third of employees receive zero training, and 43% of those who are trained say that training was ineffective. A recent study by shows that a whopping 58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training at all.

To be fair, the vast majority of businesses do offer staff training in one form or another, but effectiveness is the key to building a saleable business. A 2017 ReportLinker study revealed 83% of employees with opportunities to take on new challenges say they’re more likely to stay with the organisation. Companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. But it doesn’t stop there. These companies also enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.

You might like to think of your business asset like your car. Your employees are the engine, and training them provides the fine-tuning and maintenance they need to ensure optimum performance. If you’re looking to sell that car, the potential buyer will be impressed if it hums like a dream. If you can show long term service records, they will be confident the vehicle has been prepared to perform well into the future.

If you’re selling your business, your potential buyers need to see staff working like a well-oiled machine as a result of their performance being maintained by systems that are recorded, tried and tested. When you as the seller can show that the work of your staff is consistently excellent because you have developed well-refined management systems, you are a very attractive candidate indeed.

For more information about setting productive goals in your business, contact Kerry Anne Nelson at Operation Verve